5 days in New York

I’ve never been one for big cities or crowds but I knew I had to do this one at least once. So in January when I was looking through the January sales I spotted return tickets to NYC for a little sum of £252 return with British Airways. It’s fair to say I jumped at that price and swiftly booked the NYLO hotel on the upper west side as our destination. Be careful when booking hotels in America as you do have to pay tax on top and most of the time that isn’t included in the price. I made that mistake but it was still the best and cheapest for my August visit!

We flew out via London Heathrow into JFK and I must admit I wasn’t impressed with the flight. We flew on an old 747, my screen was broken and when I asked for a water I was told no! I was shocked that British Airways would let their standards slip so much when the Middle Eastern airlines are passing them in every single way.

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I then wasn’t happy about having to wait 2 hours at JFK to pass through customs. Tip never sit at the back of the plane when travelling to USA if you haven’t already got an ESTA (roughly $14 from US border control. You need this to get into the country).

After a very long flight and a long wait – we missed dinner reservations because of this!! We were finally out of the airport and on our way. We had chosen to go via the subway as it was cheap and quicker than getting a taxi.

We got to the hotel in record time unpacked and found a small restaurant, I was so tired I don’t remember where or what it was called, for tea and straight to bed. We had a long and packed 5 days ahead of us and I needed to get straight onto US time for us to be able to achieve it all.

Day 1

Our first day we were up early, grabbed a coffee from the first Starbucks we saw and straight onto the tube down to the Statue of Liberty where we weren’t only off to walk around but climb right up to her crown! If you don’t have small children I do recommend doing this. It is a long and narrow climb but worth it for the views and the bragging rights! For $28.50 it was a fantastic experience and only a couple of dollars more expensive than normal tickets.

From there we got back on the ferry over to Ellis Island (included in your ticket price) and picked up the free headset tour around the museum. The tour takes you through the experience of new arrivals and makes you contemplate the emotions and feeling they were having at this time. It’s a great tour and definitely worth doing.

We then headed back over to lower Manhattan for our lunch at Little Park not too far from our next stop the 9/11 museum. While we were there we were very lucky to be going for NYC restaurant week which gave us some amazing opportunities for half the price of normal! It was from a select menu and had plenty of choice. I went for my default the chicken and was wanting more it was that delicious!

We then left at 3:30 and made our way to the 9/11 museum. I had very mixed feeling about going here. As a historian it was a strange feeling that I get to see a part of history relevant to my teaching, immerse myself in it and pass the information on to my students, but then my head began to flash back to that day a 14-year-old teenager, thousands of miles away, watched on in horror as the events unfolded crying in the arms of her mum. This feeling didn’t go away and I did find myself tearing up during my visit, not for myself but for the families and those still living with the effects. We managed to get a place on the tour as we descended into the foundations. It is well worth the money and you will learn a lot and hear stories of some of the people caught up ($44 including entrance fee). You also learn what is behind the wall of blue squares which is my most treasured part of the tour. It’s a beautiful place to pay your respects and I found myself wanting more information about the people. I spent much of my time reading the stories and looking at pictures of those who perished. When we had to leave I was upset. I hadn’t made it around the whole museum but I needed to go. If you choose to go here leave yourself plenty of time. You will find you want to know more and see everything as a sign of respect.

That evening we were booked into Smoke a jazz supper club on the upper west side. Another one we got through restaurant week! It was fantastic to hear a live band playing jazz whilst you ate. I almost forgot to eat! With jet lag catching up with us it was another early night ready for tomorrow’s fun packed day.

Day 2

Day two started with a short walk from our hotel to Central Park. I had wanted to kayak in the Hudson but my friend wasn’t up for that so boating in the park was the settled choice. A quick stop for breakfast at the boathouse cafe then a boat was hired and we were on our way ($15 for an hour). It was a tranquil start to the day and the views of the surrounding high rises were stunning.

We walked through the park passed the Alice in wonderland statue and towards our next stop Tiffany’s – yes we went to look at the expensive rings, no I won’t bore you with the details. From here we continued our day with a Michelin star lunch at Ai Fiori. All I can say is GO! The food is divine and it was in restaurant week so not super expensive.

