I am now in Manhattan, actually as I write these lines, I am enjoying a cup of coffee in Bryant Park. I invite you to read this post as an introduction to this impressive city. It is impossible to put everything about New York here, actually it is really hard to define New York overall. This city is many things and there is always something new to see. Things and people just come and go. Multitudes wander from one point to another and it is easy to feel lost amidst the shuffle in the Big Apple. Still, New York is one of the most amazing cities in the world. It is hard to feel bored in a city that has so much to offer as this one does. New York is called the capital of the world and being here it is easy to understand why people think of this city in that way. It is one of the most cosmopolitan places on earth. In just a matter of minutes one can see persons from the most distant places on earth all working and living side by side. One may eat a particular ethnic plate in a different restaurant every day of the year and still there will be many other options to try. New York is a city that attracts great interest. Almost everybody who wants to visit United States includes New York as one of their main stops. But New York is a city that can be scary too, even for those who live just outside the metropolitan area. They call New York: “the city” the big place, and I often hear many people in the Hudson Valley, just one hour North of New York say: “Oh we do not go to the big city unless for work or if we have a guests who really want to visit that place.” What is it that makes a city create such contradictory feelings in someone? Maybe it is the variety or even the diversity it involves. The truth is that New York is a city that offers so much for all kinds of tastes, from elaborate cultural experiences to laidback, beautiful parks, from high end restaurants to small street vendors with food carts. This is a city which requires one to feel alive, to enjoy, to dress simply (or fashionably, here it does not matter how you go about) and to recharge oneself with all the energy this city has to offer.
Arriving in New York:
Here for many problems may start from the very beginning. Never fear, New York is a city that has an amazing transportation system. There are three huge international airports, a sea and a river port and bus and train stations. Many may just get overwhelmed with the fact of having to choose an airport. But no worries it is not too hard. You just need to know in which area of the city are you staying: All the airports are more or less at the same distance from Manhattan. If you stay in the New Jersey area or in the Hudson Valley area, probably Newark is the best option. There are many good transportation possibilities and the Air Train is maybe the best way to get to Manhattan or Newark. For those staying in Brooklyn and Queens maybe Kennedy and LaGuardia are the best options. There is a train and metro connection with Kennedy. There are not many public transportation connections with LaGuardia, but there are private companies that run affordable shuttles to Manhattan and the Bronx. Another good option that is sometimes overlooked is the White Plains airport, it is cheaper to fly there, but transportation options are limited, you will need to have a friend picking you up or take a cab ride. Taxis in New York are part of the experience anyway, but these are normally expensive in comparison with other cities. To go around the city the best method is the Metro. Do not get panicked when you see the huge network which is the Metro. This is an affordable, efficient and safe way to get around the city, plus it runs 24 hours a day and there are weekly passes available. You just need to have a map of the network always handy (you can print it from the website of the transportation authority).
Where to stay:
There are many options for lodging in New York. I would like to say that there are options for every kind of budget, but I have to admit that this is an expensive city and the prices tend to favor the higher end. If you want to pamper yourself and you have deep pockets, this is of course the city to be in. New York offers some of the most luxurious accommodations in the world. Other people with more limited budgets have to check carefully before booking their place. There are two things you pay for in New York: location and name. Paying a high price does not necessarily mean you will be in the best hotel. Manhattan is very expensive overall, so there are chances you are paying a five star price, but finally you are getting a small room in a prime location. But do not get discouraged it’s a matter of getting to know first what you want to get for lodging in New York. If your budget is tight, but you like to enjoy a nice hotel you may consider other options that are still well connected with the city. For example, for those in the Newark area, there are very good options to spend a night before or after a flight in nice hotels that even run a free shuttle to the airport of Newark. Such places are the Courtyard in Elizabeth and the ? There is even a huge outlet mall just a few steps from these hotels. The important thing in New York is to choose a hotel that is close to a metro station. If you do not mind traveling a little, you may consider staying in the White Plains area. From there a very efficient train system arrives to Grand Central Station in Manhattan every twenty minutes. White Plains is a nice suburb of New York and there are excellent restaurants and more affordable accommodations all around, among these we can highlight the Crowne Plaza and if you prefer to drive your car you may want to stay in the Hilton.
