Hello my lovelies! Hope you all enjoyed my post on my first days in New York City in December. If you haven’t read it yet, go take a look!
We woke up to a grey, misty and rainy morning in NYC on our third day. Just look at the New York Times building, disappearing into the mist! You lose half the city skyline when the weather is like this- it’s really strange. We went to Tick Tock Diner, another TripAdvisor recommended spot for breakfast, which was pleasant enough food-wise but really cramped and not very clean. I’m talking mouldy UHT milk carton-clean- yuck. We would have walked some of the way, but as it was so grim we got a cab to the 9/11 Memorial Site. The weather seemed fitting for the solemn atmosphere, but the memorial site is beautiful and really breathtaking. Thinking about how two huge buildings once stood in the craters that are now beautiful memorials was very sad, and seeing all the names of the people who lost their lives engraved around the sides was very upsetting. There was a beautiful white rose stuck on one of the names, which was beautiful.
I was absolutely exhausted from our full day of activities the day before, but I also didn’t think that my usual grin was really appropriate in this setting! The new One World Trade Center building, the tallest on the Western Hemisphere, was spectacular and of course disappeared way off into the mist above…
Next, we headed to Century 21 to do some bargain Christmas shopping! We were hungry when we got there and luckily there was a tiny cafe. I ordered a Red Velvet Hot Chocolate, which was delicious for the first two sips, and then really, really sickly! We shared a pretzel to take away the sweetness of the drinks, and then headed off to find some bargains. We bought loads here for our families, and a cute little apple-shaped snow globe for our living room- gotta have a classic NY snow globe!
It was still miserable, so our plans to go on the Staten Island Ferry to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty went on hold. We headed to find the Brooklyn Bridge, stopping for a Starbucks to warm up on the way. I desperately wanted to walk across, but we didn’t think we could appreciate the NY skyline in such horrible weather! Can’t wait to visit Brooklyn the next time we’re in the City- there’s a whole other side to New York City that we never got to experience.
One of the things I knew I wanted to treat myself to on this holiday was a new watch. I had worn the same Swatch jelly-type watch that George bought me for three years, and I fancied something a bit smarter. We took a cab to the Marc Jacobs Accessories store in Greenwich Village, because I had seen several different models online that I fell in love with. Unfortunately, all of the ones I had liked were discontinued, but they said we may have more luck at Macy’s or Bloomingdales. Slightly disappointed, we headed for a late lunch at Le Pain Quotidien in the Village. I’m not going to include this in my food post, as it is a global chain that we just happened to come across, so I’m sure it’s pretty similar wherever you go. However, I loved the feel of this particular branch as it felt like an independent cafe and had some lovely breads and other products on offer to buy.
I had sweet potato soup with rye bread, and hot mulled apple cider, which was absolutely delicious and so warming! George had an open sandwich with chicken, pesto and mozzarella, which was also really yummy.
We ended up walking all the way to Bloomingdales in SoHo, as we couldn’t flag down a cab the whole way! Normally, I don’t mind walking at all, but it was just the weather and the fact that we were so incredibly tired. We made it though, and on the way we saw this really weird poster, advertising for candidates with health problems who wanted to ‘live forever’- it was quite funny in a bizarre way- you wouldn’t see anything like that in the UK!
We made it to Bloomingdales and, although it was a smaller store than the main one which we didn’t get to go to, it was still beautiful and I found the watch of my dreams! They still didn’t have any of the ones I wanted initially, but this one had been on my mind since I first saw it a few months before, and I was so pleased to finally have a beautiful Marc Jacobs watch! I even got a tourist discount of 10%, and then an additional 10% on top of that when I realised there were a few slight scuffs on the bracelet. The bargains just find me!
We went to the cafe for a drink before we headed back to the hotel. and I had a little design nerd moment with the packaging design of our juices!
One tip for anyone new to NYC? Don’t try and get a cab at 4.30pm- it’s the changeover of the drivers’ shifts and none of them will pick you up unless you’re on their route home. We tried for 15 minutes, before finding the nearest subway station and making our first trip underground! It wasn’t as bad as some people say, and a lot closer to the ground than London underground so it’s much more convenient. We were back to the hotel in no time, and we chilled out in our room before heading down to the bar for cocktails at Happy Hour!
