The city that never sleeps.
Manhattan is the city that everyone has dreamed of at one point in their life. As a 15 year old girl, this was my dream also. I went out there for my oldest friends birthday. We had been discussing it for almost a year, and to be honest I thought that it would just stay as a dream that we would discuss for years to come. However, when october came around plans became set in stone. It was safe to say I was ecstatic!
The day came, we went to the airport and boarded the plane. I sat down and prepared for the flight. Now, I have a tendency to attract some very odd people. I think I have one of those “I know you from somewhere” faces. I turned to my friend (who I shall refer to as F), and said “You ready to spend the next 8 hours sat next to me?” before F could reply an old man wearing a hat larger than his body and with one tooth left in his head turned to me’ smiled and said “you ladies better get comfortable, this is going to be the longest flight of your life”. I just smiled and agreed. It’s best not to start a conversation with a crazy man you are about to be locked in a metal box 30,000 feet in the air with, just incase he thinks I wish to spend the next 8 hours swapping life stories. All in all, it was a very enjoyable flight. I had never flown with Delta airlines before and apart from a brief encounter with a moody air hostess, it was a pleasant flight.
We arrived at JFK with the intention to get a train into Manhattan. However we was approach by a woman who told us about a bus service that would take us straight to where we wanted to go. For first time visitors to new york, I would advise that if you take the bus have a rough idea of where you are going. Luckily I befriended a canadian man on the bus who was able to tell us where we should get off.
Our hotel was situated practically 50m away from Grand Central Station, which was incredibly useful. East 40th street, the Bedford hotel. It was a friendly hotel with a italian restaurant and bar in the lobby. The staff were friendly and helpful. Overall a lovely place to stay. I recommend it, and I would definitely stay again.
It was 6pm, we decided to make the most of our time as we were only there for 4 days. So we took a walk to Times Square. On our way we walked past Bryant park, which was filled with people ice skating and full of christmas lights (as it was near christmas). We often walked past this park at night as it was beautiful. After a 10 minute walk we reached Times Square. I must say I was quite awestruck by the huge screens and shops that surrounded the area. It was amazing. We ate at a little burger place along the side of the road called The Counter. For my first impression of american food, I wasn’t disappointed. However T (F’s mothers boyfriend), was outraged that the waiter didn’t know what a jd and coke was. He kept saying “this is Manhattan! surely they’d know what a jd and coke is?”. Apart from this rather funny rant, I have no complaints for The Counter.
Oh for fist time visitors to america, be aware that tipping is compulsory. I believe it is roughly 16% (could be wrong). Remember this as sometimes service charge is not added on the bill, and you will get disgraced looks from the staff if you give no tip.
For my first day in Manhattan I could conclude one thing, it really was a concrete jungle.
My first experience of the subway, the Brooklyn Bridge, Wall street, Elis Island, Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Starting with the Brooklyn Bridge. This was one of my Top experiences in Manhattan. The views were beautiful on both sides of the bridge. We walked across the whole bridge to Brooklyn. As you walk look out for information plaques situated at different parts of the bridge. They have some pretty interesting information on them. I could have stayed there all day, looking out across the river and the city. It gave me a sort of tranquility. Ironically because it is one of the busiest cities I have ever been to. When reaching Brooklyn, it was quite a big difference from the skyscrapers and business men and woman rushing around you. It was rather homely, and comfortable. I could see myself there in the late future, who knows?
The subway. Before I went to new york I had been told horror stories about the subway. About violent muggings and it being so dirty that you could smell the diseased rats. D (F’s mother) has claustrophobia, so we were apprehensive to the fact of us even going on the subway. When D made up her mind and agreed for us to go, we proceeded down into the subway. I am still confused by the subway ticket system to this day. We were given one ticket between 4 of us, there was no such thing as a all-day pass (which I think they have missed out on a good scheme there). This was a hassle as every time one person walked through, we would have to hand the ticket back to the next person. I don’t understand the logic in that, but hey, why waste my time complaining about things that I can’t change. I was readying myself for the muggers and dirt on the escalator down. We turned the corner to the platform and BOOM! There was nothing. An average station. With about 10 people on the platform, 3 were a group of old ladies taking there grandsons out. Not exactly the muggers I had been picturing- although I did almost get mugged on a bus by an old lady before in London but that is a story for another time. Through out my subway experience I was surprised that no one tried to mug me. After all the awful stories I honestly though I would of been battered and bruised left on the platform by now. This experience reminded me of a phrase I live by, Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
Wall Street. Not as exciting as you would think. If anything quite daunting and scary. You have these huge corporations hanging over your head, everywhere you look there were men and woman in suits. It made me realise how a 9 to 5 job is definitely is not for me.
