Friends and acquaintances alike warned me against doing all the typical tourist-type activities whilst in New York, but being the obstinate character that I am, I decided to ignore this advice and sample all the tourist attractions I could physically fit in - in terms of time and budget. You see, I like to try things out for myself and form my own opinion; so in no particular order of preference, let me introduce to you some of what I got up to during my NY city-break.
I know a lot of people, particularly residing New Yorkers, try to avoid this area because of the bustling atmosphere created by a bunch of excitable tourists trying to capture the perfect Kodak moment, but I thought it would be rather pretentious of me to do this, so against my better judgement, I booked my hotel right in the centre of Times Square! The photo below is of the view from my window on the 28th floor.
I thought Times Square looked its best at night when the bright LED lights really showed off its true brilliance and justified why it is one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions. During the day, it can look a bit tired and hackneyed, especially if the weather isn't great.
You'll feel safe in Times Square
You'll never go hungry in Times Square.
Just minutes from Times Square, I chanced upon a lovely little spot called Bryant Park - a beautiful retreat after a long day to do some people-watching and ponder over the day’s events. It was just at the back of the hotel, which was convenient; my tired feet appreciated its location. So don't despair if you have booked a Times Square hotel, sitting in this place, day or night, will make you forget about the 'chaos' happening over on the next block.
There were a number of office blocks, again just minutes from Times Square and I debated for a while whether I would want to work so close to the thick of the action. The area was very pretty, with lots of food vendors and very close to Bryant Park, so I could be easily swayed.
CITY TOUR BUS
In my opinion, if you haven’t been to New York before, the tour buses are an excellent way to see the city’s popular sites as the route covers Downtown, Uptown, Brooklyn and the Bronx. They offer a hop on – hop off service so if on your sightseeing journey you stumble upon an area or site that interests you, you can just hop off the bus and then hop on the next bus (usually every 10 minutes) when you are finished. You can purchase a 48 hour all-loop/route tour for $59. I thought that was a bargain when you consider what you get for it.
The downtown loop pretty much covered the length of Broadway – probably the most popular and definitely the longest street (15 miles/24 km) running through the borough of Manhattan.
I chuckled when I saw this; most of you will know that my two passions are fashion and nutrition, so how ironic to see this together – ‘Kodak Moment’!
A sea of yellow cabs - they sure like honking their horns, for no apparent reason may I add.
Most people we spoke to recommended that we don't use taxis because they rip you off, so guess what I did......yep I hailed a taxi and took a short ride in the iconic vehicle. I didn't find them to be any more expensive than a British black cab. The very chatty taxi driver informed us that he was from Russia where he used to be a teacher; he decided to move to New York for personal reasons and after realizing he couldn't get a job, he became a taxi driver.
We spent most of our time getting from place to place on the tour bus though. The patriotic tour guide (yep the one carrying the mic) was hilarious, always cracking a joke or two - the New York drawl made the jokes even funnier.
Macy’s aaahhh, but no shopping, ooh except a concealer stick, but I don’t think that counts does it?
The Flatiron Building - truly exemplifies art deco and renaissance architecture. It's a functioning office building as well as a tourist hot-spot. I thought to myself that it must be highly amusing for the employees inside to see people taking snaps of where they work.
A glimpse of the skyscraper that is...The Chrysler Building: the tallest brick building in the world, so I'm told.
The Headquarters of the United Nations - our tour guide advised us that there were no windows down the side to block out the view of the slaughter house that once occupied the space to the side of the building.
Greenwich Village - a largely residential neighbourhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan.
This was interesting - a Chinese – Spanish cuisine? I wonder who does the actual cooking? I won’t tell you what the tour guide said.
The Waldorf Astoria Hotel
One of my favourite comedy movies is Coming to America (1988) starring Eddie Murphy, which featured the prestigious Waldorf Astoria Hotel, so I just had to take a peek. It’s a very palatial establishment with a wealth (excuse the pun) of history behind it. It’s also a favourite among celebrities and VIP’s - presidents, United Nations’ officials, Marilyn Monroe and Paris Hilton to name a notable few. I'll be staying here next time I think........
Just a few minutes from the Waldorf was this restaurant - Smith and Wollensky. The tour guide said it was one of the most famous steak houses in New York. I didn't eat there, I'm not much of a steak and chop person, in fact I had a tasty pizza just round the corner instead!
Anyway I will leave it there for now to give your eyes a break, but there are more snaps to come, if you're interested, from Central Park, Statue of Liberty, SoHo, The Bridges, The Sex and the City tour and views from the skyscrapers and Ground Zero.
Thanks for reading/skimming.