I had a ‘Harlem’ and George had a ‘SoHo’- both were delicious and pretty strong- good value for money! There were little nibbles on offer as well, none of which were upto much, but it was a good little option to have. We spoke to another couple from the UK, who had just arrived for their second visit, and they gave us some recommendations for the rest of our trip.
This was the night of the big switch-on of the Rockefeller Tree, with celebrities like Idina Menzel, Seth MacFarlane and Lady Gaga performing. En route to the Rockefeller Plaza, we stopped off at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Times Square to get some fried shrimp to go, but ended up staying and eating it at the bar! It was SO delicious, and we are big Forrest Gump fans so it was a great experience eating here. We really wanted to be able to watch, but totally underestimated how big the crowds would be. We couldn’t get past Radio City Music Hall, which is a block away from the Rockefeller Plaza, because the roads were all blocked off! Maybe if there weren’t huge protests going on surrounding the Eric Garner ‘I Can’t Breathe’ debate, which meant we had to keep moving around every few minutes, we would have stayed around to soak up the atmosphere, but truthfully there was none- no screens or anything to see what was going on down the block- so we gave up and went to get some proper food!
One of George’s colleague’s recommended spots was Junior’s Diner, which we stumbled across in the Theater District- and I am SO glad we did! I wasn’t really that hungry, but I couldn’t turn down one of their juicy burgers and the best cheesecake in NYC. The cocktails we had were so strong, I had to ask for some more cranberry juice to water down my Cosmopolitan- it was pure alcohol and so was George’s!
I am totally making love to my burger here- it was as big as my head and absolutely DELICIOUS. The sautéed onions just absolutely made it. More to come in my food post! We managed to watch the Rockefeller Christmas show on the TVs at the bar- with a much warmer surrounding!
Once again, we took to the rainy streets of Times Square to revisit Toys R Us, and check out Hershey’s World (not worth it- it’s tiny and the prices are ridiculous!)
Once again, the pictures of George are all where I was like ‘Oh oh! Get a picture with the Lego Hulk! Oh oh! Get a picture with this Optimus Prime!’ He doesn’t enjoy having his picture taken haha!
On our way back to the hotel, we saw a car getting towed, and had to snap a picture because again it’s so ‘typical New York’! After another busy day, we couldn’t wait to settle down in our comfy hotel bed and rest up for our last full day in the City *sobs*
Thankfully, we woke up to a beautiful morning and there wasn’t a cloud in sight! I loved chilling in my hotel robe in bed- I would have bought one for myself if they weren’t $80!!
We wanted to tick another NYC favourite off our list- the classic bagel! We headed to Zucker’s Bagels, opposite Grand Central and just down the side of Pershing Square where we ate our first breakfast. My bagel was phenomenal, and it was one of the cheapest meals we had while we were there! I look so knackered in this picture- because I am haha!
The Christmas market in Bryant Park was next on our list, but it was the coldest it had been for our whole trip on this clear, wintery day, so we picked up a Starbucks to walk there with! I loved catching little glimpses of the Empire State building between buildings- it’s so iconic and gave me a little flutter every time I saw it.
In Bryant Park, we sat and watched the ice skating, and while we sat there was some filming going on- it was quite exciting! The guy was English, and it sounded like he had travelled all over the world filming these little snippets for the ’10 Best Business Moments of 2014.’ I’ve tried searching to find the video, but no such luck- we were in shot the entire time!
We walked back to Rockefeller Plaza to see the Christmas tree which was now twinkling with lights! The Nintendo store caught our eye and, being the nerds that we are, we popped in and bought a little Charmander plush toy, as well as admiring the retro merchandise and stopping for a quick game of Pokémon on the DS station in the foyer.
After stopping to buy some Christmas decorations and presents for our friends and family from Barnes & Noble and a Christmas pop-up store, we walked down Fifth Avenue and back to further explore Central Park. We climbed a big rock overlooking one of the lakes, and the view was spectacular! I love this picture of us with the autumnal colours in the background.
