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New York

Familiar Setting, New Experiences

So many movies and TV programmes have been set in New York that you feel you know it before you visit.

We had a few days in The Big Apple en route to a family get-together for Thanksgiving. I went prepared to be a bit underwhelmed, after all, skyscrapers are skyscrapers and cities are cities. And I'd seen it on TV already.

Well, New York was a pleasant surprise.

Looking around town you'll see beautiful elegant apartment blocks and realise Manhattan is a collection of villages which look and feel familiar.

Finding your way about

Armed with our Rough Guide and good fold-out map (thank you AA New York Guide) we made the most of our few days.

Some of the sites

Where do you start? As it was two minutes away we popped into the Chrysler Building, though you are only allowed in the lobby. Off then to the lovely ornate Empire State Building, once more the tallest in the city after the twin towers fell in 9/11 and great views across the city.

Security remains tight around Ground Zero where we paid our respects in the memorial garden. We were also scanned airport style for the ferry to Liberty Island to see the famous lady herself. We'd planned to go to Ellis Island too, but legs were tired, so we called it a day.

They were just putting up the Christmas tree in the plaza outside the Rockefeller Center and Central Park was a welcome green oasis of peace in the city. Times Square is a buzzing riot of lights, shops and theatres.

 

Getting about

You can see much of Manhattan on foot with a few subway trips for longer stretches. It's ok, but not as user friendly as the London Underground. The city is peppered with yellow cabs, and the drivers as rude as their reputation, so we only used them a few times.

Where to stay

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt, next to Grand Central station. It was an easy walk to most of the sites of mid-Manhattan, with good transport links. Our room felt like a broom cupboard but happily the staff couldn't have been more helpful and moved us next day.

 

Plenty to eat

Varied & good food is everywhere, from restaurants to hot dogs & pretzels on the street to Japanese cake shops round the corner. You will not go hungry. And the coffee is always excellent.

 

Getting there and getting away

We flew into JFK International with an unpleasant cab-ride into the city, but a much nicer ride on the special hourly bus to Newark New Jersey for our onward trip. We went with Delta who smashed two out of three suitcases on our flight, but that's another story...

 

City with a buzz

New York feels like a city full of energy and optimism. It's surprisingly family-friendly, and is certainly somewhere I'd visit again.

 

What we didn't do:

Shopping – There is some seriously good shopping. I managed to pop into a few shops but didn't get the full 5th Avenue experience. That's what happens when you go with your menfolk! We got to Macys', the world's biggest store and Bloomingdale - just enough to whet the appetite.

Museums & Galleries – although there are world-class ones in New York, we had to pace ourselves so The Guggenheim and The Metropolitan Museum of Art will have to wait.

Ice-skating in Central Park – the night we planned to go, was the one night it rained

Travel outside Manhattan – we ran out of time, so this was the only one of the five boroughs we saw.

 

New York in the Movies:

Spiderman

When Harry Met Sally

The Devil Wears Prada

Black Swan

The Day After Tomorrow

Wall Street

Stuart Little

Ghostbusters

King Kong

 

New York on TV:

Friends

CSI New York

Ugly Betty

Sex & The City

Mad Men

Law & Order

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