“Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do…”
Getting that first glimpse of the awe-inspiring Manhattan skyline, a sight so familiar from so many movies yet so surreal, was more than just a dream come true. This city captured my heart before I’d even set foot in it. For as long as I can remember, New York has been a city that has called my name its beautiful, glittering skyline and impossibly tall skyscrapers. I can remember begging my Dad to take us to New York, even just for a weekend! And when I finally set foot in this magnificent city, I had a hard time believing I was seeing it for real – and now I can’t wait to go back…
With a whirlwind 3 nights in the heart of NYC, I barely scratched the surface let alone dipped my toe in but I had just enough time to breathe in magic of this bustling metropolis while racing around its streets. After far too many hours of travelling, we arrived in New York on Friday evening and my jetlag was put on hold while I tried to take in the overwhelming noise and lights and absorb the fact that I was staring out at New York City from my hotel room window. Since my husband is a seasoned long-haul traveler with regular business trips to Toronto, we had to keep moving until it was a decent hour NYC time to go to sleep. So after a quick shower and change of clothes, we walked out of our hotel and into the energetic crowds and towering billboards of Times Square. In some ways it feels like you are stepping onto a movie set with so many familiar sights all around you from so many movies watched. Yellow cabs, plumes of stream rising up from the sidewalks, glittering lights, the wail of fire engines speeding down the streets and skycrapers towering so high you get dizzy looking up at them. When I’m in a new city I love to walk, it’s the best way to really get a feel for where you are and take everything in. So we walked and walked and walked ticking off the many sights as we went – Nasdaq’s neon blue billboard, a glimpse of the Empire State building, New York Public Library. By this time I was just about falling asleep on my feet so we slipped into Brooklyn Diner for burgers before dragging ourselves back to the hotel for some much needed sleep!
Starbucks coffee in hand, we set off the next morning for Central Park. Columbus Circle was just a short walk up from our hotel and there emerged Central Park, a magnificent oasis of greenery nestled so unexpectedly in the heart of this concrete jungle. It was so much bigger than I had imagined and we walked for hours – Sheep Meadow, The Lake, The Loeb Boathouse, The Great Lawn and don’t forget the horse drawn carriages – all while catching glimpses of the skyline popping up above the trees. When my feet felt like they no longer belonged to me, we made our way out and onto 5th Avenue and absorbed the real glamour of the Upper East Side spotting many true New York sights! Slick black town cars, green awnings over luxury apartment blocks with doorman standing at the ready, down past the Googenhiem Museum before cutting back through the Park and popping out at the Plaza Hotel – an iconic feature in so many movies!
After a short rest back at the hotel, it was time to head off to the World Trade Centre site so we hopped on the subway and headed downtown. I had no idea what to expect but stepping out into the Oculus (the jaw-dropping, architectural masterpiece that is now the World Trade Centre Transport hub) was a feast for the eyes. Having been glued to the news the day the Twin Towers fell and seen the footage played over and over, countless times, it was a surreal experience standing where those towers once stood, one that gave me goosebumps and a flood of emotion. Nothing could really have prepared me for the sheer vastness of the now-empty foundations of the Twin Towers and gazing up at the skyscrapers sent chills down my spine as the enormity of that devastating day became that much clearer. Seeing the thousands of names engraved on the sides of the Memorial Pools, the footprint of the Twin Towers, with the hundreds of white roses scattered all around to mark a birthday, brought tears to my eyes.
“These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you…”
From there we took a slow walk down Wall Street and through the Financial District. I had expected it to be a buzz with a certain energy but it was actually surprisingly quiet and would have missed the New York Stock Exchange if my husband hadn’t pointed it out. After a short debate we decided to head towards the Brooklyn Bridge instead of towards the Charging Bull and ended up walking all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge and halfway over it. This was the only really disappointing part for me as the bridge was so ridiculously busy that we were like sardines slowly moving upstream and could barely take in much of the bridge or surroundings – and after how far we had walked, I was less than impressed!
That night it was back to the bustle of Times Square and a visit to the Rockefeller Ice Rink with its enormous Christmas tree. The streets of New York have an electrifying energy about them, it’s something that’s hard to put into words but it got under my skin and into my bones. Wandering the streets late at night, it’s busy and crowded and noisy and chaotic and AMAZING!
For my husband’s last morning in the city (he was heading to Toronto a day earlier to be in the office on Monday morning), it was off to the Empire State Building. Of all the things to do, our trip would not have been complete without ticking this one off the list. And it is every bit as awe-inspiring as you think – and cold, really cold! But the views… it really puts the scale of New York into perspective when you see it from above. The perfect rectangle of of Central Park, Lady Liberty peeking out in the distance, the Hudson River and Brooklyn Bridge, you can see it all. It’s worth going really early though to skip the queues and it was definitely worth it as the lines were rather chaotic when we left. We had just enough time to dash into Grand Central Station and catch a glimpse of the hustle and bustle of the Main Concourse – another oh so familiar sight from many a movie with its four-faced brass clock at the centre. It is a truly magnificent piece of architecture and I only wish we had more time to explore this majestic gem.
The rest of my time in New York was relatively uneventful as I got really sick which was incredibly frustrating. But I managed to take a wander down 5th Avenue and sneak in a little shopping on their end-of-season sales. I spent a fair amount of time wandering through Tiffany’s, marveling at all the prettiness! For my last morning, I mustered all the strength I had and took the Subway to Greenwich Village, where I felt like I was on the set of Friends! And all too soon it was time for me to pack my bags and head on off to meet my husband on the next leg of my holiday. New York got under my skin, into my soul and this wonderland was everything I had dreamt of and more. Until next time….