Well I went on my trip to New York and just got back a few days ago. My travel there and back was much less stressful than I had anticipated thanks to the great advice I received from some of you. So thank you all for that.
Having never been to New York before I wasn’t sure what to expect really. I thought big and brash would be the order of the day, and though there is an element of that there, it isn’t all like that.
As you may know, I was travelling with my mum and sister to visit my nephew who is living and working there at the moment. Unfortunately my sister caught a bug on the plane over and spent the entire week ill in bed with a high fever. She literally did not see a single New York site the whole time we were there. It was such a shame. Still my mum, my nephew and I managed to get out a few days to have a look around.
We wanted to do all the touristy things of course.
First thing we decided to do was the Empire State Building. For any of you familiar with the Deborah Kerr/Cary Grant Movie – 'An affair to remember' or even the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie – 'Sleepless in Seattle', you’ll know that this particular venue is a Mecca for romantics around the world. Unfortunately the reality of the place is not quite so coochy-coo.
Don’t get me wrong, the building itself is beautiful, and as a fan of architecture I really appreciated the Art Deco stylings. But once you set foot inside the building, it's a slick, streamlined conveyor belt of tourists from every nationality on the planet, moving to the beat of a never-ending line of ushers bellowing out commands for tickets and elevators.
All this combined with the fact that all of these tourists are all trying to get to the top as quickly as possible to get the best view. It felt, at times, like a bit of a scrum, which detracted a little from the experience.
Next stop, Grand Central Station. Yet another iconic building from the movies. What I started to notice about New York was that almost every building or street seemed iconic, mostly I think because we've seen so much of the city in the movies. Still it was great to experience it all first hand.
What I noticed at Grand Central Station was something I don’t think I've ever seen in the movies, namely the roof of the main hall. It's beautifully painted with an astral theme. All the stars of the constellations are there with each constellation in its place relative to the next and all beautifully and finely outlined on a concave roof that's painted an ethereal turquoise/aquamarine colour. Simply stunning.
The New York City Public library was a must as well. Well it's right on 5th Avenue – so why not! For those of you who are 'Sex and The City' fans, the New York City Public library is where Carrie Bradshaw planned to marry Big in the first of the movies. It's also the venue where Jake Gyllenhall’s character stays during the big freeze in the movie, 'The Day after Tomorrow'.
More importantly though, it is yet another beautiful building with painted ceilings reminiscent of the works of Michelangelo and is a repository for not only some of the greatest books ever written, but some of the greatest minds in America. Definitely worth a visit.
(By the way – please excuse the movie references, those of you who know me will know that I live my films so sometimes I can't help myself!)
So mum got to go to Tiffanys were we strolled around for about half an hour pretending we were really looking for something very expensive but turning our noses up because they didn’t have anything quite expensive enough! I doubt anyone would have believed us if we had actually shared this fantasy with any of the staff but we had fun!
St. Patricks Cathedral is definitely worth a visit, and I always make a point of visiting old churches wherever I'm travelling. You can tell a lot about a country or city’s past as well as its present just by looking at their churches. Also, it appeals to my interest in artchitecture as well as stained glass. Plus, it's a great chance for a quiet moment in what can be a hectic day of sightseeing and shopping.
We ended one of our days out in the city by having tea at The Plaza. Once a hotel but now a luxury apartment block, it still retains a lot of its former splendour as well as its Tea Room! Treat yourself if you are ever there.
We were lucky enough to get tickets for a broadway show, thanks to friends of my nephew who are native New Yorkers and very much in the know. It was a matinee and as it turned out a rainy wet Wednesday afternoon, so perfect timing to sit inside a theatre and escape from the horrible weather outside.
Times Square in midtown is a must. What can I say, it's big, it's brash, it's bright, and I loved it!
Finally, Chinatown is such a buzzing exciting place to visit. Its main street, Church Street, is teaming with tourists and locals, all looking for a bargain. You will get offered counterfeit watches and leather goods so be warned!
That said, there is such a vibe there that it would be hard not to enoy it. I have to confess, there were quite a few souvenirs bought here, but mostly on my sister's behalf as she couldn't leave the hotel.
I also felt that a visit to Ground Zero would be a good idea. What happened there has had such an impact on the whole world over the last few years that I felt I should go and see it for myself. Nothing really quite prepares you for the impact of it.
I remember standing at the corner of Ground Zero and suddenly thinking of the images we all saw on TV of the streets filling with billowing clouds of debris as the towers fell and people literally ran for their lives. An arresting moment. I'm glad I went.
We were due to go on the Thursday of our trip but President Obama planned a trip there that day as well (do you think he knew I was in town?). So we postponed until the Friday, the day before we left, and that is one of my last memories of New York.
My first time in NY was short but so much fun. I can't believe it's been and gone already. As with all the best holidays, though, I have so many great memories.
If any of you have been as lucky as me to visit there, I would love to hear about your experiences.