Travel: State of Mind

Legend has it the island of Manhattan was bought from the local Native Americans for a mere US$24 (Dh100) in 1626. Almost 400 years later, this 13 mile-long island is now one of the most expensive stretches of land in the world. New York has served as a gateway to the US for millions of immigrants searching for their own American dream. Today, it is one of the most diverse cities on the planet. The energy contained in these few precious miles acts like a magnet, attract millions of tourists each year, all looking to take a bite out of the Big Apple.

By Mohamad Kadry

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Published: Fri 7 Aug 2009, 9:05 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:17 AM

Getting around New York is easy, even though public transport is not a well-known concept for most Americans, but NYC has always been the exception. With nearly 500 stations, the New York City subway is a vital part of everyday life. In past decades, the subway became a notorious for crime, but as the city’s security stepped up, so to has the safety of New York’s main transportation arteries. Depending on the length of your stay, visitors have the option of buying unlimited access cards, which also link to the city’s bus system. Riding the underground is an experience all of its own, giving you a chance to mingle with the natives and get a real sense of the city’s character.

The city is notorious for having shock value, either from its towering skyline or its animated residents! New Yorkers are fiercely protective of their city, and this devotion may sometimes come off as rude or hostile. Don’t take it personally, because in a city of nearly nine million, people have a tendency to trust nothing at face value. But New Yorkers are also some of the most open-minded characters in the US, and most are happy to give visitors advice on directions, eateries and just about everything else in this fast-paced city.

While the city never really shuts down, immersing yourself in its neighborhoods is easy and highly recommended. New York is one of the biggest cement playgrounds in the worlds. So it’s no wonder that smack in the middle of the most densely populated city in America you can also find its most beautiful park, Central Park to be exact. For New Yorkers, Central Park is an escape from the monotony of cement and steel. During the winter months, ice-skating in the park is a popular pastime, and during summer the area blooms with wild flowers, fountains and green areas ideal for picnics. The park, made famous by countless Hollywood movies, continues to be a cherished getaway for New Yorkers.

When you’re finished relaxing in this green oasis, you should be fully recharged and ready to experience New York’s famous nighlife. If there is anything certain about this city’s booming nightlife, it is that no two venues are alike. Moreover, bars and clubs have a tendency of opening grandly and fading away by the very next weekend. For some upscale lounging, head over to the 40/40 Club and mix it up with Manhattan’s young elite. For some great views of the city skyline, head over to midtown to the Mad46 Rooftop Lounge and enjoy a cosmopolitan cocktail in the city that made the drink famous. If you’re after a taste of soulful rock, the Alibi Lounge in Greenwich Village promises to be a chill-out fest for the more musically inclined. But nothing is more fun than roaming the streets, so make sure to bar hop from shady dives to extravagant clubs for the full NYC experience.

New Yorkers often joke about how few of the city’s landmarks they’ve actually visited. For a visitor though, trips to Times Square or the Statue of Liberty are a must. To get up close and personal to Lady Liberty herself, jump aboard the Staten Island Ferry for a ride that provides the best views of Lower Manhattan from the water. When it comes to visiting Times Square, there really are no rules. You’ll find hordes of tourists flocking to these streets day and night, so be sure to take it all in without letting it encapsulate your entire New York experience. There is more to this city than fake Gucci handbags and street performers.

New York is special in ways other cities can only dream of. Its gritty character mirrored against its cosmopolitan flare enchants visitors and residents alike. Just like Frank Sinatra sang, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!


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