Take a bite of the Big Apple… New York
New York truly is a remarkable City and it is unquestionably the most exciting City in the World for shopping.
For the first time visitor arriving from JFK in a Yellow Cab you are bound to get a sense of déjà vu because the skyline is so familiar, you can’t take your eyes off the Chrysler Building, Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building. When I first visited we had the awe inspiring sight of the World Trade Centre Twin Towers too.
What most visitors think is New York is in-fact Manhattan, with its famous skyline it’s the beating heart of the City and just a small part of what makes New York, New York. An Island just 13 ½ miles long by 2 ¼ miles wide, it’s where you will find Broadway, the Skyscrapers, Central Park and 5th Avenue, home to World Famous Departments Stores. With a good pair of Walking Shoes you can conquer the City on foot in a long weekend. There are four other Boroughs, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island each having its own personality and worthy of a visit if time permits. Guided Tours will take you to the famous Fairground on Coney Island or to a Gospel Meeting in The Bronx, however most Tourists on a weekend break to New York rarely find the time to leave the tiny Island of Manhattan.
As with any City break location is key. Whilst it’s a vibrant area during the day you really don’t want to be down near Battery Park and Wall Street at night because it’s deserted when the offices close, likewise if you intend to shop till you drop then you need to be South of Central Park and North of The Empire State Building. The area where Broadway crosses at Times Square and where the City really does ‘never sleep’.
If you start your Shopping Trip at Central Park and 5th Avenue you’ll find F.A.O Schwarz , The World’s largest Toy Store and instantly recognisable from ‘Home Alone’ and countless other Movies. Walking along 5th Avenue you can be spoilt for choice, whether shopping for designer clothes or just ‘windows’ the displays are fabulous and the store names so familiar – Tiffany & Co, Saks & Bloomingdales, Macys on Broadway & 34th covering over 1 million sq ft of retail space! In reality prices are not as keen as they were as the exchange rate is not what it was but it is still possible to bag a bargain , particularly as you carry on south after Macy’s, the shops get cheaper and the contents tackier. I was amazed that my teenage daughter wanted to carry my shopping but soon discovered that there is something very ’Sex & the City’ about walking along 5th Avenue with countless bags – even if they are from cheap souvenir shops!
Visiting New York at any time of year is exciting but at Christmas it becomes magical. Make time to stop at The Rockefeller Centre on 50th & 5th to admire the giant Christmas Tree with over 5 miles of lights and join the Ice Skaters at Rockefeller Plaza to really get in the Christmas Spirit. The beautiful decorations inside Saks on 5th Avenue turn the sales floor into a fantasy of red bows and Christmas Trees and the Toy Department at Macy’s is alive..
New York can be very cold in Winter, wrap up warm and take a Horse & Carriage ride around Central Park to see the skaters and joggers. Remember all is not lost if you haven’t got the right clothes you can always buy some there!
Tourist attractions like the Empire State Building can be quite expensive but the view from the top is breathtaking and very worthwhile. If you are trying to save some $’s there are so many free attractions too. Keep in mind that some Museums have free evening admission once a week and others such as The Metropolitan and the Museum of Natural History have ‘suggested’ admission prices so you can decide what you pay.
If you cross the Brooklyn Bridge by Foot and look back you get the most marvellous view of the skyline. Walk around Battery Park in Lower Manhattan, there are some great street entertainers and fascinating artefacts from Ground Zero including the huge battered Globe which was inside one of the Towers. You can visit Ground Zero to see the progress of the new tower and now visit Tribute WTC Visitor Centre located in the former Liberty Deli at 120 Liberty Street. Turned into a Soup Kitchen in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks it soon became a distribution & meeting point for the emergency services and is now a place to see photos and listen to personal stories from that infamous Day.
From Lower Manhattan you can take the free Staten Island Ferry said by some to be the best free ferry ride in the World for its great views of the Statue of Liberty. And don’t forget to visit the gorgeous Grand Central Station too; I could spend a Day there!
Tailormade trips to suit any budget are available from Sue Alexander at Eagle Travel on 01234 348882
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