How do you make sense of a place that is pure sensory overload? From skyscrapers to museums and department stores, New York is the city that does it bigger, louder and faster than any other. It can overwhelm even the most blasé traveller.
But coming down to earth to New York is easy. Just hop on a bus on Broadway and sit alongside the native New Yorkers and watch as, block by block, the bus turns from leafy Central Park, through the neon-lit theatre district to the heart of downtown trendiness. There are few better ways of finding out how compact and user-friendly Manhattan is.
New York is a city best experienced at ground level where you can balance museums and sight-seeing with visits to pretzel carts and watching a neighbourhood basketball game.
At the other end of Manhattan, but still only half an hour by subway, is the Lower East Side. This was where most European immigrants ended up living. Across the water from Brooklyn, it nurtured such talents as the Marx Brothers and the Gershwins in its slum tenement housing.
Today, it is home to one of New York's most enjoyable museums, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, where the history of those who lived in the apartments has been researched and recreated. You'll have to book ahead but it's an unforgettable visit. The other people on the tour will generally be Americans. Afterwards all ages will enjoy Economy Candy on Rivington Street. True to the spirit of New York, it’s a pile'em high, sell'em cheap temple to tooth decay run by the same family since 1937. As much as the Empire State Building or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this is the true New York. And their $15 t-shirts make great souvenirs.