I couldn’t think of a sparkly title for this one. It’s partly because I’m that type of tired that makes you feel a bit like you might do a sick down yourself at any given moment (cheers jet lag, you pal) and also because New York doesn’t need a glittery title. It’s New York, it has natural glitter, like Taylor Swift or Dumbledore or summin.
I’m in mourning as I write this. Mourning from another voyage to the city that holds about 67% of my heart (soz Chris, soz Rudey), and mourning because it’s pretty weird to not be spending every waking minute with Chris as he’s a couple of hours into his first day back at the office right now.
Oh, and definite mourning from having a super king size bed to roll around in. And a teeny tiny bit more mourning for American food and American portions. I mean sure, I don’t miss my constant 5-month pregnant bloat look that I sported the entire week we were out there, but swings and roundabouts and that.
Last week (actually wait, no, the week before that) the pair of us trotted off to London Gatwick for a romantic night in the Travelodge (I joke, I joke – it involved splitting a bottle of cider in bed whilst watching BBC 2) before an early morning flight to New York City via Dublin.
Our holiday was part paid for, I’ll be honest here. We won our return flights via Aer Lingus (you *might* remember this little comp earlier on in the year…) and we also received £1000 spending money towards our accomodation. We wanted to head out to the city of dreams for a good solid week, so chipped in some of our own money and stayed at CitizenM, located just outside Times Square.
(Which, just FYI, I totally recommend. Not only is the location spot on for every landmark – Empire State, Times Square, Rockefeller, Fifth Ave – but it had a roof top bar, really cool decor and a damn comfy bed. And a good shower. And cute free cartons of water added to your mini fridge daily.)
The joy of travelling with Aer Lingus via Dublin is that we got to clear immigration before we boarded the plane, and landed in JFK’s Terminal 5 which is for domestic flights, so it was literally a case of vacating the plane, grabbing our luggage and heading for the subway. AND it was the same on the way back, we landed at Gatwick, our luggage came swooping onto the conveyer belt first and then it was straight out to catch the bus to the parking. We got to avoid all the awkward ‘I’VE GOT TURNED AWAY FROM THE E-PASSPORT MACHINES, DO I NOT LOOK LIKE ME? OH GOD, AM I NOT AS HOT AS I WAS AT 17? IS THAT IT?’
That happens to me a lot, just FYI. Don’t get old.
So yeah, no pesky Immigration queues, which was a dream after a long flight.
I was kind of scared about taking Chris to New York. It was my 4th trip, and his first ever trip out of Europe. I had this fear that he wouldn’t like it and then I’d question everything. But naturally, like any sane mammal, aside from being a bit freaked out by how insanely busy Times Square was (and srsly, I secretly love the place, but it was MENTAL. It made me want to pull a tantrum and run in front of a taxi) he loved it. I think. I hope. Oh my God what if he didn’t and he prefers Magaluf?
That seems quite likely.
I’m going to do another post with my actual favourite places to visit/eat/drink/things to do, so I won’t go into detail about what we did for every hour of those 7 days, but let’s just say it involved numerous burgers. I mean like, almost one a day. And a lot of Mexican food. And so many frozen margaritas that my stomach *may* now just be iced over forevermore, but no biggie. I also went into NintendoWorld on three separate occasions. And made Chris rummage around in the Victoria’s Secrets sale with me to find the dream bra. And walked nearly 20 miles on the first day alone. It hurt, a lot. And made me hideously sweaty. Like, I had back sweat dribbles and everything. Srsly.
I’ll be honest, New York City in the heat of the summer was not my favourite thing ever. It hit 30 degrees every day we were there, which, when you don’t have access to a swimming pool, is pretty uncomfortable. It also meant we spent at least $100 throughout the week on Gatorade and mango Vitamin Water (I KNOW, REAL THING) because we were dehydrated every 27 seconds. And weirdly, it also meant every tourist who’d ever considered visiting the city in their life descended on it. It was ridiculously busy. It made me feel a bit flustered, and I’m not one to fluster.
