It’s the setting for books, movies, TV shows, plays and songs, and has been inspiring writers and artists for decades. I thought it fitting that my first travel piece be about the city of dreams.
New York is so iconic that you feel like you know it before you’ve experienced it. Writers have brought the sights, sounds, smells and tastes to life for readers, and images are everywhere on the TV and internet.
Because of this, for a long time the Big Apple wasn’t high on my list of places to see. Although I wanted to believe my experience would be Carrie Bradshaw–esque, gliding around art galleries, sipping cocktails in trendy bars and brunching with friends, I was afraid the city would chew me up and spit me out; I am after all a girl who grew up in a relatively small town in Australia. Despite this, it held my fascination, and over the years my curiosity got the better of me.
I could not have predicted my reaction to the city that never sleeps when I finally made the trip to Manhattan. Every negative generalisation I’d gathered over the years was dispelled, and real life was better than my best fantasy. The streets are some of the cleanest I’ve come across on my travels, which is no mean feat given the sheer number of people packed on that tiny island. The people are right up there among the friendliest (tell them you’re an Aussie and their interest is piqued), and surprisingly, I never felt claustrophobic, even in the middle of Times Square.
Central Park is a beautiful respite from the sensory feast that is Broadway, and a visit to the Guggenheim transported me straight into that Italian car scene in When in Rome. The Upper East Side was quiet, its residents discreetly tucked away behind heavy doors framed by emerald-green awnings with doormen standing guard. Strolling through the leafy West Village with its brownstones and cobblestone streets, stopping for an afternoon cappuccino and red velvet cupcake from Magnolia Bakery, is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without experiencing some of its iconic offerings. Think riding the subway, catching the Staten Island Ferry for a closer view of the Statue of Liberty, climbing to the top observation deck of the Empire State Building to take in the cityscape at night, standing in the centre of Grand Central Terminal and watching the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. And let’s not forget about giant pretzels, slices (pizza) and hotdogs with mustard and ketchup (I have a sophisticated palate).
Now that I’ve been I’ve done a complete 180. New York has captured my imagination and a piece of my heart. It did what it’s done to so many before me, and what it will do to countless that follow. It drew me in and spoke to me. I could pack my bags tomorrow for the city where dreams are made.