New York seems like such a long time ago even though it was only a week. I blame the time travelling!
I’ve only ever been to America once when I was 12 and I don’t really remember too much of that so it was going to be a completely new experience. We had a nightmare on the way to the airport, we caught the tube all the way down to Heathrow but about half way down I realised that I had packed the wrong folder with the PDF of the tickets. I think my heart stopped for a full 30 seconds before I snapped out of it and got Leigh to download them on to his phone. Thank God for smart phones! I’m always so prepared but recently I have just been really unsettled and scatty.
Anyway – we finally made it on to the airplane and I settled down to watch 7 hours of Disney because Delta have a Disney channel! I was so happy. We watched Brave, Star Trek (for Leigh) Mirror Mirror and then I watched about 20min of Aladdin. It was brilliant J The flight actually made very good time and we arrived in JFK a full hour ahead of schedule, about 1.30pm US time.
We managed to find our way from the airport and met my friend, Chloe, who we were staying with. She moved over to NY about 9 months ago so it was quite exciting to see her. She finished work whilst Leigh and I sat in a bar and I tried to get my head around tipping bar staff. Restaurants I can understand but really?! You want me to give you $1/2 for putting a drink on a napkin? Chloe met us after she finished work and we went back to her place in New Jersey to drop off the suitcase and get changed before heading out into New York! I’d been told by several people that only tourists look up at the buildings so I was deliberately trying to keep my head down but to no avail, it’s quite impossible. I live in London so I’m not stranger to a tall building but they just tower over you there. We fleetingly passed Times Square before being taken into Dallas BQQ where we ordered giant frozen coconut margaritas and pulled pork burgers…
I am ashamed to admit however that although we had tickets to a free vodka bar we had to go home! I pulled something in my back on the flight over and it kept cramping making it really hard to walk, plus it was about 2am our time back home, so we went back to the flat and I finally got to lie down and hope that my back wasn’t like that the whole time.
Luckily I woke up in the morning and although my back felt really tight I was able to stand up straight and walk in more than a shuffle which was great because we were going to be doing ALOT of walking. We headed over to a place called VAMOS where they served brunch and they had a deal – all you can drink frozen margaritas in 90minutes. We ordered food and got right to it – we managed to polish off 5 and a half, it’s actually very difficult to drink frozen margaritas quickly which I feel may have been the idea.
We went to walk along the Brooklyn Bridge but we were told it was closed so instead we walked along the Williamsburg bridge where we could see the Brooklyn Bridge which was probably better. It was a really lovely day, the sun was shining down which was so welcome after the weather in England the last few weeks. Once we got to Brooklyn we sat on a random sofa we found soaking up some sun before heading into a bar, gate-crashing 2 people’s birthday parties and playing a game of pool. Several people commented on the fact that I had an accent and I was just like ‘so do you!’ – I do like the American accent, it always sounds happy. We stayed at this bar for several hours until the drink needed to be soaked up by something so we went to Mcdonalds (of course!) before heading home feeling ever so slightly tipsy.
So the next day we headed out for lunch at Big Daddy’s Diner and we had the biggest meal in the history of meals. We each had a extremely thick milkshake – mine was banana and caramel and then we had 3 eggs,3 pancakes,2 sausages and tater tots. I couldn’t even finish it – there was just too much food. They really do like their big portions!
After we had eaten we went for a walk around Columbia University which was so typically American, but such a stunning set of buildings. It really was like something straight out of the films. It makes me wonder how different my life would have been if I went to America….
We followed our little foray into American College life by heading over to Central Park. I was really excited about this as it is such an iconic place and it didn’t disappoint. It was filled with cherry blossom trees and bridges and bicycles and well it was quite lovely. We sat in the park for a bit to rest our feet from all the walking and then we headed over to the ‘Friends’ fountain. We walked nearly the whole length of Central Park which I was told would take a long time and it wasn’t really that bad although my feet felt it!
We went for a few beers after that and ended the night with a $1 slice of pizza which tasted quite yummy. I am aware as I’m typing this that we really didn’t seem to do that much but honestly we were just tired, it seemed like we walked the length of New York!
