The city that truly never sleeps

So after 6 incredible days in the Big Apple, I am now writing this post from my comfortable desk chair in Pennsylvania, already missing New York! I feel like my time in New York wasn’t enough – it’s such a huge city with so many interesting boroughs to discover and there’s still so much I have left to do and explore – I’d definitely go back. My overall opinion of New York was that it was an incredible city with such life and passion – we spent nearly all of our time in Manhattan and there was so much to do – we didn’t stop and I wish we had still somehow done more – though I honestly don’t think we could have fit it in! NYC TRULY never sleeps – everything is open 24/7, the roads and pavements are never empty (you actually can’t see the floor), there’s always hundreds of people in any one place – it could be compared to a form of beautiful chaos! If you have anxiety, best to avoid this city. People think New Yorker’s are rude but it could be argued that they’re just busy – there was such a diverse range of people – business men and women, people on vacation, teenagers and kids, you definitely can’t lump them into one category. I think living in NYC would be a very interesting experience and sometimes quite scary. I’ll give you some info about what we did each day – I think whatever I say will not convey the amazingness of the time I had there so you’ll just have to use your imagination for that.

Sun – we arrived on the 6th September and as soon as we got to JFK airport, we saw police officers walking around with guns – immediate difference between the UK and US, but weirdly, seeing that made me feel safe. All the police officers I’ve come into contact with have been absolutely lovely and seem to take their job very seriously – cops have such a bad rep in the US but even in educational institutions, they seem to do their best to keep everyone as safe as possible. So anyway, we got a shuttle from the airport to our hotel from a very angry but funny shuttle driver – everyone in NYC just beeps their car horn for no reason, just to show their anger at the traffic they’re sitting in (its crazy). Our hotel was just down the block from Times Square so we hit that up first and it was everything you’d expect it to be – crazy, beautiful and an actual form of madness. It was so bright, colourful and vibrant – there were so many people – it took ages to navigate yourself around. I was so impressed with all the LED displays, all the shops, all the people – definitely one of my favourite places in New York. Especially at night, when all the lights are on and night sky contrasts the colours, it’s such a beautiful view – I would definitely recommend everybody see this place! Obviously we checked out Hershey’s world (my new favourite store – so much beauty in one place – I couldn’t control myself), m&m world (same goes for this – the store in London has nothing on the NYC store – so big and so much crazy merch – I literally fell in love), planet hollywood & so much more! I learned that on the streets of NYC, everyone is trying to sell you something or get something from you so avoid all eye contact and do not stop to talk to anyone – it sounds antisocial but if you’ve got places to go, it’s just inconvenient. When you give people a firm ‘no’ though, they’re pretty polite and wish you the best with your day. We then progressed to the Rockerfeller Centre aka ‘top of the rock’ – this was straight up one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen – you can see all of NYC from the top of this, it was crazy. At night with all the lights in NY, you will not regret seeing this – being so high off the ground is kinda scary but we actually spent hours here just looking out at the skyline – I felt really lucky to see this. Radio City Music Hall was right next to the Rockerfeller centre and this was such a cool building too – NBC studios were nearby and there was crazy advertisements for upcoming shows and talk show hosts, it was all very Americanized. On this first day I also tried a soft pretzel (it was bigger than my head and so worth the $5, so salty and delicious, new favourite food for definite) and a slice of NY pizza – my friend suggested that NY had the best pizza and I have to say, she wasn’t lying. The food portions in NY are abominable but I love it! I couldn’t find a cronut (a combo of a croissant and doughnut) which I was really gutted about cause they look delicious and are a delicacy of NY. In the evening we went to the beautiful Bryant park – another of my favourite places in NY – so pretty at night time with all the twinkling lights in the trees and the cute little cafes – very romantic place and such a nice place to just sit and think, or even people-watch.

