Commonly regarded as the centre of the universe, New York is the perfect destination for anyone seeking a unique and exciting experience.
Many people claim that New York is the greatest city in the world. It is certainly the craziest. From the manic taxi drivers to the distressingly large buildings, not to mention the iconic landmarks practically everywhere you look, New York has it all.
In order to fully grasp the enormous scope of the city, a visit to the Empire State Building is essential for anyone who doesn’t suffer from chronic vertigo. Take a trip up to the 86th floor and gaze down at all those insignificant beings who hover around the vast array of concrete known as New York City, as well as the neighbouring states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut (yes, it’s that tall!).
Additionally, be sure to get to the ESB early and ideally on a weekday, as doing so will ensure you avoid long queues and crowds of annoying tourists. The appearance of fellow sightseers evokes the disconcerting recollection that you too have a limited amount of time to spend in this magnificent urban paradise.
A further distinguishing feature of New York is the people themselves. Once you get past the confusing accents and their insistence on using bizarre terminology (for toilets, read restrooms), then you realise that the majority of locals are incredibly polite and friendly.
If you are looking for a particular street, they will literally take you there. Moreover, when you make an order at any restaurant, instead of grimacing like Irish waiters, employees always smile and politely ask: ‘Will that be all?’ indicating that they really value their customers (and their tips).
As overwhelmingly pleasant as the people of New York usually are, sometimes the mass congregation of bodies crushed into narrow streets can become jarring. Furthermore, frequent exposure to the city’s cacophony of strange, loud noise would likely drive a patron saint insane given time.
Consequently, Central Park is the ideal location for anyone seeking solitude from the incessant buzzing sound which the city that never sleeps routinely emits. Spending a few hours lounging amongst the deluge of vast fields and lakes while taking in the sumptuous scenery makes you forget all your worries and momentarily consider whether tree hugging is the career for you.
Just outside Central Park on 58th Street and 5th Avenue is the world renowned toy store, FAO Schwarz. Wandering through the stores premises is reminiscent of experiencing a particularly surreal acid trip. You see nothing but bright colours and furry animals everywhere.
In addition, once you reach the top floor, your inner geek will marvel at the giant train set on display, as well all types of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings memorabilia for all those sad people (me included) who want a cup with Gollum’s face on it. There are also several clothes shops like Macy’s and Abercrombie offering extraordinarily cheap deals for all you mature people out there.
If you’re not in the mood for engaging in the kind of childish behaviour that FAO Schwarz reduces people to, then the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art on the eastern edge of Central Park is a nice alternative. Of course there is a suggested donation, but obviously when you’re a student, the word ‘donation’ doesn’t enter into your vocabulary.
All in all a trip to New York is pretty much a rite of passage, for culture vultures and shopaholics alike. Indeed, any person who returns from New York unimpressed should immediately have their pulse checked. It’s a once in a lifetime experience… or twice… or thrice… screw it, I’ll just live there.