Thursday was our chance to take one last bite out of the Big Apple before heading home. But we began the day with some hasty last minute packing. The concierge at our hotel helped me to weigh my bulging suitcase at which point I realised I’d probably bought one (or six) Gap jumpers too many and was dangerously close to my baggage weight allowance. With a remit to buy more luggage for our NYC loot, as well as some last minute souvenirs, we headed to Times Square. We’d previously found a brilliant comic book store in the Financial District that had a sister shop in Mid-Town, so we happily spent a few more dollars there. We then braved the flagship Disney Store and bought bags from the brilliantly cheap Forever 21.After walking around in the sunshine with our shopping bags, we caught the subway to the Lower East Side for lunch in what was purported to be New York City’s best deli, Katz; and it was! This is the place where Harry met Sally, where a pastrami on rye will fill you up for a week (and cost almost $30!) and where you can ‘lunch’ alongside every stereotypical New Yorker imaginable. We both ordered the pastrami along with pints of the rich and delicious Katz Dark Ale. It was a heavy meal but our visit to such a quintessential New York eatery was well worth the stomach ache. With a sense of reluctance (and a little bit of relief, after days of exhaustive sightseeing and carb loading away from our families), we finally caught a cab to the airport. There we flopped in uncomfortable bucket seats in the departure lounge and pondered exactly how aeroplanes stay in the sky and whether or not we could squeeze in one more glass of wine before takeoff. Our trip was a fantastic break from the routines and responsibilities of every day life and I arrived home with the feeling that we’d taken full advantage of the opportunity to eat, sleep and breath this brilliant city. Since then I’ve avidly been watching Manhattan-based TV dramas hoping to spot a familiar landmark or recognise a street name or two, and I’ve been overusing the phrase “totally awesome” much to the amusement of my children. It actually all seems a little bit like a dream that never really happened. But thankfully I have a photo-stream full of pics, a wardrobe full of bargains and a hundred happy memories to keep forever from our New York City adventure.
We’re in New York City!! And I’ve been enjoying so many happy moments since we arrived that I’ve not had time to blog them all. But as it’s now 6am and I can’t get back sleep because I’m too excited about the day ahead, I thought I’d try to summarise the highlights of my first 36 hours in the Big Apple with my bestie.
Our hotel The Martha Washington, found blindly online, is boudoir-chic and perfectly central. We arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday and after unpacking, FaceTime with the kids and watching some ‘like totally addictive’ American TV, we headed out to explore our local neighbourhood.
The Empire State Building is a five minute walk away and I got some serious goose bumps when I saw it up close and personal for the first time. And as we headed north along 5th Avenue, iconic landmarks littered the way. We stopped off at the New York Public Library to buy a hot pretzel from a street vendor (I’ve always wanted to do that!), we peaked through the doors of the spectacular St Patrick’s Church and we squealed excitedly when we spotted the twinkling lights of the Chrysler Building. By the time we reached Time Square, I’d taken about 100 photos. In Times Square, I took 100 more! Wow, just wow.
Sunday was our first full day here and we had a packed itinerary planned. We began the day with a hearty breakfast in the chilly city before collecting our NYC Passes from a sprawling souvenir shop where we managed to avoid buying tourism tat, for now. We then headed down 34th Street where we were momentarily sidetracked by The Gap’s 40% off everything sale. Quality tees for $2 and capsule wardrobe classics for next to nothing!
We spent a happy half hour exploring Macy’s, the worlds’s largest store, before hopping on a sightseeing bus and heading south. Our tour guide was a true New Yorker, full of funny stories and (sometimes unintentionally hilarious) commentary as we oooed and ahhhed our way through the Flatiron District, Chelsea, the West Village and Tribeca. We both got goosebumps when we saw World Trade 1 and the vicinity of 9/11. A tiny chapel, just yards for the sight of the Twin Towers, miraculous survived unscathed when the towers fell around it and the faint sense of what it must have been like to have been on the ground that day was intensely moving.
Spotting the Statue of Liberty in the distance as we passed Battery Park, and then admiring the beauty of the Brooklyn Bridge were yet more highlights on our brilliant bus tour. I had to resist the urge to give our lovely tour guide a hug when we disembarked at The Rockerfeller Center. After spending over an hour with him (he sat right behind us throughout the tour and happily answered all of our questions), I felt as if he was my first New York friend!
Our afternoon was spent marvelling at the impressive collection of Picassos, Klimts and Warhols at the Museum of Modern Art before we took an elevator to the 70th floor of the Rockerfeller Centre where the word ‘breathtaking’ doesn’t actually do the views justice. It was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. We rounded off our incredible day at Grand Central Station where we drank champagne cocktails at the Campbell Apartments. And this was just Day 1 folks. Happy moments overload!