New York, New York, so good they named it twice.
When you arrive in New York, you’ve already seen so many things, from smoking roads to yellow cabs, from streets of skyscrapers to instantly recognisable landmarks, New York is most definitely a city like no other!
Flying direct from Belfast on the extremely convenient United flight we arrived in the city where dreams are made of in late afternoon. We checked into a newly refurbished hotel in Hell’s Kitchen, the Row NYC. And the area is buzzing! On our first visit to the city in 1994, we were told DO NOT GO WEST beyond Times Square, now it’s the place to be, with new and extremely popular burger restaurants and bars popping up everywhere. It’s amazing to see the change. Although, to be fair, 20 years ago we ignored the warnings and went to an amazing club in the heart of the area, and ended up being picked from the back of the queue to get invited into the club. Maybe that was our reward for bravery, or stupidity!
This time we wanted to see parts of the city we hadn’t seen before and had a small itinerary in our heads to fill our two day trip.
Thanks to watching a programme called, Million Dollar Listings NYC over the last few months we had spotted a number of new places to see.
But first and unexpectedly, the breakfast news showed the iconic Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree was arriving that morning. So our first stop was a trip to see it.
Our list included a free tour of Grand Central Station, yes, FREE! Not many things in life are genuinely free but this 90 minute tour has no strings attached! 1230 every Friday, meet in the Southwest corner of the station in Sculpture Court at 120 Park Avenue. For this 90 minute walking tour the secrets of the station were revealed including the largest Tiffany glass clock of its kind, a huge Eagle from the original station found in someone’s back yard, and the whispering gallery. Which has to be seen to believed! In a busy bustling station find the gallery and stand in opposite corners, then talk into the wall. To your amazement you will hear the person talking in the other corner, as clear as if they were standing right beside you. An absolute New York must see/hear!
Next stop was Bryant Park behind New York Library, you’ll know the library if you’re a Sex and the City fan, it’s where Carrie arrived to get married. And we discovered a market, much like Belfast’s Continental Market. Bryant Park Winter Market is full of traders selling art, designs, food and there’s a free ice rink on site as well. Beautiful place. Well worth a visit if you are in the city between now and early Jan.
We headed over to the High Line, an old railway track converted in to a raised walkway and a very popular and busy walk it is as well. Think Comber Greenway on stilts as it snakes it’s way through Manhattan from 34th Street to the Meatpacking district down the western side of Manhattan. The High Line is now one of the top visitor attractions in New York, and it’s free! It is only a raised walkway above the city, but with lots of landscaping and great viewpoints and rest areas intermingled with street art it’s well worth the visit.
And we arrived at our next destination, the revived Meatpacking district, once another run down area, now packed with locals and tourists. Streets are lined with some very expensive designer boutiques, art galleries and trendy looking places to eat. But of course as a St George’s Market trader I had to find the New York equivalent, Chelsea Market. If you do visit the city at some point, you have to visit this market. Chelsea Market is as good as you can get for a marketplace. This place has to be seen to be believed.
Also on our bucket list, but something we’ve never been to on our previous visits to the city is Brooklyn bridge. The plan was to get the subway to the 9/11 memorial then walk over the bridge. So the next day we hopped on the subway and headed downtown. But the World Trade Centre stop never happened, then I realised and said
‘We need to get off!’
‘We’ve missed our stop and are in the heart of Brooklyn!’
Ooopsy, that wasn’t in the plan!
A very quick change of route and we headed back a couple of stops, got off at High Street Subway in Brooklyn, and walked back across a busy and iconic Brooklyn Bridge towards Manhattan with fantastic views of the city with the new One World Trade Centre as its focal point. On the bridge we spotted a bronze etching of the city skyline viewpoints still with the Twin Towers on it.
After a quick stop at South Sea Port to look for a chocolatier, the Mast Brothers Manhattan shop, which appeared to have closed, we made our way to the 9/11 memorial waterfall.
And there, on the spot of one of the original towers is the largest man made waterfall in USA falling into the abyss in the centre. Surrounded by a plinth with the names of all those who died on that day, the site is a stunning and heartfelt tribute to an event which has changed the world.
We didn’t go into the museum, it was very busy, but it sounds like it’s worth the visit. Something for next time then.
Heading north we passed through the vibrant back streets of a shoppers delight, Soho, and up through a huge street market on Broadway and finally a quick stop in Macy’s.
Six miles of walking later and we were ready for a rest and to get on with part two of our trip. A cruise from New York to the Bahamas, but more on that tomorrow.
Here are some of our New York tips:
A Belfast chum told us to go to Applebee’s for a good breakfast. We did…. but you’d be much better to head up to Norma’s for one of the best in the city. It’s expensive at twice the prices of Applebee’s but worth 100 times more in taste and quality.
Where did we eat:
It was burger time! Justin Timberlake’s Southern Hospitality restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, perfect service and great wholesome filling and tasty burgers.
Shakeshack, Hell’s Kitchen. Trust me, the queue for a burger is worth the wait. Maybe the best burger and crinkle cut chips and custard shake ever, anywhere!
We did plan on going to 5napkinburger, but that’ll happen next time.
Look out tomorrow for part two. The cruise to the Bahamas.
Thanks to Oasis Travel in Bangor for organising our trip. All we had to do was pay and they kept us right.