The jet lag is hitting hard, but it is totally worth it after spending eight AMAZING days in NYC! I feel I have barely scratched the surface as there is so much to see, things to do, places to visit, restaurants to eat and bars to drink at!
Earlier in the year I bought me and my fiancé (partially his birthday present) flight tickets to fly over to New York since he hadn’t been to America before. I kept a journal of out trip and this is what we got up to….
We flew directly to JFK from Manchester with Thomas Cook in the early morning, and with the flight being just under seven hours I thought it was enough time to have a quick nap and to watch one of the movies on the on-flight entertainment. After a smooth landing, the sun was shining as we stepped off the plane with big smiles on our faces…. Goood mooorrrning America!
Our smiles quickly faded when we saw how long the queue was for the Passport Control area, but it was moving steadily so we got through in a short time. After collecting our luggage we were faced with an even bigger queue for a Yellow Cab, and we were told it would be around an hour’s wait until it was our turn. There were lots of signs everywhere warning people about so-called taxi drivers soliciting transport. For example, a person holding up a mobile phone that says Uber (but these are fake) on it, coming up to you offering rides. These are to be completely avoided as they can quote you ridiculous prices like, $100 plus tips and toll charges on top! I’ve heard they don’t even have meters in the cars, nor display a drivers ID to show they are a legit taxi driver. A flat rate for a Yellow Cab from the airport to your hotel is around $52 plus tips, me and Danny agreed this would be the safest and most comfortable way to get to our hotel.
After an hours ride, we got to Trump Soho which was luxurious and very beautiful inside the lobby. Our room was very clean and swanky, it was on the 32nd floor which had an incredible view overlooking NYC, I felt very lucky to wake up each morning to this! The service was great and the staff were very helpful. The best thing was the location , it perfect for touring the City, the subway was only a 5-minute walk away. The only minor thing is the WiFi which you had to pay for. We didn’t pay for it, and I say minor because “unplugging” from the social world was like a mini social detox for me. I admit I felt liberated as it meant I could totally focus all my attention on exploring NYC and (and my fiancé of course).
By the time we got to the hotel we only had a couple of hours until we had to get to Madison Square for the Shawn Mendes’ Illuminate concert. We took a Yellow Cab to Madison Square Gardens so that we could get there quickly to grab a bite-to-eat. Pennsy which was next door was perfect as I had a delicious sushi-burrito that compensated for the terrible plane food earlier on! The concert was awesome and Shawn sang brilliantly, the atmosphere was amazing and I saw thousands of girls crying and screaming “I love you” to Shawn continuously. We made our way back to the hotel after the concert as we started to feel tired. Apart from my ringing-ears from all the screaming fans, I slept like a baby and dreamt about exploring more of New York City the next day.
Thanks to the time difference, I woke up around 4am. I thought I would use this time to slowly get ready for breakfast and watch the sunrise. After we fueled up ready to start our day, we took the subway to head Uptown towards 5th Avenue, a shoppers paradise selling everything from Gucci to Michael Kors and of course, Ralph Lauren. It’s exactly what you see on the TV, all the hustle and bustle. It’s all very exciting to visit and to experience! The only store we went into was the Tiffany & Co flagship store, located on the corner as one of New York’s most famous film locations.We looked at all the different collections and wished I had all the money in the world to buy it all….! If you are from the UK and like their jewellery I’d suggest to buy it there as the exchange rate is slightly better.
From this day this on, this was also where my Sephora-addiction began, along with pizza (and I don’t even eat pizza in general!). I think I bored Danny to death as I was literally in beauty and makeup heaven whilst in Sephora and there was no concept of time in there for me. I’d totally recommend going there if you want to stock up on your favourite brands or buy limited edition sets as you won’t be able to find them anywhere else in under one roof!
By the time we finished 5th Avenue we were getting tired, we must have walked about 10 miles that day and my feet were killing! I just kept thinking about the foot-masks I bought before and which one to use that night.We walked through Nolita and Chinatown which is near Soho and our hotel. We wanted to check out the area to see if there was anything we could come back to in a few days when we had more time, and I came across this graffiti art piece which I fell in love with. If you are into graffiti-art then New York is the place for you, as we stumbled across so many and for me, I just don’t see pieces like these on the streets on Manchester.
