Vanessa with partner Harry in front of the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.
Vanessa with partner Harry in front of the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.

New York, New York ... she is truly one hell of a town

THE sound of our taxi driver's snoring fills the cab for the third time and as my boyfriend quickly wakes him once again, I burst into uncontrollable laughter.

We've just had the most incredible month travelling around the United States and one sleepy New York taxi driver is about to make my earlier childish sulk about "leaving this city over my dead body" a reality.

Let me rewind to a week earlier when we arrived in The Big Apple - the site of our grand finale of a month long trip around the United States from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Miami and Orlando.

After such an incredible journey, I had begun to fear I'd overestimated the wonders to be found in the concrete jungle of Manhattan, but that fear melted as I stepped out of the cab and took one look around - it was breathtaking.

The Big Apple boasts some of the most popular tourist attractions in the world from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building but during our week-long stay, it was the city itself that stole my heart with its unique energy, character and style. They certainly weren't joking when they said it's one hell of a town.

On some accounts New York is a large, dirty, smelly and full of crime but we found it to be the exact opposite.

In fact it was one of the cleanest and friendliest places we encountered in our whole trip and is currently on track to have one of the lowest crime rates in the country this year.

New York City is made up of five boroughs - Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island - which are home to more than eight million people.

But among it all is a place that makes you feel like the last two people on the planet - Central Park.

This sprawling 850-acre space is a sight to behold and after eight hours of exploring, we had only just grazed the surface.

The autumn leaves crunch beneath your feet, the breeze rustles through the trees, the squirrels scurry about your feet and the sound of the chaotic city disappears.

While you'd never guess it, this incredible space full of towering trees, wide open fields, ponds, lakes, giant boulders and dense foliage is completely man made.

We were lucky enough to visit during autumn, also known as "fall" to our American friends, and the thousands of shades of yellow, green and brown in the foliage was enough to stop you in your tracks.

The exact opposite of Central Park is Times Square, also known as the Crossroads of the World or the Centre of the Universe.

While it was exciting to see the place which is immortalised countless times on the silver screen, it was the nearby attraction of Broadway that stole the show.

We saw a production of Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre and we found out just why the musical has been running for more than 10 years.

While seats don't come cheap, I would highly recommend anyone visiting New York put a Broadway show on their list of things to do.

The crowd was in stitches of laughter and the cast earned a standing ovation for their witty and heart-warming story about the Land of Oz before Dorothy and Toto dropped in.

Just when we thought things couldn't get any better, we awoke on our second last day to find the city showing off.

The sub-zero temperatures had finally paid off and the city was being showered with the first snow fall of the season - a beautiful sight to see.

If you can't find something to entertain yourself in New York, then you won't find it anywhere.

We enjoyed all of the typical tourist attractions such as climbing to the Statue of Liberty's Crown, strolling across the Brooklyn Bridge

and marvelling at the beauty of Grand Central Terminal.

But nothing beat the simple pleasure of wandering aimlessly around the streets, taking in the sites, chatting to the friendly locals, eating the delicious food and being part of the eclectic mix of people going about their day and living their life in the city of dreams.

I've travelled to many places but I think I left a piece of my heart in New York City.

There is an aura of excitement, energy, hopefulness and happiness that runs in the city's veins that is hard to describe in words - and believe me I've tried.

Too soon our seven days were up and it was time to leave, but we learned one important lesson on our way to the airport - the city does sleep, especially if you're a taxi driver.


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