A welcome zephyr on a sizzling summer day, I am relaxing as my mind wanders to the year before when I embarked on a voyage that made my heart race with anticipation: New York.
The city of lights and skyscrapers! I was craving excitement, and of the five boroughs in New York, I spent my short sojourn on the island of Manhattan.
New York is like a mythological creature that you hear about, but don’t quite believe until you experience it for yourself. It’s a symbol of strength and power and the centre of media, culture, food, fashion, art, research, finance, and trade.
Upon arrival, I was greeted with a plethora of ethnicities and nationalities. New York is one of the most multi-cultural cities on the earth and hearing so many different languages and accents filled me with intrigue.
New Yorkers are a lively bunch and friendly too – they have to be with over 8.5 million people living for the most part, harmoniously there.
Because I wanted to be in the middle of all the action, I chose a hotel located in the congested Times Square.
Most of the sites I explored were within walking distance from my accommodation, and the Hop-on Hop-off bus is conveniently available day and night to use for venues further away.
New York Lifestyle
As an independent traveler, I felt safe exploring neighbourhoods and attractions. There are people out at all times of day and night including street food vendors and partygoers. You can step out at 4 am and experience why New York is so popularly dubbed as the “city never sleeps.”
Every morning, I followed the same routine: a stroll in Times Square, then joining locals and visitors in reading our respective copies of the New York Times. Flipping pages of a newspaper seems like an antiquated notion, but it is a common sight in this very modern city. After satisfying my appetite with a hearty breakfast, I’d stop by the Good Morning America studios and inquire about which celebrity would be featured that day.
A Broadway show is a requisite when visiting Manhattan, and my favoured performance was the classic Phantom of the Opera. Who can resist the Angel of Music as he pines for his beloved Christine?
At the corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, I came upon the Flatiron Building – one of the world’s first skyscrapers. Its atypical triangular shape caught my eye and is indisputably one of the most distinctive buildings I’ve ever seen.
Madame Tussauds celebrity wax museum is full of kitsch. I was exuberant while capturing moments with a waxed figure of J. Lo and the Incredible Hulk.
The Empire State Building is the tallest building on the island with the best view of the city found at the 86thfloor observatory. I felt like I was on top of the world; the sight left me breathless.
Each neighbourhood in New York offers a distinctive flavour of the people who live and/or work there.
Wall Street is known as the financial mecca of the world. Here, you’ll find banks, banks and more banks. People in business attire walk with a sense of purpose in this district.
A very different experience from Wall Street is the artists’ haven, Greenwich Village. Residing in this neighbourhood is an eclectic assortment of characters. I felt very much at home there, as the people are very laid-back and welcoming. Shops boast colourful trinkets, clothes from independent designers, and funky furniture. It’s the centre of Bohemian life and culture.
If you’re interested in buildings, you must visit Soho for the greatest collection of cast-iron architecture in the world. Soho is an artsy neighbourhood that has experienced gentrification in recent years. While you’ll still find artists’ lofts in the area, there are also new residences, upscale boutiques, and popular chain stores.
Hungry? With all this exploring, I certainly was and Chinatown is where I treated my taste buds to inexpensive and mouth watering meals. Foods from all over Asia and beyond, as well as fusion fare can be found in this Chinatown.
New York is like no other city in the world and for an urbanite like me, it instantly captured my heart. I urge you to consider visiting New York, and recommend that you budget accordingly as it is a bit expensive, but well worth the experience!
Until next time.