Elis Island, liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty I will do all together. Well, lets start with security. I think I went through more security to get in line to see the statue than I did to get into the country. It was crazy. After spending what seemed like an eternity, we were finally on the ferry. This is where I tried my first big pretzel, must say I’m not a fan. F and I walked around the statue, it was interesting to see and a box I could now tick off. While walking around the Island I came accros a man hanging a flag, I was interested so we asked what it was for. The man told us that it was for the pearl harbour anniversary coming up on the 7th. I thought I’d add that bit of info in, I found it quite interesting. Elis island. Now I will admit, I had no idea that Elis island and Liberty island were two separate things. Not exactly a historian. But T had a real interest in going to see it. So we did, And I’m glad. I had little knowledge on what happened on the Island (most was from watching the godfather), but after going there and seeing it for myself I feel it was the best thing I could have done. You get a glimpse of what those people were going through and how it might of felt. I feel very thankful for the life I have now after reading some of the stories.
Also we kind of visited the world trade centre memorial. I say “kind of”, because it was surrounded by big boards and you had to have tickets to get in. Now, I’m not saying that this was the case, but from what it looked like you had to pay to see the 2 waterfalls. This infuriated me. I thought, no matter how much/little the cost was, that it was disgusting that you would put a cost on people’s deaths. Like I said, I have little knowledge on prices, or where the money even goes (if it goes to a charity then I am more than happy for it to proceed).
Day 2 ended, my feet were killing me (well, what feeling I had left in my feet was pain). But I wouldn’t have changed that day, it was one of the best experiences I have had.
Bloomingdales, Central Park, general shopping and the Empire State building.
Bloomingdales, more like blooming-expensive. I still advise you go, just to tick a box. But unless you’re the Queen or have an equivalent budget to her, its unlikely you will buy anything there. It’s pretty much the american version of Selfridges. I picked up a jacket I liked, and I reckon it is worth more than I am.
Central park. The calm in the centre of the storm. Central park became one of my favourite places, It has everything I like. Food, beauty and contrast. By contrast I mean being able to sit in the middle of a green park, look up and see masses of skyscrapers hanging above your head. My dream became reality when it began to snow. I felt like I was in a tacky Christmas movie, and I loved it.
For the main reason we went to New York: Christmas shopping. Best places off the top of my head was: 5th avenue, Broadway/Times square and century 21. The availability in Manhattan is second to none, if you want something I guarantee you will find it. To give you a rough idea of what shopping in Manhattan was like I will tell you about Forever 21 in Times Square. This place had 4 floors, each floor must have been a minimum of 100m by 100m. You could get lost for years in that place, and its good value for money there too!
The world renowned Empire State Building. How could we go to Manhattan without seeing this marvel? At 10pm we decided that we would go. Once there we was told that due to the snow earlier that day the visibility was very very poor. As we were going home the next day we thought we might as well go up just to say that we had done it. Now, D and T had earlier been to the bar whilst F and I had a little nap. It was safe to say that they had at least 5 limoncello’s each, and anyone who has had this before will know that this is not a light drink. This fact made the experience even more hilarious. Being blown around the 86th floor while D is convinced that she is going to fall off the building was both amusing and scary. Where it had been snowing, it was slippery and the clouds above were fiercely warping and twisting- It was absolutely breath taking. Although the view wasn’t much it was still amazing. If I ever get the chance I would love to go back and see the buildings full potential.
Day 3 is over and I start packing for the journey home tomorrow.
Goodbye New york.
The last day we spent doing extra shopping and just looking around Times Square, which had become our home. In the taxi to the airport we drove over a bridge to take us out of the city. I remember looking back and thinking that this won’t be my last time in this city. I had grown attached, and I had only been there 4 days. Thinking about it now, I think I will always have a soft spot for this city. Alway something to do, whether it 4pm or 4am;
It really was the city that never sleeps.