It didn’t seem right to refuse a horse-drawn carriage ride around the park- it is a tourist tradition after all! Our driver was funny and informative, although it was difficult to hear him talking sometimes. We went past The Oak Room (a Gossip Girl location- most famously used in the series 2 finale- I am OBSESSED with that show!) and saw Lady Gaga’s apartment in the building next door.
George took some amazing pictures on his phone- it’s the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the camera is so much better than my iPhone 5! The crisp autumn colours show up so well.
After passing Strawberry Fields to see the John Lennon ‘Imagine’ memorial, we headed out to the West Side of the park to visit Harry’s Burritos. It was another recommendation, a local spot, but we didn’t rate it. My burrito was lovely apart from the rice, which had some really hard bits in so it wasn’t as enjoyable. I had a pounding headache, which didn’t help the situation, but the restaurant itself was a bit run-down and they didn’t seem to welcome tourists. After I found some ibuprofen in my bag, we headed back to the park to further indulge my Gossip Girl obsession by visiting the Bethesda Fountain from the final episode. On the way, we crossed a cute little bridge that had a beautiful view across the lake.
Here it is! The Bethesda Fountain, which was beautiful despite it not actually being switched on! The Bethesda Terrace is just as beautiful, with the arches, and is the scene of my favourite EVER GG moment (I won’t spoil it if you’ve yet to watch it, which you definitely should if it’s your thing!)
After going back to the hotel to chill out and watch TV, it was time to head to the Shubert Theatre for Matilda the Musical! I am a HUGE musicals fan, and was really excited to see this as I’d heard great things but never actually heard the soundtrack. I wanted to leave it as a surprise so I didn’t have any prior impressions, and it was definitely the right thing to do. The theatre was much smaller and older than I expected, especially compared to the West End theatres in London, but the show was absolutely spectacular. The children in the cast were so talented, the songs were so well written, and the sets were amazing and so cleverly put together. Definitely do not miss seeing this show either on Broadway or the West End when you get a chance- I need to see it on the West End now to compare!
Carmine’s Midtown restaurant was just across the road from the theatre, but we couldn’t get a table for 45 minutes and this was after 10pm! So, we did what we never thought we’d do and ate at the same place twice out of desperation and hunger. Bubba Gump’s is really good considering it’s a chain, and their shrimp is just…. MMMM, it’s making my mouth water as I write! We had peel ‘n eat shrimp and shrimp mac ‘n cheese appetisers to share as we weren’t too hungry, and then shared an indulgent waffle with LOADS of cream on top, all washed down with a blueberry Louisiana lemonade cocktail- we got souvenir glasses to take away!
As it was our last night in this amazing city, we knew we had to go up the Empire State Building, even though it’s a 20-minute walk from Times Square and we were both tired and sore from so much walking! We couldn’t get a cab because the protests were still going strong, and people were being loaded onto buses after being arrested- it was quite a sight for our last night.
The Empire State Building in all its glory at nighttime is really amazing. It represents New York everywhere, from movies to posters to books (and Gossip Girl, of course!), and it is stunning when it is all lit up. It was midnight by the time we got there, and we still had to queue for a bit to get through security! I wouldn’t even consider going during the day without a skip-the-queue pass, but I think the Rockefeller Centre is much better for the view during the day and we barely had to queue at 10.30am.
Being at the top in the middle of winter was beyond freezing- i’m surprised we didn’t freeze to the spot! It was breathtaking though and, as tired as we were, once we emerged onto the rooftop and saw the city lights from all the way up there it didn’t matter. I could have stayed for hours just drinking it in, but eventually it was time to go back to our hotel for one final night. I loved the little New York snowy cityscape model on the way out!
Phew! What a great couple of days that was- I just love reminiscing it, and we’re already planning our next trip for October 2016 after I graduate- I cannot wait! I want to go around Halloween time, as there’s meant to be loads of events and things to do, plus it won’t be quite as cold.
Have you ever celebrated Halloween in New York- do you have any recommendations? Have you ever done any of the things from this post? Hope you enjoyed reading!