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NYC: downtown

Thursday, July 23, 2009
Catriona Rowntree was given the job of covering the lower half of Manhattan and she started by getting a fresh perspective on the place from the waters around the southern tip of the island.

Manhattan by sailboat

A fresh and original introduction to Manhattan Island is aboard a sailboat. Take in the famous skyline — the skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, the World Trade Center site — on board the 1929 Shearwater, a 24m Georgia pine schooner.

Make sure to take some time on the 90-minute cruise to admire the polished brass portholes, teak decks and spiral staircase leading to the mahogany panelled passageway. Staterooms are decorated with period furnishings and the salon has elegant glass cabinets, fireplace and marble finished head! They head out on day sails, sunset sails and Sunday brunch champagne sails. For more information, visit


Lower Manhattan has lots of little neighbourhoods and a rather Bohemian feel. SoHo is bounded by Houston and Canal streets, Broadway and the Hudson River. Its name is a derivative of South of Houston.

The early 1800s was an elegant period with hotels, theatres, elegant stores, mansions, casinos and brothels. Its popularity has waxed and waned over the years as people moved in and out. Once known as "Hell's 100 acres", artists flocked there in the 1960s for its cheap loft space. By the 1980s it was the centre of the city's art scene.

Now it is an eclectic place and home to wealthy New Yorkers living in restored 19th-century warehouse lofts overlooking cobblestone streets. SoHo has the world's greatest collection of cast-iron buildings, excellent places for showing fine art, antiques and other luxury items.

SoHo is filled with restaurants and bars, trendy shops, good nightlife and it's a great place to wander around and soak up its ambience.

Greene Street is the heart of SoHo and is a surprisingly peaceful place away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of New York. Wander in and out of shops, galleries, designer stores, soak up its character and make sure you have your camera. It's beautiful!

Find time to take a stroll up Bleecker Street and pop into the famous Magnolia Bakery made famous by its appearance in the Sex and the City TV series. They are so popular, don't be surprised to see a queue snaking along Bleecker Street. Everything is made from scratch each day and their range of delights, especially their cupcakes, is astounding.

Wall Street

The famous street is loved and hated as it's home to the New York Stock Exchange. Fortunes have been made and lost and for obvious reasons, it is no longer open to the public.

The busy area turns out more lunch orders per square metre than anywhere else in the city. Competition is fierce and trends come and go. Catriona visited the Wall Street Burger Shoppe.

The restaurant, in a landmarked Flemish building has the feel of classic old New York. The ground floor offers quick service burgers. The upstairs the Bar Room has table service, beer on tap and an extensive wine list. A burger of Kobe beef, black truffles, gruyere cheese, wild mushrooms, flecks of gold, foie gras on a brioche will set you back US$175 ($215) — but a regular burger is just US$4.50 ($5.55).

Freedom Tower/One World Trade Center

The main building of the new World Trade Center will stand 541m and will serve as a beacon of freedom and demonstrate the resolve of the United States and the people of New York. It is scheduled to open in 2012. It was announced in March 2009 that the building will be known as "One World Trade Center", replacing the former name, "Freedom Tower".

It will feature the Reflecting Absence memorial in honour of the 2986 people who died in the terrorist attacks which stunned the world. They will never be forgotten.

Standard Hotel

Manhattan's old Meatpacking District is officially known as Gansevoort Market and also MePa. In 1900, it was home to 250 slaughterhouses and packing plants. By the 1980s it was a centre for drug dealing and prostitution. These days it is a very trendy neighbourhood and has high-end boutiques such as Diana von Furstenberg, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Moschino.

The Apple store and restaurants such as Buddha Bar and Pastis are all there in quite possibly Manhattan's most fashionable neighbourhood.

Adding to the trendiness is The Standard Hotel. The fourth of the André Balazs Standard properties — the others are in LA, West Hollywood and Miami — will be the flagship. Anything but standard, the 337-room 18-storey hotel's two glass-curtain slabs jump the tracks of an old freight railroad and is a superior example of modern architecture. It has views of the dramatic skyline and Hudson River through wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows.

Bathrobes and bed linen are luxurious, there are flat-screen televisions, wireless high-speed Internet connections and Kiss My Face organic bath products — a breakfast is also included. For dining and drinking there is the Lobby and Living Room and a fabulous restaurant is about to open. The Standard flavour is eccentric comfort, trendy and surprisingly affordable.


New York's Lower Manhattan area.


Shearwater Harbour and City Lights sailboat rides are around $57. Sunset sailboat rides are $64. Tickets for children 12 and under are around $32. Sunday brunch sailboat rides, including champagne, juice and soft drinks, fruit, sandwiches and treats are around $100 for adults and $50 for children.

