“Welcome to New Yowrak,” the cabdriver yelled in a heavy local accent.
Horns sounding, lights flashing, buskers singing, smoke everywhere, smells of fast food filling the exhaust polluted air within the high buildings towering over my nervously excited body. You would think I wasn’t enjoying myself from the look on my stunned face. But the truth was I had never felt so exhilarated in my life.
After living, studying and working in the big apple for four months my tips to tourists would be people watch, ride the subway and walk the streets.
The subway is a maze of tunnels underground connecting this metropolitan city. As I looked around the carriage everyone was different. It was a host of different nations, races, religions and ages, taking each person to a different place. That multicultural aspect can be found in many big cities but in New York there is a feeling that everyone is like a big family. Get to know New Yorkers because they are what keep the city alive.
To experience the ‘real’ New York you have to live like the people.
Take a stroll and feed the birds in Central Park, eat blueberry pancakes from a diner (don’t forget to tip!), buy a hot pretzel from a smoking street vendor, skate at the Rockefeller Centre in the winter, visit its range of museums, take time to explore different corners of the city if you have time – there is much more to it than Times Square, cross the Brooklyn Bridge in the daylight and then again at night to see the light reflection on the Hudson River, hang out on Washington Square Park with NYU students and the bird man.
Do not limit yourself by only doing the ‘book guided’ attractions; experience your own New York by exploring.
At the weekends I would like to take a stroll on the High Line Park in Chelsea that is in middle Manhattan. This stretch of garden that hangs above the streets of the affluent area offers wonderful views. Pick up some lunch at the Chelsea Market and watch the city go by in this relaxing space.
For a different shopping experience stroll around Tribeca, Greenwich Village and SoHo where you can find quirky boutiques. For well-known brands stay on the main avenues in upper Manhattan. If your budget is almost limitless visit the Upper East Side home to the likes of Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Hermés and more glamour.
As for food, you are in the most multicultural city in the world, so take your pick! Little Italy is an area home to some of the finest Italian restaurants and is like a little pocket of Europe in the middle of New York, if pizza or pasta with a glass of wine is what you fancy then this is the place for you. My favourite place to eat was called Shake Shack, which is like a fancy McDonalds. When darkness is glooming take a trip to the fairy lit Madison Square Park Shake Shack for the ultimate fast food dining experience. For dessert – my choice would be to grab a deliciously soft and creamy cup cake from Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street.
The best thing about New York is it can offer you anything you want from a holiday. May it be a relaxing day in any of its parks, or a hectic shopping or sightseeing day it will not disappoint – just don’t forget your camera.
For more NYC info and advice visit my travel blog big-city-lights-ny.tumblr.com