So, recently you may (or may not) have noticed that I have shown no signs of life on this blog for a while. Reason being, I’ve actually been away for a week in New York! It was so much fun, so I’m obviously going to tell you about it and hopefully give you some travel inspiration!
This is going to be a long one, so grab a snack and get comfy… enjoy?
After a particularly smelly taxi drive to Heathrow (our driver seemed to be oblivious to the wonders of deodorant), my dad and I checked in our bags while still struggling to remain conscious. We got some breakfast at a cute French-style café, which we had actually visited last year before a flight to LAX, so we knew it was the place we HAD to go. Their French toast had me SHoOk last time. So if you’re ever in terminal 3 of Heathrow visit Oriel. You may thank me later.
After having some food we went round all of the duty-free shops, which was pretty standard. Perfumes still extortionate, books still priced exactly the same… although I did end up buying a MAC lipstick which I may end up reviewing some time.
As I had flown with Virgin Atlantic before, I vividly remembered one of the best flights I had with them – in a beautiful brand new plane. And one of the worst – on a plane so old that there were telephones integrated into your seat. I had my hopes up that we would have a new plane but I was quickly let down. It was the dirtiest, oldest, crustiest plane I had ever been on. The T.V quality was so awful you couldn’t even watch anything. So I ended up sleeping and reading for what felt like the longest flight of my life.
Once we arrived at JFK I had horrific flashbacks from past customs experiences. One of the times being in the same airport and waiting for over two hours just to get our fingerprints scanned and all the other very confusing, professional and scary things they do. However, I was blown away by these new machines that literally took five minutes to use. So in about twenty minutes we were out into the arrivals area.
Before leaving for New York we had organised to be picked up by a service called Go Air Link, rather than taking a taxi. This is similar to an Uber pool, where a group of you are picked up and everyone is dropped off at their hotels one after the other. Overall, I wasn’t really too impressed, to be honest. The driver appeared to have no idea where he was going or who he was picking up. Meaning the drive to our hotel took way too long and I’m not sure if I can contain my excitement for very long when I’m in such an amazing city.
We stayed at the Amsterdam Court Hotel which turned out to be perfect for us. I can say absolutely nothing bad about this hotel! Yes, it wasn’t the fanciest of hotels, nor was it the most up to date with the room décor, but who cares? We spent barely any time in the hotel and just used it to sleep and shower really. Our room was located on the seventh floor which turned out to be the best floor, as the rooftop had free Wi-Fi and it was only one floor up.
Being only a two-minute walk away from Times Square we went for a walk to submerge ourselves in the hustle and bustle of basically the heart of New York City. It’s crazy how it never stops developing and improving… I suppose that’s where the phrase “The city that never sleeps” derives from. Every few blocks there was a new building being constructed or road works going on.
One thing that I had forgotten about New York is the huge amount of people who are trying to get you to tip them in any way shape or form, and they will do anything… ANYTHING for your money. Luckily nowadays New York is so much safer than it was 10-15 years ago. In twenty years robbery has dropped 81.9% according to the New York Police Department which is so crazy. However, now people will dress up as characters you know and love from Disney movies or they will literally go topless. My dad and I were reeled in by a couple of men giving away their mix tapes. If you ever see anyone handing out a CD exclaiming ‘It’s free! It’s free! Show some love… come on.’ No, it is not free and whatever you do, do not “show some love”. Unfortunately, my dad ended up buying some man’s mix tape for $10. It could have obviously been worse but I’m low-key glad this happened at the start of our trip, as I now know that it is best not to even make eye contact.
The rest of our evening was very slow because we were feeling very jet lagged, so after going for dinner we collapsed to bed looking forward to day two. (All that about day one? Told you this would be long! Even I’m surprised!).
The following morning we were up and ready to go from about 5am because of the five hour time difference. We had the whole day free, so were overwhelmed by the different things we could choose to do. Eventually, we decided to take a walk in Central Park which is one of the things we didn’t seem to get round to last time. I found it honestly amazing how you’re in one of the most populated cities in the world and there is still a huge park where all of the rush just seems to cease. It was so calm quiet (for the city that is) and it is taken care of so beautifully. While we were there we also witnessed a Pokémon stampede, which was really quite fascinating. In the space of about two minutes, about one hundred people had congregated and they were all aggressively swiping at their phones. It was actually rather amusing, to be honest.
After, we had a walk down 5th avenue and went into the likes of Tiffany’s, Apple and Sephora. If you want to do some serious damage to your bank account – this is the place to be.
That night I remember we both crashed once again. Any day in New York will have you so tired by the end of the day you’ll be in bed by 9pm. I speak the truth.
On Wednesday we also didn’t have plans for the day, however, we were booked to go and see “Matilda the Musical” in the evening, which I had wanted to do for about a year in advance. Although, I had mentioned to my dad that I really felt like doing one of the “Grayline Bus Tours” again because they were just so easy-going last time. Very touristy obviously, but easy-going. So we bought a forty-eight-hour pass for the tour bus and almost used this as out transport too! We did the downtown tour that day and drove past Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State, the Chrysler building etc. If you have time to book a pass for Grayline I really recommend it, but to be honest if you still haven’t booked by the time you left it’s fine you’ll have tonnes of the leaflets for it shoved in your face.
With our tour we also got a voucher for a free boat tour, so my Dad and I did this in the afternoon. I remember doing the same tour in March and just wanting to get off it was so excruciatingly cold, so I didn’t have great memories of it. However, this time, it was quite the opposite… it was around thirty-five degrees and very humid. I can say though that the tour was so much more enjoyable in the Summer even though there was a large volume of people (which was expected).
