New York ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

Have been meaning to post this amongst my blog for ages. Using this current miserable weather ๐ŸŒงsituation to catch up on everything I have been avoiding whilst it was lovely and sunny โ˜€๏ธ (and whilst I was feeling depressed/unmotivated/tired etc during the miserable winter months…) SO… New York ๐Ÿ—ฝ. What can I say? There is not enough time; even when you think there is. There is never enough time; as per one of my biggest, most longstanding, impossible to get over; anxieties. I did however, see a wonderful verse from (American) poet Henry Van Dyke (in the 9/11 tribute centre) which perfectly sums up/helps(ish) my anxiety; 
“Time is/too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice; but for those who love, time is not.”

Christmas in New York ๐Ÿ’–

(A reminder, if we ever needed it; to live in the moment; definitely something I witnessed in New York, whilst I took some (lots, as per!) photos, hundreds of people were constantly filming and watching through a lens/watching later, that which they could have physically lived.. to me, photos help me (and my Dory ๐Ÿ  memory) to remember, I look back at some, print some for our photo wall… but do I re-watch over and over videos that I should/would/did just watch in real life at the time? No. Wedding DVD; yes (though not enough!!). Walking around New York/snow falling at the Empire State.. no.. a classic for me, was people taking photos/videoing the time lapse of the view from the Empire State at night.. that was on constant replay whilst in the queue to go back down the Empire State… if you didn’t just take those photos of YOUR experience whilst AT THE TOP.. then I’m seriously worried for you..!!
We walked between 9.3-13.7 miles a day ๐ŸŽ’. We met some lovely chatty (American) people who JUST LOVE the British accent. We dealt with crazy amounts of people. Everywhere. Some just pure idiotic. We’ve decided that unless you’d pre-booked that far in advance (and that’s unlikely/impossible) then taking a young child {in pushchair} on holiday to New York, other than that of one still small enough to be being carried around in a papoose is a totally, completely, utterly ignorant/irresponsible thing to do. Pushchairs/prams/buggies, whatever you want to call them, in central New York are just a disaster; unless you live there with kids: just don’t. And for the love of god, people, use the WiFi – if you aren’t using data – when it’s available. Map out your routes, screenshot it, seriously; New York is a GRID SYSTEM. It is probably the easiest city in the world to navigate ๐Ÿ—บ. Even my navigational/directionally retarded husband could (mostly!) figure it out; DO NOT JUST COME TO A COMPLETE STANDSTILL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET BECAUSE YOU ARE CONFUSED/LOST.. stand aside!! THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE CO-EXISTING ALONGSIDE YOU, you are NOT alone in this world. Another great (hilarious, but sadly true) quote from one of the Rockefeller attendants was; “this is your world, I’m just in it trying to help”….!

Other than that, even given my husband is a self-confessed country bumpkin who didn’t even “visit London until I was in my (late) teens!!” We LOVE New York. I thought I had a soft spot for (SE) Asia? I love New York. I really do.
Few other tips for anyone who has never been and is going to/wants them..
Subway๐Ÿš‡

Didn’t use it. I’ve heard before of even New Yorkers finding it difficult to understand how to use, despite New York being an amazingly simple grid system. So, I can’t help. Plus, I went to New York with the worry that I couldn’t afford to gain any weight-but I’m still going to try ALL the food… so all walking was a bonus calorie burner for me (albeit nowhere near ENOUGH of a calorie burner!) 
Crowne Plaza Times Square

Decent hotel. Bit dated. Every time we ran the hot water in the sink it absolutely stank of sewage (despite being 30 floors up). Shower took far too long for America to heat up (I’d expect that in Bali perhaps, but having been there and not experienced that, I certainly wouldn’t expect it in NYC!!), toilet didn’t flush properly unless you pressed and held the handle down (even for literally just a wee!!) On our last afternoon we noticed we could hear the wind howling in from somewhere on the corridor, this continued into the night.. also slightly concerned that, unlike other hotels where they stipulate where to put towels etc if you do/do not want changing to “help the environment”, this was non existent, suggesting they were changed unnecessarily every day?! I assume this as the cups left in the bathroom which we used every day for teeth cleaning/water at night were then chucked out and we were given new ones.. wrapped in cellophane/plastic…!! Lifts also seemed crazy slow?! However, our Uber did manage to drop us right at the door, check in was quick and friendly and we were given (extra) drinks vouchers. WiFi mostly worked ok.. we also had a “back” room (3016 – aka not facing Times Square) which, apart from the wind howl on the last night, was reasonably quiet. Some disturbance from other ignorantly loud guests/morning of our last day I was woken several times by what I can only assume was someone’s old school 90’s style alarm (didn’t appear to have one in our room so presumably not hotel provided), which scared me for a few seconds when assuming it was a fire alarm.. however, from being in the Times Square-facing hallway and hearing nothing from Times Square, I would assume the glazing/building is strong enough to block the noise and for you to still get a decent night sleep…