Chloe went to work on the Monday so Leigh and I had to find our own way round. There was a bit of a horrible moment when I realised that we were on the wrong subway and I jumped off but Leigh didn’t in time and I was frantically signalling him when the lovely train driver reopened the doors so he could get off! After that little drama we headed in to what seems like the middle of New York – Times Square. It wasn’t quite as big as I thought but just as bright and bold and loud. We took the obligatory background picture shots and then met Chloe outside the New York public library for lunch before heading over to the Rockefeller Centre so we could see the view. Unfortunately it was the one horrible day of the trip and quite cloudy and foggy so the view wasn’t the best it could have been but you could still see a fair amount and we managed to use the binoculars (someone else’s money hadn’t run out!) so we could even see people on top of the Empire State Building.
We stopped off at Magnolia Bakery and bought 2 cupcakes and ate them in Bryant Park as the weather has cleared up by then which was a relief. I dragged Leigh into Victoria Secret but they don’t have my size and everything is so expensive but I spritzed myself in perfume and contemplated a dressing gown which I did not buy. Instead we went and had a walk around Grand Central which is filled with tourists and actual commuters – you can tell who the tourists are because they try to get as high as possible to take pictures of the golden interior. We met Chloe after she finished work and went to a bar, I’ve realised that I don’t like beer and that I missed cider while I was away. We went to a Five Guys burger place to grab some dinner, you choose how many burgers you want and then add all the toppings. It was so good there was juice dripping out, that’s when you know it’s a good burger! We walked off the burger by walking along the Highline, it’s an old raised railway track that has been turned into a walkway with flowers and benches with views over the streets which is a really clever way of making use of space. We stopped by Target on the way home and I picked up Nerds, Cookie Dough, Recees brownies, maple syrup and some cheap nailvarnish. I wish I lived near a Target!
We woke up on our last day and headed towards the Statue of Liberty. I tried to find Carrie’s steps (SATC) but we couldn’t see them anywhere which made me sad, but then we went to IHOP and although I didn’t get pancakes I did have a really good Philly Steak Sandwich which kind of made up for it. Thankfully the sun was out on Tuesday so we had a really nice sunny stroll down to Ground Zero where we stayed for a little while taking in the fountains and the memorial. They have turned something really tragic into something quite lovely, there were even ducks floating around in the waterfall pool.
We walked down to the harbour then and caught the free Staten Island ferry which passes Miss Liberty, as Sandy had destroyed the island she stands on so nobody can go there for a few months. But we managed to get good seats outside and the zoom on my camera was good enough that I could see her. It took us an hr in total so get there and back which meant we had just enough time to grab a pretzel and a hot dog (just to say that I had) before we rushed off to meet Chloe to grab our suitcase and head back to the UK!
It really was a whirlwind tour, I don’t think that we stopped at all which was brilliant because it meant that I didn’t put on any burger weight and I think that we managed to get everything that we wanted to do in a really short amount of time. There were aspects I liked (the food) and things I found a bit anal (the tipping) but New York was def an experience. I really do think that the next holiday we take is a beach holiday though, I think after Europe and now this Leigh and I really just need some time off!
I have had such a good weekend, especially because it has been a 3 day one. It is always nicer to have that extra day, it makes such a difference.
My friend came to stay with me this weekend – only this wasn’t any normal friend – I haven’t seen this girl in 5 years! She was my best friend when I lived in Portugal and since leaving in 2007 I haven’t seen her once. We were always to disorganised, but she got in touch at the beginning of last week to say that she was booking her flight and heading over to England for the first time ever. I didn’t quite believe it until I met her at London Bridge.
She hasn’t changed at all! So much has happened in the last 5 years and we have tried to keep each other updated but we slipped into talking just like we used to. Being Dutch of course her English is impeccable (doesn’t everyone else in Europe speak perfect English?!) It puts me to shame really – I don’t know a single language and she can speak fluently, or at least have some knowledge of at least 5.
I made pie and mash for dinner (typically English!) and then we went out that evening with some of my friends, we took her to a pub and made her drink pints of cider – she struggled saying that our glasses were far too big, I don’t think anything of the size of them but I suppose they are quite large if you are used to always drinking halves as standard. We went out to a club afterwards and got home at about 4, bloody knackered!
On Saturday I had tickets to see the Dr Who Exhibition with a certain other blogger who I may have mentioned meeting before – see boys and girls, you can make friends on the internet without them turning into rapists/serial killers etc. etc. Leigh came along, as did my friend (who had no prior knowledge of Dr Who and who actually had a really good time despite not knowing a thing!) We got to ride in the Tardis, although only children were allowed to fly it – much to the dismay of the male company (do men ever stop being big kids?) We stopped for lunch afterwards, at of course a pub, which was very pleasant after all the football fans had left.
