During nine days in New York City, I took nine big bites of the Big Apple.

One bite

One bite

First bite: Cultural treasures Number one: An Egyptian Mummy of a colour and quality I had never seen in other museums stopped me in my tracks in New York City’s number one tourist attraction, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Then I found  a parade of mounted horseman stopped in their own tracks,  as if frozen in time, all wearing battle armour. I expected the impressionist paintings to detain me, and they did, almost alive in their colour, but a surprise highlight were Tiffany glass “paintings”. The attractions were endless and I spent a day there. http://www.metmuseum.org . I used my CityPASS ( http://www.citypass.com/new-york)which gave me priority entry. I also used it to scoot past others in long queues in a myriad of places and for far cheaper than others paid on entry.

Armoured horsemen in the Metropolitan Museum.

Armoured horsemen in the Metropolitan Museum.

The outside of the cylindrical Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is an art work in itself. Inside I glided up the spiral staircase gallery, entranced by Picasso, and then, glided back down and then up again for more.http://www.guggenheim.org/ A visit to the Morgan Library&Museum introduced me to a world of immense wealth, art and literature as collected by the billionaire J.P. Morgan. There is a floor-to-ceiling library, with original letters on display from such authors as Charles Dickens. http://www.themorgan.org/

Second bite: Entertainment Broadway: “You can have this seat but it is right at the front,” said the kind lady in the Broadway ticket office, half an hour before showtime. For only $69, I was soon so close to the actors playing the Jersey Boys, I felt part of the hilarious performance. When I was buying a ticket for the Broadway hit The Book of Mormon.  the guy behind the counter said he rated it “Eleven out of ten” and he was right. I also found it easy to get a ticket for Evita where Ricky Martin appeared on stage to enormous applause from the Latin Americans in the audience. He then proceeded to demonstrate why he is such a star. Classical: In the Lincoln Centre, the Metropolitan Opera performed Il Figaro and I was thrilled to find myself sitting three rows from the front in the tux and gown section. “Excuse me, sir, I think you are in the wrong seat,” a polite (as usual) American informed me. Row “E”, it turned out, was not the same as my back row seat “EE”, the ticket I had bought that afternoon.  I retreated but the quality of voice, acting and staging was such that I couldn’t have cared a fig.

Third bite: Skyscraper There are two “tops” to the Empire State building. Most people seem to be content with just the first one, with its outside balcony, and sure it was good. But then I paid the extra $17 to go up to the original enclosed viewing platform and the view was just that much better. From there I could spot other classic New York skyscrapers and see way down over Wall Street. King Kong was on his day off.

View  from the Empire State Building towards Wall Street.

View from the Empire State Building towards Wall Street.

Fourth bite: Imagine a Park If there is one meeting place where visitors to Central Park congregate, it is the Imagine circle. It can be found   near the exit that leads to the Gothic-looking Dakota building where John Lennon was murdered in 1980. Some people place a bouquet on the circle, others look in silence, take a photo and then wander off.  The rest of the park is far more joyous than solemn and I was surprised to find that I could be alone in a scenic pocket on a huge rock overlooking a pool, and could wander up a narrow path through big trees which obscured any sign of skyscrapers and blocked traffic noise.

Tranquillity in Central Park.

Tranquillity in Central Park.

Fifth bite: Fifth Avenue Parades and Prada — that’s Fifth Avenue for you. The shopping capital of the world, with the planet’s most famous jewellery shop, Tiffany’s. But for me the winner was FAO Schwarz, the toy shop that had a giant gorilla (or was it King Kong in his day job?) amid its  many zoo creatures.  I was lucky to be on Fifth Avenue for Veterans Day, the equivalent of Anzac day,  and saw the Americans use their flair for show business to make the parade entertaining as well as patriotic. http://www.fao.com

Handbags to match your gladrags.

Handbags to match your gladrags.

Sixth bite: Movement Morgan Freeman hauled me and my suitcase into a packed subway carriage. I looked again and the smiling, dapper gentleman  turned out to be a mere double for Mr Freeman but nonetheless he was a star in my eyes for giving me a hand. Normally the subway was easy to use. Most of the streets are perfectly named by number and points on the compass, and walking was easy  especially after learning  the trick of following somebody who is cutting through the crowds. In taxis I met men from Ghana, the Punjab,  and Ethiopia who were happy to tell their story. And the buses moved  quickly up the big avenues,  with the  views making the stops worthwhile.

Seventh bite: Self-help  dining New York has some of the finest restaurants but the treat for me was  Fairway which , with some justification, claims the title “The World’s Greatest Food Store” It is at 2127 Broadway (at 74th St)  and has  fresh fruit of all kinds , gourmet cheeses, seafood, meats, vegetarian specialities, and bakery items,– well, everything –but best of all for a visitor like me was the variety of ready-to-go delicious hot meals for next to nothing.  I dined in style in my hotel room but had I wanted company I could have chosen their upstairs café. http://www.fairwaymarket.com/store-upper-west-side/

 

View from the Wellington Hotel.

View from the Wellington Hotel.

View from the Beacon Hotel.

View from the Beacon Hotel.

Eighth bite: Hotels One: To be in the heart of the action in comfort and without paying a fortune—that was my criteria for my first few days in New York, and the Wellington Hotel at 871 Seventh Avene at 55th Street proved the perfect fit. Just a stroll from Times Square and the Broadway shows in one direct, and a hop skip and a jump to Central Park in the other. Big room in the big apple. http://www.wellingtonhotel.com/ Two: To experience a taste of upmarket New York and without paying much for the privilege, I stayed in Hotel Beacon at 2130 Broadway at 75th street.  With sleek, modern décor in the rooms and warm welcomes every time, I enjoyed feeling like an extra in  Woody Allen movie as I looked out of my window to a view the skyscrapers light up at night. Right next door is the famous Beacon Theatre, and the time I was in town Aussie-friendly  Chris Isaac was playing. http://www.beaconhotel.com/

Ninth bite: To see the Statue of Liberty, I  travelled on the New York Water Taxi’s  Zephyr State of Liberty Express, which  introduced me to the grand lady that towers over her small island home. The tour  gave me a view of Manhattan like no other,  and threw in a comedy routine by the guide that would beat anything in one of the clubs in town.http://www.nywatertaxi.com/

 

 

 

 

Imagine

Imagine

Veterans' Day parade on Fifth Avenue.

Veterans’ Day parade on Fifth Avenue.

Broadway buzz

Broadway buzz

 

Candy striped pipe.

Candy striped pipe.

Tiffany in the Metropolitan Museum.

Tiffany in the Metropolitan Museum.

 

Drinks are served in these golden chalices at the Morgan Library and Museum. (I wish).

Drinks are served in these golden chalices at the Morgan Library and Museum. (I wish).

 

King of the Doorman. Why? It is happiest shop of them all.

King of the Doorman. Why? It is happiest shop of them all.

 

Death Mask of George Washington on display in the J. P. Morgan Library and Museum.

Death Mask of George Washington on display in the J. P. Morgan Library and Museum.

They've  moved the Statue of Liberty.

They’ve moved the Statue of Liberty.