• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Travel: New York

It's confession time.

With more than eight million citizens and upwards of 14,000 taxis, New York is a city of big numbers - and tall buildings. Photograph: Colin Mearns
With more than eight million citizens and upwards of 14,000 taxis, New York is a city of big numbers - and tall buildings. Photograph: Colin Mearns

I've never been a fan of big cities. So when my America-mad cousin asked if I would like to join her - husbands in tow - for a week in New York, no-one was more surprised than me when I accepted. While you can tempt me from my home in Oban on to a CalMac ferry for the Hebrides, getting me to cross the pond in a Boeing 757 to a city that's home to more than eight million people is a different matter.

So how was New York? It was mind-blowing, amazingly good, thank you. What I had failed to realise, with my preconceived notion of this crammed-in, jammed-in city, was that New York can be anything you want it to be. In our case it offered two couples, with different notions of what makes a good holiday, a trip to remember.

So while we were blown away with the treasures of The Metropolitan Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Natural History Museum and the Rose Centre for Earth and Space, my cousin and her husband were whisked off in a chopper over Manhattan, took bus tours to see the homes of the famous and visited malls.

We met up for a night-time visit to the Empire State Building and a memorable daytime trip to the top of the Rockefeller Center, where Central Park was laid before us, surrounded by the skyscraper landscape that has featured in a thousand movies.

The four of us were staying at the Conrad New York, a luxury waterfront hotel in the heart of Lower Manhattan's Battery Park City. Overlooking the Hudson River, the hotel has spacious bedrooms with separate sitting rooms.

The tranquil riverfront, with its views of the Statue of Liberty, was the opposite of the busy city centre and to my delight the hotel was filled with works of art, a dramatic 100ft by 80ft blue and purple Sol LeWitt painting, Loopy Doopy, rising high above the reception desk.

With the Atrio bar and restaurant (plus the rooftop Loopy Doopy bar open in the summer) you could spend your holiday dining here. It's well worth a trip around Battery Park, which has been revamped since the area was flooded at the hands of Hurricane Sandy. Among the host of shops and restaurants a favourite of ours was Harry's Italian, a place where you can watch the traders from the adjoining financial district wheeling and dealing over dinner.

With three shows booked - Wicked, Motown The Musical and the New Yorkers' favourite, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, we also ventured into the Theatre District for pre-show dinners and loved the St Andrew's Scottish Restaurant.

We were frequent users of the city's yellow cabs, each trip being like a journey round the world. I met drivers from Moscow, Nepal, Ghana, India and Pakistan. Why did they move, I asked them. The standard reply was: to live in a land of opportunity.

The first morning we made a swift journey to The Met Musuem. There are museums - and then there is The Met. This incredible hulk of a place blew me away, like having a sweetie box full of the most interesting bits and pieces from around the world - a mix of paintings by Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh; works of art from the Italian Renaissance; fantastic sculptures and a real Egyptian temple - imported and rebuilt.

After feasting for most of the day on its treasures, we went back into the real world to hail a taxi. There are more than 14,000 yellow cabs in New York - 5500 more than the population of Oban. But this was the night of the New York Marathon and every cab we tried to hail was full.

So here we were, stranded and more than an hour late to meet my cousin. Exasperated, I appealed to a couple of New Yorkers for help. Next thing we knew, the woman had shouted to a passer-by and asked if he was "going home". Our knight in shining armour was Avi, who went out of his way to drive us through the crowded city, dropping us off at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, where we were meeting my cousin in The View, the only revolving rooftop bar in New York.

As its name suggests this is a bar with a vista to die for, the twinkling lights of the skyscrapers changing as the bar rotates. Equally memorable is the cost of the cocktails, but these drinks were on my late mother-in-law. We had put aside some cash she had given us to have a drink on her in an amazing place. We toasted her memory as we drank in the New York skyline.

TRAVEL NOTES

Getting there

United Airlines has return flights from Glasgow to New York/Newark from £618. Visit unitedairlines.co.uk or call 0845 844 4777.

Where to stay

Moira Kerr stayed at Conrad Hilton Hotel, North End Avenue, New York. Visit conradnewyork.com. Rooms start at £155.

Contextual targeting label: 
Food and drink

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

229063