First-timers guide to New York City
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A late arrival into New York City proves to be an advantage. The touch down at J.F. Kennedy airport at 9.30pm and a fixed fare cab has me checking in with the welcoming Robert at the Beacon Hotel, in the Upper West Side of Manhattan well before midnight.

Visiting New York City may seem daunting for a first-time visitor, but alas, this metropolis steeped in nostalgia and history is one easily traversable landmark that won’t break your wallet while seeing many of the iconic attractions. Join us on a 48-hour visit to the most populous city in the United States of America.

Day 1 New York City

Wake up and get ready to hit the streets. Next door to Hotel Beacon, Café Viand offers a hearty breakfast. I have my CityPass in hand and decide my mode of transport today will be my feet. They lead me three blocks to Central Park, New York’s most famous park and a very, very large one. I take in a mere fraction.

I sit, watch and listen to those congregating at Strawberries Field in memory of John Lennon before continuing my walk over quaint stone bridges, through arbours of twisted vines, past playgrounds and statues. Along the way, there are fellow pedestrians, joggers, horse carriages and bicycle tours escorting visitors through the gardens established in 1857. Each season, the locals tell me, there is something different. ‘Come back in winter,’ they say, ‘when we will be ice-skating’.

Once outside of the park I take 6th Avenue. I detour to check out Times Square before resting my feet at the Refinery Rooftop in Midtown NYC for a lunch of fresh local seafood and salad.  This rooftop alfresco restaurant may just have one of the best views of the Empire State Building – my next stop.

The Empire State Building is acclaimed as having one of New York’s best 360-degree views over the city and beyond. The first lift ride takes you 80-odd floors up. My ears pop and a video plays on the roof of the lift showing the brave men that built this architectural wonder of its time. It seems everyone else visiting New York City has decided to do the same thing today. Thankfully the lines keep moving at a respectable pace until finally, I reach the 102nd-floor observation deck that does give those promised panoramic views across the New York City skyline.

Once back on the ground, I decide to walk back to the Beacon Hotel along 5th Avenue – considered one of the most expensive and elegant streets in the world. I see Trump Tower, elegant dress shops for both men and women draped in gold facades, taste an American hotdog and savour a refreshing soft serve from roadside food vans. As the evening starts to fall I walk through Central Park again taking yet another route past the fairy-tale Belvedere Castle and the Blockhouse, the remains of a fort from the war of 1812, more flower gardens and sprawling lawns. Locals and visitors alike relish in the complexity and harmony of the park.

Day 2 New York City

Rise and shine. Today my mode of transport is the subway.  I buy a day Metro pass and the first stop is the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. My CityPASS allows me not only a decreased line up but also a saving on my admission price. Allow at least 2-hours for the museum alone – there is a lot to absorb and take in and while wandering the memorial grounds look for the resident chipmunks in the park.

I stroll a flat leisurely 8-minutes to Battery Park and join the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour, (and savour one more hotdog along the way – they are getting addictive). The tour is included in my CityPASS and I happily tick another bucket-list item off my first-timers list to NYC.

Peak hour is approaching when I navigate my way on the subway towards my last two stops planned for the day. Surprising is the endless amount of friendly advice I receive on the right way to navigate the subway. New York-ites are a friendly bunch indeed.

When I emerge, the sun is low and tufts of pink fringed clouds form on the horizon. It’s only a short walk to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, (MET), one of the world's largest and finest art museums. The collection includes more than two million works. If you like art, allow at least two hours here if not a little more and my CityPASS again allows me escalated access and no standing in an admission line....

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