The New York Diary - My week in NYC, Day 1 & 2: Yankee Stadium, Coney Island & Gansevoort Hotel Rooftop
Hi guys! The time has come, the dream has been realised and I can now live happily ever after because I went to NEW YORK!!! I did share snaps on my Twitter and Instagram but it still might have flew under the radar as since when was I going to New York?! I don't know if I even mentioned it properly, for fear it might not actually happen. Well as part of turning 25, aka the quarter life crisis, I asked myself why am I working? What am I living for? If I won the lottery tomorrow, what would I do? Top of my wishlist for a very long time has been to live in New York, but that itself is rather tricky and of course I need to visit first! I was considering spending months saving and going on a long trip across the USA but as it's such a huge space, it wouldn't be worth spending a couple of days in each place. So I narrowed it down to just the East coast, and then planned to visit New York, Boston (where I have some family) and Toronto (Drake hunting obvs.). I have to add, I was planning to do this on my own, but then my friend said she'd be up for a New York trip! It's so expensive compared to a city break so we decided to turn it into the best ten days in Manhattan and booked up! We only did that a month or so in advance as I was waiting until the final moment, but I had planned the trip for May. It's so daunting to actually set dates and book them! Another good friend also joined the trip and so then there were three!
I wasn't too fussed about the touristy side; I wanted to live there for a week! However having two friends with me was a compromise that was definitely a positive and so soon this trip was about having a blast doing NYC the way it has to be done, and I can always go back there with someone who has 'done' the tourist trail too! Plus I planned to go off myself if I there were any destinations I wanted to visit that weren't on our list.
And soon the month of May rolled around and we had a couple of meetings to discuss our itinerary. Being there for eight nights meant we could do loads of stuff but had to order them in a clever way so we weren't going up and down the island each day. We first booked the Explorer Pass, which gets you access to 10 of 60 attractions within 10 days! It was such amazing value and we encountered no queueing throughout the holiday, all while saving hundreds of dollars on entry prices. We also booked two gigs, a Broadway show, a Yankees game and Coney Island wristbands, PHEW! We went home exhausted and realising we had spent about £1,000 total, and then met up again to loosely order the places we wanted to go into the different days.
Sadly the week before the trip I was really under the weather, It seems to be human nature that every few months you are struck down with 'your' version of sickness, and mine is my sinuses being infected. For a week I was exclusively breathing through Olbas oil tissues, was drinking 3 ltrs of water per day, and went to be at 8pm each night, all while trying to complete my work cover for ten days and packing, and of course when you are visiting somewhere as highly-rated as New York, there is an absolutely endless amount of research you can do. I began by emailing some babes that I knew had been/lived there, and watching vlogs, before trying to get to grips with Uptown, East Village and Brooklyn, It's quite hard to plan for a destination you have no concept of, but our 10 page itinerary was soon being printed and the day came!
There is a new flight with American Airlines from Birmingham Airport and we were booked on the first one! It was around £100 more than flying from Manchester the day before, but after the craziness of getting to Gatwick when we flew to Athens, we vowed we would never again travel if we didn't need to. Considering getting to Manchester/London and back would have cost us near enough £100, we chose the smooth option and it really did pay off. Even typing this now I can remember exactly what it felt like on the morning of the flight! We sped through check-in and there was actually a party at the gate, with local TV crews and a free champagne breakfast! A Queen's guard gave a speech on the new flight and we all crossed our fingers to win the free First Class upgrade competition. But soon we were jetting off, sadly minus a vegetarian meal and gluten free meal for my friend and I (despite ordering them) so the surly air hosts threw plates of fruit at us for the next seven hours in the air. Luckily we had grabbed a classic Boot's meal deal, but the journey there was partially hilarious, partially ridiculous. We had only had to wake up at 6am so we weren't tired, but landing in JFK on New York time of noon, it really felt like almost bed time!
