We arrived at JFK on Saturday night, surprisingly, immigration took only 10 minutes. We had arranged an airlink car to pick us up, so we headed to ground control and waited for our car. It was unreal as we crossed the bridge and saw the skyline. Felt like a dream… We stayed at the Wellington hotel. It was lovely, the room was clean and of a good size, perfect for us, we weren’t planning to spend a long time in the hotel anyway, just needed a bed for the night. Luckily we were on the 3rd floor so we could take the stairs instead of waiting for the lift. The location was also perfect for us; we could walk to Times Sq, Central Park and Fifth Avenue. The subway station was right outside (57th St, 7th Av) so we could go to almost anywhere and get home without having to walk much. I’ll leave a more detailed review of the Wellington in the hotel section along with photos.
Day 1 (Feb 11th)
After not sleeping all night due to excitement we got up at 5am, ended up watching old episodes of saved by the bell. We left the hotel at 8am and headed out to the subway just across the street, we purchased two unlimited metro cards for 48 dollars (24 pounds). We were quite surprised as to how flimsy the cards were, having been used to our oyster cards in London. Luckily we managed to not rip or damage the cards. I had made an itinerary whilst in London so we did as planned and got the subway down to 34th street station, found the subway quite easy and simple to use. Throughout the week we did have a couple of problems but by the end we were masters, eventually got the hang of express and local trains too =) We headed for a diner as previously planned using menupages.com but found that it had turned into an antiques shop! Luckily we saw an open diner across the street and headed in. It was on 5th avenue around 35th street and was called W café. Highly recommend it. We were welcomed by a friendly Chinese woman and ordered breakfast with everything… eggs, bacon, chips. Very nice, surprised that it added up to 15 dollars including drinks. Tipped the woman for her friendly service and headed to the empire state building. After reading TA’s advice about going early, we got their even before it opened, luckily they opened early and we headed up. No queues at all and friendly service. The views were breathtaking; it was a lovely sunny day with clear skies, ended up taking nearly a hundred photos and staying about an hour. Although very sunny, it was extremely cold and windy up there, I always complain about the cold in London but I now cherish our considerably ‘warm’ weather! We headed up along 5th avenue as we had planned to visit Grand Central Terminal and St Patrick’s church etc. Walked all the way up. Grand Central Station was amazing, it looks so big inside and the small decorations were really lovely. We had originally planned to eat at Juniors and get some cheesecake but we were still so stuffed from breakfast that we skipped lunch and headed up 5th avenue. We weren’t planning to do anything shopping on this day but as the morning had gone by so slowly, we had loads of time to kill. Spent only 100 dollars in H and M and got 10 tops and 2 pairs of jeans!! London’s H and M is definitely more expensive. Had a look around all the shops and the churches as we walked up, it’s such a nice contrast to see all the old buildings among the tall modern skyscrapers. Also had a look inside the New York library. Sooooooo big! Headed up to the Apple store etc and bought a shuffle for only 80 dollars, much cheaper than the UK. Walked along to Bloomingdales and got a medium brown bag, already had a small one from a friend. We hopped on the subway to our hotel to drop off the bags and then walked to Times Sq as we had a tour bus planned. Took a few photos around Times Sq and headed onto the bus. The tour guide was excellent, gave us lots of information as we went all around the city. Visited ground zero, spent a few moments paying our respects. We headed to Brooklyn and the bus stopped at the ice cream factory. Of course we had to pop in and have some of the famous homemade ice-cream; it was well worth the trip, even though it gave our hands frostbite! We jumped back on the bus to Times Square and walked back to our hotel after a packed first day! Loved every second of it….
Day 2 (Feb 12th)
Woke up early again and headed to a local café called Fluffy’s which was excellent, ended up going there on many occasions. We had a bacon and egg bagel and a fresh orange juice and headed to Coney Island on the subway. We hadn’t planned to do this, but as we shopped on the previous day, we decided to squeeze in Coney Island. I found that having a fixed itinerary didn’t work that well, it was better to have a checklist and tick things off as you did them, the rest of our holiday ended up being more spontaneous and flexible, but we still managed to get everything done that we had planned. Coney Island was such a strange place to visit, it felt like some sort of ghost town, was completely deserted but such a beautiful place to visit. Took lots of photos of the boardwalk and Brighton beach, ended up being a nice morning. We grabbed a hot chocolate from a diner called Nathans and then headed back up to Manhattan. We spent the afternoon wandering around Soho, bought some cheap converses in various colours and also visited H and M once more. We got so hungry at one point that we decided to grab some food from a street vendor, big mistake, the chicken was undercooked and flavourless, this was one of the few mistakes we made whilst in New York. We did a bit more shopping and got the subway back to our hotel to drop off the bags and relax. We had a boat tour booked beforehand and so got the M42 bus from Times Sq and headed to the Circle Line Pier. Was a really good two hour tour, again the guide was very good at his job and informed us well. Took loads more photos of the skyline and also visited the Statue of Liberty and took some photo there. Seemed so small after visiting the sky scrapers, but definitely worth the visit. Jet lag was starting to catch up with us so we headed back to our hotel and ended up going to sleep at 8pm! I assumed we’d be up until late every night, boy was I wrong! Got some well deserved sleep ready for the next day in NYC.
