Sunday, 25 February 2018

A Guide To New York City

After months of planning, it felt like a dream to finally be boarding our plane to New York City. I kid you not, it was bloomin' hard to get Jay-Z Empire State Of Mind out of my head throughout the whole trip!

We flew with Norwegian which was the first time I flew with them and I was definitely impressed. The food was delicious (hello chicken and quinoa!) the staff were helpful and seats were surprisingly comfortable. We had 5 and a half days in New York, which we used to the fullest to hit up all of the tourist spots and shopping malls! Pre-flight we planned where we wanted to go, places we wanted to eat and shops we wanted to go to - and trust me there was a lot of shopping...

Day 1: Upper East and West Side
By the time we reached our hotel (Homewood Suites by Hilton if ya interested!) it was lunchtime and I was dying to stretch my legs. We headed to Central Park, exploring it's hidden beauty and of course going to the zoo! It was a small zoo and I did feel that a lot of the animals didn't have that much room, but they all looked well cared for otherwise.

Gossip Girl fans will be able to spot the references from the last two photos. I won't lie and say I didn't have a few GG locations as part of our itinerary... Before we flew to New York we bought a City Pass which includes various attractions including The Metropolitan Museum Of Art. By this point we didn't have too long (plus the jet lag was kicking in!) so we whizzed through the Egyptian, Greek and Roman Art which were very impressive! We finished the day with a burger at Burger Joint at the Le Meridian and a walk through Times Square going back to our hotel.

Day 2: Midtown
The next day was our busiest day yet - and the weather definitely lucked out for us going up Empire State Building! Top tip, get to Empire State Building early because the queues are long, although we didn't spend too long waiting. The first level is about the history of the building then the next level is the observation deck which was so packed! This was all included in our City Pass too. After that we wandered to the New York Public Library and Grand Central Terminal, both are equally beautiful architecture and have plenty of things to do, see and eat.

By this point we couldn't resist the allure of shopping in New York. In Times Square we hit up Walgreens (for sweets and drugstore makeup) Sephora, Forever 21, the Disney Store and all of the tacky tourist shops to get our NYC memorabilia. To get a view of the city at night, our City Pass included a visit to the Top Of The Rock at Rockerfeller Center too. If you had a choice of which one to visit, I would recommend Rockerfeller because there's much more room on the observatory decks and so quiet too. 

Day 3: Lower Manhattan
Our first stop of the day was at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum (included in the City Pass). It was actually quite far away from our hotel so we grabbed an Uber down, that pretty much matched the same price to getting the subway anyway. Nothing could've prepared me for how much was at the memorial and museum, there was so much to take in and the museum did great justice to those who were lost and affected.

We headed along to Wall Street, which was surprisingly small and bustling with people. One of my goals was to get a photo at Brooklyn Bridge and we had the perfect day for it, clear blue skies and everything. Because we had spent so long at the museum and wandering round the city, we had run out of time to take the tour of the State of Liberty. Instead the Staten Island Ferry sails straight past it and is a great way to see Lady Liberty for free. 

Another thing we had pre-booked were tickets to the New York Knicks vs Washington Wizards basket ball game. This was one of the highlights of my New York experience! You're probably watching 60% basketball and 40% entertainment as they stopped a lot. You had dancers, signers and the classic 'Kiss Cam' to keep you happy throughout the breaks. The sporty atmosphere and crowds of Knicks fans definitely made the night!

Day 4: Chelsea and West Village
We finally made it to the Statue Of Liberty! If you're going to plan this in your day, make sure you do it in the morning and leave a good couple of hours to fit in visiting the statue and Ellis Island. Again this was included in our City Pass and Ellis Island was great to visit and find out about how immigrants came to New York and the process. From there we walked along Broadway for shopping and had a pit stop at Washington Square Park, before going to the Friends Apartment. It's crazy to see something you've watched for years in real life! A new addition to New York is the High Line, a long stretch of dis-used railway tracks that's been transformed into a walkway through the city. I can imagine it looks particularly gorgeous in the spring!

In the evening we pre-booked to see the theater show Aladdin, which was just as amazing on Broadway as it was in the West End. If you're going to New York, definitely book a theater show too. There's a cheap ticket booth in Times Square if you're brave enough to wait for them!

Day 5 & 6: Midtown
Because this post is getting very long now and the fact that we didn't do too much on the last few days, I'm putting these two days together! We first headed to the American Museum of Natural History, aka where the Night At The Museum was filmed. You could probably spend all day here if you could but we started with the dinosaurs and animal kingdom sections which were so interesting!

For the rest of the time we shopped until we couldn't fit any more in our suitcases. We headed for Bloominng Dales, Macys and Fifth Avenue of course! We did serious damage in Seophora, gawped at the Victoria Secret store and stuffed our suitcases with sweets from Walgreens. 

If you've made it this far then well done! I hope this guide helped with planning your trip to New York. Thanks for reading!

Rhiannon x 

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