After a shower and some well-deserved time in the hotel’s air conditioning we headed to the Shubert Theatre to go and see “Matilda the Musical”. It was nothing short of phenomenal. The dance numbers, songs, and amazing portrayal of Miss Trunchbull were all amazing. As soon as I left I wanted to see it again!
The next day was certainly an emotional day, as it was the day I received my GCSE results. In my mind, I had been worrying myself about them for months in advance, so I knew whatever I was going to achieve I was going to cry. I was correct. At around 5am my results came in and at the time I thought a B in English meant the end of the world, but now… I suppose I did alright. I’m actually quite content with my results now, as it has enabled me to get into the school I wanted to go to! Anyways, my dad and I went to the 9/11 memorial this day and I had been there before, however, I hadn’t been up to the “one world observatory” nor had I been in the museum. Which both were so fascinating. I think the observatory was the best because you could genuinely see for over fifty miles on a clear day! Everything looks so tiny and toy-like from 1,250 feet above the streets. The museum was also very interesting and obviously quite hard to walk through, but it was so busy that you really couldn’t experience it to its fullest. On the other hand, the fire engine and the shop that is still caked in dust are crazy to see.
Following this, in the evening the one thing I really wished we did last time was the “night tour” on the Grayline buses. So we hopped on the bus and did it. We had an excellent tour guide according to my Dad (I’ve listened to the same facts and stories before and I’d rather just listen to the city itself). The bus took us over the Manhattan Bridge and around Little Italy and China town, it was so beautiful at night. It is so different seeing a city like New York from afar in the day time compared to night. Every building just looks like a gargantuan Christmas tree. I think this is one of my favourite things we did.
On Friday, Dad and I again didn’t have a plan for the day, but instead we went shopping along 5th avenue once again. One of my favourite movies is Breakfast at Tiffany’s so we went into the flagship store where the famous scenes starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard took place. Obviously, I couldn’t leave without buying something, so my Dad very kindly bought me a necklace for doing well in my GCSE’s. I went basic and just got one of the “Return To Tiffany” necklaces, which by the way are actually the cutest things.
One of the shops I knew I had to go back to was a Bath and Body Works so on Saturday we had a mission to find one. Their hand sanitizers are actually my most favourite things in the whole world. So after buying my bodyweight’s worth of hand sanitizers we walked through Grand Central Station, which is absolutely stunning. I mean compared to the dump of a train station I have near me, this is indescribable! There are chandeliers swinging from the ceilings, huge windows, marble floors and an astronomical ceiling (cringey pun intended).
Later on, my Dad and I decided we loved Matilda so much that we wanted to try and get tickets for another Broadway show. So we waited in Times Square at 3pm for the last-minute Broadway tickets that they sell there daily. Glancing at the TKTS board nothing really jumped out at me, apart from “The School Of Rock”. I love love love the movie and recently I heard it was a musical on Broadway but I never really looked into it. After seeing it I was so sad it was over. The kids were brilliant! They all played their own instruments and they were so enthusiastic and showed far more emotion than Matilda on Wednesday (she remained pretty monotone during the whole show, apart from a slight smile at the end). However, it was THE BEST show I’ve ever seen! I’ve been hooked to the soundtrack for the last week!
On Sunday we were booked to have brunch at the American Girl Café so I was very excited. This is genuinely what I dreamed of doing since I was eleven. In the UK we obviously don’t have American Girl, but my friend introduced me to them a few years ago and instantly I fell in love. It may sound weird but ever since I’ve been obsessed with all the historical dolls and all their little accessories and things. It’s all too adorable! Luckily, we went for brunch the day after Melody Ellison’s Release (the new 60’s doll), so I got to see all of the new releases. I could almost hear my eleven-year-old self-screaming the house down knowing that I’d go to the American Girl store in New York and have brunch there. Anyways, the food was excellent and yes, I did sit with Melody at my table. I ended up leaving the store with my credit card drained and a Maryellen doll (the 1950’s) in hand.
Throughout the trip, I was always hearing about the VMA’s (the MTV music video awards) in Times Square and online. Instinctively I just assumed the awards were in Los Angeles. Isn’t everything in Hollywood? But no. They were here. In New York. Beyoncé and Ariana and Nicki etc were all down the street and I didn’t have a ticket. I was obviously going even though I had no ticket. So I rushed to get ready for the start of the red carpet event and walked into the abyss that was the crowd. Somehow I managed to get about a meter from the barrier and it was INSANE. It was so crowded and whenever a glimpse of a celebrity appeared the whole crowd would freak out. I did see a flash of Nicki Minaj but for waiting in a crowd for over an hour and being low-key sexually assaulted (let’s not review) it was definitely not worth it. Although I did meet some lovely people! At least now I can say I’ve been to the VMA’s?
The next day was Monday and that was the day we were leaving, so we had our last walk around Central Park, Times Square and 5th Avenue and said our goodbyes. The flight home was good apart from the major turbulence in the first two hours that made me think of final destination and therefore freaked me out pretty badly. We arrived home very jet lagged six hours later and I instantly regretted getting on that plane. Something about New York just is so addictive. I love it so much and I really hope I live there some day. If you’ve never been I really recommend you go! I promise you’ll love it.
Overall, I miss New York loads already and it’s only been a week. It was so nice to spend time with my dad, as I don’t really get to do that often and it was even better to do it in my favourite place! I really hope you enjoyed this post and it wasn’t too long and waffly… Wheres your favourite place you’ve been?
Much love ♡ – Ali