Day 3 (Feb 13th)
Headed to another local breakfast house I had found on menupages.com called Pick a Bagel. Another good place for breakfast, ended up going there more than once. Seemed to be very busy every morning, a good sign. I tried some New York pancakes and oatmeal. Delicious! We walked to Times Sq and booked two tickets to Beauty and the Beast for Wednesday as we couldn’t find any tickets for The Lion King. Were a bit worried as we had booked the cheapest tickets (40 dollars each) but soon found that they were perfect seats, we could see the stage clearly. Great value for money! The boyfriend did some shopping in Times Sq and got two pairs of trainers for 90 dollars (45 pound) such a bargain. He purchased them in the Champs store. Also did some bargain hunting in Foot Locker, got some cheap tracksuits which cost like a quarter of the price they cost in the UK. We jumped on the subway to Chinatown and had a look around. I really liked Chinatown, found the little markets to be the best and got lots of fashion jewellery that cost a dollar each. Pashminas are also very cheap in Chinatown, got a selection as I planned to give some as gifts to friends. After visiting one store however, the rest became a bit familiar, each selling fake designer bags, fake perfume, fake Rolex watches and pashminas. The sellers jumped on you as you entered and if you showed even the slightest interest in a product, they quickly bagged it up and waited for the money, found this slightly annoying after a while, as we were just browsing. Decided to head for a bite to eat in one of their famous dim sum houses. The food was delicious and soooo cheap, came to about 10 dollars for two meals including drinks. The portion sizes were huge too, definitely worth the visit to Chinatown. We left Chinatown and headed back to the hotel to drop off our bags and head to the Rockerfeller centre for ice skating. Was so unreal, have often seen it on T.V but felt strange actually being there skating. The rink was a decent size and the surroundings were breathtaking. We skated for a few hours and towards the end it started to snow. Very romantic and surreal, a great experience I will never forget. We walked to the subway and headed to Little Italy to eat. It was quite empty as it was heavily snowing by now; we jumped into one of the first restaurants along Mulberry Street and were warmly greeted. We chose traditional meatballs with spaghetti and lasagne and thoroughly enjoyed it. We tipped the staff for their warm welcome and great service and headed home in the snow.
Day 4 (Feb 14th)
This day was Valentines Day, however it was snowing and very windy, so we had to resort to some of our indoor activities we had planned. We headed to Pick a Bagel once more for breakfast, after being filled up we headed for Macy’s to spend the morning shopping. I ended up buying a Macy’s shopping bag and some MAC make up, I’m more of a high street girl than designer so didn’t spend to long in there. Our 11% discount came in handy and I felt that Macy’s was much better than Bloomingdale’s, perhaps as we didn’t spend long as long there. Had a drink downstairs in Macy’s food cellar and headed to Chelsea to do a bit of shopping. Once again, we ended up in H and M and spent quite a bit of time, ended up both buying a coat for cheap prices. We caught the subway to Union Square as the boyfriend wanted to look in another foot locker as the sizes in Times Sq were rather large. Spent ages in there, looking for his sizes, but he ended up with some more cheap clothes, another successful shopping day. Boyfriend wanted to buy more, but we had left the money at the hotel and so planned to go back later. We had to quickly rush to Broadway to see Beauty and the Beast, got their just in time for the show. Were amazed at the location of our cheap seats, well worth it, the show was amazing, visually superb to watch, the highlight of our day. After going back to the hotel for some more money, we returned to Union Square, spent a while in the park and also he finished his shopping in Foot Locker. Were so hungry that we resorted to McDonalds once more, we got a feast. In the UK we have a pound menu, in New York it’s the dollar menu (50p) so the bill ended up being so cheap. We felt so stuffed afterwards. Trotted back to the hotel to rest our bellies. Was a nice valentines day.
