In many ways a conventional trip – seeing the Statue of Liberty, visiting Central Park, all those touristy tick-box activities – yet in many ways a less conventional trip too. (Studying in the New York Public Library, not recognising a Kardashian…)
However, before I begin with my blog, let me first talk on a sad note.
New York – on first impressions – I didn’t think was that special. But it grew on me. My opinion of the city grew and grew and grew and now – when I think of the city – all I think of is beauty. And this beautiful city did not deserve to have someone try and destroy it. Recently, as you may be aware, a terrorist attack happened in New York city, the worst one to hit the place since 2001. Eight people were killed and countless others were injured on Halloween. Readers, please, takes the time to think and reflect on those who lost their lives. There isn’t much we can do now for the victims, apart from remember them in our hearts and in our prayers. So please do remember, because the worst thing we can do is forget.
DAY 1: Sunday the 22nd of October
Meeting the Mayor, going to a Flea market, walking the Highline and taking photos in Time Square…
Anyhow, let me begin with the blog! So I arrived in JFK airport. Big, woolly yellow coat on, all prepared that it was going to be chilly and…
I stepped outside. It was not cold. On the contrary, it was sunny and 20°C out there. Quite a contrast to the freezing temperatures in Eastern Europe I’d been subject to the week before.
So obviously the coat was taken off, and was not worn in New York again. Which is a real shame, because it matched the yellow taxi cabs.
But never fear – though I didn’t manage to co-ordinate my outfit to match the taxis I DID get one skirt to match the pedestrian crossing. As seen below.
NEW YORK – APRIL 30: A woman with shopping bags traverses a crosswalk near Columbus Circle April 30, 2010 in New York, New York. The US economy grew 3.2% in the first quarter of the year, giving some analysts confindence that a modest economic recovery has taken hold. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
Because isn’t it the aim of everyone to match the city they are in?
So upon arriving in the city, we headed straight to our hotel in Manhattan. We dumped our bags there and then we were off…
Off to visit a flea market, walk the Highline and see Times Square!
And we had literally been walking for a good five minutes, when who did we bump into? Why, none other than the Mayor of New York!
He was addressing a crowd, going on about some NYC traffic problems. (Funnily enough, at the time, we actually had no idea that it was in fact the Mayor. It was only later that night when we turned on the TV that we learnt it was him.)
Pretty cool, huh? We’d been there such a short time and already we’d bumped into one of the most influential people in the city.
So then we headed to the flea market. And boy, got completely lost in the process! But we did eventually find it.
There was, of course, some unusual stuff there. (Like this creepy doll head. A perfect Halloween decoration.)
But everything was just so damn pricey, (like hundreds of pounds for cheap looking bracelets), that I left empty handed.
After that it was the Highline.
And I’ll be honest. I wasn’t expecting much from it. “An abandoned railway you can walk across,” I had been told. So what?
But actually, it was one of my highlights of my trip. It had great views. (Especially of the River Hudson.) And it was quite calm and peaceful up there, in complete opposite to the hectic Big Apple traffic down below.
Here are some photos, so you can get a better idea of what it was like. We were lucky we went just as the sun was setting, for that made everything seem all the more magical. (Had I been up there when it was freezing cold and misty, I doubt I would have had such a high opinion of the place.)
And our final stop of the day was Times Square.
Here are some photos.
(My favourite billboards HAD to be these ones, just above. Disney and Harry Potter placed side by side? Yes please!)
We also visited a South Korean shop there, Line Friends. It was filled with these adorable giant teddy bears, and I could not resist taking pictures of each one.
And that’s day one DONE! And I am concerned, because it has taken me a good hour to write one day. If I carry on at this pace, will it take me six more hours to complete this??
Day 2: Monday the 23rd of October
Central Park, walking, more walking, Trump Tower, Tiffany’s, Empire State Building, Grand Central Station…
I had planned to start the day off with a run in Central Park. Needless to say, this did not happen.
