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5 Of The Tallest Buildings In The World You Need To Visit!

1. The Canton Tower, China

Also known as Guangzhou Tower (Chinese: 广州塔), The Canton Tower is a 600 metre tall multi-purpose observation tower in the Haizhu District of Guangzhou, Guandong, China. The tower became operational for the 2010 Asian Games and briefly held the title of tallest tower in the world, before being surpassed by the Tokyo Skytree in 2011. It’s now the fifth-tallest freestanding structure in the world and is lit by seven thousand LED light fixtures which change colour across the entire height of the tower. A beautiful kaleidoscope of colour against the night sky.

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2. The Burj Khalifa, Dubai

The world’s tallest man-made structure, the 829.8 metre high Burj Khalifa in Dubai holds the official title of ‘Tallest Building in the World’. It was also the location for the current Guinness World Record for the highest base jump in history! Designed as the centerpiece of a large-scale, mixed-use development including 30,000 homes, 9 hotels, 7.4 acres of parkland, 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall and the 30-acre man-made Burj Khalifa Lake, the decision to build Burj Khalifa is reportedly based on the government’s decision to diversify from an oil based economy to one that is service and tourism based. Great attention-grabbing strategy!

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3. The Empire State Building, New York

An 103 storey skyscraper located in Midtown Manhattan, The Empire State Building is an impressive 443 metre high. The world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years until being overtaken by the original World Trade Center’s North Tower in late 1970, The Empire State Building is currently the fourth tallest skyscraper in the US (after the One World Trade Center, the Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel and Tower) and the 25th tallest skyscraper in the world. The views over New York are breathtaking, its distinctive art deco style belying its timeless appeal.

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4. The Eiffel Tower, Paris

The iconic iron latticed Eiffel Tower, named after its engineer, Gustave Eiffel and located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world. Standing some 324 metres tall, it held the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second and an observatory on the third. With views over one of the most romantic cities on Earth, it’s pretty clear why it’s such a popular proposal spot…

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5. The Shard, London

Also referred to as The Shard of Glass, Shard London Bridge and formerly London Bridge Tower, The Shard is an 87 storey skyscraper in London that forms part of the London Bridge Quarter development. Its privately operated observation deck, The View From The Shard, is a popular spot for tourists and Londoners alike. Designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, the Shard is currently the tallest building in the European Union, standing at an impressive 309 metres. As London’s highest viewing platform, The Shard is a wonderful place to take in over 1,000 years of the capital’s history. What’s not to like?

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5 Days in ‘The Big Apple’

Manhattan, New York

New York City is addictive – once you’ve tasted it, you’ll want more.  A concrete jungle with a skyline to end all skylines, what it lacks in beauty it makes up for in buzz.  The city that never sleeps, it’s hub of yellow taxis, beeping horns, NYPD vans and Stars and Stripes – everywhere.  If you can stomach the Arctic climes, February is a great time to visit – you’ll benefit from cut-price flights and maybe a bit of snow, if you’re lucky.

Your first experience of Manhattan will doubtless be in a yellow cab.  Brace yourself.  New York taxi drivers are devoid of the charm of London cabbies.  Zero small talk and 20% tipping starts here!

Top Sights 

Skyline by Night

In terms of sights to see, The Empire State Building in Midtown Manhattan is a great first stop.  Walking through the art-deco surrounds as you ascend to the open air 360-degree observation deck on the 86th floor is like stepping back in time (don’t worry, there’s a lift).  The panoramic views at the top are all the more striking by night, the bitter cold etching the stunning vistas into freeze-frames of the mind.  The cityscape is breath-taking, with lights spanning horizon-wide across the Hudson and East Rivers and stretching skyward to illuminate the heady heights of the Chrysler Building, the Rockefeller Centre and the Bank of America Tower.

Skyline by Day

By day, the penthouse floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at 80 Columbus Circle on 60th Street is a top of the range spot to gaze over the Manhattan skyline and Central Park.  If you can’t stretch to the mouth-watering sushi feast on offer, a hot chocolate is a warming alternative on a cold winter’s day.  The views from the rooftop bar of the Standard Hotel, an 18-storey tower arching over the High Line in the heart of Downtown Manhattan’s Meatpacking District are also worth a peek – if you can stretch to a slightly pricey liquid treat, there’s no better way to take in The Big Apple than in the chic surrounds of the Boom Boom Room.  But this is a city with far more to it than its 1,776 feet height.

Café-to-go

From East Village and West Village to Wall Street and Chelsea, New York is a hive of activity and character.  The cafe culture is a huge part of daily life, stretching well-beyond the 9-5.  My favourite daily hangout was the “The Bean” at 147, East Village, a large cafe full of charm and character (and delicious banana muffins to boot).  Typical of the New York coffee scene, it’s awash with locals on Apple Macs, giving off a collective energy which really stirs the creative juices.  Who knew sitting at a communal table could be such fun?  Very un-British.

