The Hilton New York on 6th Avenue proved a convenient locale from which to wander to New York’s most famous region — Times Square.
This illuminated spectacle of glowing billboards, blinking lights, and bustling bodies is one of the world’s busiest pedestrian sections and most-visited tourist attractions. I enjoyed walking through, but due to the sensory overload did not stay for long.
Times Square is hub of the Broadway Theatre section, and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is billed as one of New York’s most thrilling shows. Talented cast played out cliff-hanger scenes adorned with offbeat comic-book sets. Once Spider-Man was revealed, the action evolved into high-flying acrobatics above the stage and right over our heads.
Topping it off with stunning costumes, special effects makeup, and music composed by Bono and The Edge made it a fabulous feast for the ears and eyes.
For quick and easy food afterwards, street carts prepare falafels, gyros, and other on-the-go dishes. The most popular is The Halal Guys, located right beside my hotel, and always busy. It’s the street food of choice for the locals in line, who insisted "It’s the best. You can’t go wrong." They recommended the ‘special plate’ heaping with ground meat, lettuce, pita, and orange rice that looked like shredded carrots. The best part was the white sauce, tasting like tzatziki crossed with tangy tahini.
After all that food, exercise is in order, so I opted for the outdoors. Central Park is gorgeous and well-groomed, with well-marked trails perfect for running. It’s both hilly and flat, with many scenic distractions, and awesome skyline views.
The route circling Central Park is 9.8 kilometres and goes past The Dakota, the historic apartment once home to John Lennon. Fans still flock there, and it was surreal gazing at the building I’ve seen so many times in media. Strawberry Fields and the Imagine mosaic inside the park pay tribute to Lennon, and are peaceful places to stop and reflect on life. Or just sit and watch wheels go ‘round and ‘round.
Another must-visit tribute place is the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site, remembering the men, women and children killed in the terror attacks of September 2001 and February 1993. It features two cascading waterfalls and reflecting pools set within the footprints of the twin towers. Admission is free, but pre-registration and photo ID is required.
Every single name of nearly 3,000 victims is inscribed on bronze panels lining the two pools, and I took time to read every one. It was an emotional visit, especially when I came across a woman tracing one of the names. I stood and watched for a moment before quietly asking "Did you know him?"
"Yes," she answered, looking up, gently smiling. "He was my husband. And these are his children." She motioned towards a teenaged boy and girl. They smiled at me, too.
I couldn’t imagine what they must have felt, and was lost for words. While I’ve seen countless stories portraying the attacks, I never fully realized the utter loss of life and enormity of the tragedy until meeting this woman and her children. I was truly honoured to be in their presence.
And even though I had no words to say, I’m certain my tears said it all.
RoseAnna Schick is an avid traveller who seeks inspiration wherever she goes. She might have been a New Yorker in another life. firstname.lastname@example.org
—Purchase a New York CityPass www.citypass.com/new-york and save almost half price on six of the best attractions in New York City – including Top of the Rock, the observation deck on Rockefeller Centre that provides stunning 360-degree views of the skyline.
—Take some time to take in New York’s most thrilling Broadway show, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark http://www.broadway.com/shows/spider-man-turn-off-the-dark/#loc=c-tab1-pos12. They often offer ‘super hero special’ pricing on orchestra seats.
—To help plan your trip to New York City, visit NYC & Company www.nycgo.com, the official marketing and tourism organization for New York City.
—If you’re looking for a conveniently located hotel, stay at the Hilton New York on 6th Avenue. http://www.newyorkhiltonhotel.com/ It’s close to absolutely everything in midtown Manhattan.