Sunday, 22 September 2013

I want to wake up in that city that doesn't sleep...

New York has been top of my places I most want to visit for as long as I can remember. So I was so excited when I knew that we were going to visit as one of the cities on our East Coast tour. This was part of the trip that was planned meticulously. We only had 2 full days in the city and I wanted to make sure that we hit all of the main tourist spots. For such a little island it certainly crams a lot in.

We arrived into a very wet Penn Street Station, early on a Sunday evening and scuppered the 100 or so metres to our very well placed, given the down pour, hotel - The Affinia Manhatten on 31st and 7th in mid-town.

I want to say that we lived the dream from that moment onwards but every day was packed and so after settling into the hotel we took a little stroll, although in New York that was about 30 square blocks, and settled on a small pizzeria off Time Square for some sustenance before hitting the sack, ready for a day of exploring the following day.

Day 1 was planned as uptown, the park and some of mid-town. Shopping was planned at every stage of the trip.  Without knowing it, 7th Avenue was a good place to actually start out. We headed North towards Up Town looking for the park and after our small foray the evening before knew that at some point we would stumble across Times Square. This was not before small diversions into American Eagle, Macy's and MAC.

Nothing can prepare you for the noise and busyness of this city and Times Square just epitomises it.

As you walk up you walk some more and then some more and then finally there is a hint of green and then a wall of luscious leafs and you know the park is in sight. I wanted to hire a bike and cycle around but the hubby totally disagreed so instead after another stop in Starbucks (it is air conditioned) we made our way into the park via Columbus Circle.

This photo was taken from the 'Sheep Meadow' and I just love how you see the city popping up over the tree line. Manhatten doesn't look that big on a map and Central Park is only a small part of that but let me tell you this is one massive park. We were in there for 2 hours and didn't even make it the whole way around.

There is a section of the park along The Mall and near The Terrace (recognised this from Gossip Girl) where the street performers converge and we spent a little while just wandering around and taking it all in. There were lots of people making huge bubbles which were so pretty.

We finally made it to the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir with slightly sore feet (I think my husband was regretting the choice not to get a bike by this point) and I thought of all the movie and television scenes that use this as a back drop.

We exited the park at the east side on to 5th Avenue next to the Metropolitan Museum and slowly made our way back down towards the city. The east side was just magical, not a neon sign or Starbucks in sight just row after row of gorgeous park side apartments full of the worlds wealthiest people!

On 5th Avenue we had a little shopping break and browsed around Bloomingdales, Sephora, Apple and Dylans Candy Bar where we literally acted like kids in a sweet shop wanting to buy everything. It is a total playground full to the brim of every sweet treat imaginable!

After another pit stop at the hotel to rest those weary feet we freshened up and headed to the Empire State building wanting to watch the sun set over the city from this famous landmark.

Followed by a walk to Times Square to take in all the lights at night - and it is still as crazy at night as it is in the day!

Day 2 was our chance to see some of down town and we started with a helicopter tour from the pier close to the South Ferry terminal port. This was a birthday present for my hubby and we couldn't of been happier with it!

The flight takes you around Ellis Island so that you get a great view of Lady Liberty, before heading up the Hudson to see the island of Manhatten from this unique perspective. From this aerial view you really can see the distinct up town, mid town and down town areas. The flight took us all the way up to The Bronx and over the Yankee Stadium before heading back down The Hudson with views of New Jersey. 

We've never been in a helicopter before and I would recommend a couple of travel sickness tablets before hand if you have a sensitive travel stomach like I do. 

Our flight was with and I couldn't recommend it enough.

 Whilst down town we really wanted to visit the 9/11 memorial garden and new freedom towers. These are very impressive and I thought the garden was a really apt and tasteful memorial to those who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the city. 

As a tourist be warned that the queues to get in this are massive and on a hot day there is absolutely no shade until you make it into the garden so do make sure you have water with you and visit the bathroom before getting in the queue!


We were so lucky that the ice hockey league play off's were under way during our visit and as our hotel was right outside of Madison Square Gardens we were lucky enough to get up in the build up to that nights game. There was a total buzz as the fans arrived and the drummers tried to get the atmosphere up.

I love the fact that walking around this city is like walking around a movie set. Everywhere you go from Central Park, to 5th Avenue to Down Town there is a location you remember seeing in a film and we were lucky enough to see them filming part of the next Spider Man movie.

I have to say that the countless blogs, tourist guides and guide books I had read while planning couldn't prepare me for this city there is just too much to see. I can't wait for the next opportunity to go back and spend some time seeing a little bit more of the hidden city rather than the tourist hot spots that we packed in to this trip.  

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