They say New York is the city of dreams and for anyone lucky enough to have traveled to this part of the world, I’m sure you’d agree. There’s something in the air here – the smell of coffee and relentless ambition, all before the clock strikes 10am.
The true beauty of New York lies in the endless possibility. You just never know where a day can take you. So with a map in hand, I start my journey off solo, with the ambition to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. You can of walk the Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan side, but nothing beats the feeling of walking towards that famous Manhattan Skyline with it in your sights the entire time. To walk the other way simply means you’ll be turning your head constantly, trying to catch a glimpse of that magnificent concrete jungle.
It is March and judging by other commuters attire I don’t think I have anticipated how cold it is outside. Sure enough, a few minutes into my journey and it starts snowing. All I can think about is how beautiful this city is when it snows (well that, and how freezing my hands are from the lack of gloves). Yet the sight of cascading snowflakes falling in front of me definitely supersedes my freezing sensation. I continue my hustle, making my way through the crowds of people and head to where dreams are made of, the city of Manhattan.
Once I make it over the bridge, I am surprised to find that I am right near City Hall and on Broadway. That’s the thing I love about not making plans, there’s no expectations, and with that, you can find even the slightest thing exciting.
With a stroll down Broadway and a few right turns, I find myself at the 911 Memorial. Nothing can prepare you for the emotion you feel stepping into this space. Being an Australian and sheltered on the other side of the world, I undoubtedly felt some emotional impact then, but it’s now, years later, that the feeling really hits home. A security guard close by sees my tears and offers a tissue, and when learning that I’m Aussie he sighs and says, ‘911 didn’t just change America, it changed every country in the world’. Judging by those around me, his statement rings true. People from all walks of life stand in silence, with pain in their eyes as they hold back tears of grief for those we lost that day.
I continue on in sadness, knowing that what I feel now doesn’t even come close to how an American must feel. Distance can somewhat remove you from tragedy, but when it’s staring you in the face, you can’t help but get involved.
This area, the lower part of Manhattan is full of tourist sights all easily accessible via foot – City Hall, 911 Memorial, Wall St, the infamous Bull, Trinity Church and the entrance to the Staten Island Ferry. If you’re on a budget, make sure you catch the Staten Island Ferry, it runs daily, and best part about it is that it is free. Offering great views of the skyline, it evens ventures past the Statue of Liberty.
It’s clear that my first day in New York makes the start of something incredible and it’s these experiences that keep me coming back to this city of dreams.
When to go – Winter (although you can’t beat a rooftop bar in Summer)!
Where to Stay – The Ludlow Hotel is perfectly situated in Lower East Manhattan, just steps away from some of the best cafes and shopping, it’s the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle. If, like me, you spend hours wandering the city on foot, there’s nothing better than coming back to The Ludlow, and that amazing bathroom.
Coffee – Flinders Lane is an Australian owned and inspired restaurant that offers an amazing mocha and happy hour from 5pm – 7pm if you sit at the bar – that’s half priced food and drinks!
Visit – Brooklyn Bridge. Besides the views, it offers entrance to some great sites and some even better people watching. The best subway stop near the bridge entrance is High Street-Brooklyn Bridge (take the A or C subway line from Manhattan). Then go right on Pearl Street, take a left on Prospect Street, heading towards Washington Street. The entrance to the underpass is on Washington Street and leads up a stairway to the Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Path.
A Real New Yorker – Catch the Subway, it can be confusing and overwhelming at the start but you can’t beat the 7 day unlimited metro card that takes you all over the city for only $31. And don’t forget the NY Subway offers true insight into the life of a New Yorker and free entertainment in the form of street dancers and incredible vocalists scattered on the platforms and on the train itself.
Must See – Williamsburg! Very easy to get to via any subway line from Manhattan and if you’re into fashion you can’t beat the Markets on a Saturday and the unique thrift stores.
Best Rooftop Bar – The Standard at the Highline. Be sure to check out the historical Highline before, then head over to the bar at Sunset.