He adored New York City. He Idolised It all out of proportion…. No, make that: he romanticised it all out of proportion. Yes. To him no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin.
When Harry Met Sally, Annie Hall, The Godfather (all parts), Annie, Ghostbusters, Sid and Nancy, the list goes on. Movies that inspire through black and white pictures, telling tales through song and dance, of the city that never sleeps. The city where dreams come true. New York City.
Visiting New York City in winter time has always been a dream. I have no idea what inspired the desire so intense it became one of those dreams you just don’t think could ever live up to expectations in real life. But when my best friend and I decided to book a trip to The Big Apple for 5 days the trip turned out pretty dream like – except the absence of snow.
So let me take you with me, to my (now) favourite city in the world….
Flying into JFK International I could hardly contain my excitement. We hadn’t slept, to hyped up – and at the forefront of an ice cold draft for 5 hours – too much coffee in the morning, too many movie options to watch and the fun part of tracking your flight on the TV.
Of course we were also about to land in one of the greatest cities in the world, one we only saw and experienced in movies before was now about to become reality – How could you not be excited?!
We opted to take the Skytrain and the Subway to our hotel. Easy right? Not when you took a slightly bigger suitcase than anticipated and had to haul it up & down stairs, try to push it under the Subway turnstiles without hitting someone, holding too many people up and falling over it yourself on the way through – Sounds really funny now looking back actually..
It cost $5 for a ride from the Airport to Jamaica Station (it’s a standard price for all, you pay on exit) and once we ‘found’ the right level for the Subway – you’d think that be easy huh? – we bought an unlimited metro card for a week which cost us $31 each – A single ride on the subway is around $4 a turn – The subway system is really easy to navigate and soon we were heading off into Central NYC.
Checked into the beautiful Yotel off Times Square New York.
Checked in, dumped our bags, had a quick shower and change and headed straight to the ‘Dive Bar’ around the corner, Lansdowne (sp) Road which quickly became our regular night relax spot.
We caught the end of the Sunday Night football (american) by the time we arrived while indulging in chips&dip and loaded potato skins – the largest appetisers portions I have ever seen! – with beer & tequila…. of course!
Waking up to complimentary coffee and freshly baked (giant) muffins was a delight. I’m glad we didn’t pay extra to have breakfast included, this was delightful.
We decided to explore pretty much, the whole of downtown New York today. It was a beautiful, crisp, cold winter day in New York – although the colours on the trees were still clinging to fall – and we couldn’t wait to head out to the city and explore.
Wear comfortable shoes if planning on being out the whole day. Starting from our hotel on 10th Avenue/42nd Street our first stop was, of course, the beautiful area of Chelsea – which is also where I’ve decided I would live, if I lived in NYC – Just make sure you check out the beautiful Chelsea Market!
The streets are beautifully lined with residence flats, colourful trees (thanks autumn) and there are cute cafe’s on every corner – I mean, what’s not to love?
1 Mile Done
From Chelsea the other districts begin to run into each other.
So you’re a bit of a foodie? Love to people watch? Small boutique shops are your thing? Well yes, yes we are. Greenwich Village was our next stop.
Passing through the Meatpacking District, get ready to go into a food heaven. Coffee overdose. Zone out watching the locals pass by and try not to spend all your money on cheese and cute boutique shops finds!
We managed to contain ourselves from buying – too much – and eating, except from Doughnuts and Coffee… I’m sorry but you can’t resist Doughnuts and Coffee in New York!
After all that eye candy and money teasing its time to stop giving your wallet a heart attack and chill in Washington Square Park. Watch the chess enthusiasts battle it out, so engrossed in the game they are unaware of the crowd they attract.
This was much smaller than I had imagined it, but beautiful all the same – and a great place to rest the feet.
2.5 Miles Done
Our next stop was exploring Little Italy. It was time for Lunch.
We found an amazing Old School Diner which served the most amazingly delicious Bagels! And gave you complimentary refills of coffee – the cakes looked pretty good too….
Head to Grand Street and you’ll stumble upon the yummy Baz Bagel and Restaurant the staff are super friendly and the menu is delicious (and huge!). I highly recommend the cream cheese, chive and nova Salmon Bagel – I’m already drooling, I need another one. – You also get a cute vintage post card with your ‘Check’!
3.7 Miles Done
Keep wandering and you will hit Chinatown.
Said to be the best place in NYC to get your ‘novelty’ gifts – you know, the I <3 NYC t-shirts? – and any designer you can think of, just don’t bet on that bag being real!
Literally every 4th step you take, someone asks you if you are looking for “Insert Designer of Choice Here” promising you a bargain.
Other than the promise of cheap designer goods there are also pop up stalls on the streets with cheap foods to buy – can you see the theme of our visit here? – some amazing authentic Asian restaurants and (if you are into this kinda thing) plenty of Chinese Medicine shops, traditional, of course.
4 Miles Done
On the way to our next circle on the map you have to walk down lower Broadway.
Before arriving in New York and properly having a look at a map – okay, Lynne took care of the map mostly so she showed me – I didn’t realise how Long Broadway actually is! Almost runs the whole length of New York!
Anyway, Lower Broadway is a ‘Must Do’ for any shopaholic’s out there. Filled with the High Street Store names we know and love, cute boutique shops and your American favourites such as Blooming Dales and Victoria Secret.
5 Miles Done
Take a stroll down Church Street after you are done shopping and you will come to the 9/11 Memorial Ground, where so many lives were lost when the Twin Towers came crashing down.
Pay your respects at the ‘Two Pools’ (once known as Ground Zero, where the twin towers used to be).
If you are looking for more information about the tragedy of the Twin Towers head on to the 9/11 Tribute Centre & The 9/11 Preview Site.
