New York - where it all happens. It's a remarkably familiar place - even to the stranger - and that's perhaps not surprising, given the number of camera lenses that have pointed at it over time. As Stevie Wonder said in 'Living for the City', it was "just like I pictured it". You know what to expect and, guess what: New York delivers - by the spade-full! Right from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building.
The Statue of Liberty was the first thing immigrants saw when arriving by ship since 1886: symbol of finally reaching 'the land of unlimited possibilities'. If you want a quick view of the statue take the Staten Island Ferry. If you want to land and climb to the top - or cheat in the elevator - allow a full day trip to Liberty Island.
New Yorkers are a tough and brusque breed, but you can believe what they say. So you need to acclimatize to the phrenetic atmosphere, gabby cabbies and the hum of this city of cities. New York is big on most things, and this Big Apple is well worth a juicy bite, even if the fruit can be a bit crisp. Especially when it snows! One thing New Yorkers can teach a lot of people is how different nationalities can live cheek-by-jowl and perfectly respect each other. And there's no better place to see people cheek-by-jowl than in Times Square - although many of them are just tourists, of course!
Central Park is a huge and peaceful oasis in the city, stretching from from 59th to 110th Street. It comes under heavy use from jogging to lazing. For the more energetic there's rowing on the lake, rollerblading and even ice-skating in the winter. New Yorkers have been swirling on the ice here since 1950 and Wollman Rink is open every day between November and March. Afterwards, why not partake of a warming mulled-wine at the café that overlooks the rink? When you're done enjoying the park itself, you can go in any direction to explore Manhattan. Most of the interest lies to the south, but before exploring this, don't overlook the planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History (Rose Center for Earth and Space, Central Park West at 79th Street). Within this beautiful block of glass you'll find a sphere symbolizing the Earth and explaining the universe. It's a must for children of any age!
New York invented jazz (and baseball). If you like it, visit Jazz at the Lincoln Center where you will find different venues such as Dizzy's Club, with shows starting at 11pm, and the Allen Room with its magnificent views through a 50ft glass wall to Central Park.
The Empire State Building is probably the most famous skyscraper (still standing), but the Flat Iron Building on 5th Avenue is another interesting building renowned because of its shape. The first skyscraper of the city, it is so-named because of its remarkable, tapering shape which is barely one window wide at the thin end. Together you get the tall and the thin! New York likes extremes. Go to the Observation Deck on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building (don't walk) for the greatest city view - and ponder on the fact this was built in 1930. You might also like to visit the New York Skyride attraction at 350 Fifth Avenue to enjoy a thrilling simulated flight through the city.
Time Square is the neon heart of the city and where you will find the centre of the Broadway theater district. Get tickets at up to 50% discount from the TKTS booth on 47th Street and Broadway. What's on? See: www.nytheatre.com.
Need to eat? On 56th Street near Broadway you'll find Patsy's Italian restaurant which used to be Frank Sinatra's favourite. If you have a sweet-tooth, then try the Café Europa across the street. For a French treat, you could try the Jean-Georges restaurant, at the Trump Hotel (1 Central Park West). Or go a little further south to Park Avenue and West 49th Street for tea at the Waldorf Astoria.
Greenwich Village is located between 14th Street and West Houston Street. Once the sole preserve of the rebellious and artistic it is too expensive for such types to live now, but you're bound to see some hankering, creative types there still, and it's certainly still one of the best areas to go for great meals, drinks and less conventional shopping. Take a drink in the White Horse Tavern, one of the last wood-framed buildings in the city. This was a former watering-hole of Dylan Thomas. And when you eat, take a long hard look at your waiter. One day he or she might be a star, for a lot of them are performers just waiting for their big break. You want music? Then try Blue Note on West 3rd Street.
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge - or just walking out to the centre and returning - provides a spectacular way of seeing the Big Apple. The night view from the pedestrian walkway is not something easily forgotten! Just keep out of the cycle lane!
New York is a great place for sights, theatre, shops, music and interesting people. What more could you ask of a city?