And I could blame that on the fact I did not pack my trainers, that I left them at the other side of the world…
Or I could be honest and say that even if I had brought my trainers, I would not have had the motivation to wake up at 7am (on a holiday!) to run. Everyday, back home, I leave my home at 7.10am, a time at which everyone else in my family is still asleep. So when it comes to the holidays, I have no desire to get out of my bed any earlier than 9am.
So when I did, groggily, manage to get myself out of bed and out of the hotel, we headed to a cute little street park where they were selling coffees and croissants.
After a quick breakfast, we finally did head to the park.
To Central Park, the place of my dreams.
To Central Park, that looked so damn cool in films like Enchanted and Home Alone 2.
But you know what?
Upon entering the park, my initial feelings were of disappointment. And I know why. Because the only times I have ever seen the park is through an Instagram filter, or through films. And in those mediums, Central Park looks like paradise.
But really, (and native New Yorkers please don’t shoot me!), I didn’t find it that much more special than my own local park at home.
And yes, I know, it is surrounded by skyscrapers. I know it is massive. I know it has 9,000 benches. (Benches which are really necessary in this city, because there is so much walking involved and your legs end up dying.)
Like, don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy my two hours in the park. I loved the statues (Alice in Wonderland, Hans Christian Anderson!) And it was fun reading what some people had written on their benches.
From Arthur’s one.
To this marriage proposal.
To this thoughtful one.
So yeah, all in all, it was enjoyable. Just different to how I thought it would be, that’s all.
After grabbing a hot dog, we then spent the next few hours walking. Just taking in the sights, and getting some cool photos.
We also stopped off at Trump Tower.
Not much to say about that, apart from it was very gold. And that there’s a Starbucks and a gift shop inside. (I tried a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino there and god they are delicious!) Oh, also, apparently minutes after we left, Pussy Riot entered the building and started protesting.
I absolutely love the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and was really really excited to get to visit the jewellery place itself. Holly Gollighty (whom I think I mentioned in my Lana del Rey post), is one of my ultimate favourite film characters.
And the place was beautiful, what else can I say?
It was, however, very pricey.
Their jewellery cost thousands, and as for their stationary, even that wasn’t cheap…
I had, upon hearing that there was a stationary section to the shop, decided that I would quite like to buy myself a pen. So I inquired after the price. I knew that it would be expensive. But by expensive, I was thinking along the lines of $20, possibly $30. So it came as a shock when the woman told me $200.
For a pen? Funnily enough, I did not go ahead and buy it.
The Empire State Building
Second last stop of the day was the ESB. (That classic place to get married/engaged. Apparently my Uncle proposed to my Aunt here!)
We didn’t ascend to the top, sadly. However, we did spend some time in the restaurant. Though the food wasn’t that great, I do remember that the book (which I had bought in an NY book shop an hour previously), was really quite addictive – “36 Questions that Changed my Mind About You”.
Grand Central Station
And finally Grand Central Station.
Now it is quite strange being Scottish, and heading to the opposite end of the world – and hearing bagpipe music. But that is exactly what happened when I arrived at the station, for a beautiful Scottish melody drifted from the entrance. The man below was responsible for the music. (But where is his kilt?)
And to make matters even more bizarre, the station had a whole display entitled “Experience the Scottish Highlands” and was covered in posters advertising one of the (I’m not biased) most lovely places in the world.
And that’s day two wrapped.
Day 3: Tuesday the 24th of October
Natural History Museum (the queue), New York Historical Society (the gift shop), Central Park (again), shops…
After having an action-packed Sunday and Monday, we decided to take Tuesday a bit slower.
It was supposed to rain, so we had planned a quiet day at the Natural History Museum. However, it seemed that every other tourist had had this idea too. After more than half an hour of queuing, we gave up and decided to head elsewhere. There was a social history museum, The New York Historical Society, next door. And while we didn’t get a chance to actually go inside the museum, we did have fun browsing the gift shop.
There was a cool Suffragist range. There were “Votes for Women” Christmas ornaments, “Votes for Women” umbrellas, tea towels…
I bought a tea towel. Something (I hoped), my Grandmother would much appreciate.
