Life Is A Dream – New York City

It was a life dream.  I blame the movies and the soundtracks of my childhood and young adulthood.

New York City was always going to be a place I had to see. I needed to be in the city that evoked so many sensory memories for me.  

Memories such as the music. 

Frank Sinatra’s big band sound, top hit, “New York New York”. (The music score for Martin Scorsese’s 1977 movie of the same name), to Jay-Z & Alicia Keys patriotic, proud shout-out to post 9/11 NYC, with their 2009 hip-hop song, “Empire State of Mind.”(YouTube post below).  Both songs continue to evoke the excitement and sheer joy of the Big Apple.

When I landed in NYC, it honestly felt I like I had stepped onto a movie set.  From the yellow taxicab we hailed at the airport, to the hotdog stands on almost every street corner. From the brownstone walk-ups, to the ubiquitous flashing neon lights of Times Square, the sparkling spangly New Year’s Ball rotating above my head.  

Memories such as the noise and visual stimulation of lights, people, and traffic. The sheer energy of the crowded streets and the busy people.

I stood in Times Square looking up into the vast high-rise skyline, arms outstretched, savouring my very own New York state of mind.  I wanted to shout, “I’m here,” and that would have been okay in New York City.  

Maybe it’s the vastness of the city but somehow it doesn’t seem to matter that you are whatever you want to be. Hang out around Union Square and watch the rap and hip-hop dancers “strut their stuff”, shirtless, fit, and young.  Absorbed and free to express their particular talent.  “If I can make it there I ‘m gonna make it anywhere”…

Memories that evoke the uniqueness of a huge City in The Land of The Free. 

Take a day in Central Park. 843 acres of land bought for the people of New York City to available for recreation.

For our day we bought beautiful fresh picnic food from the Whole Foods Market underneath Columbus Circle, right across the road from one of Central Park’s entrances.

We picked a spot under a large tree, picnicking in the park’s “Sheep’s Meadow”. A vast green acreage of lush grass, given over to games and outdoor fun for families and friends.

We were entertained by locals dressed in shorts and T-shirts with back-to-front baseball caps on, playing American Football together.  People ambled with their dogs, others rode their bikes and walked or ran while others enjoyed rowing the little dinghy boats on the lake. 

From our spot under the tree, we could see the late John Lennon’s apartment building, (The Dakota), in the distance. where he had been living with Yoko Ono and Sean at the time of his tragic murder.  All so poignant and so very surreal.  

We finished the day with a ride on the carousel in the park complete with a sparkly canopy and golden horses dressed in colourful saddles and bridles. This was, after all, NYC!

And then there was the curiosity of the vision of the magnificent Star-Spangled Banner flying from what seemed, almost every probable and possible place in the city. Most noticeable in 5th Avenue.

Walking down the iconic 5th Avenue in Manhattan is a must. Long, wide, and one of the wealthiest streets in NYC.  The avenue, along with wall to wall yellow taxis, is lined with the shops you would know and remember from movies such as “Sex in the City”.  Saks, Cartier, Gap et al, stocked with every kind of goodie to whet your sartorial appetite.  The streetscape is one of beautiful shops, gorgeous residences and a curtain of red, white, and blue star-spangled banners; USA flags, wafting in the breeze. 

The evocative memories of the food and people in suits stopping at hotdog stands for their lunch. TV programmes usually filmed on a cold NYC winter’s day: winter coats, cloudy breath, and melting snow along the gutters of the streets.

Every street corner has a hotdog stand.  Also very attractively placed along a lot of streets are fresh fruit and vegetable stalls some with newspaper stands, with friendly New Yorker vendors who always had the time of day to chat.  

New York was surprisingly friendly.  I arrived expecting to be intimidated.  But no!  Every day we interacted with locals, often unexpectedly volunteering assistance, such as where to find a neighbourhood Italian restaurant. The local lady who helped us with this question phoned a friend to get the information for us. Then there was a preppie young man on a bicycle at the lights gently instructing me to cross the 4 lane road even though the pedestrian lights had gone red. He must have sensed my fear!   Only in NYC.

The visual wealth. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” came to mind. I openly starred as people were assisted out of chauffeur-driven cars – doorman at the ready, driver’s arms laden with shopping bags.  The Waldorf-Astoria Waldorf Hotel was a vision of this sort of everyday occurrence. NYC is a sublime people-watching city.

And let’s not forget the exciting and typical New York cultural offerings.  I mean who doesn’t have some memory of seeing via celluloid, Broadway or Madison Square Gardens as backdrops in another movie made in the great city.

We “did” an “Off-Broadway” play.  A double bass player melodiously plunked away elegant tunes as we entered the theatre’s foyer. This, before we had even taken our seats.

The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), The Lincoln Centre for a jazz concert, a “dine-while-you-watch” experience. A random sax player in a late-night café. Catching street art being installed on a white brick wall. The high-rise walk. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. The ferry ride on the Hudson into the East River and back.

Of course, no New York experience would be complete without the sight of The Statue of Liberty.

“Lady Liberty”.  stands so beautifully and evocatively in her copper stola, holding aloft the torch of freedom in her right hand and in her other hand a tablet with the date of the Declaration of Independence, as she overlooks a city built by migrants, hoping for a better future in “The New World”.  The United States of America. 

MTR Tips on visiting NYC

  • Bookings are essential. 
  • Buy tickets to attractions online – to avoid the queues.
  • If able – walk everywhere. New York City streets are grid-mapped so are very easy to find your way around.  Blocks are short so don’t be overwhelmed by the No. of blocks to get to your destination.
  • Mickey Mouse and his Disneyland human-sized friends wandering the streets will want to be paid if you stop to be entertained.

Lyrics for “New York New York” copied from

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