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By Ray Chatelin
(For Travel Writers Tales)

New York - The first thing you have to understand about this city is that it is more than just another place to visit. New York is a world onto itself where the real and the illusory combine in one place and where you have to diminish its size before you can successfully navigate its charms.

Paris, Tokyo, and London come to mind as similar destinations. Like New York, they are more than mere cities. You will find anything from any other part of the world within their boundaries. And you can spend a lifetime at any of these places without ever having discovered all of what's there.

Photo 2

You don't "see New York"; you experience what it has bit by bit. If you try to devour it at a single sitting, you end up with metropolitan indigestion.

Break the city into parts and you will find it manageable. Go to a Yankees game and The Bronx becomes a village in which to explore. Attend the US Open tennis tournament in Flushing in August/September and the borough of Queens becomes your objective. And when you visit the Metropolitan Museum, you enter the world of Central Park and the Upper East Side.

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Check out Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange and south Manhattan becomes your destination. Visiting Mulberry Street in Little Italy is like taking a trip to another country without having to pay for a plane ticket and Harlem, at the north end of the Island, is the home of the famous Apollo Theatre. It is also where former President Bill Clinton keeps his Presidential office on 125th Street.

In Chinatown, in lower Manhattan, are almost all goods found in China. Jewellery stores are on the south side of Canal Street and on Mott Streetyou can mix with locals and negotiate prices for almost anything.

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Visitors to Greenwich Village usually expect to find the 1960s still in full bloom. Sorry about that, but while this small area below 14th Street and west of Broadway has been a Mecca to the creative, rebellious and Bohemian for more than 100 years, starving artists can't afford to live there any longer. However, you can still plan a day around the history of the place, its shopping, and its fine restaurants.

One of New York City's great assets is its easy access by foot and subway. It is mostly laid out like a grid—uptown/downtown streets intersect with cross-town streets, making it easy to navigate even for the first-time visitor. If you choose your hotel or rented apartment wisely, it will make your time there memorable. Pick a location far from your main interests or your ability to tolerate noise, and it will be a long slog. Even though New York offers some of the best public transportation in the world, you don't want to waste too much time just getting back and forth to where you want to visit.

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If you want to be in the middle of the action, then find a hotel in the heart of the midtown area. While 42nd Street and Broadway may be where you'll find the theater district, you'll be on a constant high, with all of your senses coming into play for every minute you're there. It's also the noisiest part of town.

Want tranquility? Rent an apartment for a week or more in the Upper East Side, just off Central Park. There, you'll find yourself in one of Manhattan's finest neighborhoods, where restaurants are plentiful along Second Avenue and where you can window-shop to your heart's content. It is a convenient location for exploring Central Park and the exhibits on Museum Mile. Madison Avenue is home to couture and designer shops and even if you can't afford to buy anything, the window shopping is extraordinary.

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In New York money will get you anything, but much activity can to be found at affordable prices.A live-theater ticket is $100 for the latest plays on Broadway. But, there's also plenty of theater in smaller off-Broadway venues at a third that cost.

Of course, New York is a shopper's paradise. In SoHo cutting edge designers show their wares.Or, if you have a child who deserves a special treat, try the renowned kid's store, F.A.O. Schwartz, made famous in the Tom Hank's movie "Big." And, of course there's Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Sak's Fifth Avenue to fill your bags.

Take your time. Like a calories loaded meal, New York is best consumed in sections, slowly.



The Metropolitan Opera, The New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet and more are at Lincoln

Stroll the spiral walkways at the Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, at 89th Street, one of 150 museums in NYC. Designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, it is itself, a work of art.

Visit the top of the Empire state Building for a spectacular view of the city (

The Staten Island Ferry passes by the Statue of Liberty. (

Take a romantic walk, or a carriage ride through the winding pathways, in Central Park (

PHOTOS by Toshi

1. Downtown New York on a Sunday
2. New York Skyline seen from the Staten Island Ferry
3. The New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street
4. Tourists lining up for discount theatre tickets
5. West Side Apartments as seen from Central Park

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