Day 5 (Feb 15th)
One of our last days in New York, wanted to squeeze in all the things we had planned to do on Valentines Day. Started off the day in Fluffy’s with a cream cheese bagel and headed down to Greenwich Village. I’m a big friends fan so was excited to see the arch in Washington Square Park that is featured in the show. It looks remarkably like our Marble Arch in London. The park looked beautiful as the snow had set. Spent a while taking some photos and the headed to the apartment building featured in Friends. Felt strange standing there, I was filled with excitement. After feeling a bit hungry we headed to a shop called milk and cookies bakery. It was the most adorable shop ever! Looked so vintage with its pink walls and old white furniture. The woman who served us was so cute. She welcomed us to New York and served us our freshly baked cookies and milk. The cookies tasted so fresh and deliciousss. This place was definitely one of the best I’ve ever visited! The highlight of my day. We headed up to Central Park to have a horse and carriage ride around the park, we had visited it in the morning but it was soooo cold that we decided to wait until the day had got slightly warmer. The guy told us it would be 40 dollars for the tour, we agreed and got it. There were lots of couples queued up behind us, guess they’re popular. The guy gave us a little tour of the park, describing a few famous sites that have bee featured in films as we went by. I felt the tour was a bit short for the money but again it was a great experience I will never forget. The park was layered with snow, it looked so beautiful, like something you see in films. We walked down 5th avenue and headed up the Rockefeller centre at dusk. Surprisingly there was no crowds, we walked straight through and headed up the lift. As you go up, the top of the lift goes see transparent so you can view it as you’re going up to the top floor. The Swarovski chandelier in the lobby is also amazing to look at. We saw the city during sunset, which was breath taking. We ended up staying two hours to see the city lit up at night. We took lots of photos again. I agree that the empire state building and the Rockefeller centre both offer amazing views, we enjoyed doing both of them. The Rockefeller offers brilliant views of central park and the empire state building whilst the empire state offers better views of the financial district skyline. We got the subway down to Brooklyn and walked to Grimaldi’s. Wow, this really is the best pizza I’ve ever tasted; it was so big and cost only 20 dollars all together. We finished our pizza within a matter of minutes and went to the promenade to take some night pictures of the skyline. Grimaldi’s was a little hard to find but so worth the food. It doesn’t pretend to be posh; it’s a basic restaurant, with superb food! We headed home after another long day.
Day 6 (Feb 16th)
Our last day! We had to check out before midday and get our ride to the airport at 6pm, so we only really had half a day. I had arranged a helicopter ride for the boyfriend as a surprise, after telling him we headed to Liberty helicopters for our flight at 11.30am. The hotel kept our bags for us so we could cram in as much as possible. After getting the M42 bus across town to the heliport we walked in and saw a huge queue. I assumed that we would be flying at 11.30, but we ended up waiting 2 hours until it was our turn! After feeling very frustrated and annoyed, the actual ride was worth the wait, it was amazing to see Manhattan from so high up, a once in a life time experience. We headed to Times Sq to do some last minute shopping for family etc. We got lots of I love NY t-shirts (6 for 10 dollars) and little touristy gifts like that. Spent a few hours shopping, had to buy another suitcase to squeeze in all our goodies. We grabbed some lunch in Times Square and headed to the hotel to get our lift to the hotel. We shedded a few tears, didn’t want to go home! We caught the plane on time and slept for our journey home.
This was our first time in the USA, thus New York and had been such an amazing experience. We’ve only just turnt 18 so we saw ourselves as so fortunate to have been able to go to New York at such a young age. We had saved solidly for 3 months but I can honestly say that it was worth every penny. There is so much more I want to see in New York, we have made a pact to return after university. I can’t wait to go back to New York. I’d read around that people in NYC can tend to be a bit hostile and grumpy but I cannot understand where that came from. Every single person in New York that we came into contact with was so friendly. In the elevators people would say good evening, on the subway, in restaurants. New Yorker’s are more friendly than people I’ve come into contact with in London! Also, I’d just like to squash the rumour about New York being dangerous. I’ve never felt safer; we strolled through back alleys without blinking an eyelid. There was a policeman on every subway train and they were scattered all over the place. I felt so comfortable in the city. It began to feel like home! New York is the best place I’ve ever been on holiday to and was more than I ever expected...
Will post photos later