I visited New York City with my small town choir to attend a national choir festival there. We planned to stake out as many of the city’s famous and renowned sites as we could in the short amount of time we had to spend there. The trip was planned by my choir director and was scheduled in order to spend the most possible time in the city during the time of the competition, yet ensure that we kids were not kept out of school any longer than we had to be.
We flew to New York on a Thursday and flew home the following Monday, giving us five days total in the city. One thing that my choir friends and I were looking forward to was seeing a musical live on Broadway. Broadway plays are notorious for being expensive, but the money is well spent in order to watch a truly amazing performance with fabulous actors, props, stage sets and music. An experience on Broadway is sure to be an unforgettable one, as my viewing of The Phantom of the Opera certainly was.
After Broadway, our group visited other famous parts of the city. Since NYC is so enormous, there are lots of smaller areas within that all have their own personality, names, and atmosphere. Greenwich Village was a quiet, artsy bohemian town full of chic, well priced cafes and diverse boutiques at which to shop. Chinatown had street vendors selling beautiful scarves and designer knockoff handbags, not to mention Chinese street signs and some of the best Chinese food I had ever tasted! Times Square was busy at all hours of the day and night, with people hurrying to and from work or dinner in every direction.
Giant video screens and light advertisements blinked at us from the tops of the skyscrapers lining the streets so that it was never dark, even at night. I finally began to realize why they call it ‘The City that Never Sleeps’ – taxicab drivers were blowing horns, jamming traffic, and pushing people out of the crosswalk even at eleven o’clock in the evening!
We also visited Central Park, which was more than just a park. It was a giant park, complete with lakes, statues, creeks and bridges, bike paths, and even a castle-like tourist center where you can climb into for a view. The best part about Central Park was that there were more trees and flowers than anywhere else in the city. Its quiet, natural scenery sure was a relaxing retreat from the hurried atmosphere of downtown NYC. However, no matter where you go, it can certainly be dangerous to be a large group of teenagers in a foreign place, especially a city like this one. We had rules set by the school and our teacher, but we still had enough freedom that we didn’t really mind.
We were given maps of each day’s area and were free to go wherever we wanted without chaperones. The catch was that we had to stay within a specified area and we had to travel in groups of three or more if there was no chaperone. We weren’t allowed to take cabs or subways anywhere by ourselves and we were frequently reminded not to talk to strangers, including a few who approached us trying to sell us fliers.
We kept our purses and money close and always within our sight, especially in crowded places like Times Square or the subway when we traveled it as a group. This way, no one got lost or into dangerous trouble. We had a very safe trip. Overall, the experience was wonderful.
NYC is stylish and sophisticated, yet extremely diverse due to its heavily concentrated population. All of its characteristics blend together to create a thriving, culturally unique place, because it’s true that there really is no other city like New York in the world.
I would recommend a visit to anyone — it’s impossible not to find at least one thing you’ll want to do there. I know I was delighted to be a part of this incredible experience with my classmates and be able to finally see a city in real life that I had only seen before in the movies.
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