This time two years ago I was arriving in New York City with my eyes wide open. It was my first (and to date, only) visit to the Big Apple, and I must apologise to the native New Yorkers, because I spent the whole time I was there with my neck craned, just looking up in awe at the magnificent city around me. I probably annoyed a multitude of busy people with real things to do as I wandered the pavements in obvious tourist mode.
It was such a bucket-list tick off for me. I would love, love, love to go back again. There’s a million things to do and we barely scratched the surface. We spent our time checking off the big ticket items, so it’s my aim to go back, hopefully for longer than five days, and just take some time getting to know the finer points of the city, or at least parts of it.
Here’s five of the things I really loved doing and seeing in the city that never sleeps.
1. Top of the Rock.
Yeah, I saw the sunset at the top of the Empire State Building and it was spectacular and all, and an experience I’ll never forget. But, the lines! We pretty much strolled right up to the top of the Rockefeller Centre, no waiting involved. It was a different story with the Empire State Building; there was a line out the door and in a building with 102 floors that is one long line. The other added advantage of the Rock is you get a fantastic view of the Empire State Building and Central Park. If you only have time for one, make it the Top of the Rock!
For a die-hard pop-culture and TV lover this was a must. I saw the Friends building! And Grace Adler Designs! And sat on the Cosby stoop! I was busting with excitement before, during and after this tour. Also, being chauffeured around by bus was a nice break for tired and sore feet. I almost walked the soles off my feet in the five days I spent in NYC.
I love bridges. I think the engineering minds and skills behind them are amazing. The Brooklyn Bridge is beautiful. The lovely wooden footbridge and old stones give it so much texture and character and really serve to give you a sense of exactly how old it is. The wire cable suspension stays also add to the aesthetic. I know this sounds weird, but compared to modern utilitarian bridges the Brooklyn Bridge really has a personality about it.
4. Madison Square Garden Knicks game.
We did a behind the scenes tour in the day and went back for a Knicks vs Denver Nuggets game that night. Am I into basketball? No. It didn’t matter. It was such a spectacle. Americans really put razzle-dazzle entertainment into their sporting events (Superbowl anyone?) in a way that Australians don’t. I always had something to look at, and we even did some celebrity spotting – spying Magic Johnson courtside.
5. Just being there.
Until I moved to Canada for a year it seemed like a distant dream that a kid from Aussie would even make it to North America. It’s not a short, or inexpensive trip. Australians spend a good portion of our lives watching American tv and becoming familiar with the landscapes and scenes, especially of the most filmed city in the world. You start to build a certain expectation about what it would be like – and New York completely lived up to everything we wanted it to be. I felt like I was walking around inside a tv set. Turning a corner and seeing the Chrysler Building peeking out at me, or walking past the site where John Lennon was shot, popping into Bloomingdales for shopping – it was awesome to make these sites and events that are so much a part of our collective consciousness become part of our real life experiences.