The power of pop is such that I now struggle to say the words ‘New York’ without my brain echoing ‘New Yorrrrk’ Alicia Keys-style. With every sip of coffee in Central Park, every swish of upper-east-sider hair and the fact that ‘it does not say R.S.V.P on the Statue of Liberty’, New York has been ingrained in my own popular culture context for as long as I can remember and I’ve always dreamt of going there. In my head, I’d be running down sidewalks with an armful of magazines and coffee cups, sipping Manhattans in achingly cool bars and hailing yellow taxis with a confident flourish. The reality, of course, is that I was a major tourist, my friend Hayley got food poisoning in Little Italy and I walked pretty much everywhere. BUT, New York still lived up to every expectation and I’m dying to go back.
A little bit like London, New York just oozes busyness and city-cool. Everyone seems to know what they’re doing, where they’re going and there’s a buzz of activity and import. I recommend just walking around the simple-to-navigate block system, darting in and out of cafes and soaking up the shopping sights just to get a good feel for it. Bloomingdales was sadly not as marvellous as I imagined, but it felt exciting just to mimic the life of an everyday New Yorker.
New York doesn’t have as many beautiful historic buildings as London but what it lacks in character, it makes up for in the height stakes. I got a crick in my neck staring up at all the skyscrapers touching the sun. It’s a concrete jungle but it’s a spectacular one. Head up the Rockefeller to get breath-taking views across the whole city and some seriously shareable snaps. It’s pricey but totally worth it and word on the street is that the Rockefeller is better than the Empire State because you can see the Empire State! From the top of the city, it becomes pretty clear that Central Park is a green oasis in the middle of a man-made world. I highly recommend going for a stroll there to admire a place where city and nature encroach and stop to enjoy a drink in the scenic boathouse, which feels ever-so-sophisticated.
The queue for Broadway tickets on the day is off-puttingly long but the show at the end – Once – was beautiful – stunning music and vocals and an endearing story and cast of characters. After the show, Nolita offers a variety of cool and intimate bars, Sweet and Viscous was recommended by my friend Jennie and lived up to the mark.
Another recommendation from another friend, Max, saw Hayley and I enjoy a delicious breakfast at North End Grill, which is very close Ground Zero. My French toast with lemon cream, berries and maple syrup was scrumptious and Hayley managed to make it through her pile of hash browns. That may not sound like a rave review but it was the first food she’d managed to eat in 24 hours (since the Little Italy incident) so we had a celebratory toast.
Our whirlwind 2.5 day trip ended on journey to Staten Island to sail past the Statue of Liberty. I say ‘journey’ in the actual sense of the word as we basically got off for 10 minutes and then got the boat back – it was blowing up a storm. In all honesty, the windows on the ferry are dirty and you sail far away from the statue, so it’s not something I’d recommend if you’re only there for a short trip.
But what I do recommend is going to New York. Flights can be really reasonable and accommodation is not far behind. Our 3* hotel opposite the Rockefeller was only £60 per night each (for a shared double). And, most importantly, go with a good friend, so that even if your 2.5 day trip is blighted by 24 hours of throwing up, you can still have an amazing time!