Being one of four girls is a massive part of who I am. From the moment I took my first breath, I have been a sister – first a younger sister to Emily and then an older sister to Hannah and Eleanor – and being part of an automatic gang of four is my favourite thing in the world. It’s an unquestionable, unconditional bond on a whole different level and, although we might squabble more than our parents would like, we wouldn’t be without each other.
So, it seemed only right that we celebrate the last 21st (Eleanor’s) with something special… I got my deposit back on my flat and therefore had a bit of spare cash and had got strangely addicted to watching “surprise” videos on YouTube and so booked a surprise, celebratory trip to New York for Hannah, Eleanor and I (Emily’s a teacher and so sadly couldn’t come during term time). Cue months of the whole family (and Eleanor’s boyfriend and best friend) desperately trying to keep it a secret, pretending instead that we were planning a long weekend for her in London.
As you can imagine, it was therefore a huge relief when I finally got to reveal the surprise on her birthday…
After a few more tears, lots of glasses of champagne and a very early pick up to get to the airport, we found ourselves in the Big Apple (only after Hannah had to declare the apple in the video, which she’d popped in her carry-on luggage as a snack, at US customs).
New York is cool. It’s the coolest. Industrial red brick buildings and neck-achingly high sky scrapers line the streets, which appear to stretch across the whole city. Every block is crammed full of delicious eateries and watering holes. And New York in November is not only cool, it’s really cold, so we wrapped up warm for our first day sight-seeing in Manhattan.
We battled through jet lag to cram in sights and walked everywhere as the grid system is really easy to navigate and it was the best way to take it all in. We loved the High Line – a disused railway track above the city, which has been turned into a walkway full of pretty gardens and Autumn colours. The Empire State building offered incredible views over the iconic sky line – the whole city sprawling out beneath our feet, offset against a cut-glass blue sky. Being so high up intensified the icy wind and we all got brain freeze, but it was well worth it.
After a pit-stop at the gorgeous and stately New York public library, we had lunch at Grand Central Terminal before walking to Central Park. The trees were beautiful, burnished orange and the late-afternoon sun haloed everything in a golden light. We strolled through, stopped to listen to some hugely talented buskers and bathed in the surrealness of finally being in the city after the months of planning and secret-keeping.
Williamsburg was our home for our stay and I have a whole host of foodie recommendations for the hipster borough of Brooklyn, which will have to wait for my next blog…