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72 Hours in New York City

Published 22 June 2016

Angela Griffin

Angela Griffin

Something needed to be done. I had worked in the travel industry for five years, and I still hadn’t been to New York. So when the opportunity arose to briefly tag it on to a longer US trip, I jumped at the chance. The only problem was, I had just 72 hours to see the city. Can you really do justice to the Big Apple in such a short amount of time? I was determined to give it a go.

My first view of the City That Never Sleeps was from the bus, just before we passed through the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey. Gazing up at the towering skyscrapers, glinting in the sunlight, I could feel the energy already. Not long after, my friend Catherine and I had checked into our hotel and, armed with the essentials (a map and a camera), were ready to hit the streets.

The Highline, New York

© Catherine Glover

The High Line

Just down the road from our hotel, the High Line is a park built on a raised section of abandoned railway line. We entered at West 30th Street, wandered the leafy pathways, took in the sculptures and shrubbery, and admired the aerial views over the streets below, a patchwork of tourist crowds and yellow taxi cabs. Returning to ground level at Gansevoort Street, we conveniently popped out by The Standard Grill, where we tucked into delicious lobster rolls and slurped cocktails with names like High Line Fling. Well, it would have been rude not to.

Perry Street, New York

© Catherine Glover

Carrie’s Apartment

We wore off our now very full stomachs with a jaunt down to Perry Street and the apartment block used as Carrie’s home in Sex and the City. Strolling down the peaceful leafy street, we admired the iconic brownstone architecture, with stone stoops leading to huge front doors, and classic New York fire escapes zigzagging down the outside of the buildings.

Central Park, New York

© Catherine Glover

Central Park

By the time we reached Central Park, the sun was low and the trees were bathed in a glorious golden light. Sitting on Umpire Rock, an exposed ancient bedrock right in the park’s southwest corner, surrounded by shiny hotels and office blocks, I felt like I was on the set of a million movies. Everything was so familiar to me, even though I had never been there before.

View from the Empire State Building, New York

Empire State Building

The queues (or should that be lines?) at the Empire State Building are legendary, so we cunningly booked our tickets online and bypassed the crowds. We entered the Art Deco lobby, took the elevator and then emerged on the top of the world – well, the 86th floor. The city buzzed below, lit up like a Christmas tree in the evening light, a grid of perfectly straight avenues and streets. 

Helicopter view of New York

© Angela Griffin

Scenic Helicopter Ride

We were up early for our helicopter ride over the city. We had signed up for a 20-minute Manhattan flight, but our chopper companions had booked a longer trip, so we got to fly over Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty too. Bonus! Taking off from Battery Park, we soared over Wall Street and the World Trade Center memorials, then north past Central Park to the Yankee Stadium up in the Bronx, before soaring back south via the East River and Brooklyn Bridge – an exhilarating experience and not one I will forget in a hurry.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

© Angela Griffin

Brooklyn

Back on terra firma we decided to cross Brooklyn Bridge on foot, which takes about half an hour. Brooklyn is leafier than Manhattan, and more peaceful, but continues the attractive brownstone architecture. We stopped for pizza, browsed the boutique stores and did a spot of shopping before heading back to Manhattan.

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

Later that evening we gazed up at the spectacular astrological features and 2,500 gold stars painted on the ceiling of Grand Central Station, an impressive piece of Beaux-Arts architecture. To one side of the main concourse, we stumbled across a fabulous little cocktail bar, The Campbell Apartment, where, amid restored 1920s décor, we drank such delights as Prohibition Punch and Flapper’s Delight. Gatsby, drink your heart out.

Statue of Liberty Crown, New York

Me inside the crown of the Statue of Liberty

© Catherine Glover

Statue of Liberty

The following morning we took the subway down to Battery Park and hopped onboard the ferry to Liberty Island. Having heard that tickets sell out a couple of months in advance, we pre-booked and were able to climb the spiral staircase inside the Statue of Liberty right up to the crown. It was rather hot and cramped, but gave great views across the Big Apple skyline.

Katz's Deli Reuben sandwich, New York

© Angela Griffin

Katz’s Deli

Being a huge fan of When Harry Met Sally, as well as sandwiches, I couldn’t come to NYC without visiting the famous Katz’s Deli, location of Meg Ryan’s legendary ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ scene. We had to queue for over half an hour just to get in, but once inside, service was quick and I was soon tucking into the most enormous Reuben I had ever seen. For those that don’t know, a Reuben is a hot sandwich filled with corned beef or pastrami, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, served on rye bread. It was the single most delicious sandwich I have ever had in my life. Fact.

Bloomingdales, New York

© Angela Griffin

Catherine and me outside Bloomingdale’s

Bloomingdale’s

I’m not going to lie, shopping isn’t really my thing. I was more interested in sneaking around New York’s Public Library than browsing the diamond necklaces in Tiffany’s and pretending to be able to afford the handbags in Macy’s. So I was pleasantly surprised at the treasure-trove of affordable goodies on sale in Bloomingdales, and even treated myself to a snazzy new pair of earrings.

Plaza Hotel Afternoon Tea, New York

© Angela Griffin

Afternoon Tea at The Plaza

For our final afternoon, we treated ourselves to high tea at the Plaza Hotel, the epitome of New York grandeur. Entering the opulent Palm Court, complete with palm trees and an exquisite glass ceiling, we were shown to our seats by our friendly waist-coated waiter. Soon we were indulging in delicate English cucumber sandwiches with pickled red onion cream cheese and scoffing scones with double Devonshire cream and lemon curd. We toasted our meal, and a fabulous three days, with a chilled glass of Champagne, plus of course the obligatory English breakfast tea, before hopping back on the bus and heading out of town.

Of course I knew we wouldn’t see everything in New York in 72 hours. In fact, I’m pretty sure you couldn’t see everything in 72 years. But we definitely crammed in as much as we could and made the most of our time in the Big Apple. And now I have plenty of reasons to return.

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