Take bite of Big Apple

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 May, 1999, 12:00am

ANYONE who has ever watched television, seen a movie or tapped their foot to a pop-music rhythm - in other words, almost everyone - will feel a comfortable familiarity when visiting the United States.

Its cultural icons - from the Statue of Liberty to McDonald's, Disneyland and Madonna - are known to all.

A walk through the nation's cultural capital, New York, sometimes feels like a trawl through movie and pop history: John Lennon used to live on the upper west side; Paul Newman has his home on the other side of Central Park; Robert DeNiro owns a restaurant in lower Manhattan; Bruce Willis tore through the streets when filming the Die Hard movies.

New York, as the rest of the population will agree, is not the true America. To see the country the way most Americans do - from the highway - one must hire a car, taking advantage of cheap car-hire rates and low petrol prices.

Realistically, only one section of the United States can be covered on an annual vacation. Florida, with its theme parks and beaches, makes ideal touring territory, as does New England, particularly in autumn, when the landscape is a riot of gold and red.