After 11 months of having it booked, my friend Alex and I were finally in the magnificent city that is New York! It’s always been a dream of mine to go here, and it definitely gave me some experiences to learn from.
We stayed at the Edison Hotel on Times Square. This is a great place to be for first-time NY visitors as it’s right in the centre of nearly everything. Plus the hotel was full of extra-friendly staff who really made a difference.
After having a long 8-hour flight from Gatwick and feeling a little groggy (of course, I was sat next to the snorer on the plane!), we just had enough energy to go for a wander around and have a few drinks and something to eat. Food is something I get very excited about when visiting America, and it did not disappoint.
Here are some of my food highlights:
Steak tacos in Latitude Bar. This was a two-storey, swanky bar which did yummy cocktails too – I had the kiwi and strawberry margarita on the left.
Strawberry pancakes with eggs, bacon, sausages and syrup (it has to be done in USA!) in Andrews Coffee Shop. This place was packed, so obviously popular! It wasn’t too badly priced for New York either – around $11 (£8) for my meal.
Hard Rock Café Hickory BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger. Messy, but mouthwatering-ly delicious… Served with a yummy banana colada.
Strawberry cheesecake from the famous Junior’s – definitely by far the best cheesecake I’ve ever had (and that is saying something!). This was so worth the $8.25.
And you can’t go to New York without getting a loaded hot dog from one of the stands!
So yes, I had plenty of satisfying dining experiences in New York.
In terms of drinking, it can be harder than you’d think to find lots of decent bars. They’re quite spread out (and very pricey!). We ended up enjoying cocktails between 4 and 7 as that’s when many places did happy hour.
One night we went to the MeatPacking District as we’d heard it was an area filled with trendy bars. We visited The Biergarten which had an ice skating rink outside, and inside was lit with lots of fairy lights. It had benches and ping-pong tables, giving a really student-y vibe. I bought me and Alex two vodka and lemonades: when the bar lady said that was $14.50 I thought that price was great! Until she told me that was per drink… Oh.
Believe it or not, we did do more than just eat and drink. We visited the Empire State Building. Unfortunately the very highest floor was closed until April, but we still got to go to the 80th and 86th floors. Here we could go outside onto the observation deck and admire the breathtaking views of the city. It was something else!
I wanted to take a trip into Brooklyn as I’d heard it was well worth a visit. We got the taxi man to drop us before the bridge so we could walk over it (this probably would have been a better experience if it wasn’t raining). We came to explore the bars, but because we arrived there at 11am, most places weren’t yet open! Why so early, you ask?! The time difference meant that in New York we were 5 hours behind our usual pattern. So most mornings we were up and alert by 7am, even when we stayed out late. But anyway, we found a couple of Irish bars that were open and enjoyed a few drinks before wandering around.
We also bought a hop-on-hop-off tour bus ticket which had four different routes around different parts of New York. I’d really recommend getting this. The tour guides give so many interesting facts about the city, and it’s the perfect way to explore as you can hop off at any time. One place we hopped off at was the Statue of Liberty. We really wanted to take the ferry trip, but the queue was about 3 hours long. So we just took a picture from afar. But at least I’ve seen it! We didn’t want to use half a day queuing in the cold.
The tour bus was also taken to go to central park. There really is so much to it! Pretty lakes, people busking and rickshaws going around. This place would have been perfect to spend a day in during the summer.
Walking around the Times Square area of New York was so interesting – every street was lined with shops and restaurants, filled with so many people walking them. Although just like London, everybody seems to be in a rush. The only difference is here, cars beep so much more – the reserved British just don’t honk their horns as much!
After lots of eating, drinking and exploring on foot and by bus, it was time to go home… So we thought.
Our flight was meant to leave on the Tuesday at 22.30, but that morning we found out it was delayed until 1am. That was a bit of a pain but it wasn’t a massive deal. We just spent the day buying some souvenirs and having happy hour cocktails in Planet Hollywood.
Then we got to the airport at around 8pm, and during the queue for the checkout it was announced that our flight was completely cancelled, and the next one wasn’t until two days later at 12.30pm! Our airline (Norwegian flights) put us in a Radisson JFK airport hotel for two nights which we had to take a shuttlebus to. We had so many frustrated people around us in our situation. Two extra nights might seem great to some people, but we were nowhere near any shops, restaurants or anything else, and we had used up all of our dollars so we didn’t have much money to spend, and were just very ready to get home.
The hotel was nice, but very basic. They had a gym which I visited to use up some time (plus I needed to work off some of that food I’d eaten all week!). The hotel bar didn’t open until the evenings, so when it finally did all of the Brits went straight in to get a drink. We got talking to somebody who lives just 15 minutes away from us – such a small world!
Thursday finally came and there were no delays on this plane when we checked in. But when boarding time came, they put a 2.5 hour wait on it! Due to this we were provided with $11 meal vouchers to use in the airport… Which didn’t go very far as it was a whopping $19 for a sandwich and a bottle of water!
When we eventually got on the plane, it then took around an hour and a half to take off – how many times did we need to be delayed?! But once it was up in the air, I noticed that half of the plane was completely empty, so we went to the back where we each had a row to ourselves. We were also provided with two free meals during our flight, one of which is pictured below.
So what did I learn from this trip?
Definitely to prepare for the unexpected, especially when it comes to flights. Prepare for being back home later than expected, and for what to do in the destination I am in if there is a delay.
Do a little bit more research and planning ahead in terms of how much money I will need. For this trip I had $200 dollars a day which may seem a lot, but you’d be surprised at how quickly it goes in a place like this.
I should also take the time to research my area. The best ways of getting around and where I would go to eat and drink. This is more important when travelling in the winter, as in better weather I’d be more happy to explore further by foot.
But I really did have a wonderful time and created some exciting memories. I would definitely recommend visiting New York to anyone considering it!
Packing was also made much easier as I took my RockHoppa travel bags! I had the roll-up bag in my suitcase on the way, then on the way back I used it as hand luggage to create space for my new purchases. Great idea if you’re planning on buying lots of new things on a trip!
Have you got a city break coming up? Why not take our RockHoppa roll-up travel bag?
This bag is suitable for both men and women, to be used for a weekend away or on a big trip as a cabin bag. Pack it, roll it up and carry it with the handle or shoulder strap!
It’s ideal for those that don’t like unpacking – unroll it on the bed to take out what you need, then roll it back up, or unroll it and hang it up – both provide easy access to your stuff!
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