I am Stunned by NYC Mum

NYC – The City of Dreams?

The Him and I have had one massive ambition for a long time… to get to NYC.

We tried and failed twice to book it. We’ve spent the last few years saying things like “We’ll go for your 40th” or “We’ll go for whatever…” In May this year a few things happened in the space of a week that made us realise that life was way too short to be putting things off over and over again.

He came home one night and said “See if your Mum will keep the girls. We’re going.” I swear to God Ladies, I had it booked within 24 hours. He was NOT getting a chance to change his mind!

And so off I trotted to a local Travel agent. (They quoted me an extortionate amount of money for basic flights and a very basic hotel. The price didn’t include any extras in flight, any taxes or charges in the hotel or any tickets to sights.)

Eh… no thanks!

A few hours at the laptop and I had the whole trip, with upgraded seats, a gorgeous hotel, AND tickets to ALL the main attractions in the city booked and paid for, for €250 LESS than the agent had been looking for for basic flights and hotel.

We had the time of our lives. It was honestly everything we’d ever expected it to be and more. Do you know when you’ve thought about something for so long, imagining every detail? And then it doesn’t turn out to be what you’d hoped? Yeah, that didn’t happen. From the second we landed in NYC, we were awestruck.

Our trip:

We flew with Air France carried by Delta. We paid extra for Comfort seats, which included extra leg room, priority boarding and free everything on board. It was €103 extra each, but even after adding this, the flights were STILL hundreds of euro cheaper than our “national” airline.

The flight was great. Good movies, decent food and very comfortable. We’ll definitely fly Delta again.

We arrived in JFK. What a cattle mart! We got the train into Penn Station. Landing into the middle of the Pride festival meant that we had quite the welcome to the city! What an AMAZING atmosphere! Because taxis, sorry cabs, weren’t running, we took off walking to our hotel. It was about 15 blocks and despite the heat and trying to drag cases through the festival filled streets, it was a brilliant way to start the visit.

Our hotel was gorgeous. The Time Hotel NY is just off Times Square, right next door to “The Book of Mormon” and “Chicago”.

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We were shown to our room and it was very cool; chic and well appointed, with a TV in the Mirror! (Seriously!?) The bottle of chilled bubbles awaiting us was much appreciated and enjoyed!

The hotel was so clean and the staff were incredibly attentive. We were told they could upgrade our room the next day, but we were quite happy with the room we’d been given and didn’t really intend to be in it too much anyway! It was at the back of the hotel and even amidst the noise of NYC, it was quiet, so we stayed put.

A quick change, a pop of the bubbles and off we went to begin our adventure. Our first stop was Times Square

We went straight to the top of the famous red steps and we must have stood there, breathing it all in and just watching and listening for at least an hour. The colours, the sounds, the smells, the sounds… What an experience. I can see why locals hate it, but as a tourist who wants to drink in the magic of the big city, it’s fricken awesome.

One of the best tips we received was to buy the 4 day “hop-on hop-off” Tour Bus Ticket. We did the Brooklyn tour at 7pm. It was brilliant. The tour guides know their city so well and the few we met were funny and engaging.

We saw so much of the city and Brooklyn, and then were treated to the sight of the city lights coming on as we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge at nightfall. This really is a brilliant way to do the tour. It was beautiful.

Next morning, we hit Ellen’s Stardust Diner. for breakfast. We were first in and the waffles are to die for. Our only regret was that it was very early and so quite quiet, so we didn’t get to enjoy the atmosphere that we’d anticipated, but the food was great and wow, the servers can sing!

We hopped on the bus downtown and took the cruise (which was included in our City Pass) out to meet Lady Liberty.

The cruise was amazing and The Statue of Liberty was gorgeous. We hadn’t intended getting off the boat, but are both so glad we did. It’s well worth taking an hour to wander around her. She’s spectacular.

