NEW YORK! My favourite place on earth! This was my third trip to NYC and as difficult as it was this one managed to be the best yet. Not only did I get to share this amazing city with my family this time but the main reason for the trip was to get married! Here’s to the most amazing 10days in the greatest city on earth!
New York never gets old!
New York is my favorite place on earth, don’t get me wrong we have been to some amazing places and plan on going to many more, but there is just something about New York which I instantly fell in love with! Years ago New York was top of my list of places to go “one day”, somewhere to aim for in many years. But that all changed in my second year of university when we were given the chance to go on a 10 day trip to NYC, I took it with both hands and couldn’t quite believe it! I knew as soon as I spotted the familiar skyline appearing over the horizon from the Queensboro bridge that I would leave my heart in this city, and when I left after that first trip in December 2008 I knew this was not the end of the love affair! That trip really opened up the world for me, it made me realise that these crazy dreams don’t need to just be that, but that they are achievable and the world is much more available than it can at first seem.
After loving New York so much in 2008 I was determined to go back and this time take Shorty, I felt bad really being able to go somewhere like that without him but when we finally both went together in February 2011 it was just the most amazing trip we could ever have imagined. We also managed to get over to Boston too whilst in the states which was another city ticked off the bucket list! This is also where Shorty joined me in my love affair for this city and we vowed to return again!
So when we came to plan our wedding we could only think of one place where we wanted it to be: NEW YORK CITY!! In the beginning we did have doubts as to how much this would cost and how easy it would be to organise, but by hook or by crook we did it! We travelled over to New York again to make our dream come true. You can read all about the wedding on our post here: We got married in NEW YORK! but this post is all about what made the wedding even more epic, the fact that we not only got married in NYC but also got to spend another amazing 10 days in this crazy city, and this time we got to share it with my family.
Whilst in New York we also took a trip over to DC, which was another dream come true, read all about it here: A day in WASHINGTON DC. This is also more of a report, kind of like our digital journal of our trip, anecdotes, stories and feelings about what we got up to, but if you just want to get down to the nitty gritty of what to do in New York, never fear, I have written a guide just for you: 10 FREE things to do in New York!
So, New York then!
What is it about New York that makes it so amazing, erm, everything! But really, there is just something about it, there is an electricity, a buzz, an energy about it that just hits you as soon as you enter the city. It feels like no other city, like there is something always going on, something to be seen or experienced and not always good things, but it’s that unpredictability that is infectious. It’s the fact you can go out at 3:00am and go get cheesecake, catch a film at the cinema or even do a bit of shopping in Times Square, time in New York seems warped!
Another thing with New York is that you feel like you know it as soon as you arrive, even if it is your first time.The streets, the sights, they are all so familiar, it’s hard to fathom that you are really here! But the noise, the smell of the subway or the burning street food, that atmosphere is something you can never fully prepare for. Some people get overwhelmed and don’t like New York, but the things is I feel is to embrace all that information and enjoy it. To allow yourself to fall into it, to go with it, and you will most definitely love it!
There really was nowhere else in the world we would have chosen to get married and to have my family there with us was even more special. It was great that we could enjoy the city and get about as well as the wedding. To take my family to the city we love so much is a strange feeling, I was kind of nervous as I wanted them to love it too as it means so much to us, it’s like taking your boyfriend to meet your parents for the first time!!
I was a little worried as they are not as used to visiting cities whilst abroad and this type of travelling as us and thought they might feel quite overwhelmed with it all. We are also so comfortable in New York too and get into the grove of cities really easily, getting about, taking the subway, getting lost! But I was worried they would not enjoy those aspects as much as we might also feel a little held back because of that. It was hard to get a balance and I didn’t want them to miss out either, but in the end they were great!
To see people experiencing New York for the first time is a cool thing though, especially my family and once they settled in they loved it, some of the older ones took a little more getting used to it especially things like the subway but before we knew it they were getting around by themselves and we could head off on our own too and meet up later on. My mum and dad are even talking about returning again and I really hope they do!
