New York City is by far my favourite city in the world. It is beautiful, timeless, everyone is friendly and there is so much to do!
I was unfortunately only in New York for a short amount of time – about 6 nights – but it was magical. My partner and I landed in New York on the third of December at 10pm after approx. 26 hours of travelling time (we went from Melbourne – Sydney – San Francisco – New York) and caught a cab quite easily at the airport. Thankfully, they have a sign which states how much it will cost you to get to certain parts of New York from where you are so you don’t get ripped off and it only cost us $50 to get to Manhattan from JFK Airport.
After driving through many toll booths and enjoying the neighborhoods, we arrived at our hotel; The Park Central Hotel on 7th Avenue is across the road from Carnegie Hall. It is in the most perfect location – ten minute walk to Times Square, five minute walk to Central Park – and is a great hotel to stay in.
When we arrived, my best friend (who hails from Syracuse, NY) met us in the foyer and we unfortunately had to make her wait a few minutes while we had a quick freshen up after our long journey before doing anything else – yes, you get very smelly and yucky after a long commute, especially with United Airlines where you are like herded cattle – and then we were on our way.
First stop, food! We were starving by 11pm and had to have something to eat, so we stopped by this very small shop which had a sign for 99c pizza. Let me tell you, one of the best slices of pizza I have ever had! It was perfect, not too cheesy, not overloaded with a million herbs, it was simple, but delicious. I was tempted to try the broccoli pizza but because the slices are so big, I was full after one.
Next, we walked over to Times Square, and let me tell you, it is unlike anything I have ever witnessed. It is so bright, people everywhere, but it all works! There are police officers on every corner, it is essentially organised chaos.
The best thing about New York is, it is the city that never sleeps, and this is correct as most of the stores in Times Square are open until about 1am. Here, I had my first shopping spree, in the infamous Forever 21 Times Square, which is about five levels of clothing. I bought two garbage bags worth of clothes and it only set me back $65 USD (Back when we went, the AUD was paying $1.09, so we were very lucky!)I was picking up shirts for $2, underwear for $1, jeans for $9, it was insane! And the quality isn’t crappy because I still have a lot of those items 3 years later.
Then, I spotted my happy place, The Disney Store, and I HAD to go in! It was pretty big but because of how chaotic it was in there, I had to walk out with no goodies, it was too crazy!
As it was getting so late, my friend had to say goodbye until the next day as they had to catch the last train to their hotel in New Jersey. So Luke and I kept wandering around, perusing the gift shops – and I am kicking myself repeatedly til this day for not buying anything from there – and at 1am, hit the 24/7 Maccas for some more food.
Now, we were completely ignorant to the serving sizes on our first night and how to order, I asked straight up for a small chicken something or other, and Luke asked for a large cheeseburger meal. What we soon learnt was that the small over there is equivalent to our medium and the large there is MASSIVE and the cheeseburger meal comes with two cheeseburgers – his meal alone could have fed us both! We eventually learnt how to order (by the number of the item on the menu board) and to not order a large.
After a good night’s rest, we woke up refreshed and started our next day, which included a loooongggg walk through Central Park with our friend. We were walking right through the centre of the park and went to the Lake and Belvedere Castle, and turned out we were only a quarter of the way through the park after almost three hours of walking!
As they had to head back to Syracuse for work the next day, we wandering back through Central Park and saw the ice-skating rink, etc. before having to go to Times Square to pick up some clothes for the NBA game that evening. In Times Square, there is an amazing store called Champs Sports which has a lot of sporting goods (DUH!) and we both fit into the juniors Knicks jerseys for the game.
Leaving our hotel, it was going to be a freakishly long walk to Madison Square Gardens (1.2 miles) in the rain, and taxi’s were chaotic at that time of the day, so we caught a bike taxi, for the first and last time. It was so bumpy and scary, I felt like we were going to tumble over into oncoming traffic at any moment, and was so relieved when we made it to MSG alive and unscathed.
Madison Square Gardens is amazing, there is a lot of security, but once you are in, it is an unforgettable experience. The food is super cheap, ($10 for nachos, massive drinks and hot dogs) and so are the memorabilia ($10 for two NY Knicks beanies). The seats are ridiculously comfy, we didn’t have prime seats, they were pretty much nose bleeders but the seats are big and squishy (with cup holders too! Pick up your game Etihad and MCG!)
As the game was ending, we headed back to our hotel via foot, not risking no more bike taxis during our stay, and Hubby crashed as soon as we walked through the door (due to the climate difference between Australia and New York in December, he caught a head cold when he arrived). Then, at 4am, due to jet lag, I was wide awake and starving. Hubby wasn’t feeling the best so I decided to venture out solo to find a 24/7 café to find something to eat for the two of us – that is when I stumbled across Café Oliviero and had the most amazing bacon and egg rolls and ham and cheese croissants, they freshly make them for you and are divine. There are also fresh fruit containers, and general convenience store goodies here. This became our one stop shop for everything during our time in New York and highly recommend them!
After waking up and feeling a bit better, we decided to do day one of the Hop On Hop Off Bus, which is a pass I purchased for us to use over two days, a bus which stops at multiple stops across Manhattan and also gives you priority access to different attractions such as the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, a cruise to see the Statue of Liberty, etc; It is a great pass to have, especially with limited time in New York.
Over the next two days we visited the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, went to ‘Sex and the City’ locations such as Magnolia’s Bakery and Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment stairs, the Museum of Natural History, went on a cruise to (barely) see the Statue of Liberty, visited the 9/11 Memorial, drove through Harlem, visited the Upper East Side, saw the ‘Gossip Girl’ locations, ate at Tom’s Restaurant (external of the café in ‘Seinfeld’), visited the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, went into Toys’R’Us Times Square and saw a life size moving T-Rex… The list goes on (I’ll gradually include a rundown of everything in detail in the links below).
There are so many amazing places to eat as well, which I will write about below for ideas, suggestions, and places to avoid! The good thing about New York City, is at the front of every eatery, is a grading of A, B, C, etc. and these determine the grade the restaurant has been given by the Health Department and helps to choose which are better places to eat in regards to cleanliness and so forth.
I could go on and on about NYC here, but I will leave that to delve further into the places to stay, things to do, and places to eat down below.