Upon arrival into New York’s JFK airport we were greeted with a very different welcome to what we had received just a few days prior in Las Vegas. The place was dark, with dirty cars and rubbish everywhere. Within minutes of embracing the harsh February cold, a guy who introduced himself as ‘Randy’ insisted on helping us with our cases. Before we had chance to say no, he was wheeling our luggage down the platform towards the taxi rank – and, of course, he expected a tip for his ‘trouble’. Being so tired, we were in no state to create a scene, especially so early after our arrival. We gave him a few dollars to which his palm remained open. For a 30 second job that we could’ve quite easily done ourselves, we must have ended up giving him around £10!!! We felt so cheated, and our first impressions weren’t great.
Compared to Las Vegas, New York had a far more European feel to it, especially at the hotel. However, although adequate, it wasn’t a patch on our Vegas hotel in terms of comfort or size.
I awoke the next morning to find I’d developed fully fledged cold overnight (bordering on manflu!) and wondered how our trip could possibly get any worse!! This turned out to be rock bottom though – from then onwards, from the moment we stepped out into the fresh morning sun and saw New York in its true light, everything changed and ended up having a really great time. The weather was unbelievably different to Vegas… an icy -3° C compared to the scorching 30° C we had been enjoying in the west! But the weather didn’t dampen the fun we were about to have. Before heading to Times Square, we savoured a ‘real’ New York deli sandwich(!). The myriad of lights and the bustling atmosphere in Times Square left us gobsmacked! It really was something to relish. We paid our respects at ground zero, walked down Broadway, and later enjoyed a meal in a restaurant we’d read about, appropriately named ‘Little Italy’. We somehow managed to walk past three times though before realising we’d found it! The food and drink were great, but it was the general ambiance that made it for us. We liked the photo of Maradona on the wall. He had visited the very same restaurant!
During the rest of our holiday, we went to the top of the Empire State building, which was a brilliant experience – it had some amazing views across Manhattan and we took loads of photographs! We also looked around designer boutiques such as Versace, where we spied a really hideous yellow leather jacket worth approximately £3500! Just slightly out of our price range, though somehow I doubt we would’ve been tempted to buy it anyway… Throughout the week we enjoyed ourselves more and more, to the point where New York had grown on us so much that we actually preferred it to Vegas! We didn’t want to return home at all.
We ended up walking and walking for miles in New York, but this is one of the great things about this city. You don’t realise it because you’re too busy taking in to endless number of sights…I found the ‘Flatiron’ building to be one of the most interesting buildings, and all the while you’re walking around you can hear the incessant beeping of stereotypical yellow cabs, just like the ringing of the gambling machines in Vegas – it’s an annoyance at first, but in the end, you grow quite fond of the sound!
No trip to New York would be complete without a ferry trip over to Liberty Island to see one of New York’s most famous landmarks, the ‘Statue of Liberty’. It was a shame we couldn’t go to the top of the tower because of the restriction imposed after 9/11, but we still enjoyed the trip. We managed to get some good photos looking back over to Manhattan.
Central Park was probably our favourite part of New York – the weather was bright one afternoon, so we took the opportunity to walk around it. We discovered its wonderful vibe, and didn’t realise how surprisingly spacious it was. There was so much going on too. We walked past the ice skating rink, watching the skaters for a while, then as we moved on we saw many joggers, rollerbladers and fellow walkers. In addition we visited the famous ‘Strawberry Fields’, where the ‘Imagine’ stone is laid as a tribute to John Lennon. There was a metal ‘tree’ in amongst the natural trees which we liked too – very arty! In our opinions, by the end of the trip, New York had gone full circle in our opinions. It really grew on us and impressed us so much. We want to go back again.
By Ben Charlton