New York - my kind of city

By Monika Barton

Strolling around the Staten Island Ferry near midnight, in a black trench coat with my cafe mocha, I finally achieved my goal of feeling like a New Yorker. Without warning, encouraged by the lyrics of the Strokes'New York City Cops, I felt compelled to ask a cop and a staunch looking security guard wearing aviators for a photo. They looked bemused to start with, but once I explained I was from New Zealand, they nodded knowingly.

I'd fallen in love with New York within the first night of being in Times Square - and yes, the shops do stay open till midnight. After spending most of my life shopping under a 5pm restriction, this was a concept that put the city in a league of its own.

My mother said, "Let's go and buy shoes at 11pm just because we can!" And cruising West 45th St in a taxi, while absorbing the uncannily large Coca-Cola signs, mind-boggling neon lights, and crazy number of angry taxi drivers, we spotted a huge crowd of people milling around a theatre.

After joining in on the milling, we realised we were waiting for the Julia Roberts. Although I did not get a glimpse of her, the experience was meaningful.

My one complaint about New York is the subway. How are you meant to get out all your purchases and possibly even try them on between stations with half the city eye-balling you? At Soho we made it to What Goes Around Comes Around.

Gasp, yes the same store Mary-Kate Olsen shops at.

In New Zealand, vintage equals cheap. After a heart-wrenching look around this store, it became painfully obvious this was not the case in New York.

However, my spirits were lifted somewhat on spotting Chad Michael Murray, being stealthily pursued by paparazzi with unnaturally large zoom lenses.

For those who don't know, Chad Michael Murray is your average Orlando Bloom wannabe, token spunk and overall ladies' man in most teen movies. You know the type.

Later that night, after some determined persuasion of my parents not to go to see some lame, abstract show (Spamalot) we went to Chicago on Broadway. It was so cool, like the movie, except with a startling gender change when a singing female journalist turned out to be a guy.

Before the show we grabbed a pizza at John's Pizzeria on 44th St. Potentially, it could have been a cool New Yorker thing to do. But it was somewhat marred when my mother exclaimed loudly to the disdainful Italian waiter that we had "a performance to get to on Broadway at 8pm" and did he think we would be through all right by then?

"Oh, and no sorry, we aren't ready to order - I still can't decide whether to have anchovies or not." If that wasn't embarrassing enough, Dad by this point still hadn't figured out how tipping worked, resulting in the already annoyed waiter thinking we were leaving having paid only US$6 ($9.50) for the meal.

"Sorry, we're from New Zealand" was an excuse that came in handy, especially when Mum couldn't work the apparently newfangled credit card machine at Dylan's Candy Bar while buying three tops for my friends.

Dylan is the daughter of Ralph Lauren and her shop is a sugar addict's dream - three storeys of chocolate and lollies, something we're unlikely to ever see here. Even the stairs have jelly beans and gummy snakes in them.

Between shopping sprees at Century 21 and H&M (awesome, awesome department stores in Manhattan) we stopped off at the World TradeCentre, where there wasn't really much to see. But some writing on the fence stated, "You are still the greatest city in the world".

I have to agree.

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