TRAVEL GUIDE: CHINATOWN, LITTLE ITLY, SOHO, ROCKEFELLER CENTRE, NYC, USA
Hey, and welcome to the second post in our NYC series. On our second day in Manhattan, we explored the areas of Chinatown, Little Italy and SoHo; and we took a trip up to the Top of the Rock, which is the viewing platform atop the Rockefeller Center. Again, we were up early and had another ambitious day ahead of us, so there was no time to lose and after a coffee and a chocolate chip muffin, we were off to explore the next part of this wonderful city.
Just like day one, we planned to go everywhere on foot. We left the hotel and started walking in the direction of the Rockefeller Center, around a 30 minute journey. On the previous day, we’d made a booking to go up the Top of the Rock at 8am, as we thought it would be perfect thing to do on a clear morning, when not so many people are around. You are required to make a booking in advance of going up, so don’t just turn up expecting you’ll be able to go up whenever you like.
As we got inside the entrance, we had to wait a few minutes and were then guided upstairs. Just like at the Empire State Building, there is a queueing maze that basically runs through 1 whole floor of the building and is very well organized. We eventually got to the lift and took the journey up to the 86th Floor. As you’re going up, you can feel your ears popping with the altitude, which if you don’t work in a skyscraper, is slightly strange. As we got out of the lift and entered the viewing platform, we weren’t disappointed. The view is absolutely breathtaking, with Central Park in one direction and the city, as well as a view of the Empire State Building and Times Square in another. There are also 3 levels of viewing platforms and the walls enclosing the platforms are made from glass, which means you have a really fantastic view. Actually, when we compared it to the Empire State Building, we were far more impressed and overwhelmed by the experience.
After 3 hours at Top of the Rock, we made our way to Chinatown, more specifically towards Canal Street, which crosses right across Manhattan from west to east. Canal Street lies directly between China Town, on the south side, and Little Italy and SoHo, on the north side.
As you walk down Canal Street from west Manhattan, you are confronted by diversity, culture and the hectic, but charming atmosphere this area has to offer. Look right, and you see Chinese street food sellers, restaurants and supermarkets. Look left and you see classic Americano-Italian bistros with their chic wooden store fronts. This theme continues as you enter the areas and the communities have really found their place in this mega city. As you walk down the streets of Chinatown, you could forget you were in the USA at all and even the sign outside McDonalds was written in Mandarin. This is also the case at banks and shops in the area. Chinatown offers a real ethnic food experience, with not just the commercialized dishes on the menu, but also traditional favourites which you might not expect to see in the west.
After we’d had a taste of Chinatown, we crossed Canal Street into the area of Little Italy. Right away you notice a change in the mood and the environment. The people are somehow calmer and the pace of life is slower. The shops and restaurants have a classic Italian feel and the area is very clean. We didn’t eat in Little Italy (or in Chinatown), however if you’re looking for somewhere to eat, why not try the first ever pizzeria to open in NYC, Lombardi’s Pizza, located on the corner of Mott and Spring Street.
Around Little Italy you will also find a lot of street art, which we found really cool. Some of the art has been done by well-known street artists and it is really amazing to look at. Just take a wonder through the streets and you will be sure to find a masterpiece.
After we’d finished looking around Little Italy, we decided to head to Broadway. Now this is not the part of Broadway with the famous theatres, but it’s more a shopping area which has the feeling of somewhere like Oxford Street in London. On this part of Broadway you will find Bloomingdales, Topshop, American Apparel and other familiar high street brands. We had a wonder around and then headed towards SoHo, which is simply located on the other side of Broadway.
SoHo is a trendy and somewhat alternative area of New York, famous for its loft art galleries and boutique shops. SoHo is also famous for its architecture and you will see some really beautiful buildings in the area, in many different styles. One of the more prominent streets is Greene Street, which runs all the way from the bottom of SoHo to the top, where it meets Greenwich Village. There’s not a great deal to do in this area and it’s very residential, but it’s very nice to see if you’re passing through and we’d definitely recommend it.
After another successful and spectacular day in NYC, we were ready to get something to eat and head back to the hotel to make sure we got enough rest for day 3… more to follow soon!