Mon – this is when we went on a boat ride along the Hudson River, it was so cool being able to see a bit of New Jersey too! The boat was a hop on/hop off water taxi so you could stop at any of the places the boat docked at if you wanted to, which we did. Also, the Hudson River is incredibly beautiful – it’s the river that separates New York from New Jersey; fun fact. We saw Tribeca, a bit of the High Line, went to Battery Park and couldn’t believe how squirrels and seagulls were so used to human interaction – they were coming very close to all the people and eating food from them – in England, squirrels always run away from people (or so they do in my experience) – we spent a lot of time feeding them haha – it was  a very beautiful park. We saw the Charging Bull following on from this and checked out the American Indian Museum too. Then we saw Wall Street, which, I’ll be honest, I expected more from. I expected a range of financial and business looking buildings but was quite disappointed when I found one stock exchange building – the surrounding buildings were still beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it definitely was not what I expected. We went on labour day so there weren’t actually many people working this day, the area was full of tourists, but it was definitely interesting to see. Then we got back on the boat and saw the Manhattan Skyline (exactly as the pictures depict it, even more beautiful in person though – I had found that what I saw in NYC couldn’t be captured on camera – the camera didn’t even nearly capture what I was really seeing, you had to be there in person), as well as Brooklyn Bridge (it’s huge – I’ve seen this a few times and again, it’s very very beautiful at night when it’s all lit up – a must see!), Manhattan Bridge & Williamsburg Bridge (which are the two bridges following behind the Brooklyn bridge – again, a very cool thing to be able to see). We then headed to the World Trade Centre aka Ground Zero. There was a 9/11 memorial and museum and it was really emotional being there and seeing the beautiful waterfall that had been built in memory of the victims of this day – everyone showed such respect and I felt grateful to be able to see the area. The memorial was absolutely beautiful – everyone who had unfortunately died that day had their names written on a plaque around the waterfall. This is something else I’d definitely recommend you visit – very eye-opening. There were 2 memorials (where the twin towers used to stand) and ‘freedom tower’ has now been built, which I think was a great idea to do – no longer building skyscrapers would be similar to negotiating with terrorists so it’s a great act of defiance to have done that, I think. Then we saw the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island – it’s exactly what you expect, but smaller! It was huge, don’t get me wrong, but when NY is full of skyscrapers, it doesn’t look so big! She was very beautiful and the island she stands on seemed very cool – definitely a must see in New York – especially at night – like damn, everything in NY at night is just intensified – it’s incredible in the day but at night time, it’s somehow more beautiful! We were able to see Ellis Island from the boat but required a different boat to get there. We had a look at Madison Square Garden (it was huge) and generally checked out shops and the general surrounding area – there’s too much to note, we saw too much to mention – it was a crazy time. We were feeling pretty brave so we headed out at night time and saw the News Building (featured in Superman, my uncles obsessed) which was pretty cool, the Chrysler Building (which I would love to go to the top of – it’s beautiful), Madison Avenue (which is full of incredible shops and department stores like Macy’s – which is so expensive but so worth it), Fifth Avenue (which is full of smaller but still very expensive stores like Dior, DKNY, Kurt Geiger, Saks and a range of other places that I’m too poor to even pronounce) and we also got a night line boat taxi which took us round all of New York at night – it was very beautiful and very cheesy – the commentator on the boat kept playing emotional songs relevant to what he was saying about the city haah. And another of my favourites, we also went to the top of the Empire State Building – as good a view as the Rockerfeller centre in my opinion! You can go to the Empire State until 2am and it was really dark when we went, probably around 1am – it was breathtaking. It took us a while to find it with so many skyscrapers in the city and us not having a map. The kind of thing that you wish your loved ones were there with you to witness – it totally brought a new meaning to the song ‘Empire state of mind’ :’) We were so tired when we were there but it was definitely worth it.

Tues – we checked out Central Park and you can spend an entire day here because of how big it is – it has so much to do like it’s very own zoo or a taking a carriage ride around the entire of it – the perfect place to have a picnic! Unfortunately we went on one of the hottest days of the year and there was a lot of hills and a lot of walking and I sweat a lot. I loved all the nature and the beauty of it – you can’t fathom how big the park is unless you go see for yourself. I think its about 7 miles long – how crazy is that. We saw the Boathouse (featured in 27 dresses). Definitely one of the best parks I’ve been to – NY truly has it all. We saw Belvedere Castle within the park which was very beautiful, Strawberry Fields (which I loved) and is actually the place where John Lennon was shot – this acted as a memorial for him and was actually a lovely place to be – there was art all over the floor and people singing his songs – very cool. From nearby you could also see the Dakota Buildings (where John Lennon lived). The Plaza Hotel (yes the one from Home Alone) was right across the street from Central Park and we spent ages in there – we actually had lunch in there and I had the most beautiful quiche – it was rather expensive but it was good for movie fans. Such a grand and beautiful place – the film does it justice though! Central park was pretty far away from our hotel and because we spent such a long time there, there wasn’t much else we could do this day! We checked out some more the expensive large chain shops like Barney’s (Rachel from Friends yo), Tiffany& Co etc. On the way back though something really cool happened – an excited guy came up to us and was like ‘OMG THE ELLEN SHOW IS BEING FILMED RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET’ and obviously, everybody loves Ellen so we went over and MACKLEMORE WAS PERFORMING! I love Macklemore, how random is that?! So we got to see a bit of Macklemore’s set and it was free entry (it was outdoors) and it was just such a NY moment – very spontaneous and very crazy. Definitely such a cool night!

