Friday, 24 August 2012

New York New York - I want to be a part of it, New York New York!

Now this was a very exciting prospect, arriving in New York, the iconic city we had seen on so many movies and American sitcoms. We had a really hard time getting accommodation as it was the day after Thanksgiving when all the stores have big sales so everywhere, including hostels were all booked up.

Because of this, we stayed over the river in Newark, New Jersey and took the train into Manhattan which was really easy to do. Our first sights of the city were incredible and the first sight of the Empire State Building was amazing.

We visited Times Square which was very frantic and busy. Neon billboards were lit up all around us and yellow cabs whizzed by. I really felt like I was in a movie! Situated in Midtown Manhattan, Times Square is one of the world's busiest pedestrian areas and is also the world's most visited attraction.We saw the Broadway theatres, the M&Ms store, Bubba Gump Shrimp and the naked cowboy!

We had hoped to take in a Broadway show but because the writers strike was taking place, only a handful of shows were playing. We managed to get tickets to see The Grinch Who Stole Christmas which was very good.

Next was Madison Square Garden. We didn't do the tour but it was great to see it. Madison Square Garden is an indoor arena and hosts many events.

Next was Grand Central Terminal, which is the largest railiway station in the world (by number of platforms). Commuters and tourists bustle past as they all go about their daily activities and it was fascinating to see the dining concourse and the famous Oyster Bar.

The next day we headed down to Battery Park to take the ferry to Liberty Island and then on to Ellis Island. The ferry ride was great and upon embarking onto Liberty Island, the Manhattan skyline lay before us and we gazed at it in awe. Gazing up at the Staute of Liberty we had to pinch ourselves to believe that we were actually here!

The Staute of Liberty was a gift from the French and arrived in New York in 1885. The island was officially named Liberty Island in 1956.

After some time taking in the views and walking around the island, we caught the onwards ferry to Ellis Island. I absolutely loved Ellis Island and there was definitely an atmosphere in the building. To walk in the footsteps of hundreds of immigrants embarking on a new life in America was very humbling. Ellis Island was the gateway for immigrants into the US and was an inspection station until 1954.

Upon returning from our morning at Liberty and Ellis Islands, we went to visit Ground Zero. It was very poignant and there were many people praying at the site. It was a very haunting and reflective experience and we each said a prayer for those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.

We also took a stroll down 5th Avenue and had a peek inside Trump Towers and Tiffany's. Lots of lovely things in Tiffany's but as two poor travellers, we could only window shop unfortunately!

We spent the afternoon in beautiful Central Park which was bathed in sunlight despite the chilly weather.The park is the most visited urban park in the US and was the model for other urban parks including Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. We enjoyed strolling around the different areas of the park including the boating lake and taking in the magnificence of the skyscrapers towering above the trees in this urban oasis.

We had a glorious time in New York City and unbeknown to me I was to return in a couple of months (all will be explained in a later blog post.....)

(We stayed at the Howard Johnson Hotel Newark Airport, 20 Frontage Road

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