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On the river

It's easy to forget that Manhattan is actually an island, linked of course to the outside world by bridges -- many of which are famous landmarks in themselves -- and tunnels. And yes, it is possible, if you have about three hours to spare, to take a boat all the way round the Island. How many different ways, you're now asking, is it possible or necessary to see the skyscrapers of Manhattan?

By air, from the ground, from adjoining suburbs or states, from the top of the nearest skyscraper? And if all that fails to offer you the perspective you and your camera want, then why not look around it by sea? Yes, the choices as to how you view this amazing city are numerous and of course, no one can do them all without unlimited funds and time.

I would though, if you're after a fairly leisurely but very interesting tour, take a boat ride round Manhattan. The Circle Line tour takes about three hours and the commentaries are comprehensive. Landmarks which you might never know are there, are pointed out, from sights as diverse as the glittering Trump Tower to the city's massive rubbish dump, just off Manhattan.

The three hour trip aboard does not drag. You'll be kept interested the whole way round. Be sure to be ready with your camera as you pass under the magnificent George Washington Bridge and especially the Brooklyn Bridge which at one point appears to arch over the distant Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre, an opportunity for a perfect picture postcard to be taken. You won't just be able to see buildings on the periphery of New York; thanks to Manhattan's grid-shaped roads, it's possible to see quite far down many of the streets being pointed out.

Shorter boat tours exist, for those wishing only to see Mantattan's Downtown and Midtown areas. From the Ferry Terminal at Battery Park, you've a choice of excursions, which include trips to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

The Staten Island Ferry is not intended as a transport vessel for tourists. It's a free taxi service for commuters travelling between Staten Island (about 20 minutes away) and Manhattan. It's one of Manhattan's hidden secrets, for not only is there no charge, it'll offer you a real slice of New York life and New Yorkers themselves. Try to go, not alone preferably, when the sun is going down and on a boat on which you can stand at the back. As the Ferry pulls away from Manhattan's southern tip, the view of the Financial District and Downtown area becomes more spectacular. If your ride is timed right, you might even be able to catch the sun setting behind the Statue of Liberty, which will be to your left as you face Manhattan.

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