Must-see in NYC

Updated 10 October 2012
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Must-see in NYC

New York City has something for everyone in your family: The bright lights, the hustle and bustle of yellow taxicabs and pedestrians, the famous sites we all know through films and TV series... The subway (underground train service) is a convenient and economical transportation to utilize while staying in NYC. The city is a melting pot of cultures but each is defined and unique. There are pockets of areas around the city that are neighborhood countries from Little Italy to China Town. Arab News came up with 17 must-see places in the Big Apple but of course the city has much more to offer.
Central Park
In the center of Manhattan, the island that houses a large part of the city, you’ll find Central Park. It is often referred to as New York City’s back yard and it is one of the safest places to meet with family and friends. Among the favorite attractions here is the lake. In the winter months the lake transforms into a beautiful ice rink. During summer you can rent little boats. You can also take a romantic horse and carriage ride around the park and horses and bicycles are also available for riding.
Natural history
The American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest and most celebrated museums in the world and its right across the street from Central Park. Be prepared to spend a good few hours here as it’s packed with oversized rooms full the most amazing collections from full size dinosaur bones to Egyptian mummies. The museum averages over 5 million visitors every year. The Hayden Planetarium is located here too and that is worth checking out. The kids will enjoy the show in the dark, looking up at the stars and planets and learning about astrophysics.
Guggenheim
The Guggenheim Museum is steps away from the American Museum. It’s definitely more fun for adults than children as the environment is quieter. The Guggenheim is famous for its international art collection and also for the circular architectural design of the building.
Bronx Zoo
Treat your children to a visit to the world famous Bronx Zoo, wildlife conservation society. It is the largest and most famous zoo in New York City, featuring more than 4,000 animals. We recommend you go early (it opens at 10 a.m.) as this is a very popular attraction.
Aircraft carrier
The Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum is a fun interactive museum aboard the real USS Intrepid aircraft carrier – used during World War II – and a submarine. It is located on the Pier. The kids can run around the workings of a real aircraft carrier and get to play with simulation equipment. It is one of America’s leading historic, cultural and educational institutions. Opened in 1982, the museum has welcomed more than 10 million visitors.
South Sea Street Port
At South Sea Street Port on Fulton Street are often times live musical events and live art as you stroll along the stores by the Pier. Take a water taxi here or a shuttle to watch the Manhattan skyline from the sea and observe the large ships docked nearby. You can visit the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse here too. It’s a very up-to-date tourist mall with a great variety of food, shopping and nightlife. A great bonus here is the magnificent view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Frozen hot chocolate
Serendipity’s is a famous ice cream and desert café on E60th Street that the kids will love. It’s known for its quaint interior décor and most of all its world famous frozen hot chocolate. Tom Cruise is often spotted here and it’s open until midnight.
Retail therapy
If retail therapy is your thing, Gucci, Bergdorf Goodman’s, Barneys, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Ave are there to cater for your every need. These stores are all renown for very high-end fine clothing. Century 21 is a large home furnishing store that is very modern and features thousands of fashionable items. Macy’s store on 34th street takes up an entire block and is several stories high. The NBA store and Niketown would be great stores for the sports fan teen to check out. Local boutiques are very popular in New York and many people come to the city just to check Broadway Street’s fashion.
Bagels
New Yorkers love the traditional customs of living in the city, for instance by enjoying a toasted bagel in the morning with a cup of coffee. The best places to get a good one are Absolute Bagels or H & H Bagels. Their bagels are not huge like some these days, but they are always hot and baked to perfection.
Empire State
Make your trip memorable and visit the Empire State Building in the heart of the city. The observation deck has amazing views of the outer neighborhoods of the city: Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Many movies featured the Empire State Building, the most memorable of which is King Kong.
Little Italy
Would you like to take a trip to Italy while in New York? No need to take a plane, just visit Little Italy on Mulberry Street. Carmine’s Restaurant on 44th street is a legendary family restaurant that opened in 1966. During the summer this part of the city celebrates the big San Genaro Festival. Have a traditional cup of espresso or authentic cappuccino and give the kids some fresh homemade Italian gelato. Fresh Mozzarella and some freshly made cannoli are such a treat in Little Italy. The standard pizza gets upgraded to a delicious pizza Margarita and the fresh pasta just melts in your mouth.
China Town
Within walking distance from Littly Italy you’ll find China Town. This is a great place for shopping and to eat Chinese food. Street vendors are everywhere and they love to negotiate and bargain prices. Visitors mostly come to Canal Street to find brand name items at a lesser price. Local celebration or festivals provide genuine feasts for the eye, from dragon costumes to fireworks and music.
Statue of Liberty
The best way to visit the Statue of Liberty is to take the Circle Line Ferry Boat that leaves from Battery Park. You can see both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The stairs inside the statue take you right up right to the crown on her head.
Helicoper ride
For the teens in your group a helicopter tour should be really exciting. Manhattan Helicopters Sightseeing Tours are the perfect way to experience breathtaking panoramic views of popular landmarks. A 15-minute helicopter tour of Manhattan will cost about $145 (SR 545).
Times Square
Times Square is often referred to as the crossroads of the world. It is a major commercial intersection in Midtown NYC between Broadway and 7th Ave from W42nd Street to W47th Street. If you want to see a Broadway show in the evening, this is the perfect place to go. Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables ran for many years in Time Square delighting so many international visitors. There are over 39 million visitors to Time Square every year. Introduce your children to The Lion King, Wicked and The Musical. The streets here are very busy and if you have smaller children it’s probably better to go during the day and avoid the evening rush. Time Square is also the location of the New Years Eve Ball drop count down. Millions of people around the world watch this.
Opera and ballet
Lincoln Center for Performing Arts and The Metropolitan Opera House are great places to visit if you have a love for performance arts. The Metropolitan Opera is the largest classical music organization in North America. “The Met”, as it is commonly referred to, presents about 27 operas per season, which lasts from late September through May. To see an opera or a ballet in these magnificent buildings is something so memorable that you will be talking about this visit for years to come. New York City knows how to put on a show.

