New York is the most fascinating city I’ve ever been to so far, so I really had to begin my article by saying this. It’s a lively, huge, crowded, mixed and extremely beautiful city. The first time I had the chance to visit The City That Never Sleeps (the world-renowned nickname) it was in the summer of 2014. At the time, a very special person prepared a big and totally unexpected surprise for me: a short getaway in New York City.
I remember I was so enchanted by New York, even before I got the chance to see it for real. Serena and Blair from Gossip Girl made me fall in love with the stylish streets, charming neighborhoods and the active urban lifestyle.
But now let’s go back to that day of 18th of August 2014. We arrived in New York around 4 PM. Quite late, considering that I always prefer the natural light for taking pictures and for walks, but even though, I could not complain. The whole experience was too amazing to even be bothered about the late hour.
After a journey of 9 hours by car, in which we crossed 4 states (Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and New York), we finally arrived at the destination. The first stop it was in Brooklyn. We parked the car on a street like the ones I described earlier and then we went to eat in an Arabic restaurant, originally from Yemen (you can find it here on yelp). We tried the most traditional Arabic dish: rice with chicken and lamb, and for dessert we chose fatteh, a delicious combination, very sweet, made of bread, banana and a cream cheese (gishta), which can only be found in the Arabic stores; two words: mouth-watering!
The visit at the restaurant was pretty short. We didn’t want to spend too much time in Brooklyn, considering that the best thing in New York is actually Manhattan. The Big Apple is divided in 5 big areas or boroughs:
- The Bronx
- The Staten Island
Manhattan is the luxurious neighborhood of New York, in which we can find numerous tourist attractions, museums, universities, historic buildings and skyscrapers. Surrounded by The East River and Hudson River, Manhattan is distinguished with lots of bridges; the very well-known are: Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge. Obviously, because we were driving the car, we had to cross Brooklyn Bridge, from Brooklyn to Manhattan and this gave us the chance to admire the oldest suspended bridge in the U.S. and the most popular, at the same time. Brooklyn Bridge can be crossed by car, walking or by bike, offering a beautiful panorama over Manhattan, in the daylight or by night.
Not having too much time at our disposal, we couldn’t make it for more than the main tourist attractions:
- Central Park
- Rockefeller Center
- Empire State Building
- Times Square
We parked the car in one of the underground parking lots at a hotel on 5th Avenue. Unfortunately, the parking rates in downtown Manhattan are very likely to start at around $30-$40/day, so I highly recommend you to leave your car somewhere in the less expensive places in New York and take the subway, which is very affordable, and you will even arrive much faster at the places that you want to visit.
Central Park is definitely my dream park. I am a fan of parks in general, but Central Park has a special place in my heart. Maybe because I already knew it from the movies who had their action filmed there, maybe for the contrast between the vegetation and the close skyscrapers, for the feeling of freedom inside of it, for the thousands people you could meet from all over the world, for the artistic events, the painting expositions on the alleys, the foreign languages you can hear around you, the countless number of trails, the simple walks through the American elms or maybe for the big number of friendly squirrels.
How you can spend your time in the 3.4km2? Very simple: relaxing, reading your favorite book while lying on the grass, drinking your coffee on one of the thousands green benches in the park, sitting on the lakeside, playing Frisbee with your dog, holding hands with your lover while crossing one of the 36 bridges in the park or taking pictures of your favorite landscapes. Whatever you choose to do in order to enjoy the wonderful oasis in the middle of the urban jungle, you will definitely transform those moments in a lifetime memory.
Rockefeller Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings; the most important of them all is 30 Rockefeller Plaza, in front of which, every year is installed the famous Christmas Tree and the rink. Rockefeller Center is situated between 48th and 51st streets and 5th and 6th Avenue. When it’s not snowing and Santa Claus is not getting ready to come, instead of the rink, there are some white tables and couches for people to sit at.
When I think about Times Square, it comes to my mind the song of Alicia Keys and especially the following lyrics:
Even if it ain’t all it seems, I got a pocket full of dreams
Baby, I’m from New York
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York […]
This is the song I instantly and involuntary associate with the feeling that I get from New York and Times Square especially. In Times Square you can get the feeling that you are part of an American movie scenario. It’s such a bright place, that you almost can’t figure out if it’s night or daytime. It’s one of the most visited crossroads in the world, with an average of 50 million people every year. Impressive, right? In Times Square you will see any kind of entertainment. Also, in Times Square is the annual ceremony that takes place in the night between the years, when millions of people are waiting for the midnight hour, when the ball is falling down from the top of the Times Building.
EMPIRE STATE BUILDING
I was dreaming to get to the top of this building since I saw it for the first time in the King Kong movie. It’s a landmark construction of the New York skyline and one of the most famous buildings in the world. Empire owned the title for the tallest building in the world for more than 40 years in a row, between 1931 and 1972. The skyscraper is 443 m tall and has 102 floors. Today, anyone can go up to the or even at the last one, where they can enjoy a 360° panorama of the city. I didn’t get the chance to do that on my first visit because of the short time, but I did it next time. However, it’s impossible to not notice the majesty of this gorgeous, iconic building among the other skyscrapers of New York., by simply wandering the streets.
Overall, my first trip to New York was amazing and I can definitely say that The City stole my heart forever and even though I’ve been there 4 times already since that day, I can’t wait to go back!
- How about you? Have you been to New York?
- What is your favorite thing to do in The City?
- Which one of the places that I mentioned in this article would you like to visit most?
… and a few more pictures: