Like anyone in this world, I have seen a lot of movies filmed in the Big Apple. I guess everyone who travels there for the first time would imagine how he/she walks same streets they have watched in ''Sex and the City'', and imagine themselves in a place of their fav film characters. For me, the image of Manhattan was not taken from movies but from video blogs I have seen recently on YouTube. So on my way there, I thought I knew how Manahan looked. I was wrong.
The truths and myths about Manhattan
I believe everyone who travels there for the first time will discover his own NYC, very different from the one had imagined before, with its flavors, atmosphere, and colors. Frankly speaking, I never wanted to go to NYC that much, I was quite pessimistic before my trip. From what I have heard and watched I was not impressed at all. I imagined Manhattan would be a dirty, noisy, expensive place with not much to see and explore.
Well, if you compare Manhattan to a European city then yes, it is not much to see, and yes, it is much dirtier and louder. I have heard that even Beijing and other Asian cities are cleaner than NYC.
Still, I was genuinely surprised and impressed my very first day in Manhattan. It is so much different from any other place in the world, it has its charm, exceptional energy, and for sure it has so much to offer. It has a unique, vibrant energy, it is a vortex city, you either swim with the flow and stay tuned or you drown. Manhattan is a must-see place, but still - if all you want is to see the sights you might need to spend 4-5 days there only.
The Shopping Spree
As for shopping, NYC is the right place. You can find Jimmy Choo shoes for 300$ or D&G bag for 160$. Some French luxury brands like Chanel will cost more than on other continents, though. A lot of tourists go to the Century 21 stores, where you can purchase Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, and many other brands for a very lucrative price. And, of course, you should pay a visit to the world-famous Macy's, which used to be the world’s largest department store till 2009. Most charming shops of NYC you will find in Chelsea. Chelsea shops have so much to offer to the book lovers, fashion victims, individuals who fancy art or just people who would like to buy a unique gift from the NYC. And, do not forget about the famed Chelsea market! Everyone I have met in NYC loved this place.
Certainly, the most famous place in Midtown Manhattan, and probably in NYC, in general, is the Great White Way. It is the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue at 42nd Street in the very heart of Times Square. It used to be rural not long time ago but started to transform in the 1900s to urban, with its hotels, business, and theaters.
Architecture and buildings
You should definitely see the most recognizable building of NYC-the Empire State Building. Even though there are so many amazing skyscrapers in the world nowadays, the ESB is still considered to be the most famous building in the USA, and, as Americans think, in the world. You honestly feel like this building is the King of Manhattan Skyscrapers, an old fading kind who won't let the ''youngsters'' take the throne. BTW, its spire on the top was designed for air zeppelins to anchor, which never happened due to the 1937 Hindenburg Zeppelin disaster.
My personal favorite building in NYC is the Former American Radiator Building. It is located nearby the Bryant Park and designed in the neo-gothic Art Deco style. This building certainly stands out from the rest of skyscrapers around due to its original color styling: mostly black as coal with some golden elements symbolizing fire.
Another Art Deco masterpiece is the Chrysler Building, once the tallest building in the world until the Empire State Building took the first place a year later. The elegant design of the building has references to Chrysler’s cars.
St Patrick’s Cathedral looked more like a chapel or a small church to me, but in fact, it is the largest Catholic cathedral in the United States. Still St. Pat’s and the old graveyard surrounding it look charming in the circle of massive buildings and skyscrapers.
The “city within a city” Rockefeller Centre attracts millions of visitors each year. Many tourists prefer to look over NYC from its observation decks instead of going up the Empire State Building. Do not forget to book the tickets online not to stand in a line, and be there in time!
The quite popular attraction for the tourist and locals is the High Line Park. It is an elevated railway which has been turned into a public park. On sunny days you will find crowds of people enjoying the view, some art objects, and greenery throughout the park. The biggest part of the park is located in Chelsea; I would recommend combining the Chelsea visit with the High Line park walk.
The Statue of Liberty and its scammers
Statue of Liberty is an another story, I believe it is worth seeing, but you have to be very careful with the tour you choose. I have heard before that trips to the Statue of Liberty are not worth the time and money. Oh if I only knew how right I was! It was a total disaster; we have been fooled by one of multiple street ticket sellers, were offered to join the ''last minute call'' for a departing boat. When we got the tickets and ran up to the ship, we discovered that the ship was already full. We returned to the seller to hear some weak excuses, after which the dude led us to a huge line waiting for a bus that goes to another boat tour departure destination. They refused to give us money back and yelled at us when we wanted to call the police and take pictures of the guy's ID. In the end, we waited for about 90 minutes in a line; then we spent another hour and a half waiting in the queue for the boat.
The boat itself was a masterpiece of scam; it was a falling-apart wooden piece of trash, packed with angry people. All the people were fooled in different ways by street sellers; they were promised no lines, a beautiful boat and a close-up view of Statue of Liberty. All of it was way too far from reality, politely speaking. This 4-hour long disaster did cost 30$ per person, needless to say; you can buy a small group speedboat tour for this price on the Internet.
The bottom line is if some black guy on the streets is offering you a fantastic boat tour to the Statue of Liberty- run. Book a speedboat tour online, or take a Caravella looking boat trip from the Battery park. The cheapest option would be to take a ferry. It is dirt cheap or even free if you take it during a Weekend; you will not get the best view, and you may have to wait an hour to get on board of the ferry on your way back, but at least you will do it for free and won't be scammed.
New York nightlife
Speaking of nightlife, you won't be disappointed. NYC’s best part is the people, and the best place to meet people is a bar. You won't sit alone in a club or a pub here; it is also easy to find friends if you move to NYC not knowing anyone here.
In summer you should certainly go to a rooftop bar and enjoy the view while sipping a drink. I have been to one of the most popular bars for locals, and I was astonished: the place was a tiny room of a small bedroom size packed with people; you could hardly make a step there. It was deafening as people were talking nonstop trying to say something in this madness. I ran out of there 2 minutes later, but this is what New Yorkers love... the more people, the better.
NYC is not for everyone; it is liberal, multicultural, packed, expensive, demanding. NYC never sleeps indeed, and you will not get much sleep either as the lifestyle there is insane. Only a few people like to live in Manhattan; it is way too loud and busy. I can not guarantee that you will like NYC. You may love it, you may hate it. The only thing I can guarantee you will be impressed, in what way impressed? Well, you should find it out!