When it comes to The Big Apple, I had set my expectations very high. I thought of every movie, book, and TV show set in this magical place that seemed to not even exist in reality. I remember Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" looking up at skyscrapers and saying that her children "had to see this."
New York is something I'm glad I saw. I was struck mostly by the art. Art is everywhere in New York, in the buildings, on the grounds, even the food is artistic. Larger than life churches, temples, department stores, greenery, statues of Liberty, Atlas, and Prometheus stand tall. Places like The Met, Broadway, and Rockefeller Center house so many timeless pieces that you recognize the insides of these plazas before you even get to the outside. New York is a place of giants lined on small streets, where you can walk to boutiques and bakeries all in a few minutes. There are crowds; there was sweltering heat; there are tourists covering every block. New York is gritty and alive; vibrant and busy. I felt like there was nowhere to take a breath. It's an overwhelming place.
Unexpected charms of New York City: complimentary beer at Battery Park Garden Cafe, inspirational messages on the sidewalk, trunk shows at your hotel, wine and live music in The Met, jazz in the Empire State Building, performances in Central Park. Perhaps that's the biggest draw of them all when it comes to NYC: it's a place where expectations don't matter, because the city is full of surprises.
I always thought once I went to New York I would never want to be anywhere else. While that didn't exactly happen, it did make me think a lot of the place I call home and the places I cherish. New York is very different from Laguna, but what I love about both is the artistry found in every local dive and large tourist attraction; tiny gems are everywhere, if you're willing to look.