I think the last time I was abroad with my parents and grandparents was 2010 when they took us to Egypt just after I graduated from my BA as a treat, before that it was around 2006 in Turkey I think, so being abroad with them felt a little strange and felt a lot more like when we were kids, but this time, I was in charge!!
We ended up stayed in a hotel, a 5 star hotel, which really is a treat for us as we are used to hostels, although after the luxury of the Hilton we ended up in a hostel for the last 3 days after the family went home! Staying in midtown was a little different than in Chelsea like we have in the past and if I am honest I didn’t like it as much but I appreciated for the others it was more convenient and of course the hotel itself was amazing!
If I would recommend anywhere it would be the area around near Penn station/ 34th street. It is cheaper than many other places but still very central, walking distance to Times Square and with a well connected subway stop close by, lots of places to eat for cheaper than you find elsewhere in the area and loads of cornershops to stock up on snacks for the room or to take out with you… $0.99 pizza slices too!
I just found the area to be a little more sterile and buisnessy and not too many convenience stores or cheap pizza places we had lived off last time. Being travellers on a budget I had found New York cheap last time and found some great places to eat for little money. But round here, not so much, and when we were with the family getting a subway train and walking around for an hour looking for a place to eat didn’t sit well so on those nights it cost a hell of a lot more that we has bargained for, breakfast too.
So when we moved to Chelsea we took full advantage and spent the little money we had wisely. Such as some cool little places like gray’s papaya, which I think is more towards the upper east side. I remember we just went on some crazy long walk that day starting at the docks, crossing over the park to the west side and ending up at the Flatiron building, whilst somewhere in the middle of that walking through Washington square park and Lexington Ave! Such a great day, we did loads and spent a hardly anything! Which is what is so great about New York, just walking around is an experience and we saw so much of the city we hadn’t seen before.
So. As I said. New York is crazy. I love the energy and the fact you can get anything you might like at any time of day or night. It just feels like anything could happen, I love the smell of the subway, the street food, the big open streets and the mixtures of people, how they change from one area to another. Soho is definitely somewhere I feel is the sort of place I fit in the most, like the northern quarter of Manchester, so we decided to spend a lot more time exploring around here and TriBeCa than we did last time.
We got out to the boroughs too, having visited them all before I was keen to get out again. The only one we didn’t go this time was Bronx (But I’ve already been up here on my last 2 visits), but we went to see my beloved Mets play out in queens which was an amazing experience even if we did loose. I have waited over 6 years to finally see a baseball game and my favourite team, I have seen both Shea stadium and citi field from the outside before too but to go in and experience an MLB game was another dream come true! I could have sat there every night, it was just great, the atmosphere, the sounds and smell of the traditional ball game food!
Then we took everyone out on the Staten Island ferry, my third time. The first was a crazy day on my first trip were we went all the way up to the last stop in the Bronx and then down to the last stop on Staten Island, how different can two places be in the same city! We ended up walking to the very tip of New York city and could see over to Jersey City as well, we found ourselves on a typically American estate complete with white picket fences and competing christmas lights, it was like something from desperate housewives, cool to see though.
This time we hopped on and then back. It’s a cool thing to do and you always get talking to some interesting locals on their commute, I like seeing a bits of normal life in the places I visit and you get a sense of that here whilst also seeing amazing views of the city. This time we seemed to have an armed guard following us in a speed boat which was a little strange, but epically American! It is also free too which makes it even better, my family were sceptical of where I was taking them at first but once they saw the view they realised!
We also took a trip down to Coney Island in Brooklyn. I had been here before in 2008 but it was December and it was a ghost town. Interesting never the less but after watching and loving “The Warriors” I wanted to see the place properly and go on the wonder wheel, which is more scary than it looks once you are in one of those swinging carts and you realise it’s nearly 100 years old!
Again, going down here is cool because there are not that many tourists, you get to see local life and how the city is outside Manhattan, going down to little Russian too and seeing all the sights and sounds it has to offer. Which having only been to Russia last year was certainly interesting. I love the old time feel to Coney Island, it’s like stepping back in time and even the people here seem more genuine and real than in Manhattan.
