In awe of the Empire State

How can you not be impressed with New York City? Probably the most famous city in the whole of the Americas, New York City is the epitome of the American Dream – as well as being a Tourist’s Fantasy!

The Freedom Tower in Lower Manhattan stands where the World Trade Center once stood
The Freedom Tower in Lower Manhattan stands where the World Trade Center once stood

Upon arrival in New York City, you will be greeted with huge Star Spangled Banner flags hanging from the ceiling of JFK Airport, and masses of yellow taxis outside the terminal buildings (seen them in the movies?) waiting to transport you to downtown Manhattan. I felt a huge buzz and was completely awestruck when I arrived in New York, and it was great to finally see the city up close and personal, rather than just on the news all the time. While not all NYC news is positive (quite a bit of racial crime here, plus the constant threat of terrorism), you can’t help but want to immerse yourself in whatever the region has to offer – which is quite a lot!

harlem2

The infamous steam coming up from the pavement
The infamous steam coming up from the pavement

As far as orientation is concerned, New York City is much larger than I first imagined. The tourist attractions are based in the centre of the city, although the suburbs stretch much further out than I realised (further reading: Urban New York (the bits they don’t want you to see)). The likes of Harlem, the Bronx, and Brooklyn are all famous enough to have been heard of before (especially in travel circles) but when the chance comes to see them with your own eyes, you soon realise that your adventure in the Big Apple will take longer to complete than you thought!

nysubway5
Tourists will be pleased that the New York Subway runs smoothly in the major areas
As the NYC subway runs out into the suburbs, it looks more and more 'dangerous'
As the NYC subway runs out into the suburbs, it looks more and more ‘dangerous’

Getting around the Big Apple is easy, as its transportation network is huge. One of the scariest things I did during my time in the area was experience the New York Subway (further reading: Scared of the New York Subway? Me, too!). It seems you need to be brave to ride the subway after dark, especially if you’re a solo backpacker like me. If the subway doesn’t get you where you want, then one of the famous yellow taxis will! As far as costs are concerned, New York is pretty expensive (at least when compared to Asia), but there are regular tourist buses that you can hop on and hop off at a whim, which are very moderately priced. These buses will take you to almost all of the key attractions in the city.

Broadway, NYC
Broadway, NYC
The Yankee Stadium, NYC
The Yankee Stadium, NYC

Tourism is New York City is one of the main reasons anybody will come here (obviously business is another main reason), and everywhere you look you will see world famous sites. From Chelsea Market to the Roosevelt Island Tramway, from the Yankee Stadium to Times Square, and from Broadway to the Freedom Tower, you cannot fail to find something to keep you occupied from one hour to the next (further reading: The top 10 attractions in New York City). My favourite place was certainly visiting the Top of the Rock, where you can get great views down over central Manhattan and Central Park. It is much better value to go to the Rockefeller observatory rather than the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty.

A double whammy Coney Island Hotdog!
A double whammy Coney Island Hotdog!
Bagels are one of the quintessential New York foods - they are sold EVERYWHERE!
Bagels are one of the quintessential New York foods – they are sold EVERYWHERE!

Another thing that impressed me with NYC was its food! I am a big foodie, so when I was in NYC I was eager to try some of the more famous snacks for which the region is known. These famous snacks include bagels and even corned beef sandwiches, which I ate plentifully while looking around some museums on Museum Mile. If you venture a little farther out of the city to Coney Island, you will not only find New York’s most popular beach, but also the birthplace of the hotdog, which must go down as my favourite American street food!

I was always awestruck when around New York City. I was a little intimidated by the whole thing to be honest, as I got to finally see all these famous places that I had seen on the news and in film throughout my youth. Still, I now have the memories to last be a lifetime!

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2 thoughts on “In awe of the Empire State

  1. I’ve lived in New York for a year and a half and it’s my favorite city in the world. There is something about the city that gets your heart racing and adrenaline pumping. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit!

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    1. Thanks for reading! 🙂 I hope to get back to NYC one day and check out some of the lesser parts of the area that are off the beaten track! Hope it’s not too cold for you there at the moment… 😮

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