Where to eat:
New York offers a spread of cuisine for all tastes and palates. As well one must realize that such talent results in some of the best restaurants of the world. Many restaurants are just like people here, they come and go. You may want to check frequently the list of new arrivals and the reviews of such places. There are many hidden gems in Manhattan, a good example is Empanada Mama an excellent Latino restaurant, it is very affordable with great food (especially the Colombian cuisine). Les Hayes is the home restaurant of Anthoine Bourdain and it features a good fusion French American cuisine. Churrascaria Tribeca and plataforma are two excellent restaurants for those who love meat in the Brazilian style, just get ready for an amazing and abundant meal. It is easy to end up paying a lot in New York City and not getting the fine dining experience you were expecting, but if you want to get what you pay for, go to L’atelier in the Four Seasons, this is really a fabulous restaurant in a lovely setting. For those lovers of art, they will be happy to know that they can enjoy a delicious dinner in the Museum of Modern art in the local restaurant called The Modern, a delicious and chic restaurant that features the best of French-American cuisine. Do you really want an exceptional experience in a unique setting? You have to head towards Eatily, as the city itself is a place that is difficult to define, almost like a market with restaurants. A similar idea defines this place, where you can buy fresh artesian products and they will cook it for you on the spot. It is probably one of the best culinary experiences not only in New York, but in the whole world, here you will eat the best of Italian-American cuisine.
What to do:
The first advice that I give to people is: do not try to see everything. There are many things to do and if anyone tries to do all there is to do in one trip this will be an exhausting experience. I know that it is hard to pace oneself. Life here goes to a fast rhythm and you have the feeling that you are missing out on something good. But no worries, New York always will be here. The best advice is to choose what kind of trip you want to enjoy. If you want a cultural trip you cannot miss the museums, there are fantastic ones to be explored here and if you only can go to one or two do not miss the Metropolitan and if you are with kids, do not miss the Museum of Natural history. You have to include in your cultural experience a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Coney Island. It will be an encounter with the history of the whole country. New York puts on stage some of the best musicals around, especially on Broadway and there is always some new debut, if this is your first and only time, I personally will recommend the Lion King. Lincoln center is the home of many excellent concerts, anyone will enjoy a performance by the New York Philharmonic.
If your priority is nightlife, you may start in Times Square and its surroundings, these places are always filled with people, I have heard a friend from New York to say many times “in Times Square everybody wants to be an star” from there you can go to Soho and Greenwich village. These neighborhoods are packed with pubs, bars and restaurants with good music and a lot of beer.
If your priority is to rest, you will enjoy places such as Central park, it is certainly one of the most amazing and stunning city parks of the world. You can spend days there and still be amazed by the beauty. Bryant Park is another little park in the city, an excellent place to hang out with a coffee and enjoy a great feeling of the city. If you want to see that panorama of the city that you always enjoyed in the movies, you have to cross the Brooklyn bridge (do it on foot, it is part of the attraction) and then go to the Brooklyn side, under the bridge is located a nice riverside walk and there is your famous panorama of Manhattan.
Where to shop?
Well, unless you have very deep pockets if you are coming to New York to shop you are in the wrong place. Just joking! New York brings amazing shopping experiences, Fifth avenue has some of the most luxurious and expensive stores in the world, but they offer as well top quality products. There are many other affordable shopping experiences in New York, in the surroundings of the city are located several outlet malls that offer brand clothing and accessories at discount prices, actually many people travel from different countries just to come here to do shopping, so if you are coming to New York to do shopping, you can be very positively surprised of all the bargains you may find here.
So should you come to New York?
The answer is obvious, Yes. This is a fantastic city, a place any traveler should not miss. Here you will feel alive, you will enjoy diversity, you will appreciate the hard work that has made this huge city one of the greatest in the world. It is only here that you will understand why this is the capital of the world and I can assure you anyone will return to their home satisfied, yes tired but satisfied by this very impressive city. I have been here many times and I never get tired of the big Apple.