Standard Hotel rooms start at around $245 a night.

Prices correct at July 23, 2009.

V Australia has return fares to Los Angeles with connections available to New York City.

Fares from:

  • Sydney $1041
  • Melbourne $1049
  • Brisbane $1052
  • Adelaide $1333
  • Perth $1650

The fares are available for a limited time only so log on to for further details.

For further information

V Australia

Manhattan by Sail
Ph: +1 212 619 0885

Magnolia Bakery
401 Bleecker Street
New York NY 10014
United States
Ph: +1 212 462 2572

Wall St Burger Shoppe
30 Water Street
New York NY 10004
United States
Ph: +1 212 425 1000

Standard Hotel
848 Washington Street
New York NY 10014
United States
Ph: +1 212 645 4646

Shopping tips from Catriona

Go to customer service at most department stores with your passport and receive a 10 percent discount card. It's that easy! If you are into photography or technology, visit B&H on 9th Avenue at 34th Street. You'll love it. Century 21 is a well-kept secret but has great bargains. You will find them at 22 Cortlandt Street, between Church Street and Broadway. Woodbury Common Premium Outlets are worth seeking out, though they are around an hour out of New York. Catriona thought she'd died and gone to shopper's heaven. There are brands galore and you will find them right across the United States! Visit for more information.

Visas: Most Australians do not need a visa, providing they have a machine-readable passport with at least six months validity after the departure day, have a round-trip non-refundable ticket and do not intend to stay longer than 90 days. From January 2009 Australians need to complete a pre-travel authorisation at

Electricity: 110V to 115V at 60Hz. Outlets take two-parallel, flat prongs. Australian visitors will need a US adapter and converter.

Time zone: GMT-5.

Currency: American dollar.

International dialling code: +1.

America Over Easy!
If you are planning a trip to the US we've found a great book with lots of useful information: America Over Easy!. It has an excellent fold-out map for road trips and information about things to do and see along the way. Available from New Holland publishers and available at book stores ($19.95).

User comments
I'm heading to the big apple in Sep for a very quick fly in visit. Thanks Getaway for letting me know of some destinations that otherwise I would have not known about. Will try and fit some in, in my crazy visit to NYC. It will be NYC on a budget........
Tilly-Rose, thank you for posting the details of the song on the Getaway NY segment!
I'm heading back to New York in June next year, which will be my 4th time in 9 years. I love this city so much. Getting a few ideas from these stories as to what to see and do that I haven't already done. KARLY - Catriona was shopping at Century 21, which is opposite Ground Zero. HUGE discount department store. Can get messy at times as there are so many people, so allow plenty of time. There's also Woodbury Common Premium Outlets but they're about an hour out of the city. Haven't been so can't say what it's like. GREG - Personally, I wouldn't wing finding accommodation in NY, as it's their summer break and the last thing you want is not finding somewhere to sleep. There'll be more on NY next week, so they may show Little Italy and Chinatown etc then.
Thank god i'm not the only one upset Little Italy wasn't shown. What a Rip-off, I'm disgusted that a place with a rich history and culture like Little Italy was left out. Hang your heads in shame Getaway, you've also lost a loyal viewer not just because Little Italy wasn't shown but because your New York Special was a crock
Hey Matt D - Its José González cover of The Knife's song called Heartbeats.
I been to NYC and even with a shrinking population, the Italian spirit still remains strong in Little Italy. For 11 days in September, more than 1 million visitors flock to Mulberry street for the feast of San Gennaro. Night time is amazing with a great atmosphere and delicious food. It is exactly this kind of spirit that will keep Little Italy alive for ever and will always be the birth place of Italian culture in America. Martin Scorsese was also born there on Elizabeth Avenue. Hope this helps.
First of all, I want to commend you on being a top notch travel show with a great bunch of reporters. I also would've loved to have seen Little Italy because last week I finally sat down and watched The Godfather on DVD and it left me mesmerized. Absolutely brilliant. Drop the gun and take the cannoli because a story on the New York Mafia and Italian food is something we can't refuse.
I was sooooo hoping to see Little Italy and maybe catch some Mob hangouts or some famous resturants there. What a dissapointment that Little Italy was left out.
What was that place Catriona like the best for shopping? There was a picture of it in the wrap up to the section?
Great story on NYC. Is it possible to find out the name of the song and artist that was playing whilst Catriona was in Greenwich Village and outside the cake shop. Male singer and accoustic sounding guitar. Would be appreciated if I could find this out. Thanks in advance.

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