We also visited the 9/11 Memorial

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9/11 caught me by surprise. I knew there was a museum, but I had no idea that the water memorial fountains where the two towers had stood, even existed. I got such a gunk when we walked around the corner to this. It’s a special place; sombre, emotional and appropriately solemn. It’s an eerie experience to suddenly experience such quiet amidst the noise of the city. I was so taken aback. The museum itself is incredible. After a while, I couldn’t take any more sadness. We left, full of sympathy for the people who will always be affected by it. It’s a wonderful tribute to the people and heroes who died.

We hadn’t intended to visit the new One World Observatory, but Himself decided that we should go up as we were there. Guys, THIS was possibly my favourite experience of the trip. The elevator up is shockingly fast and the experience at the top is breathtaking. It really is worth going up this building. We had lunch in the restaurant on floor 102, and while it is expensive, it was excellent. And it’s not everyday you can have lunch on top of the world is it? We even had binoculars on the table!

With the glass of wine costing $17, one was enough! Yes, the restaurant is expensive, but it really was worth every penny. Having lunch with The Him overlooking the city we’ve always wanted to visit, was a moment I’ll never forget.

After lunch, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, found Wall Street and Trump Tower and Tiffany and Co. before heading back to drink in some more of Time Square.

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We went back to the hotel to change for dinner at 7.30pm…and woke up at 6am next morning! The jet lag had hit, but it was actually great as we were full of energy and raring to go for Day 3.

We started off at the Top of the Rock. The The Rockefeller Centre is just class. It’s so beautiful and elegant and the views from the top ARE, without doubt, the best in the city.

We then headed towards Central Park, where we listened to a live string quartet, ate hotdogs and walked and walked! The weather was perfect for the whole trip.

Central Park is beautiful in summer, but I can’t wait to see it at Christmas some time very soon.

I fulfilled my ambition to run like Phoebe from Friends through the park. I did and it was wonderful!

We visited the The Met where we spent a few hours wandering around looking at loads of cool and funky things, before sipping bubbles on the lovely rooftop bar.

Then, we walked across the Park to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs and the whale. Once we’d seen these, and been suitably gobsmacked by their size, we headed back to the hotel.

We got ourselves dressed up and had a cocktail in the very cool hotel bar at The Time, before hitting the famous Buddakan for dinner.

Now, this place had been highly recommended to us. It is so chic and dark and loud and exciting, from the minute you arrive. It’s like the movies. The staff are supergroomed and supermodelly and the atmosphere is electric. Service was excellent to begin and we were impressed. The food was beautiful. (Try the sharing platter to start!) Described as Asian Fusion, the menu was comprehensive and interesting.

We had a hiccup when our sides didn’t arrive along with the main dishes, but after a while, a very apologetic manager tried his very best to make things up to us. He sent champagne and complimentary desserts to the table and really was very kind and pleasant, but the experience had been tainted a little. Having looked forward to this meal so much, and being such lovers of food and fine dining, we left a little disappointed. For the price of the restaurant, and the reviews we had been given, we didn’t expect the service to be so disappointing. But the food was superb and the place is very cool. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Day 4 was our last full day. We started with The Empire State Building. It was everything we expected. Incredible views. Again, hitting it early is advised.

Then we wandered around the streets for a bit. We found the Bluebell Cafe, which is owned by my friend’s sister Shiela. We had a lovely brunch with her. It’s a gorgeous establishment. Find itThen we found Macy’s (I walked in, looked around and left. It’s an inflated department store on a whole new level of chaos; the same as we have at home, but sooooooo loud and soooo busy. Great if you love to shop. Not so excited if you’re like me and have little interest in shopping when on holidays! Still, I’d love to see it at Christmas!)

There was a street food festival just off Times Square. We had lunch there (2 days in a row, that’s how good it was!) and headed towards NY Public Library We had a coffee on the steps before heading to 5th Avenue to meet my cousin for drinks. (I have one in every city!)

We had a few ($5 a glass was much more palatable!) at John Doe’s Bar before heading to the VERY cool 230 5th Avenue. Now, we had no idea where we were going. At 4.10pm, we toddled in and made ourselves comfortable to enjoy Happy hour. We had a few drinks and a bite to eat, enjoying the incredible views of the Empire State beside us.