It feels like in these sorts of places you maybe get a glimpse of the more rough past to New York like in the films “The Warriors” or “Taxi Driver” that I also fell in love with growing up. I remember the first time here really feeling like an outside in quite a close community. Same with the Bronx, I remember a guy coming over and asking us if we had missed our stop as “they don’t get tourist that far up the tracks”.
Some of the other highlights of the trip where taking another walk across the Brooklyn bridge. Last time it was below zero, this time I nearly melted! We decided to have a lock engraved and attach it to the bridge and drop the keys into the river. Hopefully in a few years, maybe 5 or 10, we will be able to come back and see it again. This time we had Liam and Ollie in tow and it was cool to see them in awe of it and the lower Manhattan skyline. It’s such a photogenic place I always end up with too many photos!
We decided to go and have a look downtown, last time we went we didn’t spend as much time down here as we maybe could, although we saw quite a lot of battery park we kind of skipped through wall street without going into federal hall, which I now realise is a really cool place to go in! But at least we got to do something we hadn’t already done. I am quite fascinated with US history and how it connects with ours so seeing a lot of the things in there relating to the inauguration of Washington and the foundation of the country was interesting indeed!
We had intended on coming down here a few days earlier but it rained so hard we had to go back and get changed and decided to go shopping instead! But that rainy day began that bright we were all out in only t-shirts and shorts! This was the Monday and we decided to head out bright and early to get the wedding licence at city hall and have a look around. The procedure was straight forward enough and quite novel really getting to see a little bit more of America and how it works behind all the tourist stuff.
There were quite few people getting married in city hall itself, queueing up to be called in. It was quite strange actually, but I guess if you wanted something simple and without too much of a wait, here it is! After that we had a bit of a look around the city hall area, we had expected it to take a little longer so had to wait to meet up with the others at the subway before heading over to ground zero. This is when the rail started! My feet would have been drier if I had worn flip flops, but I doubt I could have ran across to the subway with such haste!
We had booked a slot for the memorial for later that morning so, wet thought, we headed over on the subway. As we went over to the memorial the rain was still coming down hard! The memorial is great and it’s nice to finally see something here after coming twice before and it just being a building site. The pools are a lot larger than I imagined and it really is quite moving to think back to the images of that day and know you are there. The freedom tower is also at it’s full height now although still not fully finished, it’s quite an impressing building to be stood at the bottom of looking up and can be seen from all over the city.
Some of the other highlights include staying on the subway train at city hall to catch a glimpse of the hidden station closed in the 40’s. It was cool just to see the subway train totally empty for once too, and at one point we did think we had gotten ourselves trapped down there for the day, but the station is quite a sight and a nice little hidden gem.
The highline park in Chelsea is also really cool, it is an old converted railway track that was used to supply nearby warehouses in the areas industrial past that until a few years ago had been left to over grow and rot… I would love to have gone up before though as well! Now it has been re fashioned into a unique park with bits of the train track still visible and native flowers still growing in there, walking high about the street with great views of the city and the old buildings, it gives you a new angle on the city. Really enjoyed our walk through here, it feels a little urbexy and wild, but also quite fashionable and cool!
The Jekyll and Hyde club is definitely something to check out too, it is located just off times square and is like stepping back in time to Victorian London, the place is decorated in such a fascinating way and the staff are great actors, the food is top notch too.
So New York for my third time, you have been as amazing as ever. Walking though Times Square is something that gets me everytime, even after a few days when you are used to it. I love to just sit on the red steps and take it all in. At night time it is different again and great to do a bit of shopping and exploring the unique shops such as the amazing Toys’r’us with it’s indoor ferris wheel. Having a proper American breakfast is also one of the best things to do in NYC and is crazy cheap for what you get, blueberry pancakes everyday, I think I need to go on a diet after this trip!
New York, until next time, thank you for making our dreams come true! 10 of the most amazing days in my life!