Advantages Great places to See!
Disadvantages Run out of time!
** THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING **Situated just off 5th Avenue on 34th Street and I have to say even with it being 1454’ tall, you wouldn’t notice it unless you were actually paying attention, there are so many tall buildings in and around New York itself, you actually need to be following a map or directions of some sort. We arrived at The Empire State Building late morning only to be told that there would be a waiting time of approximately two hours, we were slightly disappointed but figured that as we were already there, we might as well hang around. Once inside there was a queue of about one hour to actually buy the tickets, the building was hot but they have provided fans to cool the crowds down and there are also a number of vendors selling snacks and drinks at fairly reasonable prices (compared to the rest of New York), 500ml bottle of Coke $2.50, Hot Dog £4.50 for example. We finally managed to purchase our tickets for $11 each, we were excited thinking as we were going up onto the second floor this was it, how wrong we were, a further queue of one and a half hours followed by a security check that JFK Airport would be proud of. We finally got onto the lift, I couldn’t believe this was it, he he yep you got it, let off at the 80th floor and turns the corner to see yet more queues, all the while I was thinking “They never showed Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks queuing to get into the building during the filming of Sleepless In Seattle”. A further three quarters of an hour finally seen us on an elevator heading upto the 86th floor and yes The Observatory. Was it worth the wait? I am delighted to say yes, the views and scenery were absolutely stunning and blew me away but as you can imagine the wind was quite ferocious so it wasn’t a good idea to hang around outside for long, but we were there long enough to take some photographs and walk all the way around and on that particular day you could see clearly for 25 miles, looking down below, New York resembled something from Lilliput Lane, everything seemed very small. There was a shop on the 86th floor were you could buy reminders of your visit to New York as well as The Empire State Building itself, although a word of warning here, it was very expensive in comparison with the shops outside the building.
There was also the option to do the Skyride Tour, a simulated tour of New York rooftops for an extra $9, we chose not to do this, but I did hear it was worthwhile and very enjoyable, but after hanging about for hours on end, I didn’t want to waste any more time.The Empire State Building is open from 10am to 10pm enabling you to see New York by night as well as day, I would imagine this to be even more stunning by night, as New York is a city that seems to be lit up constantly never seeming to sleep.
** CENTRAL PARK **It’s funny to think that in a sprawling Metropolis that resembles Batman’s Gotham City there could be a small patch of greenery such as this, I say small it actually stretches for a full 50 blocks North. You’ll find Central Park situated between 5th Avenue and 8th Avenue on 59th Street. The State purchased the waste land in 1853 and a competition was then launched for the design, it was won by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, between them they converted nearly 850 Acres of wasteland into the Oasis that we now know as Central Park.
Definitely worth visiting as there are lots to see and do, there is a small Zoo situated inside with a limited collection of animals and a Seal Pool, Ice Skating Rinks, Boating Pond, many statues including one of Scotland’s very own son “Rabbie Burns”, a Reservoir, plenty of trees and beautiful sights.Although we chose not to walk around the park, we did take the lazy way out and took a Horse and Cart ride around the south end of the park, this was lovely and definitely recommend, the cost is $10 per person or $34 for a maximum of 4 people, subject to tipping, this trip lasted approximately ½ hour.
You will also find a number of street traders surrounding the park selling many different things, fake designer handbags, fast food stalls, hot sweet peanuts (delicious), drinks, artists, you name it.Stunning by day but be warned not advisable to visit by night as it does tend to attract a lot of undesirables that would prey on the unsuspecting tourist.
Located on 88th Street, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building itself still causes outrage because of its controversial design. It’s shaped like abstract flowerpots.
** THE GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM **
Inside it consists of descending ramps, which are full of abstract and impressionist paintings. You will find works by many well-known artists including Picasso, Van Gough and many more.It is open to the public from 10am to 8pm Friday to Wednesday and I’m afraid to say we didn’t have time to visit although I’m told it really is something special and well worth a visit.
Located on 5th Avenue, a spectacular building with a limited number of exclusive shops and Starbucks Coffee Shop inside.
** THE TRUMP TOWER **
This is worth a look for a beauty alone, stunning glass façade and waterfalls running down the inner walls, very grand and very beautiful, there is also a small rooftop garden where you can admire and wonder about the people who may reside in the apartments above.** TIMES SQUARE **
It’s actually not a square but a triangle, which extends from 42nd to 45th Street and at the point at which 7th Avenue crosses Broadway.You will find an array of eateries including McDonald’s; Planet Hollywood; TGI Friday’s, vendors selling Broadway tickets, Virgin Megastore and also MTV Studios where they record many shows.
