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In April of 2014 my grandmother, mother, sister, and I took a trip to New York City. Despite the fact that I had been to “The Big Apple” before, I had never seen the city like I saw it in that week. Our bus rolled out of High Point, NC at 12am on April 20th and from there it kept rolling, and rolling, and rolling, through Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey, until finally, around 10am, the Manhattan skyline was within sight.
Our bus driver took us to a nice hotel (The Hyatt Place in Secaucus, NJ), very close to the New York border, to unload our things before heading back onto the bus for our first day out in the city with our tour guide, Jim. Jim was a New York native, born in Queens and now residing in Manhattan, writing and acting in off-Broadway productions. Being the theatre lovers that we are, my family thoroughly enjoyed the company and opportunities that Jim, our fellow thespian, provided. While under Jim’s care we were fortunate enough to add four Broadway productions to our repertoire, including The Phantom of the Opera, Pippin, Kinky Boots, and Mamma Mia!.
During our stay we also did a lot of sightseeing, including innumerable tourist attractions, such as the Apollo Theatre, The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, Central and Battery Park, Strawberry Fields, China Town, a backstage tour of the Radio City Music Hall, the Top of the Rock observatory deck, the shops on 5th Avenue, and much, much more.
In addition to these great attractions the city has to offer, walking around Manhattan can really work up an appetite. Luckily, Jim the tour guide knew all the best places to dine in the city. We ate like royalty at places such as Legends, a traditional UK pub that serves authentic British and Irish food, Buca di Beppo, a delicious Italian place (where I met former Disney Channel actor Gregg Sulkin), Mama Sbarro, the first of the large chain of well-known Italian restaurants, and Junior’s, our favorite dining attraction, where we ate at least three times during our stay, mainly dining on their heavenly cheesecake!
However, though I thoroughly enjoyed the sight-seeing, shopping, and eating that this great, big city provided, I found that I appreciated the attitude and culture of the “New Yorkers” even more. The people of New York are a blended people. They are blended within race, gender, and social status. You will see no haughty eyes towards a homeless man, towards a different race, towards a tourist or new-comer. Despite their reputation as a “burly” people, the citizens of New York City simply mind their own business, and expect you to do the same, a trait I needed to learn and now fully appreciate. They truly are the definition of a “melting pot” people; where else can so many socially, racially and economically different people harmoniously live together? It is that “New Yorker” attitude that really changed my perspective not only about the city that never sleeps, but also of myself.