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Walking

Some fine person once said "the best way to experience a place is to walk around it, taking-in the sights, sounds, smells, bumps in the sidewalk and people". Actually, it was ME who just said it but it makes perfect sense doesn't it? And so it is in New York. Guided walking tours of all sorts also exist and details can be obtained from the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.

I remember well my first solo walk in Manhattan. I started-off in Midtown, exiting from Grand Central Station and being hit immediately by, not only a wall of heat (it was August) but by the noise and the skyscrapers at every turn.

Grand Central Station is quite a good starting point actually, with a number of main routes such as 5th Avenue, Lexington Avenue, Park Avenue South and 42nd Street nearby. In whatever direction you walk, you'll come across something exciting and eye-catching. Walk west along 42nd Street to Times Square and Theatreland; walk south down 5th Avenue towards Macy's and the Empire State Building, or walk north up 5th Avenue from the station to Central Park passing some of fashions most famous names such as Saks and Armani along the way.

The temptation for a tourist to stop and take photographs in the street will be overwhelming and I found I could do so without feeling nervous, but I WAS cautious. I got my camera out and put it back quickly and stood in a shop doorway to take my snap and didn't do anything so foolish as to stand beside the road.

Manhattan may make up only a small area of the city as a whole, but it is more than large enough from the walkers point of view. Remember too, jaywalking is an offense for which you could be given an on-the-spot fine. So, for the sake of your wallet and your own safety, obey the 'walk' and 'don't walk' signs and don't cross the road between blocks.

SOME FINE WALKS

Areas which you should take proper time to walk around include Midtown, Wall Street and the Financial District, Battery Park, Greenwich Village, Central Park, Chinatown and Little Italy, the Fashion District, Times Square and Theatreland and 5th Avenue from the bottom of Central Park to 34th Street.

* Museum Mile (part of Firth Avenue) alongside the eastern side of Central Park sounds a little arduous but is well worth it, when you discover the huge wealth of cultural treasures along it, such as the Solomon Guggenheim Museum and the Frick Collection.

* A walk round Central Park during the day is also very satisfying but tiring too, when you remember it covers an area stretching from 59th to 110th Street and 5th to 8th Avenue.

* At Manhattan's southern most tip lies an attractive and bustling promenade, located next to Battery Park and bustling with street entertainers and stalls. More than worth a stroll around.

* A walk south along 5th Avenue, from 42nd street to the financial district and World Trade Centre will take you a good hour but is well worth it.

* A walk north along 5th Avenue from 34th Street up to Central Park's southern tip will be one of the most sensational, with a stunning array of famous fashion names and buildings en route.

* Greenwich Village is quieter, nicer and calmer than many other areas of the city. The residential areas of the Village -- tree lined and peaceful -- are a delight to walk around.

* Take the red subway line south from Wall Street under the water to Clark Street station at Brooklyn Heights. Take that suburb in then find the Brooklyn Bridge walkway.

A walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge towards Manhattan is an experience you'll never forget. It's a remarkable structure. Built in 1883, with the traffic running below you, it's got to be the most charming of the New York crossings -- the one held in most affection by New Yorkers.

It'll take you a good 25 minutes to walk across but be extremely careful where you walk. One largely unknown danger exists -- from cyclists tearing across the bridge at high speed. A careless step to one side or the other without looking carefully behind or in front of you could result in a collision with a cyclist and serious injury. In my opinion, it will only be a matter of time before someone is killed this way by a tearaway cyclist.

Otherwise though, up until mid-evening, the bridge is busy enough with tourists and commuters so as to be on the safe side. The view in front of you, through the metal struts of the bridge, is a photographers dream and is worth walking across during the day and at dusk, when Manhattan's lights are coming on.

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