A very busy frantic place where crossing the road alone is a scary experience, can take anything upto 10 minutes at peak times.Surrounded by advertising boards, billboards constantly updating world news, not at all as I imagined it to be, much busier.
We arrived around 10pm on New Year’s Eve with hubby Craig, his mother and father, both Craig and his father play the bagpipes, so they had taken them along in the hope of playing at Times Square for the bells.We discovered that it was so busy they were not allowing any more of the public entrance but Craig chanced his arm with a rather nice member of the New York Police Department (NYPD) and he agreed us all entry if Craig played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes for him, to which he did, much to the delight of the public that had gathered to listen.
He stuck to his side of the bargain and escorted us down to very near the front of the crowds at Times Square, the atmosphere created by over two million people was electric to say the least and yes Craig and his father continued to entertain the crowds surrounding us.Although security was extremely tight, even going as far as to weld the manhole covers shut and removing all bins, we never once felt threatened, the police at hand were all very friendly seeming to gain the crowds respect by joining in the fun yet still managing to keep order.
On the run up to the bells (midnight), they started the countdown and everyone shouted along with the countdown and then upon the stroke of midnight the New Year Bell rolls down it’s post releasing over 20 tonnes of ticker tape much to the delight of the crowds, I remember just standing and looking up with tears in my eyes, I couldn’t believe we were actually there being a part of it all.This was most definitely the highlight of our break, lots of pictures and lots of memories.
** BROOKLYN BRIDGE **Located over the East River on South Street, about 5 minute walk from Brooklyn Bridge Station, well known for famous scenes in Saturday Night Fever, this 19th Century marvel took 14 years to construct, the total span is approximately 1600’, allegedly the first suspension bridge in the World but I reckon the Forth Rail Bridge, Scotland is older.
Well worth a visit for stunning views of New York and it’s free.
Located on 42nd Street facing Park Avenue South, it effectively cuts this famous Avenue in half.An absolutely stunning building in which many movies have been filmed. The main hall is extremely large and grand as you would imagine. It’s been lavishly decorated with marble staircases, large church like windows and a very high ceiling which features a decorative mural, beautifully done.
As well as serving commuters there are numerous fancy shops and of course not forgetting the famous Oyster Bar.This was definitely one of our favourite sites, we took many pictures inside of the building but nothing seemed to do it any justice whatsoever.
Open to the public (free) and you are able to watch busy stock and bond traders from a gallery overlooking the trading floor beneath. Entry is free and is open as long as the trading day.Unfortunately we didn’t make this either but we were told this was great fun especially if you are present for the opening bell.
** THE STATUE OF LIBERTY **Located on Liberty Island.
A gift from the French people to the American people following the Independence from the British Empire back in 1886, made by the French Sculptor Frederick Bartholdi, she was shipped across the Atlantic in huge chunks and the New Yorkers raised money by donations to enable them to raise her on the pedestal that she stands on today.She is approximately 305’ tall from ground to torch, facing East, paying homage to the Monarchs of the West.
Unfortunately she has been closed to the public for the last two years for security reasons, but we were told they are currently fundraising to upgrade the security to re-open her.
Got its name from the street that was next to the Northern most Stockade Wall of the Burgeoning village.Now an International Business District and the City’s Financial and Government Centre but in days gone by it was actually built and used to protect the Dutch from the Algonqin Indians.
Again we never managed to visit, there just wasn’t enough time.
Located on between 7th and 8th Avenue on 33rd Street, this huge facility has seen many events including musical concerts, circuses and sports events.Architecturally a bit drab but obviously carries certain precedence.
There are massive choices of shows available on offer, everything from Boy George’s own story, Chicago, Phantom Of The Opera to Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, tickets are very pricey indeed.
** BROADWAY **
Although located on Times Square daily you will find a stand “TCKTS” offering certain tickets at reduced prices for shows that evening, although lots of queuing is involved.
There are many tours to take in, many of which are offered by hotels in conjuction with certain companies.By coach tours you can visit Harlem, taking in the Gospel Choirs and famous streets, Museums, Empire State Building, Wall Street and so much more besides.
Helicopter Rides over the city, prices are very expensive indeed around $60 for a five minute ride going all the way up to $500 for one hour per person.By Ferry, Manhatten Cruise, Lower Harbour Cruise, everything from a Latin Music Cruise to Full Day Cruises up the Hudson River.