DO NOT book it based solely on the fact there is an (indoor) swimming pool (particularly in winter!!?! But in Summer I would be tempted with an outdoor rooftop pool..!). If you’ve not used the subway ๐Ÿš‡, not got bogged down in yellow cab ๐Ÿš• traffic nightmare, and walked ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿฝeverywhere; you won’t use it. When you do go to use it, they won’t let you if they deem it “full” (even if you can see from your room how empty it is) or if you don’t have a swimming cap.. (I had washed my hair the day before and wasn’t getting it wet – thus needing to wash – whilst swimming, but still I wasn’t allowed.. plus, I haven’t worn one of those pull-your-hair-out vile rubber swimming caps since I was about 13 years old, I sure as hell ain’t planning to wear one again now!!) book a cheaper hotel/nicer hotel for the same price if not less. Use booking.com, look for decent WiFi/decent sized comfy beds (especially if you have a +6ft partner)/good location as that’s most important/useful for us these days.
Bar Americain

Overall, we liked this, although slightly random. Really easily located from above mentioned Crowne Plaza/Times Square. Kir Royale mostly tasted like black currant (we think our yank friends don’t really “get” champagne/prosecco). Rosemary Bee’s Knees is the most rosemary thing I have EVER tasted.. and I like Rosemary.. steaks however, are massively overpriced.. they literally come with nothing (so steak + side(s)!!) and if you don’t like “blackened/charcoal) then just don’t go there.. I ordered the filet mignon, and whilst it came medium rare as requested; the outside was blackened/char-coaled which I don’t particularly enjoy.. the creamed kale was delicious, and we quite liked the smashed potatoes with goats cheese – but the fries LOOKED amazing..! If I went back, I’d join the husband on the “normal”, “entrees” menu part, where everything is sub 35 dollars.. it did all look amazing.. I just pretty much got talked into the steak (P.S. the “steak sauce” is waaaay too strong on the mustard, so if you do go for it, go easy, unless you have a cold you want clearing out!!)

Husband had the buttermilk fried chicken (because he’s addicted) – so if you like battered chicken + biscuit (savoury scone), it was good.. โœ…

Bar Americain

Black Tap ๐Ÿ–ค

Freakshakes. Semi worth the wait.. we got a bit lucky. We just did as everyone else and waited in the queue. We had been waiting about an hour when someone came out checking the kinds of numbers of groups in the queue. The girl almost missed us, thinking we were with the girls in front – so I piped up that we were a party of two.. thank goodness – she asked us if we would be happy sitting at the bar, we said of course, and she took us straight in.. the bar was empty bar two other girls at that point, so we sat pretty much where we wanted and had plenty of space.. the freakshakes were insane.. and good.. I’d recommend the peanut butter one if you like PB.. it comes with the most crazy stuff.. M&M’s stuck to the glass, a caramel chew stick, Reese’s PB cups, etc.. nom. We also had burgers each. Sweet potato fries were good although a little cold when they arrived (I think the server had wondered around a while looking for us; bad planning Black Tap for not knowing exactly where she needed to go?!) chicken burger was better than the burger I had (The Californian), however, both husband and I prefer chicken burgers to anything else (the Californian is turkey, I picked it for the avocado & “sauce” (mayo?!) however I think they will “custom make”/switch in/out to an extent.. freakshake is what it is all about but after queuing so long you may as well eat properly/you’ll probably want to! We actually are our meal and drank our freakshakes, and got back out of Black Tap before the girls in front of us even got in.. they probably still had another hours wait… so definitely worth sitting at the bar!!