There was a music video being recorded on the other side of the bar, and as the evening went on, we were surrounded by all the “beautiful ones”. You know those bars you see in the movies where everyone is tanned and fablis and quaffing and perfect? Yeah, that’s where we were; the three of us, sans makeup and in our shorts and teeshirts! But hey! We fitted in just as well hah! As we left at 6.30pm, there was a queue around the block, with at least 250 impeccibly dressed and very glam folks waiting to get in.

We headed once again for the red steps to the TKTS Ticket Booth . At 7.15pm we got two brilliant tickets for Phantom of the Opera. The queues here earlier in the day were savage. We really weren’t fussy about what to see. The new shows are booked up months in advance and tickets are either like gold-dust or ridiculously priced.

Do go see a show. You’re on Broadway for crying out loud! But unless you are determined to see something in particular, just go see what they have available before the theatres open and go with it! Phantom is one of our favourites, so we were delighted to see it again.

We finished off our final full day back at the Empire State Building. When you buy the City Pass Booklet, your ticket for the Empire State admits you back in at night time on the day of your visit. It is stunning at night and was the perfect way to end a perfect day.

Our last day, we headed back down town. The Him took a helicopter ride over the city. I took a wander through the streets, then sat by the river freaking out at the sky bugs taking off and landing, people watching and eating cakes. Heaven!

We wandered back up through the city, before finishing the holiday where we had started; in the hustle and bustle of Times Square.

Our hearts bursting and our heads filled with memories, we headed back to the airport to go home to our little Princesses. The flight home was delayed as there had been a fire at the airport. If we can manage to avoid EVER flying into JFK again, we will. It’s a nightmare. But we got home and all was right with the world.

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How did we leave the girls for 5 days? With great guilt and huge trepidation. But was it worth it? To spend 5 whole days with your partner, remembering that you actually do enjoy each other’s company and genuinely like each other, is something that should not be underestimated. We live busy lives, and our worlds revolve around our babies. But in the midst of school and work and routines and dance classes and temperatures and worries and bills and the general chaos that is life with kids, we are still us, and this holiday was a great reminder of that.

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NYC was so good to us.

It was exciting and romantic and pretty amazing. The height of the buildings can’t be fathomed until you see them. The skylines. The sounds. The sirens! The smells. The buzz. The excitement. It is electric and exciting and yet, a calm and refreshing place. Around every corner is something new, something exciting and something wonderful.
My tips?

  • Book it yourself. You get so much more bang for your buck.
  • Book the hotel directly. Make sure the price includes taxes and charged and resort fees. Had we booked with the travel agent, we’d have been hit with a bill of over $150 on check out.
  • Buy the City Pass. It includes all of the big sites and attractions.
  • Plan your trip and do the big touristy things first thing in the morning. You don’t have time to be queueing in NYC!
  • Buy the 4 day ticket for the bus. Cabs aren’t expensive if you need to use them, but the buses go everywhere and are a great way to see the city.
  • Fit as much as possible in. Early starts are the way to go. We were up and out and had eaten breakfast by 8.30am each day. You can sleep on the flight home!
  • Plan. My friend had given me a map with the main attractions circled. We simply went to different areas each day and ticked off the things we wanted to do in that area.
  • The city is beautiful. Wander. Have a morning or afternoon where you have no plans and just see where you end up.
  • Finally, DO IT. Stop putting it off. If we’d put it off until next year, or the following year, we’d have found something else that needed done or paid for and made excuses. Go for it. NYC is a must see. And we only saw a fraction of it. I think a thousand trips wouldn’t cover it!

NYC has stolen our hearts. I’m almost afraid that if we were to return, it wouldn’t be as good, but I won’t let that stop me from booking to go back first chance we get… but I have a feeling it might need to be a Christmas trip next time.

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FYI All views and comments are my own. No gratuity or collaborations apply.

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