Last weekend my Mum and I were lucky enough to spend some time in New York. We'd never been to America before and so had absolutely no idea what to expect. It was incredibly foggy when we arrived, and so we missed the initial celebrated view of the skyline on the way into Manhattan. Although there were sighs from almost everyone on the coach, in retrospect I'm actually glad we didn't get to see it just then. Not having a clue what to expect made the arrival into the city so much more of a surprise. I think it took me about 30 seconds of being surrounded by buildings disappearing endlessly upward into the fog to fall in love with the place.
I think it's easy to have preconceptions about big cities, and before arriving both my Mum and I were slightly intimidated by the idea of the place. The typical stereotype of New York is as a loud, fast paced metropolis that never sleeps. For us, two reasonably quiet people from a seaside town in South East England, this was understandably a scary prospect.
Despite this, and despite everything being absolutely huge, we both felt there was such a sense of community to the place. Everyone was so friendly and helpful! The pace of life wasn't actually as fast as we thought, and in fact it was actually comfortably slow compared to that of London. People actually spoke to eachother, cared about eachother even. For once in our lives, we didn't actually feel afraid to speak to people. If I'm honest, the scale of everything didn't make me feel small, it made me feel included.
I think one of the reasons the city appeals to me personally is the wealth of artistic history behind it. It is home to some of the most famed contemporary art in the world, as well as boasting some incredible architecture. New York saw the birth of the consumer culture that was so inspiring to Pop Artists, and the rise of the real life 'Mad Men'. As the setting for numerous films throughout the years, the city really does evoke a sense of being partly in another era. I guess this nostalgia, the idea of it as a city trapped partly in screens and on canvas, is a reason why it intrigued me so much.
If I had to pick a highlight, for me it has to be Times Square. There's something about those bright lights that is totally hypnotising and I fell under their spell immediately. Everything was just so big, and you can't put into words the feeling of those huge buildings and billboards surrounding you from every side.
I've spent my whole life listening to songs portraying the city as a place where 'anything is possible', a city where all your wildest dreams can come true. Be being me, I'd always passed it off as just a cliched romantic vision. After visiting, however, I can totally understand why New York has this reputation. There is something magical about it. However cringey it sounds, this place does have the power to touch people. There is no doubt that whether it's because of the bright lights, the huge buildings or the sense of belonging to another era, Manhattan is both hypnotising and inspiring.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
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