I write this now sat at my desk with a lovely dose of post-holiday flu and the need to jump on a plane and go back to New York City. New York was crazy, it really is the city that never sleeps, with it’s illuminating lights and whirring noises. This city is everything you’ll need and more – it has amazing history, beautiful architecture, interesting residents, lots to see and do and amazing shops.
I was in New York from the 1st September to 6th, flew from Heathrow Terminal 5 around 9.30am (UK time) and landed in JFK around 11.30am (east coast USA time). 5 hours difference doesn’t seem like a lot, until you basically go back in time and end up having a 19 hour day because of it. We were lucky enough to jump straight off the plane, into the customs and immigration queue and in a taxi all in about 25 minutes. One word of warning though.. the customs/immigration people are SCARY. I read that they grill you to and inch of your life because they are trying to catch people out who are trying to get in the country of illegal reasons.. however, it’s a bit overwhelming for normal people who aren’t used to such formal and slightly unnerving regulations. We were picked up just outside the terminal from the taxi rank, we had a very chatty driver from the Bronx who made us totally at ease and were dropped off right outside our hotel in Times Square – The Marriott Marquis Hotel. FYI, don’t let the taxis overcharge you, there should be a set fair of around $54 plus tip!
I’ve never been inside a three star hotel let alone a nearly five star one, the Marriott Marquis was absolutely beautiful with it’s marble floor lobby, glass elevators and views of Times Square. If you want to have a more Gossip Girl-esque trip I seriously suggest staying here, although it isn’t cheap, room service of a pizza and a coffee cost us over $30 (it was amazing pizza though)! Although the hotel has over 40 floors (the lobby is on floor 8 by the way), the lifts were so efficient and were super speedy, it actually gave me slight motion sickness as they were so fast. Staff are very helpful, they put up with all my dumb questions after all, the rooms were cleaned every day to a great standard and the drinks were amazing at the bar.
First stop was Times Square as the hotel was right in the middle of all the screens and lights, we didn’t plan this very well as it was Labour Day Weekend plus Brazil Day so Midtown was super busy. We (very slowly due to all the crowds) made our way to the Rockefeller Plaza which houses a bunch of fun shops plus the Rockefeller Center. Our first stop was the Nintendo Store which I was SUPER excited about, the store wasn’t as big as I thought but was spread out over two floors, with Mario and genera; Nintendo merchandise downstairs and Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda and other games upstairs. Upstairs was my favourite as stood right in the centre is my boy Link in all of his glory, with his master sword located in glass behind him – a slightly besotted photo shoot between me and him began then I made my way over to the left side of the store which is the Pokemon Center. The Pokemon Center was tiny compared to the stores in Japan but it was full of cute plushies and other Pokemon merchandise, I ended up picking up an Eeevee, Espeon and Umbreon, I would have bought a Slyveon too but they didn’t seem to put that one on show that day. After half an hour of gawking and fighting the Nintendo crowds we popped on over to the Rockefeller Center as we had tickets booked, by this point I was so tired and was not feeling shooting up 90 odd floors to oversee New York but I’m so glad I pushed through the sleepiness.
The Rockefeller Center was way more amazing than I thought it would be, same with the Empire State Building, I thought it would just be a giant lift and a view top roof, but it was so much more. There was a tonne of information about the planning and building of the Rockefeller, plus a photo op with the famous photo of the group of builders sitting on the steel block in midair. I was least looking forward to the lift, I hate heights and I get motion sickness but there was an animation displayed on the ceiling of the lift which you could watch as you go up the floors which distracted me so I wasn’t floor counting. The views on top of the Rockefeller was worth the sleep exhaustion though, it was absolutely beautiful up there. There is perfect views of Central Park, The Empire State Building and all the Boroughs. I was beyond tired after this, so we headed back to the hotel and got pizza room service and watched Gossip Girl.
The next day was our longest one yet, I ended up waking up at 4am (NY time, damn you jet lag!) so I had plenty of time to get ready, have Gluten Free banana pancakes in the hotel restaurant and slowly walk and explore our way to The Empire State Building. Similar to The Rockefeller Center, The Empire State Building had a lot of interesting things to read and do on the way to the lift. There was in depth detail about how the building was made, how long it took (only 13 months!) and pictures of celebrities who have visited the building – including The Simpsons and Berry the Strawberry from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. The King Kong exhibit was the best, there was a photo opportunity where you could take a picture with an interactive King Kong which looks like he’s smashed his hands through the building and peering in. Considering the observatory is over 100 floors up, the lift ride only took around 20 seconds with an interactive ceiling too. The views over New York were incredible up there, with clear views of Manhattan plus it’s surrounding Boroughs, it is also the best place to view the One World Trade Centre in all it’s tall glory. The weather took a turn for the worse so to avoid the rain we walked over to 34th St to do a touch of shopping, we checked out Macy’s which was HUGE, went to Target, Sephora and Uniqlo. Although cloudy the rain decided to hold off for a moment so we headed over to Grand Central Station as it was on my list of Gossip Girl locations to check out. I wish we spent more time there as it is one of the most beautiful train stations I’ve ever seen, it has gold and marble interior and a beautiful star constellation on the ceiling. I wanted to get food here but it was super busy due to it being Labour Day, so we popped over the road to Bravo Pizza which serves the tastiest, biggest, slices of pizza I have ever seen – I will forever crave those pizzas. I’m a huge fan of Halloween so we trecked over to Spirit Halloween which was on W 25th St and I bought way too much merchandise as I was so excited about the store. I’m from England, Halloween is pants over here, I wish we did it like America does. I finally managed to get my hands on the Lock, Shock and Barrel masks from The Nightmare Before Christmas too! Then began our epic voyage back to the hotel in the pouring rain, New York weather is just as un-predictable as English weather! We also did over 25,000 steps this day.