East Village

While we’re on the subject of East Village, with bars, cafés  and restaurants aplenty, this is a great little spot for young-uns to stay.  Lying east of Greenwich Village, south of Gramercy Park and north of the Lower East Side, the area has become a center of the counter culture in New York and is known for its diverse community, vibrant nightlife and artistic sensibility.

Greenwich Village 

If you prefer the finer things in life, a stroll through the civilised Greenwich Village will give you a snapshot into the lives of Danielle Steele’s upper middle class ladies.  If you fancy a lazy afternoon in a café, you can while away the hours watching New York’s equivalents of Chelsea yummy mummies treating their well-turned out tots to tea and cake.

The Meatpacking District

For a lively gastronomical experience you won’t forget in a hurry, hop a little further north to The Chelsea Market in the Meatpacking District.  One of the greatest indoor food halls of the world, it has more than thirty-five vendors purveying everything from soup to nuts, wine to coffee, cheese to cheesecake.  It also boasts eclectic pop-up shops displaying all manner of delights from hand-made jewellery to beautiful cards and prints such those designed by Ashleigh Verrier.  Top that off with a visit to the world-class High Line (a stone’s throw away) and you have a perfect afternoon.  A one mile, haven-like park built on an elevated railway 30 feet above Manhattan’s West Side, it provides beautiful views over the Hudson River and beyond.

A top spot for dinner nearby is The Monarch Room, the American Restaurant-Diner also located in the Meatpacking District.  With an ambience and price tag typical of the area, it’s super trendy with a buzziness that’s hard to beat.  Fantastic cocktails and a diverse menu ranging from grilled octopus and duck breast to peanut butter wedge and chocolate cake make for a memorable feast.

Central Park & Midtown

Another must-see site is the famous Central Park, some 800 acres in size.  Just north of Midtown, it’s home to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, tennis courts and a sizeable lake.  You can even roam around it in a horse and carriage if you’re feeling lazy.  Shouting distance from Saks on Fifth Avenue, Barney’s on Madison Avenue and Broadway, a leisurely walk amongst the trees can be topped off with a bit of retail therapy and any number of Musicals from Pippin to Wicked.

Broadway

If you’re after some respite from New York’s mayhem, The Ace Hotel on Broadway is just the ticket.  Dimly-lit with with cosy armchairs and sofas, this chilled lounge-bar is a great example of New York being “a city of interiors”.  Step off the bustly streets into Ace and you’ll enter a snug brimming with New Yorkers, Brooklynites, international travellers and freelancers unwinding to the dulcet tones of stellar live music displays on Sunday evenings.

Wall Street & Brooklyn

I’d also recommend a trip to Wall Street.  Situated on the Southern tip of Manhattan, it buzzes with testosterone befitting a global financial centre and is a stone’s throw from the famous Brooklyn Bridge and its spectacular views of Manhattan (dinner at The River Café overlooking the East River is memorable).  The Financial District is also within spitting distance of the stunning new World Trade Center and The World Trade Center Memorial, a salutary reminder of times passed.

Guys ’n’ Dolls

A note of warning for single ladies out there looking for love.  If you’re visiting New York in the hope of “hooking-up” with a handsome American, best look elsewhere.  Described as “a candy store for men”, women vastly outnumber their male counterparts and are known to be every bit as determined and toned as professional predators.  This is a city of wash-board stomachs like no other.  The other tip for English tourists is to speak slowly and clearly, over-enuciating to the nth degree.  While most New Yorkers go bananas over “cute” English accents (cue: “I’m dreadfully sorry to bother you” – again), it takes, on average, about three attempts to be vaguely understood.  Most odd.

America v England

One of the other notable aspects of New York and an apt analogy for the difference between the English and American personality has to be the cars.  While London’s roads boast Mini Coopers, BMWs, Aston Martins and TVRs, New York is replete with black, oversized A-Team style vans, Mustangs and Cadillacs.  Such was the prevalence of colossal black vehicles parked astride 5* Hotels, I half expected Barack Obama to step out on state business.

But joking aside, New Yorkers can’t be faulted for their warmth, enthusiasm and lack of reserve.  This is a people who take pride in letting their military personnel board planes first and who fly the American flag with unapologetic patriotism – a refreshing contrast to London.  The  scale and compression of the high-rise buildings give off a vitality and animation so imposing it seems almost pop-up.  Like nothing I have ever experienced, with a noise and buzz of elephantine proportions, this really is “The Land of Hope and Dreams”.  If you feel a little flat, it will bring you alive; if you feel de-motivated, it will make you dream bigger.

It’s perhaps best summed up by John Steinbeck: “New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous. But there is one thing about it – once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.”

Details:

Cheap flights – Monarch

Accommodation – AirBnB has great value private rooms or whole apartments (worth it given hotel rates in NY)

Visual Snapshot of NY – www.humansofnewyork.com/

Map of Manhattan – see below