Make your own headlines
October 13, 2015
New York is a city of countless experiences. With its stunning skyline, the hustle and bustle of daily life, architectural gems such as Grand Central Station, the oasis of Central Park, Broadway’s vibrancy and an abundance of bars and eateries, no matter how long you visit you’ll no doubt question whether you’ve given yourself long enough to pack it all in.
Planning ahead is essential if you want to make the most of your bite out of the Big Apple. Armed with a healthy ‘to-do’ list, we arrived determined to cram in as much as possible during our four-night stay.
Home for the duration was Apple Core’s ‘the hotel @ times square’, a perfectly located boutique hotel on 46th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, just minutes from key attractions such as the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Museum of Modern Art, The Rockefeller Center and Broadway’s theatres.
Settled into our spacious and well-equipped double room, we headed out to refuel before our pre-booked trip up the Empire State Building.
Buying tickets in advance was an inspirational move by my other half and ensured we didn’t waste hours in seemingly endless queues and instead bypassed fellow tourists to head straight up to the observation deck.
Standing at the top of this world famous landmark, the 360-degree view of New York and beyond is simply breathtaking. Vying for the perfect picture spot, we stayed there to watch the sun set as the city’s lights flickered into life beneath us.
With a five-hour time difference leaving me unusually bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 7am the next day, it was the perfect opportunity to get out and about before the morning rush hour kicked in.
Running is a great way to explore New York. Not only is it flat but you also get to see places you’d otherwise miss when taking the underground.
Trainers on we headed west out of our hotel, dodged tourists in Times Square and ran down to the Hudson River Greenway – an 11-mile stretch of cycle and running path popular with New York’s fitness fanatics. Turning upstream took us past sculpture gardens and foot-friendly boardwalks with stunning views across to New Jersey. Reaching West 89th Street we turned into Central Park, past Jackie Onassis Reservoir, emerged on 5th Avenue past its array of prestigious designer boutiques and stores, before heading back down to the hotel.
With an eight-miler in the bag it was time to refuel. The hotel provides a free continental breakfast with an abundance of fresh juice, coffee, tea, bagels, cereals, toast, fruit and yoghurt to set you up for the day ahead.
Catching the subway downtown, we were in for one of the most moving three hours of our lives. Having visited New York for the first time in 2009 – eight years after the Twin Tower terrorist attacks – I can still vividly remember how emotionally powerful the flattened ground and make-shift museum was back then.
Today, the area is home to the most stunning and poignant memorial to those who perished that fateful day. The 9/11 Museum is exceptionally well laid-out and captures each moment in incredible detail. From children’s clothing recovered from Pentagon crash site and twisted remains of fire trucks crumpled under rubble from the fallen towers, to the voice messages left to their loved ones by those trapped in the burning buildings or on board of the four doomed flights, it is all documented in a powerfully moving way.
Outside, two stunning memorial pools now sit in the footprint where the Twin Towers once stood, overlooked by the new One World Trade Centre which opened in 2014 and is now the tallest building in the western hemisphere.
A truly emotional, thought provoking experience that shouldn’t be missed by anyone visiting this great city. Once again, get tickets before you go and leave at least three hours for the museum itself. Trust me, it’s worth it.
In a reflective mood, we walked up to the Tribeca district for lunch in the sunshine at Hendrick’s in Franklin Street. It was then on to Greenwich Village and its funky boutiques and bars before a pre-dinner pit stop at the White Horse Tavern, made famous for being the favourite watering-hole of poet Dylan Thomas. Having worked up an appetite we headed for America’s first pizzeria, Lombardi’s in Mulberry Street, to share on a gigantic, coal-oven cooked delicious spicy meat pizza, before heading back to the hotel to relax with a few late night cocktails in the hotel’s rooftop bar VU46.
Food was very much a feature of our mini-break and we managed to cover a range of cuisines from chilli chicken, crispy beef and steamed dumplings in China Town, Breakfast Burrito at the Blue Dog in West 50th Street and a homemade four cheese tortellini at The Original Benito One in Mulberry Street, Little Italy – all of which I could recommend whole heartedly.
Over the next 48 hours we managed to cover most of our wish list including a boat trip to see the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty, spending a fortune in 5th Avenue, Macy’s and Saks, and our first ever visit to a live baseball game watching the Mets take on the LA Dodgers – the atmosphere was electric.
The five days seemed to go by in a flash but heading back to JFK airport I was happy to have a few more New York experiences ticked off my bucket list – and to be honest, by then we were about quite ready to have a sit down. But with so much more still to do I need to start planning my return visit, hopefully not so far into the future next time.
Jayne Freer was hosted by Apple Core Hotels’ the hotel @ Times Square. The independent boutique Midtown hotel has a fantastic new rooftop bar, VU46, on the 14th floor. The hotel is walking distance from some of New York’s key attractions such as the Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue shopping, Times Square, the Museum of Modern Art, Grand Central Terminal, Broadway’s theatres and The Rockefeller Center. Rooms cost from $155 per night – approx. /£99 (two sharing) including breakfast and WiFi. Visit Apple Core Hotels
As featured in the Plymouth Herald
Picture: The hustle and bustle of New York city