Wed – so here we took an open top bus tour (like major tourists) and it was actually really fun! Until it starting raining and we were outdoors… on top of a bus… wearing shorts and tshirts haha. But even then, it was still kinda fun, despite being entirely soaked through. We got to see some cool places like the United Nations Headquarters, City Hall, Chinatown, The Lower East Side and a bunch of stuff we’d seen while walking around – it was fun. Then we went to a typical American diner – the whole tipping system here takes some time to get used to – you literally have to tip everyone. But I don’t mind tipping if that’s how people make a living over here – in American restaurants, the food you order arrives soon after you order it – as someone who is very impatient when it comes to food, I love that. Then we had to rush home and get dressed into some nicer clothes as we were off to the Majestic Theatre (Broadway) to see the Phantom of the Opera – we saw this at the Birmingham Hippodrome and I was actually shocked to say that the Broadway performance was comparable to that of the performance in Birmingham. They were both excellent performances but I expected a bit more from Broadway – I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting or how I thought they’d improve on the one I saw previously, but I just thought it was really good but not amazing. I think perhaps my expectations were too high – but still, I would recommend, everyone should see a Broadway show at least once. After that, Ripley’s Believe it or not was still open, so we thought why not – it was such a fun time and a good experience! The stuff that you can do and see in Ripley’s is phenomenal – I was quite amazed actually. It was full of stuff that was genuinely hard to believe (hence the name of the place) and stuff that was just really fun to mess about with – we got some pretty funny photos using all the equipment in there. It was quite late at night too so we had the place to ourselves, which I thoroughly enjoyed haha. All I can say about this is that if you wanna have a good time, find a Ripley’s and go in with your friends – my mum screamed a few times because she got scared hah. Definitely made some good memories here!

Thurs – this day we went to NY public library – it looked like a museum rather than a library. The interior and exterior design of the library was second to none – so vast with such an abundance to do. This was the library featured in the film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ (were all nerds) and it wasn’t just books in there but photography, cafe’s, sculptures, pieces of artwork – I could have spent ages there. Very beautiful place – if my library back home looked like that I’d probably read more. Then we checked out Grand Central Station – it’s huge – another place featured in many many films. I had a cheesecake from here and it was simply one of the best cheesecake’s I’ve ever had haha – I know that’s a pretty random way to judge a train station, but cheesecake is always important. Then we walked to the Museum of Natural History (Yes, Night at the Museum was shot here) and it was such an amazing museum – everything looked so real, I could actually imagine things coming to life at night! It was astounding, I see why they picked this museum for that film – I got a bit creeped out at one point just because of how realistic it was – if you can go here, go! Then we went to an Ice Bar which is, as you’d expect, a bar made entirely of ice – it was quite expensive and each drink was $15 – we got given these big winter jackets to keep us warm and I was relatively warm whilst inside, despite wearing just a summer dress. Being in a bar entirely made of ice was quite an experience, I really enjoyed it, the music was on point too. This is the kind of thing I’d like to do for my birthday with some friends – it’d be such an interesting pre-drinks haha.

Fri – today we thought we’d add some culture to the trip and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka the MET) and this was straight up one of the most beautiful museums I’ve ever seen – it was huge. There were so many different eras and a range of different artwork you could get lost in – I felt so cultured just being there. Before this we went to the Guggenheim museum, which I had been incredibly excited about all week as my boyfriend had highly recommended it – the building itself was really interesting, such an unusual shape. The art inside was very modern and very select – there wasn’t an abundance of art but a select amount of pieces, which I liked, it seemed to be the best of the best. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside which seemed understandable. I really enjoyed the artwork in the Guggenheim – there was a lot of surrealism and most of it was open to interpretation. The art in the MET was more diverse, however, if you wanted historical knowledge and culture, the MET was more appropriate for that I think. I couldn’t really compare the two museums as they were so different but I really liked them both – if you have the opportunity to go to these museums, I suggest you do. As our last night in NY approached, we realised we had not yet had pancakes! We had waffles on the flight over so that was covered but we needed to go to a diner to get pancakes with maple syrup, so that’s what we did. I had a veggie cheeseburger with chips (yum) and pancakes with maple syrup and butter – I was stuffed afterwards. I gotta agree though, pancakes in the US are better than pancakes anywhere else. I was so shocked at how big they were – truly did not expect the size of that. Before this, I had just eaten a peanut butter cupcake and a peanut butter chocolate bar too (America loves PB and thats why I love America) so I genuinely struggled to walk home! We then saw a ‘Toys R Us’ in Times Square and I’d never seen a ‘Toys R Us’ like that before – there was a life sized amusement park  ride within the store and an actual ferris wheel that went through all the floors – it was insane. If I were 5 years old, this would have been heaven (I’m just kidding, it’s heaven anyway) so if you have children, this is a good place to go for definite. Biggest store I’ve ever seen ever.

This was the longest post of my life but I feel like this somehow still doesn’t cover my experience in New York – it’s been an amazing one! If you have any questions, feel free to ask – I’m sure we did a lot more but theres just too much to write!