New York was never in my fantasies and dreams. San Francisco yes, its streets, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, yes, but I didn’t dream about New York. Everything about it sounded like a cliché, it seemed glorified, embellished for no reason. I admit, I was prejudiced. I wanted to convince myself of something without giving the city a chance to get close to me, to convince me it was worth loving. I gave him one chance, then another, and who knows how many more it will get. I say I’m only giving it a chance, when in fact I already love it. But shhhhh…it doesn’t need to know that. 😉
I have to admit I am nervous writing this post. Will I be able to describe this city wonder the way it deserves, am I worthy of writing about it?! So much has been written about New York that I fear this post might be dismissed as one of many. You have to know how to approach the Big Apple differently, as never before.
Before my first visit to this city I was a little worried… how will we find our way in the most complicated subway system in the world, which, I can safely say, also represents the city’s icon, as much as the Statue of Liberty. This is the fifth largest subway system in the world, and directions on the stations are very poorly marked, but once you work out the system, you will have no problems. You can always rely
on Google Maps, where you will get accurate information on which platform you are waiting.
Because, it is precisely in these subway stations that New York begins. With crowds of people in various outfit combinations and of every possible race and class, with the rhythm of music from street musicians. It is beautiful watching people so different one from another, and above all, so relaxed. No one cares if
you’re watching them dancing in the subway with headphones on their head, or if you’ll think it’s funny what he/she is wearing that morning. They are totally uninterested if you like it or not. They live their lives the way they like it, and they don’t care how you choose to live yours.
What excites me the most about this city is the feeling I get as I wander the streets of Manhattan. Surrounded by buildings tearing the sky, yellow taxi cabs, endless lights and life on every corner, I feel so powerful, so awake and sensual. Although amid so many people, such buildings, so much diversity, even though you’re just a little piece of a large puzzle, you will feel very big.
The word Manhattan derives from the Lenape language and it means “island of many hills”, although I prefer free translation – man, hat, tan. It’s a hangout for many tourists, vagabonds, wanderlusts like me, who gladly come back to it. It is divided into 202 streets, stretching from East to West and 12 avenues crossing the streets from North to South. It is divided into Lower Manhattan, Midtown, Upper East, and Upper West Side, separated by Central Park, a part towards Bronx, called Harlem, and onward continues with Upper Manhattan. I recommend that you start the tour from Lower Manhattan, from Battery park, where Nikola Tesla used to feed pigeons and where you can see statues made from melted pennies. You can also play blues with your feet.
Battery park is a departure point for ferries going to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Buy the ticket in advance, online, otherwise it may happen that you don’t get the ticket or that you end up waiting in long lines. If you want to climb to the crown of Lady Liberty, you should buy the ticket at least two months in advance. Even the ticket to get to the pedestal you have to buy in advance.
Wall Street in the Financial District, Charging Bull and Fearless Girl are next stops. Manhattan once stretched to this street where a wall stood to protect against Native Americans, that’s why it is called Wall. Fearless Latina girl with hands on her hips facing the Charging Bull has been installed this year. The author wanted to show the power of women in leading positions. There was a lot of controversy regarding unauthorized installing of this sculpture, but the bull was installed in the same way previously, and still to this day it attracts millions of tourists, especially from Asia, and you really have to shoulder your way through the crowd to approach the bull from any side.
After pushing your way through the crowd, continue to the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, built to commemorate the victims of September 11 attack.
Continue to the Brooklyn bridge. I took about a million photos of this fantastic construction. You can thank God I am reasonable enough not to post all those picture here. One of the oldest suspension bridges in America, it connects Manhattan and Brooklyn. There are many people strolling over the bridge or driving bicycles, chatting, and drinking coffee.
After the Brooklyn Bridge, you can walk to China Town, where everyone will try to persuade you to buy watches or bags. On the opposite side of China Town is Tribeca, full of little restaurants. You can feel like Karey Bradshaw or Mr. Big as you’re walking down the streets of Soho. This is my favorite part of town full of fire escape stairs from the movies, tucked away cafes, girls dolled up from head to toe.
Indulge yourself with some cannoli in Little Italy in the famous Ferrara Bakery, even if sugar is a no-no and you are trying to stay slim. They are too delicious and too sweet. And after all that walking, some treats are due.