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Philippines’ tourist island Boracay shuts down for rehabilitation

Updated 25 April 2018
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Philippines’ tourist island Boracay shuts down for rehabilitation

  • Boracay is just one of more than 7,300 islands in the Philippines, but it draws 2 million visitors annually
  • Some residents complain that officials have turned a blind eye and say those tasked with solving Boracay’s problems were complicit in creating them

BORACAY: With postcard-perfect views of the Philippines’ most treasured island behind them, laborers hammer away at the walls of the Boracay West Cove resort, demolishing them one chunk at a time.
The resort is being reduced to piles of rock and steel rods, the first in a wave of demolitions of illegal structures on the tourist island of Boracay on the orders of the Philippines’ no-nonsense president, Rodrigo Duterte.
Boracay is just one of more than 7,300 islands in the Philippines, but it draws 2 million visitors annually, just under a third of the country’s total tourist arrivals last year.
But with an estimated 1,800 businesses competing for space and clamoring for a share of the annual $1 billion that Boracay generates, mass tourism is pushing this tiny 10-square-kilometer island to the brink of collapse.
“What Duterte wants, Duterte gets,” said Phillip Penafor, a local government worker overseeing the demolition of the West Cove, which was built on protected forest land.
Duterte weighed in unexpectedly in February, raging that Boracay’s famous turquoise waters smelled “of sh*t,” and warning of an environmental disaster from unchecked growth and a failing sewage system that made it a “cesspool.”
On April 4, he ordered the closure of the island to outsiders for six months from Thursday to undergo a process of rehabilitation, for which a complete plan has yet to be drafted.
Tourists and non-residents will be denied entry and boats will be barred from going within 3 kilometers of the island. A few dozen police, including riot and SWAT teams, have been doing exercises on the beach to prepare for resistance that residents say is highly unlikely.