We went shopping in Oxford St in the afternoon, I swear I want to just punch everyone who just stops dead in the middle of the street. It is a nightmare on a Saturday but we persevered and I came away with a few things (loving being rich for the moment!) Off to the pub again to meet some more friends and we were so tired by the time we got home. I made some pasta and we watched Dr Who – my friend’s first episode and she loved it.
Up again the next day – full English Breakfast of course – and then off on a site seeing tour! We walked around London all day stopping at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben (which thoughtfully chimed just as we walked up to it) Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, The Thames, The Globe Theatre, and St Pauls (along with the massive eye sore of the tents set up there.) It was really lovely to go around London with somebody who has never seen it before – it made everything seem new and exciting for us as well. We went back home and I cooked a Roast Dinner complete with Apple Crumble.
Last day (yesterday) and with Leigh back at work, we decided to go to have (another) pub lunch, I had scampi and she had a massive burger, I was going to suggest a Sticky Toffee Pudding to finish the English food weekend but we were both stuffed. We then went to The Globe again and took a tour which is something that I have never done. It was lovely to see how the theatre would have looked and I fully intend to go back when there is a play on and be a ‘groundling’ standing up and getting involved. Shakespeare really was ridiculously talented!
We then rushed over to the airport and had a huge hug promising not to leave it 5 years again. I bloody hope not or I will be 29 and that’s quite a scary thought!
I am now ready to collapse – who needs the gym when you become a tour guide. I’d love to know how far I walked this weekend! Still it fully made me appreciate that London really is bloody brilliant J
An update on my weekend, it seems recently that not much goes on at all during the week and so all my blogging is about the weekend. I feel like I haven’t been blogging so much recently as well, I don’t know if anyone else finds this to be true?
On Friday I went out with work friends, and it felt like I was a proper Londoner! Going out for a meal and drinks and then getting the last tube home. It was so lovely to feel quite accepted as someone who lives here!
I managed to venture out of the house on Saturday for a little while despite the overwhelming desire to do nothing and just sit on the sofa with a duvet and watch films.
About a month ago I received a newsletter from the Tate Modern stating an event that required 80 amateur/professional artists to take part in an exhibition. I forwarded the email to a friend of mine who draws beautifully and told her to enter, which she did, managing to secure a place. We decided to go down to see her and also pop in on the Tate Modern while we were down that way.
Circle line was, of course, closed – so we went in search of the replacement bus stop. We passed a group of Zimbabwean protesters outside their embassy, singing and drumming and asking for people to sign petitions against Robert Mugabe. I quite readily signed my name; he is a horrible man who deserves everything that is coming to him.
We eventually managed to get a bus, an old one with the entrance at the back – which was fun :) It dropped us off outside St Pauls, which is magnificent. Leigh and I were discussing how it was left standing after the Blitz and what a triumph it must have been, and it awes you to be near something that has survived so much. A real piece of London in front of you.
We walked down to the river, where my friend was drawing and had been all day, had a talk with her and walked along some more looking at other peoples pieces. The general consensus was that it had been a long day. These people had been drawing and painting from 10.30 until 8. But it was a chance to have their work displayed and that is important.
Leigh and I decided to walk over to the Tate Modern while we were in the area and spent about an hour walking round. We didn’t go to the pay exhibition but still had a nice time feeling cultured. I took some pictures of a few pieces that I liked but I forgot to take down the names of a couple which was very thoughtless of me. I was wondering about security though. There was a Monet there and although there were security cameras if someone wanted to slash through the picture they could have done it before anyone was there to stop them. Art work of that magnitude needs to be protected, it is important to save all pieces of art, scripts, novels, ideas for the future.
When we left and started to walk over the bridge I looked at the skyline of London, with Tower Bridge to my right, and St Pauls and the Gherkin in front of me and I was hit with an overwhelming sense of happiness that this is my home, and it’s so exciting and new with so much possibility. This is where I always dreamed of being when I was younger and coming to London used to make me do a happy dance and feel so small. I felt a part of it all when I looked over and saw the Thames beneath my feet.
London is my home :)