TRAVEL FEATURE: TAKING A BITE OUT OF THE BIG APPLE!!

first_imgNEW YORK,NEW YORK. SO GOOD THEY NAMED IT TWICE.FOR those who have never been outside the island of Ireland but want to go abroad, here’s a tip. Go toNew Yorkif it is the last thing you ever do. Seriously. Forget about Spain, France, Portugal andTurkey. Save up your hard earned Euros and take the five hour flight to the Big Apple.Yes, you have heard the stories that New York doesn’t sleep. Well, trust me. Everything is big and brash, all singing and dancing with bells and whistles on. And the food helpings are twice what you get at Harry’s restaurant in Bridgend.And it is bigger in real life than what you see on CSI: New York, Cagney and Lacey, Starksy and Hutch, Friends and Frasier, the lot. As soon as you step off the plane at JFK or Newarkyou will notice it immediately. The cars are just huge. It’s like you have been transported to the land of the giants. A four door saloon in New Yorkis like one of those cheap and tacky limos that take drunken girls and boys to a pub at the weekend to celebrate an 18th birthday bash. And their 4 X 4 SUVs are like the Bus Eireann Sligo express. Gi-normous!And if you walk around New York with your mouth constantly open, don’t worry. You are not alone. All tourists do it. It is just a natural reaction. You will  hear voices saying: Mother of God! Look at the size of that….!!! After an hour’s drive from Newark airport in a ‘door car’ (that’s what they call an up market taxi!!!) – a black four door saloon Sedan with a neatly dressed chauffeur behind the wheel – I finally arrive at my destination through rush hour traffic.After paying the chauffeur the $80 dollars for the ride with tip (You have a nice day sir, came his reply), I walked into one ofNew York’s most famous hotels – the New Yorker.Situated at 34th and 6th Avenue, it is almost like a cathedral building. The rear of the hotel was once used by Batman to shine his logo on to alert the NYPD to his presence. Stepping into the foyer through a fast spin revolving door, the reception was choc-a-block with tourists ready to check in. Having the patience of a ferret down a rabbit hole, I queue jumped past some Japanese star gazers and finally checked in.Built in 1931 and standing at 143 metres high (it looks like 143 miles high when you stand outside gazing up!), the New Yorker is one of city’s most iconic buildings right in the middle of Manhatten. I will say that again: Right in the middle of Manhatten. You see, when you are standing in Manhatten you have to pinch yourself to make sure you are really there. That famous Manhatten skyline you see on television shows and gangster movies. Well, I am standing right in the middle of it. To be honest, it is jaw dropping. And when you hear the first yellow taxi horn blurring as you momentarily step off the sidewalk, don’t reach for your Magnum 45, the most powerful handgun in the world. Because it is not there. You are not dreaming anymore. This is real life. Welcome to the Big Apple.Owned by theUnification Church (the ‘Moonies’ to your and me), the New Yorker has 43 floors with 912 rooms spread over 1,000,000 square feet (that’s the equivalent 1,000 average three bedroom homes stacked on top of each other!!). When I first stayed here, renovation work was just starting. And not before time, I thought to myself. The décor in the rooms was like something out of a 70s TV show. I was half expecting to see Huggy Bear of Starksy and Hutch fame to walk nonchalantly out of the shower room with a bag of donuts for Captain Doby!!This was October time. Snow was starting to fall outside and the evenings were that cold I had a couple of penguins and a polar bear join me in bed to watch Artic News on the National Geograhic channel. When I asked at reception could they turn the fecking heat on, the man said: The heat doesn’t come on for another fortnight, sir. Two weeks? I will resemble a Fox’s glacier mint by then!! There are some blankets beside the bed, he added. Really, I thought. That will help keep the draft out from around the window. In the morning I thawed out by setting fire to myself in the bed!!!! Gladly, things have now changed. Following a $70 million renovation which started five years ago and took two years to complete, the New Yorker is now transported into the 21st century. There’s WIFI throughout the hotel and each room has its own flat screen television. Hallelujah!!!The breakfasts in New York are just out of this world. No greasy spoon fries here my friends. There’s a diner adjoined to the New Yorker which does fabulous eggs Benedict, potato grits, grilled bacon and poached egg, giant pancakes and syrup. The list is endless. I can guarantee that after having one of their breakfasts you won’t eat again until teatime. Don’t forget to tip the lovely waitress. Her smile alone is worth five bucks!!The sights in New Yorkare endless. There’s the gi-normous Central Park which makes Phoenix Park look like a small beer garden. Central Park is where lovers go for a kerfuffle on the park bench of an afternoon while others lie on the grass, read a book and zone out from the helter skelter life on the avenue. People said to me you should go up the Empire State building and take in the view. Sorry, but me and heights don’t agree. I use to get vertigo just watching the BMX bike going over the edge of the cliff in the Pepsi Max adverts!!!!!What I would seriously recommend is a visit down to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Personally, I love Ellis Island. For those who don’t know, this was the harbour where millions of immigrants, many of whom were Irish, descended to in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Still standing are the checking stations where immigration officers let you in or threw you out. Take the guided tour on a headset and you almost feel like you are stepping back in time. It does sound bonkers but you can almost feel and hear families clattering about with their luggage. Spooky or what? For the shopaholics like myself, there are Macy’s and Bloomingdales both of which are in midtown Manhatten. These stores are staggering in size. Macy’s alone is about the size of Donegal county! I’m not kidding. (Personally, I think that is where Lord Lucan has been holed up all these years!!!). Macy’s at Christmas is fab. They have a toy train set which snakes its way around the top of the tenth floor as far as the eye can see.Lastly, and not by least, there are Time Square and Broadway. Time Square at night is absolutely amazing. There is a live cam so you can talk to your family and folks back home. It’s glitzy and packed with techie shops, toy stores and restaurants. A few minutes away is Broadway, New York’s theatre land. Whatever you do, don’t go toNew Yorkand and not see a show. Grab a bite to eat in one of the nearby restaurants which adorn their walls with caricatures of actors appearing on stage. It’s fantastic.Sadly, the worst thing about New York is leaving. A three-day trip, flying out of Dublin, Shannon or even Belfast, is just not long enough to take in the sights and soak up the atmosphere and all that Irish heritage oozing out of buildings. And you will never be stuck for an Irish pub either. There’s almost one on every pavement.In the immortal words of crooner Frank Sinatra: “Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today……’’Ooops!! I almost forget. The massive streets in New York are called Avenues. And the not so big ones are called Streets. The avenues go in one direction and the streets then criss-cross. Sounds simple? Yeah, right. Ask the blokes on Top Gear how they got on. The secret to not getting lost like James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson from TG is don’t driver a car. Get a cab. There’s millions of them. Take the stress out of your trip and hop a cab. Taxi for Donegal Daily……TRAVEL FEATURE: TAKING A BITE OUT OF THE BIG APPLE!! was last modified: September 17th, 2012 by cassoscoopShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img