Historic New York: Times Square, Central Park, Staten Island delight

American flags and a rose at the September 11 Memorial in lower Manhattan. (Photo by Imane Tlamid)

American flags and a rose at the September 11 Memorial in lower Manhattan. (Photo by Imane Tlamid)

By Imane Tlamid

ABU DHABI—For me, New York is one of the most breath-taking major cities in the world. My love affair with the largest city in the United States started when I first visited there three years ago, and I have returned in subsequent summers. Every visit is inspiring.

On every trip, the borough of Manhattan is our destination. A fairly narrow island, Manhattan is surrounded by the Hudson, East and Harlem Rivers, and it is lodged between New Jersey on the west and Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx on the east. Manhattan is home about 1.6 million of New York City’s nearly 9 million inhabitants.

It’s a 14-hour flight from Abu Dhabi to New York. Etihad has a daily flight from AUH to JFK. In recent summers, we have stayed at the Hilton Club, in Midtown and only a few blocks away from Times Square and Central Park. The hotel is fascinating, in large part because of its location. It is near Broadway, the home of American drama, as well as the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller Center and, yes, even Drumpf Tower.

Due to jet lag, I slept almost all of the first couple of days on our latest foray into New York. Then the fun began. If you are a morning person, then you will definitively love Manhattan. In the theatre district, one of the best New York-style restaurants is the Carnegie Deli, located near Carnegie Hall—where classical music is played in a beautiful old building.

Although there will be a good crowd at night in Midtown Manhattan, most of the shops close early. Because of that, I had the chance to discover some of the places that only look beautiful in daytime. That’s why I like to get going in the morning.

Central Park was a place that I never expected to love so much. It is a massive park in the middle of the city. It is approximately 3.5 square kilometers in size (or about 850 acres). It has a pond and a lake, as well as a zoo. There is another small pond where children sail model boats and yachts. A statue has been erected of Hans Christian Andersen, the great children’s storyteller. There are roads and trails, but mostly green space. You will always get lost in Central Park no matter how often you visit it. It is just that big. And it has to be big, as it has millions of visitors each year.

The park looks beautifully green in summer, and there is always a whirlwind of activity. Both active and lazy people enjoy the place because the active, healthy people have the chance to walk for long periods of time, while lazy people like me can rent a cycle or take a horse and trap. And as you walk you will pass by some historical statues, lakes, people singing or dancing, and handsome tiny squirrels in abundance.

Day trips are also commonplace in New York. The Statue Of Liberty on Staten Island and Ellis Island are other fascinating places we visited. The trip to Ellis Island was amazing. It is where the immigrants used to come into New York on their passage from the homelands to the United States.

I preferred to take the metro to Battery Park. That was the departure point. Battery Park has many statues, and, unlike Central Park, it is a very quiet area. We reached the island by ferry. Manhattan’s amazing skyline looked beautifully perfect from the river. It offers a combination of the past and present in one image.

Then it was on to Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty. Once we reached Staten Island, we obtained a free audio guide for the Statue of Liberty that was given to people who wanted to use one. Tourists were everywhere moving around with their cameras, capturing the statue that was a gift to the United States from France from every angle.

We left back to Manhattan around 4 p.m. using the ferry and then the metro again.

The most moving thing about New York is a relatively new memorial. In fact, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is the place that will always take me back to Manhattan. And I have to visit it whenever I am in town. The memorial, located in lower Manhattan near Battery Park, is an emotional place, paying respects to the thousands who died at the World Trade Center towers 15 years ago. Words can’t ever describe the emotion I feel when I visit, but I am sure that if you walk around the memorial, you will feel the same way. When I see it, I feel a combination of love, mourning, optimism and hope. That place will always have a special space in my heart.

The length of my latest New York trip was almost 45 days, and still there were many places just in the nearby blocks of the Hilton that I didn’t have the chance to visit. I am sure I will visit them next time.

New York always offers a chance to explore new peoples, places and ideas. The Big Apple can never quite be harvested. Each trip means the discovery of something fruitful.

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