I think it must be on everyone’s bucket
list to visit the city that never sleeps and at the end of last year, one of my
best friends Emily and I took our first trip to the big apple to celebrate our
birthdays. It’s a cliché but I definitely fell in love with the city, and
during our 5 days there we packed loads in including the really typical
touristy stuff that you have to do on your first trip to NYC and some more
local New Yorker style chilling!
Since we were there for 5 days, I thought it
would make sense to split our trip into 5 parts, the first installment will
take us up to day three so you might want to grab a cup of tea because this is
going to be a long one!
Day 1 – Settling in as a New Yorker
Naturally our first day was spent mostly on
the British Airways flight from Heathrow actually getting there and we landed
at JFK at around 2pm New York time. We booked the flights on the BA website and
managed to get a really good deal at just under £400 return including taxes. I
think the key with getting cheap flights is to keep an eye out for sales and
price it up on a few different websites such as Cheap Flights and
Skyscanner. If you can be flexible on dates then that will help too! Once we
had got through customs, we hailed our first ever yellow cab and headed to the
hotel. We choose to stay in The Wyndham New Yorker and this again was
approximately £400 for the 5 nights, which is an insanely cheap price for New
York accommodation! We booked it through
booking.com and that price also included an upgrade to a queen size bed each,
which is so worth doing as it meant we got some additional space with the majority
of New York hotels having only teeny tiny rooms. The hotel is also in a great
location, roughly a 5 minute walk away from Times Square, and right outside
Madison Square Gardens.
Once we had unpacked and settled in we
headed down to Times Square to grab some dinner and take a few selfies. This
was our first taste of the New York buzz and I loved it. Everywhere you looked
there were bright lights and big dreams – it’s weird because it is literally
just like the movies! With wide eyes and some giddy excitement we headed into
the world famous Bubba Gump restaurant to get our hands on some American sized
portions for dinner. We had a great
table right by the window looking out on time square so we spent a couple of
hours stuffing our face and people watching at all the tourists and locals
milling by. Then it was time to head
back to the hotel and chill out ready for the next few days of our big city
Day 2 – Exploring the history of NYC
A touch of jet leg meant we were up
seriously early on our second day so we grabbed a Starbucks to go, attempted to
navigate the subway and headed off on a Leo Dicaprio style commute to Wall
Street for Breakfast. After paying a quick visit to the stock exchange and the
raging bull which was surrounded by snap happy chinese tourists we headed off
to George’s, where Trip Advisor assured us we could get the best pancakes in
the financial district – boy were they
right! Em went for chocolate chip and I opted for blueberry but we had the
genius idea of swapping some toppings so we had a mix of both – genius! Washed
down with a second cup of caaafffffeeee (new york accent) we were now well and
truly set up for the day.
Next we paid a visit to the 9/11 memorial
and the recently opened commemorative museum. 9/11 is something that has always
felt particularly poignant to me, as I’m sure it has to many people, as I have
such a clear memory of sitting and watching the live images when I was really
young with my dad and brother just feeling so shocked and sickened at what was
happening. Visiting the memorial was a
really sobering and incredible experience and is definitely something I think
you should try and do if you visit New York.
The museum was also incredibly touching and so tastefully constructed.
9/11, as horrific as it was, is now an integral part of the history of New York
and the museum in a very refined and beautiful way honours the events and
victims of that day.
From there it was time for us to grab a gigantic slice of pizza to go and take a trip
over to Staten Island to see the leading lady herself, the statue of liberty!
We decided that we weren’t too fussed about going up into the crown and instead
just wanted to see her from the water. You can get over to the island using the
free Staten island ferry, but after a combination of being a bit short of time
and getting reeled in by the tourist scouts that stand outside we ended up
paying for the tourist hour long cruise that circles Staten and Ellis island
and then returns to the pier. Although we definitely paid over the odds
(considering the other ferry was free!) it actually worked out pretty perfectly
as our very very windy hour long tour corresponded with the sun setting so we
managed to get some insane views of new york from the water and the statue of
liberty with the sunset in the background.
Our last stop for the day was an evening
stroll over the Brooklyn bridge, which again offered breathtaking views of the
bright lights of Manhattan and a few close shaves when we wandered into the
cycle lane – New York cyclists take no prisoners!
To finish off our first full day we spent
the evening at a small comedy club called Stand UP NY, which turned out to be a charity night where
everybody knew each other apart from us and a group of three Albanian
travellers – luckily they got picked on a bit more than we did! It was really nice
to end the day doing something a bit less touristy – just having a few drinks in
a laid back new york bar and by the end of the night I definitely felt I got a
taste of the American Humour – I think I’m more of a British sarcasm kind of
Day 3 – Living in an Empire State of Mind
Our third day in the big city started with
a trip to the top of arguably the most iconic building in NYC, the empire state
building. Although we had all the best intentions of being at the front of the
que for when it opened, two nights of not much sleep and early starts meant
that we actually didn’t make it there until about 10.30am. We treated ourselves
to yet another Starbucks expecting to be waiting in a whacking great big que
but weirdly we walked straight through! In fact one thing that really
pleasantly surprised me about New York, was how quickly we could get into the
main attractions – not once did we have to wait for longer than 30 minutes
which I thought was brilliant in one of the world’s busiest and biggest cities.
When we reached the top, the views were
genuinely breathtaking. There is something about looking down on a city from
above and imagining all the different situations and stories that are happening
below you right that second. It was a beautiful clear day and we could see for
miles and even though we were freezing our frickin butts off it was so worth
Next on the agenda was a part of the trip
that Em had organized, the On Location TV and Movie Tour. We booked this
reaaaally to see all the famous Gossip Girl and Friends spots (obv) but also it
was a really good way of getting a tour of the city with a bit of an added
twist. The route, which took 3 hours and included 5 stops, took us all over the
city visiting the famous friends building, the McGee’s pub fro How I Met Your
Mother and the homes of famous celebs like Jay Z and Beyonce.
After a quick pit stop at the hotel we
spent the evening on Broadway visiting the famous Ellen’s Stardust Diner and
going to see Emma Stone perform in Cabaret. If you haven’t heard of it, Ellen’s
is a diner where all the waiters and waitresses have a dream to make it on
Broadway and whilst serving you your food, they all take it in turns to sing
their favourite songs from the stage. Although this might not be to everyone’s
taste, I bloody LOVED it. We had heard the food wasn’t amazing so we just went
for dessert but in reality it is the experience that you go for, rather than
the food, and I would 100% recommend taking a trip there just for that – there
rendition of Les Mis was so good!
We topped off an amazing day by seeing the
(seriously!) drop dead gorgeous Emma Stone perform as Sally Bowles in Cabaret.
I have heard that her interpretation of the character was very different than
the norm but since this was my first experience of the show I couldn’t really
compare. But as a performance in its own right I loved it – passionate and
believable she was stunning. Getting lost in the bright lights of Broadway was
the perfect way to finish off the day!
Check back over the next few days where the
next installment of our trip includes hot dogs at The Knicks, some serious Fifth
Avenue shopping and a trip to Harlem to listen to a gospel choir.
I now have serious NYC blues – is it time
for me to go back yet?