Perhaps no city in the world produces such strong reactions in people as New York. People either laud it as the most exciting and culturally rich city in the world, or revile it as cramped, dirty and overpriced. The Big Apple has played a starring role in so many books, movies, and songs that it's impossible not to have preconceived notions of it. But once you visit you'll find that whether you fall into the "love" or "hate" camp, there's an element of truth to both sides.
New York is exciting, and offers some of the best museums, art, fashion, music and food in the world. It's a multi-cultural city where you might hear ten different languages spoken on the street and where it's just as easy to find a regional specialty from a little-known area of China as it is a greasy slice of New York-style pizza. But the city can also be loud, overwhelming, and at times garish. The people aren't necessarily rude, as the stereotype goes, they're just busy. This is the "City That Never Sleeps" and a city where life moves faster than anywhere else. At least in Manhattan.
What many tourists don't appreciate is that New York is more than just the 23 square miles of Manhattan Island. There are four other diverse boroughs, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, all connected by an intricate and extensive network of trains, buses and ferries that keep people moving around the city 24 hours a day. Each borough has its own personality, from glamorous Manhattan to artsy Brooklyn to bohemian Queens. These neighbourhoods provide another perspective on NYC and as an added bonus, they're generally where you can find some of the cheaper New York hostels.
Of course you'll want to spend some time in Manhattan, craning your neck up at the glittering skyscrapers, wandering through Central Park, seeing famous works of art at MOMA or the Met, and taking in the chaos of Times Square, but when the bustle of the big city starts to wear on you, New York's other boroughs can provide a welcome change of pace.