- Stayed: September 2018
- Accommodation: American Dream Bed and Breakfast, Manhattan. Decent private room. Fab free breakfast available until 11 am, with free coffee and snacks available all day. Good location.
The sprawling mega metropolis that is New York captured my heart a long time ago when I visited in my early twenties on my honeymoon. Fortunately my love of the city lasted longer than the marriage (a bit of divorce humour ha ha) and each time I go back I discover something new. I ticked off all the usual tourist sites on previous visits – Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Empire State Building, Grand Central, Staten Island Ferry, Central Park, The High Line (a fave of mine) etc – so you won’t find information about those here – but I did revisit a few old favourites: New York Public Library, the Flatiron Building and The Met.
New York can seem overwhelming but it consists of 5 distinctive boroughs with their own identity: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Most tourists choose to base themselves in Manhattan but Brooklyn (particularly Williamsburg) offers some cool accommodation options too. I stayed at the B&B I’ve stayed at many times as I like the area and it’s easy to get around the city from there. The subway is straightforward – Google Maps is really useful as it suggests best routes to take from which station but there are other useful Apps too like Citymapper. The key thing to remember with the subway is knowing whether you are going uptown or downtown and to make sure you go to the right subway entrance for that direction (entrances for the different directions can be on a different street).
Manhattan is divided up into neighbourhoods, again with their own distinctive identities. The easiest way to navigate the city is to explore a neighbourhood at a time which would allow you to get a feel for what each neighbourhood has to offer. In Midtown, for example, you will find many of the city’s iconic buildings: Empire State, Chrysler, the Rockefeller Center as well as the areas of Broadway and Times Square so this might be a good area to base yourself if you are a first time visitor.
My focus for this visit was to go to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum as I had visited ‘Ground Zero’ on the first anniversary of the attack but not been back since. The North and South Pools are breathtaking. Very moving to see the names of those that perished listed around the edge of the pools, as the water continues to flow into the void at the bottom of the pools. The Museum costs $24 to enter and it’s worth the money. Full of information and poignant memorial artefacts. The videos that play in the auditorium as you enter the museum before heading down to the main exhibition are worth a watch too. When you leave, take some time to walk over to Liberty Park to see the battered sphere that used to sit in the middle of the complex. You will also see the Anne Frank Tree as you walk towards the sphere, a chestnut tree taken from a sapling of the original tree Anne wrote about in her diary.
As ever, Art dominated my activities. There is fabulous street art to be found all over the city and I spent hours in MOMA, The Met and Met Breuer. MOMA, costs $25, and is a great modern art museum. I was able to visit The Met and Met Breuer on the same day with the same ticket, costing $25 (the ticket was actually valid for three consecutive days and would also have allowed entry into The Met Cloisters). Met Breuer focuses on Modern Art whereas the behemoth that is The Met has a vast collection of art from different eras. I particularly enjoy the exhibitions at the Costume Institute (I was lucky to catch the Alexander McQueen ‘Savage Beauty’ exhibition in 2011) and the current exhibition, ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’ has been beautifully put together.
Selection of pictures from my stay: