Two of the Best Day Trips from New Orleans

Two of the Best Day Trips from New Orleans

Three days in New Orleans and you’ll have soaked up the jazz on Frenchman Street, got spooked on a cemetery tour, drooled over a crawfish boil and sipped a Sazerac at the iconic Carousel Bar. All these, and more, are essential activities on a trip to NOLA but to really get a feel for the Deep South there are one or two-day trips from New Orleans that’ll give you an added insight into Louisiana life.

Oak Alley Plantation House Oak Trees

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Beyond Vegas – Visiting Hoover Dam

Beyond Vegas – Visiting Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam sits wedged into Black Canyon, holding back the force of the mighty Colorado River on the Nevada-Arizona border. It’s an incredible feat of engineering built in just five years during the Great Depression. Originally called the Boulder Dam it was constructed to prevent flooding in the area, to help with irrigation in the desert and to generate hydro-electricity. If you’re in Las Vegas, which is less than 35 miles away, visiting Hoover Dam is a must-do day trip.

Aerial view of Hoover Dam and Colorado River

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My Top Five New York Views

My Top Five New York Views

New York City sightseeing knows no bounds and you could spend weeks in the city and still not see and do everything you’d like to. But there are some iconic New York views and landmarks that would be top of my sightseeing list no matter how many times I’ve seen them before. I went back to New York at the end of last year and re-visited my favourite sights and discovered some new ones which I know I’ll head back to on my next visit. Let me share my top five iconic New York views.

Read more: How to spend five days in New York

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge is a New York City icon and celebrated its 100th birthday two years ago.  This picture is taken from the East River during a Hop On Hop Off cruise which gives some fabulous views of the bridge with the Financial District and One World Trade Center building in the background. The bridge is also a perfect vantage point for great views of the city and to walk across it is a New York ‘must do’.

Brooklyn-Bridge

New York’s Iconic Brooklyn Bridge

Central Park

The Mall is an avenue of trees which line Central Park’s widest pathway and is the only straight line inside the park’s boundaries. The quadruple row of American elms continues for a quarter of a mile and is the most important horticultural feature in the park. We saw it in autumn with it’s warm foliage but I’d like to see it in summer when the dense leaves form a canopy over the pathway.

Where: Mid-Park from 66th to 72nd Streets

Mall-central-park-trees

The Mall, Central Park

Downtown New York – from the water

The first time I took a photo of this view was nearly 19 years ago and the twin Trade Towers dominated Manhattan Island. Now it’s a different skyline but still one of my favourite views of New York City. Again this photo is taken from the Hop On Hop Off boat cruise but you’d get a similar view from the Staten Island Ferry which is a free service so good news if you’re on a budget.

Downtown-new-york

Downtown New York

Grand Central Terminal

This time we’re heading indoors for a view over the concourse at New York’s Grand Central Terminal – you’re not supposed to call it a station. There’s a real buzz going on here and the people watching potential is paramount. Don’t forget to look up to the blue and green cathedral-like ceiling which is decorated in gold with constellations and zodiac signs. I like this building, built in 1913, as much for the atmosphere as the view over the concourse which conjures up images of iconic train journeys and the romance of early travel.

Where: 89 East 42nd Street

Nearest Subways: 4/5/6, 7 and S (42nd Street Shuttle) to Grand Central

grand-central-station-new-york

Grand Central Station

New York Skyline at Night

Finally, what’s a post of favourite views without a pretty night-time shot of the city lit up in all its glory? New York at night is spectacular and I was torn between choosing a view looking down on the city from high up and the shot below. This view of Manhattan Bridge won because I love the way the lights reflect in the water of the East River – double the twinkle!

Manhattan-bridge-night

Manhattan Bridge

A Hotel with New York Views

We stayed at the 4* Novotel Times Square New York which has fabulous New York views of Times Square. You can sit in the bar, restaurant or outdoor terrace for breathtaking views of buzzing Times Square and the city lights. Food and service are both excellent. The Novotel’s sleek, contemporary style is so New York and its in a prime location which is perfect for walking up to Central Park or downtown to Times Square. The Metro is nearby for exploring further afield. A hotel I’d definitely recommend and one I’d stay in again when I return to New York City.

Which is your favourite New York City view?

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New-York-Views

New York Views

 

New York City – Walking the High Line

New York City – Walking the High Line

A November stroll along New York’s High Line had me falling big time for the elevated parkway that straddles the lower West Side of Manhattan. Despite dull, mizzy weather the walk lifted my spirits with a blaze of autumn colour and foliage. The leafy colour was a complete contrast to the surroundings of gleaming office blocks, swish apartments and old brick-built warehouses. The High Line promenades through New York City and ribbons its way between dilapidated warehouses and striking new developments with imaginative planting, reflective spaces and intriguing art installations en-route.

The High Line New York - a photo tour with links to High Line map

The High Line in the Rain

Art Deco Railings on the High Line

Art Deco Railings on the High Line

History of the High Line

Nowadays it’s an urban oasis but New York’s High Line started life in 1934 as a dark, steel structure nearly 30ft above street level. It supported a rail line that transported freight cars and their cargo of produce directly into warehouses and factories and became known as the ‘life line of New York’. A train carrying frozen turkeys made the final delivery in 1980 and then the High Line closed. Part of the structure was torn down and the remainder of the abandoned relic quietly evolved into a natural overgrown landscape until 1999 when it was threatened with complete demolition. At this point neighbourhood residents Joshua David and Robert Hammond stepped in. They formed a group called Friends of the High Line to lobby for the preservation and re-use of the structure. Their aim was to create a unique and unusual public landscape as individual as the High Line itself.

Fall Foliage on the High Line

Fall Foliage

Where is the High Line?

The first part of the High Line opened in the summer of 2009 and begins at Gansevoort Street and extends to West 20th Street, crossing Tenth Avenue on the way. In June 2011 another section opened extending the park another ten blocks, roughly half a mile, to West 30th Street. The third half-mile-long phase opened in September  2014 ending at the Hudson Rail Yards leaving the park almost complete.

Street View from the High Line

Street View from the High Line

Where to access the High Line

We started our saunter in The Meatpacking District on West 14th Street.  We hadn’t planned to walk The High Line that day as it was drizzling and dull but we came across the steps leading up to it and couldn’t resist. It was raining so the High Line wasn’t too busy. There are stairs and elevators to access the park at various intervals along the route and ground-level access at West 34th.


See more top attractions in New York


Features of the High Line

The park is interspersed with a series of unique features like the Gansevoort Woodland, Sun Decks, Washington Grasslands and Water Features, Chelsea Grasslands, 23rd Street Lawn and a wildflower field. The Sun Deck was one of the wider areas of the park and I loved how the wooden day beds were lined up along the old railway track like rolling freight in a nod to the history of the High Line. There are details like this all along the walkway that reflect a sense of the High Line’s original purpose.

Autumn Colour on the High Line

Autumn Colour

The route rolls and bends, slipping under three buildings at one point to form a short tunnel before breaking into the open again with views of The Hudson River and mid-town Manhattan. The planting is sympathetic to the structure’s abandoned years. When David and Hammond first viewed the High Line they were amazed to see 1.5 miles of meadow in mid-town Manhattan and this has been reflected in the planting with an emphasis on reeds, tall grasses and wild flowers. The Chelsea Grasslands were planted with many of the wild grasses and self-seeding plants found growing on the High Line during the time it lay dormant.

Chelsea Grasslands on the High Line

Chelsea Grasslands

There are places to sit and just watch the world go by, like the point at where the High Line crosses Tenth Avenue. Here you’ll find an area suspended over the avenue, where you can sit and watch the traffic glide along beneath you. At one part there’s a huge frame, like a massive picture window echoing the old billboards, where you can sit and enjoy a classic New York street view and actually become part of the billboard itself.

Billboard on The High Line

The Billboard

High Line Art

Art is prominent along the High Line from graffiti on the walls of neighbouring buildings to installations in the park itself.  Brazilian muralist Eduardo Kobra has transformed the original black-and-white image of a sailor kissing a nurse into a rainbow of colour which you can see from the High Line at West 25th Street at 10th Avenue.  In fact, it’s hard to miss! There are installations which change with the seasons along sections of the trail.

Eduardo Kobra Mural High Line

Eduardo Kobra Mural on the High Line

 

High Line Art

High Line Art

The High Line evolves as you walk it; wide open with views of the city one moment and then you turn a bend, and you’re walking a narrow corridor between two buildings.

A lawn looms up and open space appears offering a more open park-like vibe.

There areas where you’re walking over planting and on a layer beneath you are glimpses of the original art deco steel railings. Always a different view, a different perspective and a different feel to it. There are places to stop a while and soak up the environment, the planting and wildflowers. Sparrows flit through the grasses – a little haven in the city for them too.

The autumn colour was beautiful, especially against the backdrop of a grey day in New York.

Walking the High Line

Walking the High Line

High Line at the Rail Yards

Much of the design in the latest section, known as The High Line at the Rail Yards, mirrors the structure’s history. Raised rail tracks and stretches that remain overgrown are the way they were when the space was abandoned. The design includes sleek wooden benches that reflect the lines of the track. Some of the original train tracks are set into the pavement and landscape.

Clever Planting on the High Line

Clever Planting

The High Line is a unique way to see life in New York from a new perspective. It’s connected yet disconnected from the city. The High Line is immersed in urban life but at the same time surrounded by planting, texture and colour. A meandering ribbon where you can enjoy a little tranquillity amidst the roar of the city.

High Line New York Map

The High Line is open daily from 7 A.M. to 10 P.M. (8 P.M. in winter). You can check out a map of The High Line showing the access points and route.


Read more: My top five New York views


Where to stay in New York City

We stayed at the 4* Novotel Times Square New York which has fabulous New York views of Times Square. The bar, restaurant and outdoor terrace have breathtaking views of buzzing Times Square and the city lights. Food and service are both excellent. The Novotel’s sleek, contemporary style is so New York and it’s in a prime location. Central Park and downtown to Times Square are a short walk away.The Metro is nearby for exploring further afield. This is a hotel I’d definitely recommend and I’ll certainly stay there on my next visit to New York City.

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The High Line New York City

The High Line New York City
The High Line New York City
The High Line New York City