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We rounded our day off with a trip to MOMA. I’m not one for modern art but with Pollocks number 1A and Van Gogh’s The Starry Night I was happy to go. I was surprised by the other artwork and artist I recognised there. Klimt, Monet, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Dali, Picasso, Kandinsky and Rousseau all under one roof. Well done MOMA well done you’ve sort of turned me into a modern art lover.

Later that day we had fun around Time Square scheduled with Les Miserable, tea ( I’m from Yorkshire so it’s Dinner to everyone else) at The View and roof top cocktails at Knickerbocker. The food at The View was not amazing but the view was. It is a rotating restaurant offering views of the city skyline. Before this we had rooftop cocktails then straight down to Les Mis. This performance was sensational to the point where I couldn’t clap or whistle as I was tearing up with amazement at the performance I had just witnessed. It was astonishing.

Day 3

On day three we headed down to Lafayette for breakfast. Before heading towards the Tenement Museum on the lower east side. The Tenement museum is the preserved house of the immigrants that came to America and through Ellis Island to settle in America. It was interesting but wasn’t my cup of tea. Tour prices are $25.

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From here we headed off to one of my favourite parts of the trip, The Yankee Stadium. We had managed to score tickets to New York FC V LA Galaxy which if you don’t know football or ‘soccer’ is a star-studded event for us Brits as some of the old greats of the football world were going head to head. It was either that or the fact I could have a beer whilst watching a game that had me all excited. We headed into the bar before the match to have a few pints and bumped into so many British people I thought I was back in England! All in all if you can get up there for a game it is brilliant. The atmosphere is nothing like in Europe but we left them with a few chants to ponder over.

That evening we were off out on a big night out. We had dinner at the Cook Shop before heading over to drink copious amounts of gin at the speakeasy Bath Tub Gin. I don’t remember much but I know I felt it in the morning.

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Day 4

Our penultimate day was all about getting out of Manhattan but first a stop at the one place I wanted to go for food – Two Hands. This place is all about the Aussie breakfast or the Hipster breakfast and was the best breakfast I have ever had. Definitely put it on your list if you’re off to New York.

From here we had decided to save time, rent a bike and cycle over the Brooklyn Bridge. Citi bike hire is $12 per day but this does come with a hold on a your card for a few days. You can use the bikes for 30 mins before they need to be back at another point. It was great to wiz past the people and get a great view of the city. We cycled back later when it was dark and the view was even better!!

We then got on the subway to our day trip out to Coney Island. It was like being in Blackpool. Don’t get me wrong its a lovely place but far too busy and rubbish everywhere. I just wanted to go home. We decided as we were in Brooklyn we would eat this side too. We first had some pre drinks at Bisby Park in Williamsburg where we watched an almighty storm descend upon the city whilst drinking cocktails in the glass roof bar. We had tea at a little italian place called Barhino near the Williamsburg bridge.

Day 5

On our final day we had a few hours spare to catch the last sights before our plane back that evening. We started the day off by getting a view of the whole city from the Top Of The Rock ($34 we had got many of our tickets in a joint pass so do shop around for what is best for your needs). The view is fabulous and I had been told it is better to go up here that the Empire State building as you can actually see it!

I then went to see a few other points of interest. The Chrysler Building, UN, Grand Central, Time Square, Wall Street Bull and Empire State Building – All on the subway. Before ending up to Chelsea Market and walked the High Line. If you see a stall selling ice lollies on the High Line, grab one they’re delicious!

And that was it. Our time was up and we needed to be back at the hotel. We got on the subway back to the airport which took us 2 hours and was the biggest mistake we made all week. We nearly missed our flight due to the time it took and the time we queued at JFK.

Overall I did enjoy my few days here but I would never go back just to visit this place. It smelt of bin juice and was far too busy for me. I would go back on a layover and finish off the 9/11 museum, breakfast at Two Hands and visit the Met. But other than that New York isn’t for me. I like my air clean, my ears silent and my greenery grave. A few days was enough and you can bet I was in the Peaks to calm my soul a few days later – well after I’d got over the jet lag.

Happy travels

Kate

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