New York, New York: so good we went there twice

by Fifties traveller

Great food, great sights, great shopping. What more do you need from a fabulous city - its impossible to FUHGETTABOUDIT. Read this essential guide to ensure you make the most of a short break

Without doubt the very best way to arrive in New York is by ship.  Why?

Well, no worries about ash clouds, no worries about jet lag, no worries about luggage allowance. I thought I might be bored spending 5 days at sea, but no way, there is so much to do. We travelled on the magnificent Queen Mary 2 owned by Cunard and were treated as royalty for each of the 25 hour days. So many activities were provided that we hardly had time to eat! During the day there are classes for Ballroom Dancing, Bridge, Painting, Pilates, Aerobics, plus lectures on a range of subjects and a planetarium. The evenings buzz too, whether on the Dance Floor, the Disco, the Cinema, or the Casino and of course there is the very grand Captains' Ball.

It was great fun donning the posh frock, but you don't have to dress formally everywhere, the choice is yours, the informal Buffet is constantly restocked with tempting delights. Neither do you need to spend a fortune on a cabin with a balcony; being at sea means there is not much to 'see' apart from ocean!

You might like to relax in when on holiday and there is plenty of space on the ship for that, but I do recommend you set your alarm on the last morning. Quietly sailing along the river on the approach to the berth in New York was an experience I will never forget. Everybody was on deck early, some with bottles of champagne, listening to the Pilot describe the city as we watched the twinkling lights. New Yorkers may look like us, but they really live life to the full; we were lucky enough to be shown around by some locals and here are a few of our special memories.

The best way to discover the city is the 'Hop on Hop off' bus. Tickets can be bought via the internet at or from the office on 8th Avenue. If the guy tells you to 'go on line' he doesn't mean the internet, he means 'join the queue! The bus guides are actually very knowledgeable and entertaining. There are three loops: Up Town, Down Town and Brooklyn that pass all the important venues; you really can get off as the fancy takes you then board another bus later to continue your adventure.

If you like museums, jump off at 70th Street and Fifth Avenue, to visit the Frick Collection . There you will be able to view the splendours purchased by Henry Clay Frick, housed in his mansion, bequeathed on his death for the purpose of “encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts.”

For a pleasant stroll by the river hop off the bus at Battery Park and walk to South Street Seaport It reminded us of Covent Garden with an eclectic mix of shopping, dining and entertainment. There is also a booth there that sells discounted tickets for Broadway Shows, without the queues at Times Square.

Shops are of course everywhere, try a department store called Century 21 in Cortlandt Street, for excellent bargains.

Dining on the ship was an experience but the food in New York is splendid - forget the burgers and try these two places:
We would never have found Gallagher's, without a tip off from the NYPD. It’s tucked down 228 West 52nd Street and having been a Speak Easy is not particularly well advertised from the outside. The speciality is steak; at the entrance is a massive meat locker with glass sides where sides of beef mature. There are so many different cuts, ranging in price from $24 to $45, it is hard to choose but the rib eye was mouth watering. It’s worth booking a table in advance at

Many of the restaurants pile food high on the plates, often the waiters recommend sharing a dish, unless you want to take food home for the 'dog'. That was certainly the case at Carmines a huge Italian restaurant at 200 West 44th Street where the plates really are meant for giants. The interior is covered with photos of the famous and despite being so close to Times Square is reasonably priced at about $25 for a bowl of pasta that is sufficient for two.

Close to Carnegie Hall and Central Park , Le Parker Meridien is a good choice, the breakfast at Norma's was a bit expensive but worth trying the unusually presented fruits and yoghurts if only once. You can work off any excess in the great pool.

The New York Marriott Marquis, on Broadway, is another good choice, particularly if you use the gym that has a great view of Times Square and Mid Town Manhattan.