A Bite of the Big Apple

Londoners Jaqui and Neal relished their five-day whirlwind tour of the Big Apple. They’re saving now for a very un-urban safari—a trip to Namibia to sleep under the stars. Their New York trip report offers insight into what to see and do in the Big Apple.

You visited several sights that are considered tourist “must-dos.” What was your favorite sight? Was there one that you would happily skip on your next visit?

It’s difficult to single out one favorite sight. They were all so unique and wonderful for different reasons, but two really stood out. First, Ellis Island. The exhibits were so moving and we loved finding out more about the history and background surrounding the lives of so many who came to the United States through here.

Secondly, the view from Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center). We went in the late afternoon/early evening, so we had the benefit of seeing it by daylight and then at sunset. We had just been to Central Park, so it was wonderful to see the park in its entirety and get a real sense of its scale.

If we visited again, we’d probably skip the ESB, it’s a beautiful building to look at, but you can have a better experience at Top of the Rock.

New York is known for its neighborhoods. Of those you visited, which did you feel had the most personality?

Each neighborhood was fascinating, and different in so many ways, but personally we fell in love with the West Village. The atmospere was quaint and relaxed, the shops were unique and quirky, and it just had a great ‘village’ feel (the clue was in the name though!). Of all the areas we visited, it was the most residential, and therefore the one that made us most feel that you could actually live there.

It sounds like the subway was a cinch for you two. Do you have any advice for first-time visitors in terms of getting around?

We bought $10 metrocards, which allowed us six trips each and we “refilled” them during our stay. It meant we didn’t have to buy tickets each time we wanted to use the subway. We had a subway map with us the whole time so could check we were on the right train. We always kept in mind that on the weekend, normal service might not be operating if there was engineering work going on. We worked around that though! One other tip: some subway entrances at street levels only give access to either the downtown- or uptown-bound trains, so check the signs before descending down the stairs, or you could find yourself on a train going in the wrong direction!

You both share a love for photography. Would you consider New York a “photogenic” city? Any advice for other avid amateur photographers when they come to the city?

New York is definitely photogenic. The beauty is in the modern architecture, the world-famous landmarks, and definitely the sheer energy of the city and everyday sights. I’d recommend taking shots of just whatever is going on around you, as well as the must-see attractions. You can get just as much a feel for the city in your photos by looking at the people, the traffic, the bright lights and the unusual, as you can from photos of the well-known sights. Also, if you have the opportunity, make sure you have a wide-angle lens for your camera. When taking pictures of the huge skyscrapers and the incredible views, it’s the only way to fit everything in!

Finally, did either of you experience what many would call an “only in New York” moment?

It felt like every moment there was a “New York moment.” It felt like being on a huge movie set. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the cabs really are yellow, steam really does rise from the manholes in the road, and the fire hydrants really do look like that, but every time I saw them I was amazed! They are just some of the city’s iconic images that truly remind you that you couldn’t be anywhere else!

Just how much can you see in five days in the Big City? Check out Jaqui and Neal’s trip report.

Compiled by Katie Hamlin