A Love Letter to New York City
I’ve been to New York six times and I still can’t get enough of it.
What is it about you, New York, that enchants me so much?
I don’t know how to say this but…I think I’m in love with you.
New York has a magnetic effect on me. To try and put this feeling into words, New York feels like a “home away from home” to me; there’s a sweet familiarity but at the same time, a deep curiosity and a knowledge that there’s always more to discover. I take a bite of the Big Apple and I’m always left wanting more…
It’s a city that inspires me – maybe it’s all the TV shows, music, art, literature and movies set in New York. It’s a breeding ground for cultural and artistic genius. As I walk down the streets, I find myself imagining all the famous writers, architects, musicians, artists and actors who have made an impact on this iconic city. A young Sinatra performing in a smokey 1940s underground jazz club or a carefree Bob Dylan writing a lyrical masterpiece on the distressed napkin that once belonged to a Greenwich Village cafe in the 1960s.
This is a city that mesmerises people and captures their hearts. It has so many stories to tell…and secrets to keep.
So what is it about this captivating city that gets me every time?
1) THE ENERGY
From the moment the plane lands in NYC, I have that butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling and I can’t wait to explore. There’s a buzz in New York that never goes away – It’s a city that’s ALIVE, 24/7. When you’re walking around Manhattan, you feel like you are the beating heart of the entire universe.
Manhattan is so compact, yet with all the people, skyscrapers, shops, bars, restaurants and famous landmarks, it’s a melting pot of creative energy. Wherever you are, whatever time of day – there’s always something going on. Whether it’s a Broadway show, a late night jazz club, a wacky 1950s themed 24 hour diner or a spontaneous street performer, you’ll never be bored. It truly is the city that never sleeps.
On my first ever trip to New York, I was walking down the street to my hotel when three NYPD cars whizzed past me, and in the distance I could see firemen climbing up their ladders to put out a fire on the top floor of an apartment block. We walked into the hotel, only to see Angelina Jolie sneaking out of a private exit. It felt like stepping into a movie scene. “Is this real life?”
Times Square is the place that locals love to hate, and tourists flock to in their masses. It’s like the rich and hyperactive cousin of Piccadilly Circus in London. It’s crazy and chaotic but it never fails to entertain! Just don’t stay there for too long! Huge TV screens mesmerise you with their seductive commercials and it’s the only place where walking past Elmo, Batman, Mickey Mouse and a Naked Cowboy is seen as a normal daily occurrence.
2) THE FOOD
The pizza. The bagels. The pancakes. The hot dogs. The cookies. The tender melt-in-your-mouth salt beef on rye bread with a crunchy slice of gherkin on the side…I could go on. When it comes to New York food, I can’t even begin to tell you how tasty it is. So, I’m going to leave you with these pictures and your own imagination…
3) THE FAMOUS LANDMARKS AND THE VIEWS THAT GO WITH THEM
It’s the place where movie scenes come to life. Walk on any street in Manhattan and you can guarantee at least one movie or TV series has been filmed there. Skyscrapers scratch the heavens and paint the iconic skyline that’s adored by millions.
Whether you’re on a boat, in a helicopter, at the top of a skyscraper or walking down 5th Avenue, the views of New York will leave you breathless time and time again. Look up and the buildings seem never ending – the spires of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State dissolve into the sky and leave you in awe.
Seeing the Statue of Liberty up close – nothing can compare…
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge makes you realise the degree of craftsmanship that went into creating this architectural masterpiece.
I took a helicopter ride over Manhattan at night and the views left me speechless.
4) THE CHARM
Many people think New Yorkers are rude and constantly in a rush, but I must say, all I’ve experienced is great hospitality and friendliness. Maybe it’s the British accent that helps? New York is home to some of the most charming people I’ve ever met. Every time I’ve visited, people have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome. Some firemen kindly gave my friend Kate and I an impromptu tour of the firehouse, a policeman walked us 10 minutes to a bus stop (giving each of us an arm to link) so we didn’t have to walk alone late at night and some sailors let us borrow their hats! The people, (especially the New York men!) are undeniably charming. Swoon…
5) THE QUIRKY SIDE
As well as the famous landmarks and tourist hotspots – there’s always something new and quirky to discover. This crazy Indian restaurant had the most fairy lights I’ve ever seen! There were thousands of chilli shaped lights hanging from the ceiling and walls as well as ornaments, balloons, tinsel, beach balls and holographic paper. It felt like eating Indian food from inside a Christmas tree – a bizarre but incredibly fun experience!
New York is a mosaic of unique little neighbourhoods, each with it’s own little charm…visit Coney Island and embrace your youth!
Williamsburg in Brooklyn is the home of hipsters – lose yourself in quaint little bookshops and buy handmade goods and old comic books from street stalls.
Listen to street performers playing their latest foot-stomping compositions on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg.
Go to the Brooklyn flea market and grab yourself some vintage bargains…
Hang out in East Village and you never know what you might find…
How about going to a restaurant with singing waiters and waitresses?
6) SHOPPING, NIGHTLIFE AND COUNTLESS ATTRACTIONS
Galleries, museums, markets, shops, bars, restaurants, music venues, walking tours, film locations, boat tours, bus tours, helicopter tours, bike tours, food tours, sports stadiums…the list goes on. New York has got it all! A shopper’s paradise, a cocktail lover’s dream – I love how the Big Apple caters for all! There’s so much to see in New York and it would take another article to even begin to tell you about the things you should do in New York… Step away from the madness and get lost in the 840 acres of Central Park…
See moving tributes at the 9/11 Memorial.
Grab your foam finger and go support a local team!
7) ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN
Amazing things just seem to happen in this city. I’ve had so many lucky opportunities whilst being on holiday in New York, from being given a private tour around the NBC studios to receiving free VIP tickets to see the Kings of Leon, to going to a BAFTA screening for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to stumbling across an intimate Ed Sheeran gig at the Bowery Ballroom with under 100 people there.
New York has a presence that’s difficult to explain – it’s diverse, it’s dazzling and it’s captured so many hearts. It gets under your skin like no other city in the world. There’s always someone interesting to meet or something fabulous to see. There’s culture on every corner, never-ending photo-opportunities and a constant feeling of discovery.
Every time I visit, I feel so sad to leave but at the same time, it’s true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and being away means it’s a place I can always look forward to going back to for years to come. Until the next trip, I’ll be day dreaming about you, New York, New York…