The Big Apple- It’s the city where dreams are made and broken; the bustling epicentre of all things cool and contemporary. And every day, it is filled with tourists just like me, pointing cameras, clutching maps, desperately trying not to make eye contact on the subway.
For many people New York holds the promise of magic and excitement, that feeling of “anything can happen”, and I was no exception. But there’s seeing it in films, and then there’s visiting. Let me tell you- small town girl in the Big City is decidedly more romantic in films. And even less romantic is the very same small town girl sprawled on the ice whilst the school group she is with, and heck, even the stewards, laugh raucously at her efforts. But I’m getting ahead of myself; I did plenty of other things whilst I was there, and most of them were pretty amazing (and didn’t involve me falling on my butt).
There’s so much to do it would be impossible to write it all down, but here are a few things I think you have to do in NYC:
See New York at Night
Image: Darren Johnson
First things first: when they called New York ‘The City that Never Sleeps’, they meant it. We arrived at 3 in the morning, and one of the first sights was the bright lights of Broadway. If you’re planning to take a trip to the Big Apple, you need to spend at least a small amount of time seeing it after dark. We went up to the Empire State Building in the evening, and whilst I imagine it’s still great in daylight, there’s something truly breathtaking about that legendary skyline all lit up against an inky sky.
Go to a Rangers Game (and flirt with the vendors)
Image: Anders Carlsson
New Yorkers are loud. They are brash, and they are not backwards about coming forwards. That’s what makes them New Yorkers. And you will never get a truer sense of this than sitting in the stands at a Rangers Ice Hockey game, listening to the huge guy from Brooklyn scream “punch him in the face!” at the players on the rink. I swear, even if you hate sports, have no idea of the rules of Ice Hockey, and have never heard of any of the players, you will LOVE this. I speak from experience. Grab a giant foam finger, buy a hotdog with everything on it, and just get carried away with the sheer spirit of the whole thing. And of course, if one of the cute vendors happens to call out to you, and happens to offer you and your friends free ice cream, there’s no harm in a little flirtation: after all, this is New York.
Lose yourself on the Subway (literally)
Image: Radu Negru
Coming from a small town in the countryside, I had never even been on the London Underground. So using the subway in New York was a pretty big deal. I urge anyone who fears getting lost and winding up in a new place to take this one precaution. DO IT. Don’t panic about it, decide with a couple of friends to just select a random stop, and go and explore. Yes, you’ll have no clue where you are, but as long as you remember the subway station you came from, you’ll be able to go elsewhere. You’ll discover so much more about the hidden parts of the city this way, and it will give you a tale to tell later. We found an amazing little jewellery shop when we did it, and came back to our group laden with treasures.
And finally, of course:
Go Ice Skating In Central Park
Image: Stuart Moreton
Obviously this is seasonal, but it’s up there as one of the best things I have ever done, even though I spent most of my time struggling to stand up. I warn you- the stewards are from New York, so they will not hesitate to point out when someone clearly has no skating talent. They will skate directly behind you and remark “oooh that ain’t right”. They may tell you to go and change your skates because those “are clearly broken”. They just might laugh when you return and tell them that the skates aren’t broken, you’re just that bad. But providing you are enjoying yourself, this will just be another great moment in a trip filled with them.
Take a bite out of the Big Apple and make your visit what you want it to be. It’s the city of dreams, and you deserve your dream trip. Rest assured, I had mine.
Tessa Pillar is a second year English Literature student from South Devon. An avid reader, Tessa also has a real interest in writing and is currently undertaking a Creative Writing and Blogging Internship. When not studying or writing she can be found socialising with friends.