Finally, another opportunity to travel arrived, and this time it was a chance to visit the Big Apple. This was only the second trip in the past two years, I have been able to do, but heading to New York, and experiencing one of the greatest cities on the planet, was worth the wait.
It was a short, four-day trip, but with enough planning, I was able to see everything I wanted, with ample time to spare for a few extras. I have had the pleasure of visiting Gotham numerous times and have learned some tricks, which I will pass along in this article.
The first thing you want to do is buy a pair of good walking shoes. I find walking in NYC is easy and fun and you will be amazed at how many interesting stores you see along the way. Before you begin your adventure, you may want to consider flying into Newark’s Liberty Airport. It is a 40-minute taxi ride to Times Square, and a great deal less busy than LaGuardia. You can also fly Porter Airlines, and save the hassle of Pearson Airport.
I always stay in Times Square. The Renaissance is a fantastic property, and makes up one of the two triangles in Times Square. In fact, while having breakfast, you can view the famous New Year’s Eve ball drop location. Make sure you get a room above the 12th floor, as it may be noisy in the lower half.
When it is time for lunch, you can try Maman’s Bakery restaurant on 48th Street between 5th and 6th (a five minute walk). The smell of fresh baked goods welcomes you before you even step through the doorway. Be prepared for a lineup, as its popularity among residents has risen immensely.
After lunch, make your way along 45th to the Hudson River for a Circle Line cruise of Manhattan. The 90 minute tour takes you right next to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, where, from 1892 to 1954, nearly 12 million immigrants were processed at the Port of New York and New Jersey. The boat then rounds the tip of Manhattan where I saw spectacular views of One World Trade Centre, the tallest building in the United States, as well as the Western Hemisphere.
I headed up the East River and travelled underneath the Brooklyn bridge, where we see the iconic ‘movie’ shoot of New York. Another great view of the Empire State building came into the frame, as the ship made its way along the midtown section of Manhattan.
After a fantastic cruise, I walked to the Rockefeller Centre and a trip to the ‘Top of the Rock’. This amazing building offers spectacular views of New York City, including Central Park. Many people visit the Empire State Building, which is also fantastic, but the view from the ‘Rock, includes an amazing vista of the Empire State Building.
I enjoyed a fantastic dinner at the Terrace Garden Restaurant, near Times Square and, after a nightcap in the hotel was ready for a good night’s rest.
After breakfast, the next morning, I walked along Broadway to visit the Flatiron Building. From there it was a short stroll to Macy’s for a little shopping. This, the largest department store in the US, offers more than 230,000 square metres or 2.5 million square feet of space for shoppers.
I made my way to Soho and Greenwich and stopped at the famous Chobani Yogurt Café, for a treat. The shops in this area are unique and plentiful, I was ready for a delicious meal at Balthazar, a great haunt of the rich and famous… and now, me.
It was a long day of walking and when I returned to the hotel, I had enough time for a rest before my New York theatre adventure. I saw Funny Girl, which was awesome, with a gelato nightcap, as I walked back to the hotel.
The next day I walked 10 minutes north to Central Park. I am sure half of the Hallmark movies start with a drone shot of the park, but seeing it in person is spectacular. Sheeps Meadow and its famous view was originally a parade ground, but converted to a meadow for sheep. In 1934, it was returned to a park setting, and in the 60s was a great area for protests.
For me, the most picturesque part of Central park is the Bethesda Terrace. Usually there is a musician entertaining the crowds, but to simply walk around the fountain is very relaxing.
From here, you can continue to walk through the park or, as I preferred, stroll up Park Avenue to visit the Metropolitan Art Museum, followed by the famous Guggenheim Museum. Both are well worth the visit.
New York City is one of those towns, which require careful planning so you do not miss anything of interest. Many of the attractions require reservations, but it is all worth it, once you arrive. It is difficult to find a more exciting city, so start spreading the news, because you can leave today…
Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit photosNtravel.com