 

 The local government has started demolishing some of the 900 illegal structures on the island and preparing to widen a 7-kilometer spine road clogged with trucks, motorbikes and vans.
Their priority is expanding an overburdened sewage system, and dismantling a network of pipes created illegally by businesses and resorts to divert their waste into storm water drains, through which it all ends up in the sea.
The government expects the closure to cost the economy about 2 billion pesos ($38.1 million) and is preparing a “calamity fund” of a similar amount to help an estimated 30,000 people whose livelihoods are affected.
Despite that, Duterte’s abrupt push to fix Boracay is being broadly welcomed by residents and even businesses, although they would have liked more time to adjust.
“It’s good for our future. The problem is, we’re not really prepared for this,” said Ciceron Cawaling, the longtime mayor of the nearby town of Malay, which oversees Boracay.
“We were caught by surprise by his declaration. This all arose in a matter of seconds.”
Located off the northern tip of central Panay island, Boracay was once an idyllic destination for divers and backpackers lured by its tranquility and powdery white sands.
But the island has seen explosive growth in recent years, partly the result of surging numbers of tourists from Asia, particularly China and South Korea.
Local authorities have struggled to cope with that growth, lacking manpower and resources to enforce laws and carry out inspections to curb environmental violations.

Some residents complain that officials have turned a blind eye and say those tasked with solving Boracay’s problems were complicit in creating them. The local government denies that.
The entire White Beach on the island’s west coast is lined with resorts, restaurants and shops offering souvenirs, tattoos, massages and watersports, some three or four buildings deep.
Visitors go parasailing and ride speedboats, and gather in crowds for sunset selfies on the beach, where dozens of moored boats obstruct views of the water.
Even before Duterte’s intervention, the local government was taking some steps toward a makeover for Boracay. In November, it hired a well-known urban planner, Felino Palafox, whose firm has handled 1,200 projects in 28 countries.
Palafox is proposing the introduction, after the six-month rehabilitation, of regulations and modern infrastructure to manage tourism and make Boracay environmentally sustainable.
His plan includes having only electric vehicles, building a wide road with a tram and a 7-kilometer pedestrian footpath, and setting back buildings from the beach. Building heights would be restricted and businesses would be given incentives to install solar panels and plant trees.
The plan is being considered by the local and national government but no decision has been made yet.
Palafox said he was consulted about Boracay in the 1990s and again in 2006, but his advice was ignored. He’s confident that with Duterte in charge, this time will be different.
“It’s still salvageable if we have good supervision and monitoring and we knuckle down,” he said. “What we have now is very strong political will.”
But some residents complain they were given no chance to comply with laws that are only now being enforced.

 

 

 
Canadian Allan Lieberman has called Boracay home for three decades. Despite having legal papers and permits issued by local authorities, he’s demolishing his 10-year-old cliffside resort, in anticipation of being evicted for occupying a plot that was supposed to be protected forest land.
He thinks it was time for him to leave anyway.
“Boracay? I hate Boracay,” he said, as a team of workers behind him took down solar panels and wooden poles. “There’s nothing of the old Boracay left. Even if restored, its soul has gone.”
Resort owner Delnora Hano has lived in Boracay just as long, and remembers when there was no electricity and accommodation was bamboo huts.
She says the temporary loss of business and jobs is worth it and lauds Duterte for stepping in.
“It’s the right time to intervene, there are problems that can be fixed now,” she said. “It can be done, the island can survive.”

Decoder

Filipino island's failing sewage system

In a survey of Boracay’s sewerage facilities, the vast majority of residential and business properties were found to have no discharge permit and were presumed to be draining waste water directly into the sea.

FACTOID

End of the liners

The Philippines’ tourism department said that as many as 18 ocean liners, carrying more than 50,000 passengers and around half that number of crew members, were due to visit the island in 2018 before the closure announcement.