Visiting New York?

Daily Record, 06-21-2003
WITH three days to spend in New York, what’s a girl to do?

Well, shopping was always going to be high on my agenda, a few nice dinners were a must and a Broadway show was something I had always wanted to experience.

I arrived in the Big Apple during the sales, but any time is a good time for shopaholics in this city.

And the exchange rate is also very good, making the States a top destination for bargain hunters.

In true Sex And The City style, I headed off for a few days of purely indulgent retail heaven.

You can catch designer clothes at bargain prices in Manhattan’s department stores. Sales or no sales, you can pick up labels galore for a lot less than in the UK. Computer games and CDs are also considerably cheaper, so there is no excuse not to indulge.

July is a good time for summer bargain hunters as many stores have big reductions. Explore the designer outlets on Fifth Avenue, or venture into SoHo for something special.

And if you don’t want to hit the credit card too hard you can always do a bit of window shopping.

Marvel at the diamonds on Tiffany’s ground floor, then stop by the more expensive rails in Saks on Fifth Avenue and dream a little.

New York is still scarred by the terrible events of September 11. To a returning visitor the first thing that strikes you as you descend over the Manhattan skyline is the gaping hole where the Twin Towers once stood.

Amid all that shopping, I felt the need to visit the site of the World Trade Center and in some way pay my small respect to those who died. I managed a moment of quiet reflection, despite the presence of postcard and video sellers, but I did feel alittle strange as the place where so many died has inevitably become a tourist attraction.

The city will never be the same, but New Yorkers are resilient and Manhattan seemed as welcoming and vibrant as ever.

And the last few years, tragedy apart, have also seen a big clean- up – I was struck by the gleaming streets, the lack of graffiti and just how safe I felt as I wandered around the bustling streets as a tourist asking for directions.

Like all big cities, New York does have crime but the subway felt safe and at dollars 7 for a day ticket – dollars 21 for a week – it is a cheap way to get around all those shops. I stayed in the luxurious Warwick Hotel on Sixth Avenue, a short walk frombeautiful Central Park and within easy reach of the Rockerfeller Centre and Broadway.

A favourite haunt of The Beatles during their heyday, the Warwick offers a perfect mix of old-style glamour and modern facilities. If you want a special treat, book a suite and enjoy the ultimate in New York luxury.

It also has a good restaurant serving a wide variety of dishes and a bar attracting locals and tourists alike, so there is always someone to chat to, ask for directions and insider tips on where to eat and drink.

If you don’t want to splash out, there are plenty of mid-priced hotels and you can book online via the internet to take advantage of the latest deals.

The area around the Warwick also has plenty of places to eat and drink, with good value to be found at Wolf’s on 57th Street.

But for something a bit more chic, head downtown to SoHo or the Meatpacking District – home to Sex And The City’s Samantha. The area also houses the recently opened premises of designer Stella McCartney.

We headed for the Tribeca Grill, owned by film legend Robert De Niro, expecting a night of glamour and star spotting. The restaurant is a trendy destination and was filled with some of the beautiful people of New York – the menu and wine list were prettygood too.

Robert, unfortunately wasn’t there. As well as the great man, the place was also lacking in atmosphere.

So, despite the great food and wine at Tribeca Grill, you might find a bit more fun in the bars and eating places of nearby SoHo – especially the highly acclaimed French bistro Balthazar.

And in nearby Greenwich Village you can enjoy a night of live music at The Bitter End, which launched the careers of many performers including Carly Simon and Bette Midler.

You can also venture into Chinatown for a real taste of the east. But the next day saw us hitting another round of the shops before a night at the theatre. Musicals are definitely making a comeback after the success of the screen version of Chicago, so Iopted for 42nd Street at the Ford Center in the heart of Broadway.

After the show we caught a late snack and a few pints of Guinness at a nearby Irish bar.

There are plenty of eating and drinking places in the area, so you can make a real night of it.

The following day, I gave the credit card a bit of a breather and headed off for some sightseeing – a nice walk in Central Park and a bit of culture at the American Museum of Natural History.

I also enjoyed the views of the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park. For an even better view, catch the nearby Staten Island ferry – a cheap way to view the landmark from the water.

The subway is cheap and easy to use and an ideal way to see New York.

There are also a variety of organised tours with lots of information available online about how to book them. The tours have the added advantage of a guide who can show you parts of the city you might otherwise ignore.

The following morning I headed to the Empire State Building. And after a quick tour of nearby Macy’s department store – I just couldn’t resist it before flying home – it was back to the hotel to pack up.

Heading to Newark Airport, I opted to take the train from Penn Station. This is a great service which links up to a monorail that will take you direct to the terminal for Continental flights.

After a quick tour of the airport shops – I can’t help it – it was back home to face the inevitable credit card bills.


Continental flies direct from Glasgow to Newark from pounds 312.

The Warwick Hotel has rooms from pounds 180 per night.

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