We paid our respects to those who lost their lives at the ‘Pools’ however, we did not venture into the Museum or Tribute Centre. Seeing artefacts and stories of final phone calls of those who died is more than we could handle.
The recently opened ‘One World Trade Centre’ is a relatively new addition to the New York Skyline. Situated adjacent to the ‘North Pool’ it was open to the public in May 2015 for the first time. It is now the Tallest Building in the Western Hemisphere, the sixth tallest building in the world.
It’s $32 for Adult entry which is a little more than the other observation decks in the city. But trust me, the views are worth it – and the ear popping in the lift on the way up is pretty funny too. – I just hope you don’t suffer from vertigo!
6.5 Miles Done
I told you, you need comfy shoes.
Battery Park is beautiful. They have gorgeous Christmas Markets (we were there in December) open selling lots of trinkets. You can hire bikes for a bike ride or just enjoy a stroll along the waterfront…
Ignore everyone trying to sell you Statue of Liberty Tours. These will set you back a small fortune – an even bigger one if they manage to convince you to take the helicopter… not gonna lie I was tempted – especially when you only get slightly closer. I mean, why would you want to when the Staten Island Ferry is Free!
And you get views like these…
The journey takes around 25 minutes and it runs 24/7 – So you could check it out at night! – once at the other side you have to get off the Ferry. Your options are to get out and see what Staten Island has to offer Or – like us – you walk out and back and onto the other ferry departing back.
7.5 Miles Done
We took the Subway back to the hotel.
That night we took the Subway across to Brooklyn and Williamsburg in search of Food (of course) and drink.
Jumping into the first bar we saw after wandering for a bit too long, ‘Jackbar’ the most interesting bar I’ve ever ventured in. If you like old school ‘Pinball Machines’ and cheap booze then this is the place to go.
We didn’t get to play Pinball – Apparently it’s actually a super serious game. Very competitive – oh well!
We got a Beer, Shot and Chips for $11 each.
Moving on round the corner – where we ended up for the rest of the night – was Mulhollands Bar. Technically a sports bar but again, cheap drink, great food and epic bar staff. (who ended up buying us shots and drinking with us).
Safe to say free tequila shots, beer and Gin are not fantastic combinations.
5 Days in New York allowed us one ‘write off day’. That day, was today.
We got up in the morning and headed straight for – what we hoped would be our hangover cure – Applebee’s for breakfast. But unfortunately even stacks of french toast and pancakes, water, orange juice and coffee didn’t appease it.
After attempting breakfast, wandering around broadway and paying Times Square a quick visit. We headed back to the hotel to Nap.
Back out again at 3pm there was only one thing on our mind – and this time, it wasn’t food – we needed to see a broadway show.
First we checked with our concierge. BIG mistake. She tried to charge us more than three times the face value of a ticket!
We went to the Box Office of the show directly and bought our tickets, $42 each for that night. Matilda on Broadway, we could not wait!
Have dinner before the show.
If you haven’t got a reservation try to get to a restaurant before 7pm – which is fine if you’re seeing a show, they start around then anyway – we went into Carmines on broadway for our dinner. Meals are served in family sized portions (i.e. you only order one thing) and if you don’t finish – which is expected – they will box it up for you to take away and enjoy later!
Waking up this morning we were greeted by a cold and wet New York City – A perfect day to explore the wonders of the Natural History Museum – you know, where night in the museum was filmed!
Top Tip: Get up early and head there for opening at 10am. People will crowd the stairs (yes there really is a ‘queue’ at this time) but the security guards will soon make you queue to the right of the stairway, so best to hang around there!
We spent 4 Hours wandering around this incredible museum.
$27 will get you entry into the Museum and 1 special exhibit – we chose the butterfly room, obviously.
Heading back out the weather had dried up (slightly) and it gave us the chance to explore central park. Which is an incredible place. They really do take care of the park here, everyone respects it and you don’t feel like you are anywhere near the city until you pop out of the forest and see the surrounding skyscrapers.
We stopped by the Alice in Wonderland Monument and pretended to join in the tea party before heading to 3rd Avenue to pick up some sweet treats from Dylans Candy Bar.
We stopped by Papaya for one of the best hot dogs i’ve ever had – and the cheapest – before dropping our sweet treats off at the hotel and heading over to Madison Square Garden.
New York Knicks vs Philadelphia 76ers – it. was. amazing! The atmosphere was electric and the popcorn was delicious. One of the only sports we have both managed to watch, understand and enjoy – might just yet become a basketball fan…
Want to see a basketball game? Lynne bought us tickets before we arrived into NYC through Ticketmaster. There are people outside MSG selling ‘tickets’ however, I would be very careful incase they are fakes. Don’t risk it, buy them before you go.
Our last day! and oh it was beautiful.
The weather had cleared, the sun was shining and there was only a small winter breeze.
Starting the day out right with a walk along The High Line. New York’s Garden in the sky.
Enjoy with a good coffee and a warm Bagel with Peanut Butter and Jelly. Of Course.
This has to be the most relaxing way to get around the city, no traffic, no busy streets and hardly any people.
We then made our way over to the Rockefeller Centre and booked our time at the top.
While waiting for the time slot to open we wandered out around the plaza and took in the beautiful Christmas Windows, watched the ice skaters preforming and fall and the Salvation Army dancing and singing Christmas songs and raps to raise money.
The View was worth hanging around for.
The complete money shot and the best way to end our time in New York City.
Before collecting our suitcases we stopped by Ellen’s Stardust Diner. A 50s themed diner, singer servers, brilliant food and a fantastic atmosphere.
You MUST check it out before heading home – and have the Oreo cookies and cream ice cream shake.
Do you think we covered everything in New York?
What else would you recommend first timers in NYC to do?