New York

Start spreading the news! Frank Sinatra wants to be a part of it. Alicia Keys calls it a concrete jungle where dreams are made of. New York.

The Big Apple may be my most visited city in America. I struggle to keep this list to just ten, because there are a lot of amazing places to see and tons of equally amazing food to eat. I’ve seen New York in two seasons: Summer and fall. So no romantic snowy photos here.

I credit Sex and the City for painting this fabulous New York City life, and making it practically every woman’s dream to someday live in. The city is just alive. It never sleeps. It’s a boiling, melting pot of migrants, people from all walks of life. A good majority have become too surly for their own good. So many songs have been written about New York. A lot of movies set here. Heck, NYC’s practically one of the principle characters in most movies/tv shows.

There’s an overwhelming feeling when you come here for the first time, standing still on the sidewalk, soaking everything in. NYC assaults all your senses. There’s always something new to discover or be a part of in every visit.

Traveling to NYC has become easier, since I moved to London. It’s just an 8 hour flight from Heathrow. I have family and friends who live here, so there’s always a reason to go.

(10) Manhattan Skyline

What’s not to love about the symphony of a thousand luminous lines and figures, outlining proud Manhattan buildings and beyond? Look! There’s the Chrysler building! Central Park! The Flat Iron! Brooklyn! I enjoyed the view from the Empire State building.

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I prefer the view from Rockefeller Center though. We did the Top of the Rock during the day, which offered a nice view of Central Park. And what’s that just cross? The Empire State Building! Wave hello to rendezvousing lovers!

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(9) Taking the subway
The subway is the most practical way to go around the city. Walking is always an option of course, and it’s easy (albeit expensive) to hail a yellow cab. But the subway is an experience in itself. It’s not exactly pleasant, but it’s a glimpse of an average New Yorker’s life. Bustling, busy. With a myriad of interesting characters making noise, performing, being weird. I’ve had my share of memorable subway experiences: A few years ago, I saw what I thought was a cat (turned out to be a rat!) scurrying across the platform. Another time, we got on the wrong train and ended up alighting in the Bronx, where I (excuse my stereotypes in full gear) clutched my purse ever so tightly and tried to look invisible!

After living in London for almost 2 years now, I’ve learned to appreciate the London Underground even more. I can see why New Yorkers need to be tough! Commuting in NYC is not for the light hearted!

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(8) Central Park

We visited Central Park during the summertime, and our eyes were happy bunnies, thanks to the bevy of beautiful people soaking in the sun. This park is huge! 1.37 square miles to be exact. We spent a good two hours wandering aimlessly. The Boathouse was nice (cue imaginings of a Boathouse fall wedding). You could go boating (We didn’t. Spaghetti arms). Bethesda Terrace is beautiful and easily recognisable. Yes, this where the Avengers said goodbye to Loki and Thor, and where Blair and Chuck got married in a rush.

When visiting the park, just be mindful! I read in an article that reported crimes have risen in the last quarter of 2013. Better safe than sorry!

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(7) Broadway

Broadway is the mecca of musical theatre aficionados. Broadway trumps the West End any day for the wide and diverse selection of shows to see. The ticket prices for some of these shows are unbelievable! So if the budget is tight, be selective and plan ahead. TKTS sell discounted tickets close to Times Square, and is a good deal, if you’re willing to invest a few hours waiting. What’s ‘hot’ changes every year, and tickets for the Tony-award crowned Best Musical becomes more expensive and more unavailable. Supply and demand.

The last Broadway show I saw was the very energetic ‘Newsies’.

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A year ago, my inner Harry Potter fan girl demanded that I see Daniel Radcliffe sing his heart out in ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’. I’m no theatre critic, but I must give the little man A+ for effort!!

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(6) MoMa – Museum of Modern Art

While I enjoyed my visits to the MET and the American Museum of National History, I’ve always had a soft spot for modern art (Impressionists, Fauvists, Expressionists). Hence, my ‘I must go to MoMa (Museum of Modern Art)’ crusade when I visited New York in 2011. A series of unfortunate events, however, ruined my plans to spend the whole day exploring MoMa. I was tired from a two hour bus ride from Paramus, New Jersey, festering in self-pity after spending 7 hours doing a pointless errand. I was just dying to see Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’. My anticipation reached fever pitch. When the painting was finally in my line of sight, I felt my heart dropping to the floor. Tears just started to flow uncontrollably! I felt the melancholy on Van Gogh’s painting. The dreaminess of it. The hues of blues. Waaaaaah.

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Anyway! This museum has a great collection of modern art. The whole posse’s there! Matisse, Warhol, Picasso, Pollock, Monet, Kandinsky, Lichtenstein. Even the gift shop’s pretty awesome. There seemed to be a lot of interesting things (books, prints, little knick knacks).

(5) Statue of Liberty

How can you say no to Lady Liberty? She is one of many New York icons. A trip to New York calls for a few hours spent on Ellis Island. Most people know that this 305 feet beauty is a gift from France to the United States in the 19th century. She symbolises the promise of a new, better life (the American dream). Most of the immigrants from Europe and other parts of the world, came to New York by sea and Lady Liberty greeted them at America’s doorstep.

The museum inside the statue’s pretty interesting, so it’s worth going inside if you’re visiting for the first time and have a few hours to kill.

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(4) Century 21

I know I have a photo of my happy place in NYC somewhere. But I can’t seem to find it. Shopaholics happily indulge in retail therapy. For me, Century 21 is my retail heaven! My first Century 21 experience was the one across the Twin Towers in 2000! I even recall coming there when the World Trade Center still stood proudly.

The range of designer goodies (clothes, bags, shoes, and accessories) up for grabs is pretty awesome in Century 21. The layout could be better (seems like a maze to go to the ladies shoe section from the clothing section). But it’s part of confusing the headless chickens (mostly females) who spend hours and hours scouring the racks for great finds.

I always leave Century 21 happy (and sometimes half-broke)!

(3) Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge

I find it almost appalling that hardcore Manhattan-ites (I’m sure there’s a posh-er name for them), gag at the thought of going or moving to Brooklyn. While Manhattan is glamourous, I honestly like Brooklyn! A little more quiet. Tons more space, (seems to me) a more family friendly place. Sam, my friend who’s lived in NYC for 14 years, took me to Brooklyn once, but I only crossed the Brooklyn bridge in 2013. I can’t believe I hadn’t done so in my earlier trips! The view of NYC from the other side is pretty spectacular. Lots of amazing photo op while strolling the pedestrian walkway. I loved the web-like pattern!

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(2) Classic American food & haute cuisine

I wish I had a few months to live in New York, so I could create a separate Top 10 list for my favourite NYC eats. One entry on this list should do for now!

As of 2013, there are 55 Michelin-starred restaurants in New York. Food tripping is taken seriously here! I say, every visitor should set aside a few extra bucks for a nice, fancy dinner. And then enjoy the street food (kebabs, hotdogs, wraps, pretzels). There’s likely to be a good Deli shop (Try a Pastrami sandwich) around every corner. New York style pizza of course is a must try (thin, practically limping so folding it makes sense!).

Mouthwatering burgers from Shake Shack
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Hotdogs from Nathan’s Famous, Coney Island.
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Legendary cheesecake from Carnegie Deli
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Simple, yet tasty pizza from Roberta’s, Brooklyn
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(1) Times Square
The energy of the city is palpable when you stand in the middle of Times Square. There are parts which smell like Divisoria. Eye squinting lights everywhere! Smiling tourists. Dodgy characters (potential stalkers or thieves). Shops open till past midnight. Cars whizzing by. Nothing says, “THIS. Is New York” like Times Square.

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