New York

It’s possibly the most famous city in the world. The buildings are immediately recognisable; every major fashion designer has a store there, and yellow taxis are on every street you see....

New York City is so evocative simply in its name alone that it is a major holiday destintion for US citizens as well as traveller from around the world. It had certainly been a dream of mine to go for many, many years so when the chance arrived I jumped at it. I arrived on a train, but even then the city is recognisable from some distance away. Once the train had travelled under the Hudson River, I emerged from Penn St station to be hit full on by New York City. Jumping into a taxi and travelling across the city, getting that first taste of the Big Apple, marvelling at the high buildings and busy streets, it’s quite intoxicating. Some people love the big city and I am certainly one of them. New York is quite like London in feel, but Manhattan is so pure and concentrated that everything is on a huge scale. Even the avenues that run north to south along most of manhattan are six or seven lanes wide. It’s quite an awesome experience and your first day travelling around the city will be an eye-opening experience. I know mine was.

New York
Once I had booked into my apartment and dropped off my luggage, it was out the door to see some of the city. Even for a first timer like me it was easy to find my way around as most of Manhattan follows a grid pattern. Down Fifth Avenue, the big names like Tiffany’s and Saks show their lavish window displays allowing the ultimate thrill for the window shoppers. For my sister and I though, as we’d both travelled that day, it was a short day so we cut back through Central Park and back a few blocks to the apartment.

A large attraction of New York is you can have the holiday you want. Whatever your reason for going, you can indulge it fully. You do as little or as much as you wish. Some prefer a single days shopping whilet others prefer a visit to the galleries and museums, or dine and take in a show. You can really concentrate on what you want to do. I would suggest though that you take in the various tourist sites. Site seeing is big in the States and they don’t come a whole lot bigger than the Empire State Building. While the queue for tickets can be long the view from the top is breathtaking. From the observation deck you can see way up north past Central Park ( and this is possibly the only view which allows you to see the sheer size of Central Park!), east over Brooklyn, south towards the financial district and west over New Jersey. I was convinced to go a second time at night and the views are every bit as good but completely different. The Statue of Liberty is another sight to be experienced close up, but as security has tightened you are no longer allowed inside the statue, a real shame and the reason why I didn’t stop at Liberty Island, but instead stayed on the boat to go to Ellis Island.

A Standing monument to those who travelled to the USA in search of a new start in life, Ellis Island was the first port of call for immigrants arriving in America for the first time. The building, which was in disrepair for quite some time, has been restored now and has been filled with exhibits showing how new arrivals were processed before being allowed entry. The thought of what those poor people went through is quite an emotional ordeal in these days of easy travel. Most poignant of all is that from the floor where the newcomers would have waited, you can see the emblem of freedom and liberty to which they all aspired, the Statue of Liberty.

New York City is a truly amazing place. It caters for whatever you wish to do, and a mere week is barely enough to even scratch the surface. If this feature has whetted your appetite then keep an eye on the travel agents as these days ther are quite a few bargains on flights and accommodation, get a good guidebook, and stay safe. You will have the time of your life.

Chris Ratcliff