Freakshakes. Always Freakshakes.

Cronuts 

Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring Street appears to have patented these… this is a classic example of DO YOUR RESEARCH before you travel.. we had literally walked past this bakery early in the morning days before (to get to Battery Park for Statue of Liberty).. so back that way we went.. we certainly walked for (some!!) of our food!!!

Husband is adamant if these were readily available in supermarkets then you wouldn’t even look at them.. and he’s probably right, but he’s been right a lot lately so I can’t give him that credit – plus, as a female, I go through mental cravings. Sometimes I NEED a five pack of Sainsbury’s jam doughnuts (Sainsbury’s (outside Krispy Kreme) are the best, don’t even think about giving me anything else!) so I think there are occasions where I could NEED 5 cronuts (as it turns out, I had three…๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฉ). DA Bakery (lazy typer) does a different flavour every month, so, providing I wasn’t going back in December next year where flavour COULD be the same (standard American Christmas, peppermint (Americans always seem to LOVE peppermint?!) with cherry jam).. we both, plus (overhearing) couple next to us in the Bakery thought the peppermint was too much/didn’t work, but fortunately, the peppermint was just icing, so you could peel it off; where, it somehow tasted less pepperminty. On occasion, I would decide I needed a bit of the peppermint again in the same mouthful… so it was a bit of a love-hate relationship.. I’d queue again for a different flavour (FYI we got to the queue just before 7am as recommended by another blog, where we were then 3rd and 4th in line) but not for the same flavour.. but if I could go back in time knowing what I know now, I still would… it’s an unlikely opportunity to try something and I LOVE/LIVE to try. Also, advice is to consume the cronut within 6-8 hours. We bought the max (4; 2 per person) but as husband didn’t enjoy it, I got his 2nd, so I ended up eating one for breakfast the next day (+24 hours later) and it tasted amaze. Un-refrigerated (but carried around for hours in the pouring rain before being left in room temperature hotel room).. so they can keep that long at least.

Also – don’t be tempted by buying EVERYTHING else in the bakery like Miss Piggy ๐Ÿท๐Ÿฝ over here… I am SO greedy and really only the Cronut’s are worth it… for me anyway.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cronuts

Sarabeth’s (Central South Park, but there are a few)

Brunch. Go. Always busy. Always worth it. Almond French Toast of dreams!

Central Park dreaming ๐Ÿ’•

See a show on Broadway (Lion King๐Ÿฆ)/Central Park/General Shopping (especially at Christmas)

You can’t really go to New York and NOT do these things…. pointless..! I was gutted I couldn’t run around any of Central Park due to injury.. next time!! Also, we came across cute and quirky Broadway Market in Lower Manhattan, off Broadway [obvs!] (not too far away from Dominique Ansel Bakery..!!) which is definitely worth a browse.

Broadway Market

Chelsea Market/The High Line

Chances are you can walk from wherever your hotel is, along the high line to Chelsea Market. Both are worth it. The highline is a beautifully done “up” with greenery, art, pop-up stalls, etc. ex railway line. Chelsea Market is just cute with some quirky shops/restaurants/lobster rolls (the “thing”, apparently!)

The High Line (promise I’m not the naked sunbather this time!)
Beautiful Chelsea Market (I love a fairy light ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿฆ„.. & flowers ๐ŸŒบ!!)
Rockefeller Christmas Tree ๐ŸŽ„

Rockefeller/Top of the Rock

I had bought the ticket price of this as part of our “New York Explorer Pass” via attractions direct. (Use Quidco, if not already signed up, sign up here…! http://www.quidco.com/user/2874440/2414459/) I had assumed (correctly) it would be a case of “swap/scan explorer pass in exchange for ticket at particular time”… so keep a rough eye on the weather. We were exhausted and when we “swapped” our explorer passes at 3/4pm one day, the next availability that day was after 9(pm) and as 30-ish year olds, we didn’t want that late (we generally were up at 5/6am!) so we booked sunset the next day, knowing we also had the Empire State Building to do as part of said Explorer Pass..

So, the weather the next day turned out to be HIDEOUS.. it rained all day.. until sunset.. we caught some of the sunset at the top, but when we got down to ground and started walking around again, we found the most beautiful skies (see below) which could only have been utterly stunning from top of the rock.. (check the weather, and then) book sunset, and book it as soon as possible when you arrive in New York if you have an explorer pass.. you’ll see why when you scroll down to Empire State info!

