We started our journey from London Heathrow wherein we flew direct into JFK for the first time ever; the flight was slightly bumpy due to hurricane Matthew and we caught the back end of some rain spitting. We grabbed a taxi from the yellow cab booth in the airport which was so easy, but our taxi driver was an extremely questionable welcome into New York and the rain delayed our arrival into Manhattan.
The reveal of the bright sky-line to my left through the rain spotted car window was breath-taking; that first moment seeing Times Square echoed the same type of ‘wow’. Eager to explore and eat, we quickly dropped our bags off in our hotel (the Sheraton -which was in perfect position in Times Square) and made our journey towards the bright lights. We ended the night by destroying a Five Guys burger and fries; time to sleep for a big day tomorrow.
We were awake at 7am (2pm GMT time) and were out of the hotel early ready to explore, we made out way to Ellen’s Stardust Diner – the home of the singing waitstaff. This was one of the places in New York I desperately wanted to visit so I was so very excited; they sang nearly every other 3 minutes and sang favourite musicals such as: Aladdin, Phantom of the Opera and do I dare say it…Frozen! The food was okay, but the service was pretty slow – we were definitely paying for the entertainment rather than tremendous waitstaff.
We then started our journey away from Times Square as true New Yorkers by taking the Subway; only $3 per single ride, was surprisingly clean and of course quick (avoiding all of the NYC road traffic). In the rain we begun our walk down Brooklyn Bridge attempting to engulf the entirety of New York, but also, catching our first glance of Lady Liberty herself.
By this point, the rain was seriously heavy and I was beginning to regret my choice of a pinafore dress with no tights… We walked towards 9/11 and booked ourselves in for a tour inside the 9/11 tribute centre hoping to dry off and warm up again. Although the tour was extremely interesting, to our unknown pleasure, it was outside, and by this point my umbrella had broken. By the end, I could barely feel my toes let alone realise I still had any other parts to my human body. The tour itself was wonderful though, it was led by a survivor of 9/11 and we were given a talk by a fireman from 9/11. It was inspiring and heart-breaking all in one, I can not even emphasise enough how brave these two men are.
After my toes had turned to literal blocks of ice in my canvas shoes, we escaped into Century 21 – which is a huge and cheap department store; I bought some funky socks to warm up my frosty toes, but also 3 pairs of Calvin Klein underwear for $18.50! After a quick Starbucks we begun our journey through Wall Street (witnessing the bull) and towards the Staten Island ferry.
We boarded the ferry after purchasing our oh so wonderful foam Liberty hats (tourist galore) and began our journey towards Lady Liberty. We of course had to stand on the open part of the deck which made the journey cold, but quick; we made the last minute decision to get off at Liberty Island and to walk around her and I’m so glad we did. It was so amazing to see something so monumental up close.
We made a quick pit stop to grab pizza for a snack, then ventured into (and up) One World Trade Centre. We flew 1,776 feet into the air in 60 seconds; I won’t give too much away in case you are deciding to visit soon, but that first minute the city is unveiled to you is breath-taking, indescribable even. We’d booked our slot strategically so were able to watch the sun set and witness the city that never sleeps illuminate. We soon got the subway back to our hotel and collapsed after walking over 20,000 steps, ready for our next adventure.
After a well deserved sleep we prepared ourselves for our next full day in NYC; we had breakfast at a small restaurant called Evergreen Diner (perfect position and wonderful food – we actually returned every morning for breakfast) where I had a belgian waffle with ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate chips.
We then ventured through the Diamond District and into the Empire State building where we queued for hours. The view was immense and so worth it, but the whole system was slightly unorganised, at one point an employee rolled her eyes at me because she thought I was skipping the queue but in fact my dad was just using the restrooms…All disputes aside, I felt very much like Buddy the Elf.
Before venturing towards Grand Central Station and the Flat Iron building we made a quick stop at Wendy’s for a frosty (of course) and then did some shopping in Tiffany’s and Abercrombie & Fitch before heading to the ‘Burger Joint’. The queue to get food was so long, but it was so worth it, it’s so tiny and strange, but so cool at the same time. Sadly I was too hungry so didn’t take any pictures, but I will link the page here.
After a relatively relaxed afternoon, we ventured into Times Square in the evening where I got to visit the Times Square Disney Store! I got a few special exclusives and soon started talking with a few Cast Members, they learnt I was celebrating and announced it to the entire store, it was embarrassing and magical all in one (thank you to the Cast Members for making my visit magical and of course for the badge and certificate). Before heading back to the room we made a stop at Cold Stone Creamery where they made our ice cream in front of us, my mum had peanut butter and myself oreo – not only did it look amazing, it tasted wonderful too, I would recommend this to anyone. Lastly, I got to see the Hamilton theatre (ah), I of course, screamed, took selfies and possibly shouted ‘WORK’ a few times…
By this point of the trip we really were beginning to feel knackered so we started the day with a trip on a bus tour. Before we went, we bought New York City Pass‘ in advance, we saved so much money and still got to do everything we wanted, I could not recommend this enough. I thoroughly enjoyed the bus tour, it was great to see things in a different perspective and see things we wouldn’t have had time to visit by foot or subway – Chinatown etc.
We rode the bus for a couple of hours and then got back off at the Rockefeller centre which has a shopping mall underneath? Who knew?! We only went to have a quick peek at the ice skaters and to of course – prepare ourselves to watch Home Alone this upcoming Christmas season. We then grabbed a quick snack in Magnolia’s Bakery before heading to Central Park for the first time to laze about in the sun.
In the evening we finally got to experience Broadway by going to see Aladdin: The Musical which was so awesome! I’ll link my full review of it here. Before the theatre, we visited Shake Shack (which somehow, I’ve never been to before) and it was out of this world amazing, if you go to anywhere in the US you must take it upon yourself and find a Shake Shack, I promise you won’t be disappointed!
The fifth and final day was essentially attempting to do everything that we hadn’t already done during our trip. The first, was walk the High-line. Over a mile long and full of wonderful pieces of art, the abandoned train tracks became almost relaxing, not eery. We walked back to Manhattan and into Central Park where we finally got to hire bikes – which I was extremely excited about. But, I have to say, I was surprised how many hills and dips there is in Central Park, at times I felt like it was never-ending! We visited Strawberry Fields and the Alice Statue (which was sadly covered in children to be able to take a picture).
After returning our bikes we made our way back to our hotel to pick up our suitcases and made our way to the airport. NYC was an amazing but exhausting holiday, its something you have to plan beforehand if not its impossible to get everything done; I would more than recommend this trip to anyone if you’re considering it. But, now it’s time to plan my next trip, please comment below where you think I should visit next – I’m very open to new ideas.