After spending more time in Central Park, we just had a fun time wandering the different areas of New York. We visited several shops and I bought some stuff, including edible Donald Trump sweets (may leave a sour taste in the mouth, the packet read), PEZ American Presidents, and a Karl Lagerfield top (for like $40!).
Food-wise, Tuesday was very lucky. Had an amazing porridge for breakfast, followed by a (Superman? Ironman?) health smoothie. I have no clue what lunch was, but I do remember that we had dinner at this “hip” burger joint. Suffice to say, it lived up to its’ “hip” reputation.
^ Also, if my Dad were to read that above paragraph, he would totally groan. He hates when I go on about food. ^
I think I’ll finish Tuesday there. I have no idea what we did after the burger joint. Did we just head straight back to the hotel? Probably.
Day 4: Wednesday the 25th of October
New York Public Library, getting lost, the UN headquarters…
I’ve just realised why I was having mind-blanks as to what happened on Tuesday – that was the day I forgot my camera, so I had no visual prompts to remind me. (Which is why I don’t have any photos for the above entry!)
Anyhow, now we’re on to Wednesday!
First stop was the New York Public Library.
There I got issued with a Library card and then I was off – saying goodbye to my companion – to get on with hours of blissful, uninterrupted study.
For my History dissertation, I am having to write about women’s involvement in the American Civil War.
So I had a lovely time reading about all those brave and courageous women who walked the streets of New York 150 years ago. Some of these headstrong women became spies, helping their respective sides win important battles. Others (the vast majority), became nurses and healed the wounded soldiers. And then there were others, those who donned breeches, grabbed a gun and went off to fight, disguised as men. In many cases, the gender of these “men” remained hidden for the duration of the war, and only became apparent when these “men” gave birth in the middle of a field!
(Okay, I’ll stop with the History lesson. This is a travel blog, not a History blog, after all.)
But to cut a long story short, I really did enjoy that study session.
And gosh, from reading this, you must think – what kind of tourist is she? Going all the way to the other end of the world – to visit a library?
So after that, I decided to phone my Dad – to ask him where he was. But for some reason my phone was not working.
I was not getting through to him at all, and I started panicking.
I asked the woman at the Library desk whether I could borrow a phone, and she was very, very lovely. She lent me her mobile, yet for some reason, even that wouldn’t let me get through to him.
I was seriously worried. So I decided to walk back to our hotel, (which was a good ten blocks away), as hopefully, once there, I’d be able to get through to him.
One block, two blocks, three blocks…
I was pushing my way through the crowd, focusing on not getting lost – when I saw him. Out of a city of – you know, 8.54 million people – I had managed to find my Dad.
Talk about lucky.
So after that scare, we had a nice time just wandering around the city. The UN headquarters, pictured below, were damn impressive.
I’m still not sure exactly what I want to do in the future, but I must say, I wouldn’t mind working there. I would feel so grand going to work in that building every day, helping make the world a better place.
Day 5: Thursday the 26th of October
Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge, Staten Island ferry, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 memorial, big shopping centre…
Okay, so I had been super excited about going to Brooklyn. That might have been down to the fact that a year back I watched the amazing film “Brooklyn” (with Saoirse Ronan), which had hyped me up about going to the place.
And it was awesome.
It was also really nice and peaceful.
And also very, very cold. (Word of advice. If you are planning on going to Brooklyn, it is a lot colder than any other area of NY. So if it’s hot in Greenwich, it might not be hot here.)
Here are a sample of some of our Brooklyn photos:
^ Do you see that minion pumpkin? ^
Also, the following plaques I found really fascinating. It shows how much New York has built up, from being a small place in 1776 to this sky-scraper heaven.
1935: (Just after Great Gatsby era!)
2001: (The Twin Towers are still here)
We had lunch at this Polish restaurant. I love Polish food, because it is quite similar to the food my Grandma (my Baba) makes, as she lives near Poland.
And of course we had to walk the bridge.