In the early morning we went to Battery Park to catch the ferry to go to Liberty Island. We had to queue up for a short while and go through the security, airport-style, before boarding, the ferry crammed with visitors and I was actually starting to get motion-sickness (!) Once we landed, we had a stroll around the island admiring the view before heading towards the pedestal on which the statue stands on. She really is spectacular to look at and although we didn’t get to go up to the Crown (tickets all sold out on that day), the view from the pedestal was just as magnificent, it just felt so peaceful and relaxing. I didn’t know our ticket included the ferry to Ellis Island and I confess that I didn’t know what it was about, and it turned out to be one of my favourite highlights. For those of you who don’t know, Ellis island is where you can learn all about the immigrant experience. When we arrived onto the island we came across a free tour due provided by one of the Rangers – Peter Urban, who worked there. The way he explained the history of it all was brilliant and you can’t help but be impressed by it all. If you wanted to, at a small cost (I think it was around $7) you can research their multimedia archives to trace your family name.
After spending half the day on the two islands, we headed back to Battery Park. The park is busy but it felt nice walking through it, we also got great views of the harbour.
By evening time we got quite hungry from all the walking and admiring the views, so we briefly went through Wall St towards Chinatown where we grabbed a bite to eat. I don’t know the name of where we ate as we managed to find a “cha-chaan-teng” which literally means a “tea restaurant”. These are really common in Hong Kong and once we sat inside we felt really at home. They don’t look very fancy inside as the interiors are usually simple and plain, similar to an old soup-kitchen. They serve purely Chinese food catered for the Chinese community and the prices are really cheap and you get value for your money. After we stuffed ourselves with lots of noodles and veg, we waddled back towards Soho to our hotel, and en route we stumbled across a really cool bookshop called McNally Jackson Books. The ground floor had a cosy cafe and surrounding it displayed books from ALL around the world, I must have spent about an hour just looking around at what there was and seeing all the different books that had been translated into English version. We went downstairs there was even more books and saw a dozen people in a corner which felt like some kind of book club – there was a real nice sense of a community feeling, to which I wished I was a part of.
We decided to purchase the Hop-On-Hop-Off Big Bus tours, that’s valid for 24 hours only, as we thought it would be a good idea to use it not only for sight-seeing, but to get a view above ground level, as well as getting around to places that we booked tickets for.
We started off catching the bus from Soho and we toured all around Downtown/Midtown which included, the Financial District, the Battery Park, Whitney Museum of American Art, Chelsea, before getting off at Times Square for some food. We found a hidden gem amongst the crowded streets called City Kitchen and inside is a contemporary food court offering ramen noodles, sushi and these giant donuts. Because we wanted something light, we shared some noodles and sushi hand-rolls so that we had enough room for a huge glazed chocolate and salted caramel doughnut from Dough. I love ring doughnuts as an occasional treat, and they do the most delicious doughnuts in so many different flavours (our meal wasn’t so “light” after all)!
It was time to see a Broadway musical – Aladdin, at the New Amsterdam Theater. Danny booked the tickets about a month before as a surprise as he knows how much I love watching them. It was gorgeously produced from start to finish and I loved all the bright costume, it really is a must-see for all Disney and musical fans!
We had until the afternoon when our Hoho-bus tickets expired, so we used it to finish off the Downtown area. We got off at Battery Park to explore more of the Financial District and walked to Wall Street where we saw suited and booted business people coming in and out of the buildings.We saw the Charging Bull, if you are a Hitch fan like me then you’ll recognise this from the movie!
Nearby the Financial District is the World Trade Centre 9/11 Memorial, an amazing tribute to the memory of all who lost their lives and who survived and helped at the time of that terrible day. We saw the Freedom Tower but didn’t go up, I’ve heard it gives you a panoramic view of the city as well as information about the 9/11 attack. We also saw the World Trade Centre Transportation Hub which is a big white spiky structure. Our tour guide informed us the design is suppose to represent a phoenix rising from the ashes.I really, really wished we had more time that day to go into the Museum as I have heard it is brings to life the events of 9/11 in 2001 in a personal way. If I ever go back I will definitely be visiting this for sure. Overall, it is a must-see for anyone who is going to New York.
