September celebrates 20 years of hit TV show Friends.
Polly Weeks visits the Big Apple to seek out the haunts where Ross, Rachel and the gang hung out
As water spouts from New York's Pulitzer fountain, I tot up the number of hours I've spent staring at this iconic sight. Yes, this fountain is the fountain. It's the one from the opening credits of all 236 episodes of Friends.
It's hard to believe that this September will mark the 20th anniversary since Joey, Chandler, Ross, Phoebe, Monica and Rachel first appeared on our screens, sparking a successful 10-year run. Sadly, there are no planned reunions on the horizon, but it's still possible to visit several of the locations popularised by the show. Although filmed in LA, the cult comedy was set in New York, and so I set off to the Big Apple to catch up with old Friends...
THE ONE WHERE THEY VISITED THE LOCATIONS
Actually, scrap that about the fountain - it isn't really in the series at all! Realising the real Pulitzer fountain would dwarf the show's stars, producers opted to build a much smaller replica.
This is one of the many nuggets of information I glean from an On Location Tour of New York, which features a very popular Friends section.
We also stop at the corner of Bedford and Grove Street in Greenwich, outside a very recognisable apartment building. It's far smaller than I expect, but our guide explains that the film crew used clever camera angles to make it look more like one of Manhattan's famous skyscrapers.
THE ONE WHERE THEY EARNED A LIVING
Rachel's office, well Bloomingdale's, where she was an assistant buyer, seems a good place to start. The massive department store attracts a steady stream of tourists and local fashionistas, many leaving with their iconic 'little brown bags'.
As I'm by Fifth Avenue, I head north to Museum Mile, frequented by another dependable employee, Ross Geller. In the earlier series, his love of dinosaurs landed him a job as a palaeontologist at the New York Museum of Natural History.
The other big attraction here is the planetarium. Remember the episode when Ross and Rachel got 'a little physical' beneath a simulated solar system display?
THE ONE WHERE THEY ATE OUT
Forget sophisticated eateries - I want something akin to the Moondance Diner, where Monica had to skate around the restaurant and dance on tables when tunes came on the jukebox. Right by Times Square is Ellen's Stardust Diner, which bears a striking resemblance. Here, staff take turns singing songs to amused guests who regularly pack out the place.
THE ONE WHERE THEY SAW THE SIGHTS
After spending the day sightseeing with Monica and birth mother of their adopted twins, Erica, Chandler bursts through the front door wearing a Statue of Liberty hat and declares: "New York is awesome."
I make my way to Liberty Island to see why he was so amazed. Close up, Lady Liberty is absolutely gigantic - 305ft to be exact - and although it's possible to climb her, you'll need to join a queue. Most people are happy just to walk around the base, admiring the green (caused by the copper exterior having weathered) statue.
Visit the gift shop and for a couple of dollars, you can pick up one of the sponge hats Chandler wore.
THE ONE WHERE THEY HUNG OUT
I'm disappointed to discover there's no real Central Perk in Manhattan, although I'm told a few do exist in Dubai.
Polly Weeks was a guest of Apple Core Hotels (www.applecorehotels.com) who offer doubles at The Hotel @ Times Square from £150 per night per room plus taxes (two sharing) with complimentary breakfast, free WiFi and free phone calls within the US.
Flights operate daily from Glasgow to New York, prices start from £670 return.