The great thing about the ferry is they provide a free shuttle bus service to and from most hotels in the city.We opted for a 90 minute Harbour Cruise located at Pier 78, on West 38th Street and 12th Avenue, priced at $19 Adults, $9 for children and Senior Citizens $16.
This cruise gave us breathtaking views of the Manhattan Skyline, Statue of Liberty, South Street Sea Port, Ellis Island, The Brooklyn Bridge, The United Nations, The Chrysler and Empire State Buildings.The views from the boat looking back at Manhattan Island were stunning, we got a full appreciation for how tall the city actually is and how compact everything seems.
** SHOPPING **As you can imagine there are a vast array of shops to choose from and sadly time was limited and so was our visits.
A few of the shops to visit:Macy’s, located on 34th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue, famous worldwide for sponsoring the Thanksgiving Parade each year. A gigantic block long covering an amazing nine floors as well as a basement, claiming to be the worlds largest Department Store, to me it was just like a massive House of Fraser or Debenhams.
Bloomingdale’s, located on 59th Street between 3rd Avenue and Lexington Avenue, exclusive shopping to be had here, very eccentric I’m told, not for the bargain hunters amongst us.Tiffany’s, located on 5th Avenue, off 57th Street, amongst some of the world’s most exclusive designer shops. Now for me this was a longing as Breakfast At Tiffany’s has to be one of my all times favourite movies, I was absolutely thrilled to bits and in awe of the whole experience, even more so when I discovered I could actually afford to purchase something, a beautiful Tiffany’s perfume gift set at a pricey sum of $108, much cheaper than some of the jewellery on selection, we seen one ring for a mere $3.2 million, he he, I should’ve taken a picture.
FAO Schwartz, located on 5th Avenue, off 58th Street, a gigantic toy store with lavish toy display’s some even borrowed from museum’s. Sadly when we visited it was actually closing down but fortunately for me, many bargains to be had including a Steiff Bear for $54, which would normally retail in excess of $120.Of course there are many shops in and around New York City, too many to list, so I have given you just a small selection of the more famous and well known.
Hotels and Guest Houses are plentiful and rates will vary, everything from the NY Student Centre/YMCA to the 5 star Waldorf Astoria, they have it all.
** ACCOMODATION **
You will be spoilt for choice here with a fabulous variety of restaurants, delis, fast food outlets and even pubs, prices can vary greatly for a typical meal, anything from around $7 each all the up to over $40 each, it just depends where you decide to eat but most have menus in the window showing prices.
** EATING OUT **
We ate a typical New York Café “John’s Café” where a breakfast consisting of the equivalent of a good old fashioned English fry up cost around $6 and a substantial feed it was too with eggs, bacon, sausages, beans, pancakes and of course toast, a cup of coffee cost around $1.50 with unlimited refills, a real bargain. Of course there were lots of other choices on the menu, whether you just wanted pancakes with maple syrup, waffles or even cereal, it was all there and the service was fabulous, the waiting staff were very friendly too.
On Main Avenue’s and Cross Streets at standard fares, it is possible to transfer between Subway’s and Busses to complete your journey.
Tip: When you arrive at the Airport, you will be greeted and harassed by many “Charlatans” looking to make a fast buck from the unsuspecting tourist by pushing their limo or minibus services, stick to you guns and take a yellow cab, there is a flat fare of $35 plus any toll charges and tip taking you to anywhere in Manhattan.** THE PEOPLE **
Over 7 million people reside in and around New York made up of many different races, so as you can imagine there are a fair old mix, most of which are really friendly and helpful but as with any major city, you'll probably come accross the odd bampot or two!There are areas within New York that seem to be famous for a certain culture including Chinatown, Little Italy, Harlem, Jewish Lower East Side, Little Russia, New Amsterdam and Spanish Harlem, it used to be that cultures stuck within their own areas but over the years this has steadily grown and no longer the case, thank goodness.
** TIPPING **Tipping is big in New York, regardless of the quality of service or lack of it, a 15-20% tip is expected, some even adding it your bill, beware the wrath of some drivers, porters or waiting staff that you don’t tip.
Exchange rate at the moment is $1.80 to the £1, a very good time for travelling to the States.If you’ve got this far, well done and thanks for staying with it.
Well that sums up my visit to New York, it was spectacular, it was everything I imagined it be and more and I shall visit again someday, that’s a promise only this time I’ll be sure to take a longer visit to take in more.Thanks for reading, hope you have enjoyed sharing it with me, I look forward to hearing your comments, take care, Heather:)
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