In the second year of my Journalism degree, the university gave us the option to go to New York. The trip was planned for the middle of December, Christmas in Manhattan…Who could say no to that?
After what seemed like days of travelling, my friends and I finally arrived at JFK airport. All excitement had been drained, as I often find when travelling long distance. The constant queuing and waiting certainly takes it toll. However as we stepped outside arrivals, the moment the blast of cold air hit our faces and we saw all the yellow taxi’s waiting outside, all the anticipation of arriving came rushing back and we were ready to explore! That was until we were told there was a 1-2 hour coach journey first to the hostel.
Most people decided to sleep during the coach journey, I hate sleeping on transport so condemned to insomnia, I sat there looking out onto highway after highway. It paid off – the sight of the sky scrapers against the black nights sky couldn’t have been more mesmerizing. We reached the hostel and after a quick look around and dropping off of bags we took to the streets. Luckily, our hostel was only a 15 min walk or so to the Plaza hotel and then from there we carried on to Times Square.
Well, if I remember exactly what I felt when I first laid eyes on the bright lights of Times Square, it must have been sheer awe. Now some of you may be thinking I’m exaggerating a tad, but bear in mind I come from a town in the south of England…and our capital city of London looks like a village compared to New York! (No offense, Londoners).
I believe my friends and I stood for a good five minutes or so just soaking in the vibrancy, even at 11 pm it was completely packed. Tourists from what seemed to be every country in the world were posing for pictures, shopping, watching street performers or sitting on the TKTS steps. We quickly learnt that taking pictures with any of the street performers or people dressed as characters meant that we MUST give a tip (and if you look hesitant you will receive a bit of an earful 🙂 ).
After we roamed around for a bit, checking out the souvenir shops, we decided to try out Five Guys, a burger place just a short walk up from the main area of Times Square (amazing burgers – definitely recommend for anyone who hasn’t tried them before).
The next day, after taking a stroll through Central Park, we tackled 5th Avenue. It was both my heaven and hell. My addiction to shopping was hindered by the fact that I couldn’t really afford anything. Depression slowly sunk in, until I found more reasonably priced shops such as Forever 21 and Macy’s. There I spent a considerable amount of time buying clothes and shoes and then panicking about how to fit everything into my suitcase. We also visited the Grand Central Terminal and the New York Public Library, both beautiful works of architecture.
In the afternoon we watched Ice skaters glide around in front of the Rockefella center and then headed to the Empire State building. We were approached numerous times by people selling theatre tickets, weed, comedy club deals, more weed, and finally entrance tickets for the Empire State building. Our ticket gained us fast entrance, a viewing of the 4d cinema experience which took us virtually through the streets of New York, and then access to the top floor for the view. We reached the top just as the sun had started to set, and even though it was bitterly cold, the sight of the twinkling lights for as far as the eye can see kept us there way into nightfall.
So here is the part where my inner bimbo comes out – those who know me well know whats coming next; The Sex and the City tour. Hello, my name is Kiran and I am an addict, have been since the age of 16 and don’t plan on stopping any time soon! It was amazing, and so determined was I that I actually went alone since no one else would come along (that didn’t deter me in the slightest!). The tour was great, all of the major places that were covered in the series and first film were visited, and we stopped off at an adult rated shop, in which we all squeamishly meandered around, desperately avoiding eye contact with each other. The tour then took us to ‘Scout’ bar, which in real life is called O’Nieals, where alcoholic and non-alcoholic Cosmopolitans were waiting for us. Apart from being slightly gimmicky, overall it was enjoyable and a definite must if you are into Sex and the City.
The final highlight of the trip was ice-skating in central park. Sliding along the ice with the backdrop of the the New York skyline was just perfect. There were many, many, many more things to be done in Manhattan alone, never mind the rest of New York, so it has become a goal for me to return. Four days were simply not enough for a city so alive, pulsing with energy and light, radiating opportunity and excitement. Alongside the main tourist attractions we visited, the added bonus of enjoying a comedy club evening, shopping in Century 21 and watching extreme religious groups argue in Times Square made the trip unforgettable. The next time I return I shall do so with more time, and a much bigger budget.
**Some of the pictures used in this post were taken from my friends album as I cannot locate all of mine :(.