Mid to Lower Manhatten
When my feet hit New York’s streets I expected the city to gleam. The light-blaring screens of Times Square certainly illuminated every street around me, however somehow New York was not quite the city I had imagined. From aggressive street salesmen to crazed old women, this trip had more to offer than the culture and food that I had researched prior.
Playing the tourist we brought tickets to the top of the Rockefeller Center. Purchasing the Sun and Stars upgrade allowed us to go to the Top of the Rock twice over 24 hours, buying us morning, night and dusk views over the city. If you want that perfect Instagram shot, book a slot during sunset and watch natural and man-made beauty merge.
With the number one iconic image of NYC ticked off our list we headed south, taking 5th avenue and Broadway, (which was not as showy as I expected) down to the Staten Island Ferry. We watched the same street change from commercialisation to living quarters. We passed the New York Public Library — grand enough to make you want to take a peak inside, even for the non-book lovers amongst us — and the famous Flat Iron building, where we took a slight detour east to 19th street, in order to pick up brunch at Friend of a Farmer. This personal recommendation provided us with freshly squeezed juice, decadent french toast and homemade buttermilk pancakes. Although slightly on the pricey side, this country feel restaurant was well worth a try.
Before hitting the Staten Island ferry we reached New York’s tallest building: One World Trade Center and subsequently the reflecting pools of the 9/11 memorial. Covering the foundations where the twin towers once stood, these pools create a memorial for the thousands of lives that were taken in the 2001 terrorist attack. Although not an American citizen myself, and having only been eight years old when the headlines hit my TV, this memorial still felt haunting. The pools leave an obvious uprising gap, silently commenting on the loss within Manhattan’s skyline.
The closer you get to the Staten Island ferry the more you are at risk of being hounded by various vendors, not unlike those in Times Square. They will try to convince you the free commuters ferry is not the way to see the infamous Statue of Liberty: “There will be crowds, there will be endless realms of security, you will be bunched like roses and unable to move,” and if you don’t heed this ‘advice’ then slight aggression will occur. It being Valentine’s Day, this resulted in many accusations befalling my boyfriend about ‘treating your girl right’. However, ignoring all of this, the commuters ferry gave enough of a view to have said I have seen the Statue of Liberty, but if you have more than a few days in New York, perhaps it is worth visiting Liberty Island and even the surrounding Ellis and Governors Islands.
From here, we walked to the Brooklyn Bridge. This is a must-do in New York. (Overall this trip is around a two hour walk.). Here you will see excellent shots of the whole Manhattan skyline and cross over into Brooklyn, where the taxis are green and the best Pizza is to be found. We visited Juliana’s pizzeria in Dumbo – down under the Manhattan bridge overpass. The pizza is made to order, there is little pizzazz, and the tables are so close you will wish you could choose your neighbour, but this was by far the best eatery of my trip.
Heading back to Midtown over the Brooklyn Bridge by night we attempted to understand the subway system. It doesn’t work on a compass nor do the colours really mean a thing. It’s a cheap way to hop around the city at around $2 a pop, but it is easy to confuse whether your train is headed for Uptown or Downtown, and slightly tricky to get to grips with the use of numbers and letters on your first few journeys.
Our next trip had us headed for the Upper East Side…