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The New New York
Having grown up on a healthy diet of Hollywood movies and American TV shows, New York felt like home even though it was my first visit to the Big Apple
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“One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years. ” - Tom Wolfe
"Taxi", I called as I stepped out of my hotel on Madison Avenue. A yellow Toyota Corolla stopped in front of me and as I got in, a sense of déjà vu filled me.
Having grown up on a healthy diet of Hollywood movies and American TV shows, New York felt like home even though it was my first visit to the Big Apple.
Fifth Avenue, Broadway, Park Avenue, Brooklyn, Queens, all names so familiar that they rattled off my tongue. But then, that is the beauty of this vibrant city, it’s new and yet familiar at the same time. Within minutes of landing, you feel at home even as you marvel at the sights with your face plastered across the taxi window.
Without doubt, there is more to see and do in NYC than anywhere else in the world. Whether you are a tourist or a hard-core New Yorker, there is always a new experience waiting for you.
So, how do you decide on the sights and the experiences given that you are in the city for a limited time, I ask Chris Heywood, senior vice president of global communications at NYC & Company, the official destination marketing organisation for New York City. “New York City has countless authentic visitor experiences to offer, from arts, design and retail to culture and cuisine. We recommend repeat visitors discover our lesser-known neighbourhood gems, many of which are in the boroughs beyond Manhattan — the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.”
Of course, as a first time visitor, you will tick off the iconic New York landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire States building, Times Square, etc. After all, clicking pictures at these spots and posting them on social media is critical. And I am guilty of that like most others. However, there is so much more to New York. The city that never sleeps is a melting pot of experiences and you can take your pick from a variety of them.
Shakespeare And Gardens
Well, you cannot give Central Park a miss, especially if you are a first time visitor. But if you happen to be there in the summer, you can also watch one of Shakespeare’s famous plays right there at Central Park. Called Shakespeare in the Park, the play is held at Delacorte Theatre, an open-air theatre in the Park and tickets are distributed for free on the day of the production. But if you miss that, don’t lose heart. Just walk across to the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park or hop across to the one in Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) where several varieties of plants mentioned in the Bard’s works have been planted along with accompanying quotes, a must for Shakespeare lovers. A day spent at the 52-acre BBG is also truly rewarding. Made up of several mini gardens, including a Japanese hill-and-pond garden, one of the oldest and most visited Japanese-inspired gardens outside of Japan, the BBG is perfect for a relaxing day in the sun.
Confession. I am a shopaholic and New York is Mecca for shoppers. There is no shortage of shopping opportunities in the city. Everywhere you turn, there is something new and thrilling on offer. You are only limited by the size of your wallet and airline baggage limit. However, if you want to make the whole shopping experience even more exciting, book an appointment with a stylist at Macy’s. He or she will help you select a variety of clothes, accessories, shoes and even home décor, if that’s what you want. Just answer a few questions about what you are looking for and let the stylist guide you. Give it a try. It’s a lot of fun and, if at the end of the day, you return empty handed, Macy’s doesn’t mind and you are richer for the styling tips.
Food And History
From Michelin star restaurants to roadside hot dog vendors, from cheap eats in Chinatown to gourmet pizzas in Greenwich Village, New York offers food for every palate and every wallet. You could try and eat your way through all the best restaurants in NYC (challenge accepted?), or you could do a food tour to get a taste of some of the local cuisine. The sheer variety of tours is also mind boggling. Choose from a bagel tour on the Lower East Side to a pizza tour in Manhattan or explore Greek food in Astoria. I selected a tour of the Chelsea Food Market, situated in a 119-year old historic landmark building, the birthplace of the Oreo cookie. The three-hour Foods of New York tour included seven tastings. But what made it more interesting was that it gave you a perspective of how the neighbourhood has changed.
A Star Is Born
Ever wonder what goes on behind shows such as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Seth Meyers, etc. Take a behind-the-scenes tour at the NBC studios to experience it first hand. What makes the tour even more thrilling is that at the end, you get to interact with the entire production process first-hand as you produce and star in your own TV segment. Added bonus: NBC mails you a video of your performance.
City Of Dreams
New York is the city of dreams and Broadway is its epicentre. While thousands come every year to try their luck and dream of becoming stars, the sheer magnitude of the productions leave viewers spell bound. Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, Cats… theatrical productions that have become household names. Watching one or more has to be on your to-do list irrespective of how many times you visit the city.
On Top Of The World
If you want to feel on top of the world, there is no place like New York. Observe the city from the 86th or 102nd-floor observatory decks of the most recognisable tower in the US — the Empire State Building. And if your love for heights demand you go higher, visit the One World Observatory of the 1,776 ft high One World Trade Centre, referred to as the Freedom Tower. Get your bearings and an idea of the sheer size of the city from the top floor. Experience City Pulse, an interactive video concierge service that provides information about any neighbourhood below. For me, the most interesting bit was the video that you see during the 47-second elevator ride which shows the transformation of New York City from unsettled lands to the global city of today.
The author was invited to New York by NYC & Company