The next day was my favourite, the rain storm dispersed as quick as it came and we were left with brilliant weather. We started our day in Juniors in Times Square as they are famous for their breakfasts. It was delicious and the waiters were lovely, but it was far too much food and I felt very full for the rest of the morning. As the weather was so gorgeous we walked straight up 7th Ave to Central Park, which did not disappoint. A lot of Manhattan is grimmer then what it seems on TV but not Central Park, it was a literal breath of fresh air after being in busy Midtown for 3 days. We walked the whole way around the park starting with the east side, we saw the Bow Bridge which is featured in the film Uptown Girls, had pictures taken next to Bethesda Building and saw the beautiful Loeb Boathouse. As I’m a huge Gossip Girl fan we stepped out of Central Park to go see the MET (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) on the Upper East Side, I got my ‘sitting on the MET like Blair Waldorf’ picture and off we went back in to Central Park to walk around the Great Lawn and down to see Belvedere Castle. This is castle is a small gothic building built on the highest point of the park, it’s free to explore and has great views of the park and city landscape from the top. It’s also right next to the Turtle Pond which is literally the home of a dozen or so turtles basking in the New York sunshine. Our final stop was the Strawberry Fields John Lennon Memorial, it was pretty busy so we didn’t stay long, but we got to see the Imagine mosaic dedicated to him. Central Park was way bigger than I anticipated so we didn’t get to do everything but I’d love to go back one day in Spring or Autumn and explore more.
As the sun was shining we got a taxi over to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum as it is really open so you can see most of the exhibitions in the sunshine. The museum over looked The Hudson River and the New Jersey cityscape which looked so beautiful in the glistening sun. This museum holds the USS Intrepid – an aircraft carrier, USS Growler – a submarine and the Enterprise Space Shuttle, it’s not often you can say you’ve seen a space shuttle up close! Our final stop for the day was the Chelsea Market which is an indoor market in West of New York. Chelsea Market is a much cleaner, posher version of Camden Market, there is loads of fresh produce stores, book shops, many eateries and an Asian market inside where I found many anime items. For dinner in the evening we stopped at Bond 45 in Times Square, it is a beautiful Italian restaurant with a NFSW theme, you walk inside and the first thing you see is a bent over bum with the words ‘rub me for luck’ written on it. The food was amazing I had the homemade tordelli ravioli bolognese, a glass of Pinot and the best NY Cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. They also came around with free, straight out of the oven chocolate chip cookies! The only downside was that it was so expensive, I honestly nearly fell over when the bill came.
We got up early on the Thursday, popped over the road to McDonald’s to grab a Southern Fried Chicken McGriddle (honestly, these were my favourite food item from the whole trip!) and grabbed a taxi to the 9/11 Memorial. The taxi went all the way along the coast so we got to see both the Manhattan Bride and Brooklyn Bridge. The memorial was absolutely beautiful, the whole area was spotless and very serene. The North pool where the North Tower once stood was our first stop and was right in front of the Oculus Building, it was a very sombre moment reading the names of everyone on the plagues. I was unsure at first if I wanted to enter the actual 9/11 museum but I’m so glad I did, it was so very sad and I cried the the whole way round but it was good to remember the lives of those from the tragedy.
As it was a beautiful day we walked down to Battery Park and hopped on their Statue of Liberty cruise, we bought the tickets online for cheaper 5 minutes before boarding. We booked the express cruise which was 1 hour and 30 mins, the boat went all along the Hudson River stopping at Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty then went past Staten Island, Brooklyn, under the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. The boat stopped and turned around next to the Statue of Liberty so all sides of the boat could see the statue close up which I thought was really thoughtful of them, also there was a tour guide on board giving us loads of facts about New York – this boat ride was well worth the money and was one of my favourite things from this trip.
I was desperate to walk over Brooklyn Bridge and see a smidgen of Brooklyn so that’s what we did next. We walked the weird way round so it took a lot longer than expected but we saw some amazing art, graffiti and the memorial for the Firefighters Precinct that helped in the 9/11 attacks. Brooklyn Bridge was a lot shorter than I thought it would be, it only took around 15 – 20 mins to walk across but the sights were beautiful and it’s always nice to be next to (or on top!) of the ocean. I wanted to explore more of Brooklyn but unfortunately we only had time for DUMBO, Main Street Park and Empire Fulton Ferry Park, but these sites had amazing views of Manhattan and the bridges.
Friday was a chilled out shopping day as it was the day we were to leave, first stop was Image Anime as the store had amazing reviews online. Image Anime is located on 28 West 37th Street, it looks like a little shop from the outside but as you walk in it is full to the brim with all the anime merch you could ever need. I could have walked out with $1000 worth of stuff easily but as I was low on funds and suitcase space, I opted for a Nendroid of Atsuko Kagari from Little Witch Academia. Next stop was GameStop/ThinkGeek on Broadway where I picked up Spyro Reignited Trilogy and a Funko Pop Vinyl of the Witch from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
New York City has been on my bucket list for years, it was amazing to finally experience a part of America that has always fascinated me. What I go back? Hell yeah. Now I’ve done all the touristy things I would love to go back and explore the different parts of the city: venture down more into Brooklyn, see more of Queens, go to Staten Island and even explore more of Central Park. NYC was great but I’m glad to be home for now, although I’m already planning my next trip.. stay tuned.