Top of the Rock

Beautiful sunset skies just as we got to the bottom of the Rockefeller… wait!!

Empire State Building

Beware. Once again, we had this as part of our “New York Explorer Pass” but, what we hadn’t realised, is that you didn’t book this for a specific time. You can exchange your “New York explorer pass”/buy a ticket whenever you like, but, it isn’t set for a specific time. So you can queue up, buy, then come back, queue again and then view… but you will always wait in the queue… so, for example, we “queued up” (no queue) to exchange our tickets when it was bucketing it down with rain. They stamped our passes then with “no view” in case we decided to go up when we “bought” (exchanged) so we couldn’t claim a refund for lack of view (whilst walking through the queue line, every attendant was saying “no view”)… we didn’t realise when we got to ticket purchasing desk that it wouldn’t be stamped with the set time for the next day like we had planned (and like top of the rock), so we had to go through the same process (including security!) the next day (where the queue was then a lot bigger!)… you CAN buy an “express pass” either in advance, or on the day, or even upgrade on the day.. but I would say it wasn’t worth it. When we were in the queue (with tickets) “on the day”, even when we had gone through some of the queue, all attendants were saying 2-2.5 hours.. we were up and back out again within that “2 hour” time frame.. we think they say it to get you to pay the extra $31pp for the “express pass” for no reason.. we saw people at the top that had paid for “express” tickets.. whilst we think they were letting far too many people up at once/it was crazy busy, it wasn’t worth paying the extra for the “express pass” just get in the queue early enough; you can stay up as long as you want/can be bothered once you get there (as at 2016!) so, if you want sunset in winter, I’d get in the queue about 1.5-2hours before sunset is due..

Empire State of mind

9/11 Museum

WARNING; New York Explorer Pass DOES NOT cover this.. I had misread that it did. It in fact only cover’s the tribute centre, so we didn’t make it to the museum. Probably for the best, as, being the over-emotional wreck that I am, I was struggling to blink back the tears just from what was in the tribute centre (we didn’t even do the walking tour!) however, as sick as it sounds, I am fascinated by 9/11. A lot more so than 7/7 despite 7/7 being on “home turf” I am awed by the stories of fate/luck and near survival and loss. I am awed alongside questioning of the conspiracy theories out there. I find the entire disaster just completely insane; and I am gutted to have missed out on the museum. I would do it if we went back; Book in advance. We arrived not long after 9 (opening time) and queues were already insane) and, I’d allow a day for it, given the time we spent in the tribute centre (and could have spent longer + done the 90min walking tour). Do it. These are real life stories/encounters; they won’t be fresh from the humans themselves forever, sadly, we all have to end somewhere.

9/11 Memorial xx
Spooky story & image to match from a 9/11 firefighter.. โœ๏ธ
9/11 Museum

Statue of Liberty/Liberty Island/Ellis Island/Immigration Museum

Again, we just DID NOT seem to have enough time here. I also could only get us tickets to the pedestal of Lady Liberty ๐Ÿ—ฝ – not the Crown as it gets fully booked months in advance; which is a shame as I’d have happily walked the full 354 steps to the top (where vertigo anxiety would likely have taken over, as per..!) so top tip is to book this as far in advance as you can! The immigration museum on Ellis Island is fascinating – there is SO MUCH to look at and take in – anyone who manages to “do” New York in 4 days is insane! I’d recommend the immigration museum as well as the tour of the old, unrestored immigrant hospital buildings, which again we just didn’t have time for; but definitely next time..!!

Ellis Island Immigration Museum
Lady Liberty

Grand Central Station

Just beautiful. Worth a visit for the beauty even if you aren’t travelling… and those whispering walls? They really work!

[but don’t try to grab food there… queues are insane!]

Grand Central Station
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2 thoughts on “New York ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

    1. Free travel ~ in the style I like/need (business/first.. ๐Ÿ˜‰) around this fascinating big world of ours? Yes please… but alas, I fell in love… so only if he gets to come too… ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜˜ xx
      Thanks Lesley… if there is anyone out there wanting me to be a travel writer – I’m up for it.. with or without the husband/dog..! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜˜ xx

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