Next you can see East Village, known for its diverse community, lively nightlife and artistic sensibility, Greenwich Village, or “The Village” as it is locally known, famous for overpriced apartment rentals. Washington Square is the most famous landmark where we met some Serbs. They were kind enough to take a photo of us. The Spotted Pig is the cutest little restaurant which you should not miss.
Buy ice-cream or coffee and walk on the High line. I recommend that you enter from 30 th and 10 th street. As you’re walking through what was once a rail line in this part of New York, you will come across different sculptures, e.g. the Sleepwalker. Quite realistic and quite disturbing until you realize it is only a sculpture. The most popular place for taking pictures of the newlyweds is of course the glass bridge.
If accidently your sugar level drops, visit the chocolate heaven Max Brenner. You can simply buy chocolate fantasies or sit and enjoy the specialties of this brand.
Have fun drinking cocktails (one way or the other I am urging you to drink cocktails) in 230 Fifth, the biggest rooftop bar in New York, located near Madison Square park. The view over some of the tallest buildings is amazing. Close by is the cutest building Flatiron Building. And then continue some of the most famous buildings in the world, from the tops of which you can enjoy great views of Manhattan – Empire State Building, which we visited during the day and took a photo of the biggest poser. A pigeon, and then me.
According to many the most beautiful building, the Chrysler Building, and Rockefeller Center, where at night you will have the most amazing view over the city that never sleeps and its lit-up skyline.
Bryant park is not to be missed, with a street corner dedicated to Nikola Tesla. Take a peek in the New York Public Library.
Grand Central Market is a place where you can buy good peanut butter.
One street away you enter the world of billboards, walking through a sea of people not knowing which way to look. You can guess I’m talking about Times Square. Literally, the center of the world! You can stop by Hard Rock Cafe for excellent burgers and beer.
Near Radio City Music Hall is the cutest Magnolia Bakery. They take pride in the fact that the scene from Sex and the City was filmed right there. The newspaper clippings will assure you of that the moment you enter.
Magnificent St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a place that is certainly worth your attention. A rare building of this type surrounded by skyscrapers.
It was very important for us to find Love and Hope sculptures. The same Love sculpture I found in Tokyo.
The only difference was that Milica was not there.
Visit Broadway and see one of the shows. All actors dream about Broadway.
I heartily recommend that you visit Carnegie Hall. The space will leave you breathless, the story you will hear from the tour guide will stay in your memory for a long time, and you will feel dizzy hearing the list of all the famous names performing there.
I recommend that you start your visit of Central Park from Columbus Circle.
And what can you see in this impressive, not enough researched Central Park? Well, lots of things… Plan at least two hours to discover properly this place:
- Belvedere Castle;
- Model Boat Sailing;
- Bethesda Terrace;
- Alice in Wonderland Fountain;
- Strawberry Fields – dedicated to the memory of John Lennon, made on the 45 th anniversary of his birth and located directly across from the apartment where he was shot;
- The Obelisk;
- The Untermeyer Fountain;
- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir around which you can see the largest number of runners in the city;
- American Museum of National History, a fantastic place to learn about American history, about the species living there. Very impressive.
In the rain, in colorful raincoats, we went to see the location where “Once upon a time in America” was filmed, location which is also on the film poster.
The entire area next to the East River starting from Brooklyn Bridge park is beautiful for walking (more beautiful in nice weather, make no mistake). You can take gorgeous photos from Jane’s Carousel and Pebble beach, especially at night. The bridges are quite photogenic. Coney Island beach with a little bit scary Luna Park, but the beach promenade is beautiful. If you ever wondered where are all the Russians that come to NY, you will get your answer very quickly as soon as you step on Coney Island and Brighton beach. We didn’t visit the New York Aquarium, but if you’re particularly interested, it is located right on Coney Island.
You can take a direct flight to NY with Air Serbia. It is, however, more economical to fly with Lufthansa, but it requires transferring….so choose. Accommodation is not cheap at all, but still… for a city like this, it is worth it.
We plan to introduce Vlada even closer to his favorite city. We are already looking forward to our return.
The first encounter swept him off his feet.
All photos by: Danica, Milica
Camera used: Nikon D3000, HTC 10