Travel: You'll Want to Be a Part of It.In Old New York; the Great Escape JON GRIFFIN VISITS ONE OF THE MOST COMPELLING CITIES ON THE PLANET - AMERICA'S BIG APPLE

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), January 24, 2007 | Go to article overview

Travel: You'll Want to Be a Part of It.In Old New York; the Great Escape JON GRIFFIN VISITS ONE OF THE MOST COMPELLING CITIES ON THE PLANET - AMERICA'S BIG APPLE


Byline: JON GRIFFIN

SO you're familiar with all the hoary old cliches.

Start spreading the news... so good they named it twice... the city that never sleeps.

So is New York really the most exciting place on the planet? Or simply a over-hyped metropolis whose fame has been inflated by a New Jersey crooner with dubious gangland connections?

Whatever you think of Mr Sinatra, New York would still be one of the most compelling places on earth even if Old Blue Eyes had never warbled his way to showbiz immortality.

The Big Apple's got the lot. History, glamour, a fantastic skyline -and, more recently, appalling tragedy in the shape of the Twin Towers and the events of September 11 2001.

But you sense that, just like Manchester United after the Munich air disaster, New York will - probably already has - risen again to reclaim its proud and unquestioned status as one of the world's great locations.

It's not the sort of place to visit to relax. As it says in the pocket guide: "The only thing that might be difficult to find here is peace and quiet." But nobody should pass up the opportunity to visit this most cosmopolitan of cities, a place which boasts residents from all 228 nations on earth, at least according to the guide on the open top bus tour.

It's neither as romantic as Paris, nor as steeped in history as London or Rome, but it assaults the senses like no other location.

It could easily qualify as a 21st century eighth wonder of the world, a place so fantastic Orson Welles or his near namesake HG could have invented it in film or book form for mankind to marvel at down the centuries.

Having said that, it's also real. There's none of the contrived soullessness of, say, Las Vegas, a rather cheesy desert town only really suitable for fanatical gamblers and the sort of people who obsessively watch reality TV.

No, New York's the real deal. And the only real problem is how to spend your time there, and where to go in a city that offers the discerning traveller so much.

There are, of course, some musts. You have to go to the top of the Empire State Building - preferably at night - and marvel at the skyline. No wonder King Kong got a bit distracted up there.

And take a stroll under the stars around Times Square and realize that Piccadilly Circus could never compete, because size really does matter with this sort of thing.

If you're feeling adventurous, then a helicopter tour over the Statue of Liberty, quite possibly the most recognised landmark in New York and the United States as a whole (and, incidentally, a gift from the French in the 1880s), offers a dramatically different perspective.

Our helicopter tour took in Liberty Island, Manhattan, a glimpse of Ground Zero and other points of the New York compass. www.dosomethingdifferent.com offers tours, activities and excursions throughout the city.

If you want to sample some genuine Big Apple culture, then book a seat at Madison Square Garden - one of the most famous arenas in the world - for a New York Knicks basketball game or take in a show on Broadway.

You won't find English-style football fervour at basketball. Nor, for that matter, shaven-headed neanderthals with tattoos and pierced eyebrows.

In fact, entertainment and showbiz razzamatazz is the name of the game where basketball at the Garden is concerned - but that's a large part of New York in a nutshell.

Our visit to the New York Knicks coincided with a night away from the recording studio for Paul Simon, who looked less than enamoured to be picked out in the crowd to the strains of The Boxer.

It's a bit like the big screen at the Emirates suddenly picking out a vintage Arsenal fan such as Henry Cooper. It just wouldn't happen, but the boundaries between sport and entertainment are less blurred here than in the US, despite the best efforts of Mr Murdoch. …

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