I’ve always wanted to visit the Big Apple as it features in every film ever (plus one of my favourite TV series Gossip Girl! ) So I was super excited to experience the magic for myself a couple of autumns ago with my other half. The forecast was cold but sunny which was okay for what we had planned.
We flew with Virgin Atlantic from LHR for the absolute bargain of under £400 each return!
I really wanted to live in the Upper East Side, Manhattan for the week and the most cost effective way to do so was via Airbnb (my first time using it). The married couple we stayed with were great hosts and it felt comfortable sharing their flat.
After we arrived at JFK and go through security relatively painlessly, we went into the subway…amidst the confusion of which platform to use and then having to run for the train, I manage to lose my handbag…
We get off at the next stop and take the train back…I figure that I must’ve put it down on the seat at our original platform. Luckily it had been handed in to the ticket booth upstairs but the lady couldn’t keep it due to security fears of unaccompanied bags. So it was going through the system to lost property and we had no way to get it back that night. Our saving grace was that my phone was in my coat pocket and my boyfriend had our passports in his bag…but all my cards, keys, our mate’s camera, my jewellery (which I ironically keep in my handbag in case something happens to my suitcase) were gone.
This was the first time I’ve had such a disaster abroad so I was absolutely gutted but we tried to not let it spoil the trip. Our amazing hosts gave us pizza and much needed drinks when we finally arrived 4 hours later than planned.
The next day after we had sorted out money, we had a tequila burrito brunch for my boyfriend’s birthday then took a leisurely stroll to Central Park. It was a beautiful, sunny autumn’s day so both New Yorkers and tourists alike were out in force. We saw dancers and singers entertaining, artists drawing passerby’s and a slightly awkward engagement photo shoot. I was given a spontaneous massage by a small Thai woman (she literally reached up to my shoulders and started massaging) ha! But most importantly, we found where Blair and Chuck got married…to those of you who appreciate this, I was seriously living my GG dream.
We ended his birthday at Dive Bar surrounded by locals…alcohol in America isn’t as cheap as in the UK!
The next day, we took the subway to Times Square 42 St so we could go to Macy’s and surrounding shops, check out the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Broadway and Times Square! We were at Times Square during sunset and it was surreal how the sky was getting darker but we were oblivious for ages due to the brightness of our surroundings. Unfortunately we hadn’t looked early enough to book a decent Broadway show.
The evenings in New York are even more magical..I just couldn’t get enough of the lights. After dinner and a cheeky cake from Magnolia bakery, we spent time in and around Rockefeller Centre.
So we had the most incredible privilege of being taken on a personal tour of the United Nations HQ…what?!!!! We got to mingle with delegates, see the various conference areas, sit in a couple of talks and experience the breathtaking views of New York. Honestly, it was such an inspiring building and had good vibes from everyone we met!
Another thing I managed to tick off my bucket list was to watch a live basketball game. We had bought tickets for the New York Knicks vs Charlotte Hornet game at Madison Square Garden(!!!) $65 each from a resale on Ticket Monster. It was such a great game and I loved how much energy Americans have. It was also cool to see Carmelo Anthony play live again, having first seen play him as part of Team USA whilst I was a London Olympic 2012 Volunteer in the Basketball Arena (oh yes!). We finished the night at a nearby Irish pub called Foley’s.
One place that we had to visit was the 9/11 memorial which was absolutely stunning. It had been tastefully done and everyone was so respectful of it.
We then wandered through the financial area, passing the infamous Wall Street and made our way to the Battery Park which faces the New York Harbour. You get a great view of the Hudson River and Brooklyn Bridge. However this was the only grey day of our trip so it wasn’t so cute!
Later that night, we went to Cielo club in the Meatpacking District after popping (cheaper) bottles at our Airbnb and a mini bar crawl…good area to come for a mixed and fun crowd.
On our final full day, we had to pay our respects to the Lady of the City. As our tickets for the Statue of Liberty tour were in my bag which was still lost, we decided to go on the free ferry which goes to Staten Island and back. You get a decent enough view of the Statue of Liberty so it’s great if you’re not bothered about climbing up it. The sun was out again so she looked beautiful.
New York exceeded my expectations.. and although the trip started badly, the friendliness of New Yorkers, the amazing sights the city had the offer, our lovely Airbnb hosts and the HUGE portions of very tasty food made it all worth it. And yes, bagels from New York really are the best! I also indulged in supersized Chinese, and Indian meal at Ruchi, so many burgers, ribs, fries and shamefully a Maccys.
I would love to return when it’s warmer (and I can keep hold of my bag) to enjoy a rooftop bar, see a Broadway show, visit Brooklyn and experience the city like a local.
A week after we got home, I received an email from the MTA to inform me that my bag had been found…all that time spent talking to the local police and visiting MTA’s lost property office in between our activities had paid off. When I finally received it a couple of weeks later in the post, EVERY SINGLE THING was inside! 🙏🏾
Anyone else been to New York or planning to? I would love to hear all about it!