During my time in university, I had the opportunity to do a semester abroad and I chose to go to Cal State Long Beach in California in 2010. While I was there, the infamous “spring break” was my first opportunity to get out of SoCal and see what else there was out there in the vastness of the United States. Having dreamed about going there for so long, no other destination stuck out in my mind like New York.
I really wanted to visit the Big Apple and take a big bite out of it [yes that did just happen]. At the time, I had a friend who lived in Manhattan that I had met from living in the same student accommodation as her in Nottingham, so I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with her.
Arriving at Penn Station to my awaiting friend, I was struck by the awe of just how ridiculously tall all the buildings were in New York, like crazy huge. As I got there in the night time, we went straight to her apartment.
Although, getting there was not the easiest as many subway stations did not have lifts or escalators so I had to use the stairs. Which I had gotten used to living in London, but I was not prepared for the dirt in the stations. And as I use rails for support when taking the stairs, that was quite a shock to the system!
However, as with most things, I quickly got over that and was able to enjoy meeting up with one of my friends from Nottingham. Many of the women that I had met in university came from the Fashion Institute of Technology [FIT] in New York, and I was able to meet up with nearly all of them when I was in the city. One of my first nights there I was taken to a warehouse party in Brooklyn that included a show!
Finally got to see one of my many FIT ladies in Brooklyn!
Waking up the next morning, she mentioned that I was able to go to the roof of her building and see a lot of the city from there.
The view from the top of her building in the morning. Bananas.
Her apartment was also within spitting distance of the giant Macy’s store on 34th and Herald, which thankfully I did not spend too much time or money in! But I was able to have a good nose around “the world’s largest store”.
It was a good day to go shopping, but I resisted! As my wallet wouldn’t let me go crazy…
While going to New York was a first for me, it was also around the time that I had first learned about Couchsurfing, and it would also be the way that I met many people along the way during my tour of the States and further. All the people that I met during my times Couchsurfing have been wonderful, interesting people that I am glad that I met along the way. However, as is with human curiosity, I was asked about my leg and “what happened to it”, having heard this question many times before I already had a short but well rounded line ready about the wonders and curiosities of my limbs.
These were the very first people that I met up through Couchsurfing.
What I found most refreshing about New York was how much it reminded me of London, but just a bigger, busier and dirtier version of it. While people did still ask the same questions, they moved on very quickly from the topic and onto where the best place to get awesome cupcakes were [at the time of my going it was still Magnolia’s, not sure what’s hip now], which streets to avoid at what time, where the hottest clubs were and little unknown places that were beyond the tourist track.
Standing outside Grand Central Station. Grand being the operative word.
And also, but very importantly, how to not get in the way of a New Yorker in a rush. Which is always. They are always in a rush, but having grown up in a big city myself, I always moved to the side and read the map, trying desperately to figure out if the F train would take me to where I wanted to go.
Even though many people go on spring break and holidays in general just to relax and unwind, I find myself coming back from a trip more tired than I left as I always try to see as much of the city as possible and end up going to bed late and also waking up impossibly early to make the most of my time there. And walking around for a long time until I physically have to stop for a while and take a beat.
Indulged in some shopping with another FIT woman before some much needed Thai food.
Statue of Atlas by the Rockefeller Centre. 30 Rock!
While at the time I had not seen the television show 30 Rock, I knew some of the significance of the street and the name itself. It was quite surreal to walk around and come face to face with the different buildings and areas of the city that I had seen through TV and films. Especially a statue of Atlas with the “whole world in his hands”.
Being such a huge fan of NBC’s Friends, I was really excited to go to the park and see parts of New York that I had seen on the show that I followed religiously. Unfortunately, due to my complete lack of directional skills I was unable to find the cross street where the Friends apartment building was that housed Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross. I have vowed on my next trip there that it will be seen!
Establishing shot used for many episodes of NBC’s Friends at Washington Square Park
Outside Carrie’s front steps from HBO’s Sex and the City. I do believe I got Carrie’d away…
Where I was able to go to, was the front door and stoop that was used as Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment in Sex and the City. I was hoping that any minute Big would come out from the woodwork and profess his love for me. But alas, no such luck.
Even though I am used to the fast paced atmosphere in London, I found myself walking slightly faster when I was in the city simply because everyone else always seemed to be rushing off to somewhere. Even though I was on holiday and I had no obligations and nobody that was waiting on me, I felt like I had to get to my tourist spots faster.
New York Stock Exchange, where all the various suits moved faster still
Another Couchsurfing event where I met the fabulous Davina!
Thankfully the entire trip was not spent trying to match the stride of the average New Yorker and I was able to attend another Couchsurfing event in the city and met up with a wonderful lady named Davina who I am still friends with to this day. That’s one of the things that I really enjoy about the concept of Couchsurfing as you really could make friends for life, or at least find out where to get awesome burgers.
This is the location of the burgers. Easily missed, hardly forgotten.
It was inconspicuously located within the Le Parker Meridian hotel, with just a little neon burger sign to show you the way to meaty goodness. Even though there was a queue, everything seems to involve queuing in New York; it was well worth the wait. There was no talk of “whoa, your leg” or “I love your accent”, just a good burger and some chips.
Don’t let the appearance fool you, it was very good.
Speaking of good burgers, this place actually exists but unfortunately I was not hungry at the time when I happened upon it.
Welcome to good burger, home of the good burger, can I take your order?
When I was not busy eating my way through the city, I took advantage of one of the many, many tall buildings and got a good view of New York from the top of the Observation Deck at 30 Rock. I had deliberated over whether or not to go to the Empire State Building also, but I was told by many people that you do one or the other as they both offer wonderful views of the city. I intend to go to the Empire on my next visit.
Top of the Rock, Observation Deck
As with many buildings that I have been to with spectacular views, in order to get to the very top and see everything, you have no choice but to encounter stairs, thankfully there weren’t that many as the lifts did most of the work.
A trip to the city that never sleeps would not be complete without a visit to Central Park. On the day that I went there, the weather was simply glorious and made walking through the Park even better; I went there with another lady that I had met through a few Couchsurfing events. It was just nice to go at an easy pace and not mentally tick all of the tourist attractions that I had seen along the way and just enjoy the beauty of it all.
Time spent in Central Park, is time well spent.
We couldn’t help ourselves, it was a beautiful day.
Eating in New York was definitely a fun experience, as with London, there are so many different places to eat with cuisines from all over the world. And the last “it” place to eat with a different take on the dining experience. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I absolutely adore food. So I was spoilt for choice in the city.
Dining with 2 more FIT friends.
While New York is stupid expensive to live in and not the cheapest place to be a tourist, there are many fun things to do that don’t cost very much or are completely free. One of those was at the Brooklyn Museum, every first Saturday of the month there would be a big party within the museum which was open to all. Had a superb time and got to move around the area while soaking up some culture at a leisurely pace with performances, music and fabulous lighting!
Target First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum. Wonderful pieces, good atmosphere.
Getting some culture [for free] with my chipped nails
At the risk of not soaking in enough culture, I was able to go to the Museum of Modern Art [MoMA] and saw the Tim Burton exhibit that was showing at the time. It was really good fun as I am not that big a fan of art as I don’t get most of it, to be quite honest. Not to say that I understand the inner workings of Tim Burton’s mind, but I liked what I saw!
Excellent exhibition with weird and wonderful characters
I had a great time in New York and definitely have plans to see more of the city as there will always be something new to see, somewhere new to eat, a hip club and all the things that New York has to offer from sun up, ‘til sun down.
I fell in love with New York.