On the final part of our Big Bus Tour we wanted to see more of Uptown area. I think you need at least another week in New York just so you get more time to explore this area as there is just as much to see! We got to see the more residential part of the City and got to hear about all the rich and famous that live there and how much the properties are worth, a real-eye opener and definitely worth visiting! We also saw the American Museum of Natural History – made more famous by the movie Night at the Museum, travelled through Harlem, saw the Guggenheim Museum and Frick Museum which both show different kinds of art. With me, every time we go into a museum I can be in there for hours and I just felt so sad we didn’t have time to go and see all of these.
Afterwards, we walked to the Empire State Building as we had Express tickets to jump the queue. When we got inside it is simply beautiful with 1930s art decor. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking and by the time we got to the top, the sun was setting. The picture at the start of my blog is one of the pictures I took, it felt so peaceful and you can see how densely populated New York is as you look out.
We had to get up super early to meet our tour group in Times Square, as this was our day trip to Washington DC. We passed through Delaware and visited the Arlington National Cemetery and saw JFK’s grave site and other hotspots. Our other visits included the White House where we got picture from the outside; the Lincoln Memorial was impressive and is close to the Washington Monument, across the Reflection Pool. Inside the building is a statue of Abraham Lincoln with an engraving on the wall, it was a spectacular view; and the Korean Memorial was one of my favourite war memorials. I like how there are real statues of soldiers in the middle of the park and as you move by it looks as though they are looking right at you! The etched wall is life like, quite haunting but it’s a reflective and a peaceful place. A great tribute to those that died at the war. The tour guide was great as he told us facts that we wouldn’t have known if we hadn’t taken this tour. The only downside was that I really wanted more time at the National Air and Space Museum and at the National Art Gallery as it as overwhelming with all the information and things to see. By the time we got back to New York City in the evening, we were exhausted but really enjoyed our day out.
We wanted to spend some time in Brooklyn so we took the subway and headed to Williamsburg. It’s a really cool place that has an arty vibe, lots of traditional shops and great cafes. It was nice to feel like you were still in the City but without all the chaos. We walked around admiring the scenery and came across a ferry that took us to Dumbo. This was also one of my favourite areas as you can view the City before walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. There are so many cafes, restaurants and little shops all connected by cobblestone streets! I’d definitely come here again as it’s a must-see. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge back to the City in the Financial District where we kept stopping to take lots of pictures of the amazing view. Once we got to the other side we headed back to Soho but wanted to walk through Little Italy to visit the Feast of San Gennaro. This is an annual festival that includes Italian food and live music,we tried some seafood, pizza and took home (I started calling our hotel “home” from day one!) some spinach pie. En route back we stumbled across a Broadway Market Co which have lots of pop-up stalls inside selling vintage, jewellery and clothing, and New York designer pieces. I love these kind of places because I think you can always find some unique souvenir gifts rather than going to the actual souvenir gift shops in the City.
Danny is a huge sports fan and had booked football, “soccer” in American terms, tickets to see NYCFC (New York City Football Club) vs FC Dallas. It was a great sporting event that was held at the Yankees Stadium, well known for holding Baseball games. We took the subway up towards the Bronx and as soon as we came out of the station, the atmosphere was amazing and you do get a great vibe and excitement from all the soccer/football fans around you.
The first thing we saw before we went into the stadium the official NYCFC marching band which played awesome modern day tunes with the drums and trumpets, which really got the fans going! When the game finished and everyone was all leaving for the subway, we heard an announcement about some lines being closed off due to a police investigation. It wasn’t until we got back to our hotel and put the news on that there had been a terrible explosion in the Chelsea area which wasn’t far from where we were staying. Luckily, we were not nearby and managed to get to our hotel by using a different subway line.
This was our last day and I woke up feeling really sad as I didn’t want to leave. We spent most of the morning trying to get Wifi! For some reason, my phone just would not connect and when we eventually got it, all the messages flooded through asking if we were ok after the Chelsea explosion. After reassuring everyone we made the most of the afternoon by doing last minute shopping in Soho. We came across Eileen’s Special Cheesecakes that do delicious gourmet cheesecakes that are small and round as well as larger versions. Very good for cheesecake lovers! I had my last shopping haul at Sephora and Victoria’s Secret before heading back to collect our luggage and going to the airport.
Overall, you can see just how much there is to do and eight days wasn’t enough, we still had a list of other things to do.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and after telling you what we did it makes me miss New York even more, it is just an amazing place that you simply have to visit! I’d love to hear about your NYC trip and what your highlight of it was, and any recommendations welcome.
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Love Heather x