So, my honest advice? Stick to spring or autumn. I’ve only ever been in September or March before and both were way cooler and less busy. In fact, March is actually one of the cheapest times of year to go for some reason, and alright, you can’t just whack on a summer dress and be ready for a sassy OOTD shot on the steps of the Met, but it’s not so cold that you have to be wary of snow storms attacking the airport, so yeah.
Some people choose to walk everywhere in New York and create daily itineraries before they go – attacking things in the same area on the same day to make life easier. We did the opposite, kind of. We snapped up weekly Subway passes for $31 (about £20) which gave us unlimited rides anywhere at any time.
The Subway trains are air-conditioned heavily and they were a welcome break from the seaty air outside. We could get anywhere in Manhattan within about 15 minutes from our hotel, and although the trains aren’t as frequent as the Tube in London, they still came every 7 minutes and weren’t anywhere near as busy. I got a seat almost every time.
We mixed it up a lot. We’d head down to the East or West Village for brunch, then Subway back to Midtown for a mosey around the shops and an iced coffee from Starbucks (seriously, everyone drinks them ALL. THE. TIME. They are everything and I reaaaaally want one right now but I’ve already had two mugs of coffee and OMG it’s like being off my face on Pro Plus at 16 all over again). Then maybe we’d do something touristy – walk Brooklyn Bridge or head to the top of the Rockerfeller, and by then we’d feel utterly done in.
The heat and the walking and the constant pressure of trying to navigate other tourists who liked to stop in the middle of the pavement was pretty exhausting. And that’s the point, about 3pm, when every day we’d retreat back to our little CitizenM room and drink our cartons of water and get under the covers and binge watch the National Geographic channel. Sweet, sweet heaven.
I learnt a lot about street drugs and living in Alaska, just an FYI.
Some days I’d have a nap in my new Princess Peach pyjamas, some days I’d just attack the free hotel WIFI for Instagram and Bloglovin’ updates. Some days we’d shower the minute we got back to our room because the summer heat was just too much and it made us feel grubby and grumpy and gross. One day I showered 3 times. So there’s that.
In the evenings, I’d put on a dress and some lipstick and we’d wander about – maybe head back down to the Meatpacking District or Little Italy for food. Then we’d Subway it back to Midtown and find somewhere for a drink – we ended up in the pop-up bar at the Rockerfeller a few times even though it was pricey. It just felt so special and I love the fountains and the flags and the glitz of it all.
Along with the humidity and heat came a few torrential downpours. Once whilst we were making our way back to the hotel about midnight and we just embraced it and giggled about it as we made our way through Times Square, and another whilst we were walking Brooklyn Bridge. I was wearing my sunglasses and the rain was so aggressive that it went behind my sunnies and drowned my eyes so that black water puddled around my cheeks and chin which was a seriously sexy look that I forgot to add to Instagram. My bad.
For me, one of the best things about New York (aside from singing Welcome To New York and ACTUALLY being there) is just remembering that you’re in New York. Seeing the skyline or having a cocktail on a rooftop bar or just having a big mumma stuck of pancakes and remembering where you are. There’s such a burst of magic that goes off inside you every time you remember, and I love that.
I also love Redd’s Apple Ale that tastes like cider but is more apple-y. Me and Corrie discovered it when we were in Arizona and I was desperate to get my hands on it again – I tracked it down, whilst a *teeny* bit drunk from said frozen margaritas in a food store on 8th and then me and Chris proceeded to drink them before heading to the top of the Empire State for the night time view (which, just FYI, is one of my all time fave views – I basically had an emotional breakdown the first time I witnessed it).
And I love £6 Essie nail varnishes. And snapping up tacky but seriously sassy t-shirts and sweatshirts from the countless tourist shops dotted on every corner.
I love stumbling on absolute gems of restaurants and bars that feel even greater because YOU found them, no-one else recommended them.
And I love Shake Shack concretes and pretending like I *might* buy a designer handbag because it’s marginally cheaper.
I love the hope and possibilities New York has. Like anything can happen. That you can be whoever you want to be. You can be the sparkliest, happiest, most confident version of yourself, and it’s for that reason that New York will always have a hold over me.
Farewell my love, I’ll be back.