Taking a Bite of the Big Apple


Arriving in New York can feel rather overwhelming. With hurried people, noisy conversations, cars and skyscrapers surrounding you. You may start to feel as though you’ve stepped into a whole different universe.
Tour books will lead you to well known sights, such as the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Rockefeller Center or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While all these are worthy destinations per se, there’s lots more to see if you want to take a bite out of the Big Apple.
A recent visit to the new downtown Contemporary Museum of Art, where a 2.5 metre rose on the outside was only the starting point for a superb collection of East European art entitled “Ostalgi”.
Another new addition to city landscape is the Highline Park situated between avenues 10 and 11. This former railway line has been converted into a wonderful outdoor space where one can enjoy the breeze of the Hudson and a Mexican popsicle. There’s even a roller skating rink.
For the more adventurous, and those who don’t feel the need to stay in Manhattan, there’s Coney Island, where you can dip your toes in the Atlantic, scoff a Nathan’s hotdog, experience the thrill of the Cyclone at America’s oldest fun-fair and admire the sea-lions at the New York Aquarium.
Just a short ferry ride away from Midtown East is Governer’s Island. This former Navy Headquarters is now a car-free picnic hotspot where you can rent a bike and relive your youth. Volunteers organize free kayaking on weekend mornings.
If you’ve forgotten to leave your kids at home, treat them to a day at the New York Hall of Science. The long ride on the #7 metro from Grand Central where you sit across people from 12 different ethnic backgrounds will be worth it once your kids discover the joys of the science playground and the high-wire at the circus exhibition.
If all this sightseeing has left you hungry, head to Mario Batali’s newest baby, Eataly, on 5th avenue between 23rd and 24th. This 5000 square-foot emporium has everything you can find in Italy, and more, as well as 4 full service restaurants. Make the most of the hour you will spend waiting for a table stocking up on spaghetti or chasing the squirrels at the nearby Madison Square Park.
A walk in Chinatown will leave you wondering whether you’ve taken a wrong turn and ended up in Shang-Hai. Fish lie, still breathing on slabs of ice, while barrels of frogs gasp for air. You’re hard pressed to hear anything apart from Mandarin here, and even when you look up to check street names, you’ll find them in Chinese.
For those among you looking for a bargain, down-town’s Century 21 is not to be missed. Go early to avoid the lines or be prepared for long lines at both dressing rooms and checkout. Whatever the wait, your Armani suit at a fifth of the 5th avenue price will be well worth it.

Z Nasser

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