Next stop was the Staten Island ferry, where again we managed to grab some cool photos. (And we saw the Statue of Liberty!)
^ The first two were taken on the way to Staten Island, the last one was taken on the way back ^
And finally, a walk back to the hotel, via the 9/11 memorial.
It was sad walking through here, seeing all those names, forever gone. I would have wanted to go to the museum itself, but, as it was closed, we had to make do with staying outside.
Day 6: Friday the 27th of October
Greenwich Village, Washington Park, Top of the Rock, chilling…
Our final full day. Which involved a LOT of walking.
Walking past all the landmarks, walking along Fifth Avenue (and spending hours clothes shopping), until finally FINALLY we reached Greenwich Village.
Washington Square Park (though we were there for a total of five minutes) was nice.
It was also interesting seeing NYU University buildings (God, wouldn’t it be great to study in NYC. I am so jealous of those students.)
After eating a salad for lunch (and declining the fries! Go me!) we headed in the direction of Top of The Rock. We’d booked a session for about 6pm – just as the sun was setting, for maximum good views.
And the views, indeed, were magnificent.
Let me just show off those photos. (Those photos that probably every other NY tourist has!)
So we have the view just as the sun was setting.
And the view when it was all dark.
Then it was back to the Hotel, with a stop off at a classic Pizza takeaway. That pizza might have been greasy – but it was delicious. And cheap. Better than that expensive ESB chicken.
(Enjoying my pizza from the rooftop of the hotel.)
Day 7: Saturday the 28th of October
Seeing an NYC market, shopping at Bloomingdale’s, meeting a Kardashian (without realising it was one!), and GOING HOME!!
I don’t want to be a cliche here, but that holiday went far too fast. All too soon we were packing our bag and were off – off for a few more bites of the Big Apple – before heading to Newark Airport.
And is it just me, or are all my entries getting shorter and shorter as this blog goes on?
Anyhow, lugging a suitcase with us, we glimpsed a traditional New York market. There was nothing that interesting there, sadly.
Apart from a stall selling French crepes. Now that was worth a visit.
Then, after getting my Dad to pose outside some buildings (Cafe Grumpy, Victoria’s Secret – sorry Dad, I’m a nice daughter, I know,) we headed to Bloomingdale’s.
And as we were there, we saw that there were a large group of people (namely teenage girls and members of the press) surrounding this well-dressed looking lady. She was addressing them.
“Do you want to go see who it is?” My Dad asked.
I shook my head. “I don’t know who she is. I’d rather shop.”
It turns out it was Khloe Kardashian. (Found out a few days later.) But, seeing as I’ve never been lucky enough to scroll through her Instagram or watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians, I did not know that.
So I headed to the racks of clothes. And despite seeing so many beautiful things – “Dad, look at that skirt!”, “Dad, that top would be perfect for Christmas!” I didn’t buy anything. Which is a shame because I really, really liked that velvety red top. It just looked terrible on me.
And after that, we had yet another Starbucks (lost count of how many Starbucks there were in the city. A lot, that’s for sure) and we saw this cool shop selling gifts for book fans. I, of course, (being an avid reader), had great enjoyment picking out some geeky badges for my school bag. Here are a few of them.
It had been a memorable trip from the beginning to the end. And, yes, in many ways the two of us were just your typical tourists. But I like to think that in other ways we were not. That we left some sort of mark on the city, on the city that never sleeps.
A city, which – can I just point out – is one of the friendliest I have ever been to. All the shop assistants we met were absolute angels, as were all the people we met on the street. (Like that lovely Australian couple, who we talked with for ages.)
Anyhow, having stepped on American soil, having witnessed New York with my own eyes, I can see why those Northern men and women of the 19th century shed blood to go fight for their country, for their city. Because, indeed, it is a city worth fighting for.
MJ Amore 26/11/2017
(All of these photos are mine EXCEPT the photo of the taxi cab, which was found on http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/industry/yellow_taxi.shtml and the photo of the crossing, which was found on http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2017/05/09/barnes-dance-traffic/)