We hopped in a cab (amazing!) to our TRYP hotel on Times Square. Our experience was very nearly a totally different one as we were going to book a one bedroom apartment in East Village. Then at the last second, my friend found an amazing deal of 8 nights at the TRYP for less than £300 each! Staying in a hotel made all the difference as we got fresh towels every day and could always ask for directions whenever we wanted. However staying on Times Square definitely gave us the tourist experience of dining, as you tend to eat where you stay. None of us are foodies but we did end up catching breakfast and often dinner in touristy places, and I wouldn't say you need to stay so central to be able to visit the sights, as most were a subway ride away anyway.
Our plan had been to go to Wall Street for Friday night drinks but we were hungry and were not too sure we wanted to dress up at 5pm. We were all awake but crazy from the jet lag and made the decision to eat on Times Square and then head to East Village. Keeping in mind we had no idea what we were doing and only had a few online descriptions of clubs to go by, we headed for dinner at the Hard Rock Café for ease! This meant our first step onto the hustle and bustle of Times Square, which was just amazing! People are calling you and trying to sell you show tickets and stopping for photos and it's the moment of any holiday where you feel really far from home. I was in my element and literally strutted through the crowds feeling like Serena Van Der Woodsen mixed with Carrie Bradshaw. We'd made it!
Of course the Hard Rock Cafe was wall-to-wall merch and music so we ordered mega meals and after one sip of a cocktail, I literally felt so drunk. It must have been the jet lag because we were trying to sober ourselves up before the food arrived, and then after we were so sleepy. However we were already dressed up in heels, Joni jeans and crop tops though and it was barely 7pm! We couldn't just admit defeat so we jumped in a cab and headed to Alphabet City in East Village - literally like a scene out of girls. We went into one bar, had another drink, and honestly I wanted nothing more than to go to sleep. We called it a day and were tucked up in bed by 1am which was actually 6am on UK time - Zzzzzz!
With the most hard-core start we could muster, we were all most pleased to wake up to a fresh new day feeling rested and ready. We were set to hit New York hard and our first booking was a 1pm Yankees Game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx! In hindsight I would recommend you to do all of the bus/boat/scenic tours first so you get your bearings of the different areas before starting your other activities. Our first day was almost spent out of the central city. Upon online recommendation, our first stop was locating a diner called Evergreens, which served up the BEST all American diner food. This was one of many waffles/French toast/pancake breakfasts as we had to keep our energy up and of course, it was DELICIOUS! Maple syrup is heaven. The photo above still haunts my dreams!
After many cups of English breakfast tea (as standard!), we were off on the subway to the Bronx and as the line came to an end, the carriage was full of crowds in jerseys and hats. As you leave the subway station, there are loads of stalls selling merchandise and food, and we contemplated some jerseys before looking for a bathroom. We went through one door and it turned out to be a huge club! Even though it was daytime!? After a bathroom stop, we decided to grab a drink at the bar and noticed how it was full of 90% guys. The first night in the Alphabet City bar was just a drink, but it was here that we had our first sample of the all-American charm. We'd just about ordered when a guy approached us, and his buddies soon joined after. Within ten minutes we had made best friends with these Jersey guys who worked on Wall Street! Can you imagine? It takes me about ten nights out at home to come across a guy who even has a job and isn't insane! These guys weren't chatting us up, they were just sociable and having a great time on a Saturday at the game with the boys. It soon got the 1pm but they weren't bothered about the start of the game as it was on for the next five hours! So we had a few beers, they helped us barter for jerseys (mine says Jeter on the back - apparently Derek Jeter is the best Yankee of all time?!), and made our way to our terrible seats. They did try to persuade us to go to a different bar but we had to go to our seats at some time! So we climbed many stairs and soon stepped out onto the stadium, which was so huge and so fun.
We took our seats and watched a few innings, while everyone around us drank beer and chatted. It's almost like a social event rather than an actual game, as we were surrounded by families and couples just enjoying the occasion. We of course had no idea what was going on and there seemed to be breaks every five seconds.
A man next to us complimented my nails and the girl next to him smiled too. Now this is when I realised America is so different - in the UK, a guy would never randomly compliment a girl in front of his girlfriend. That just wouldn't happen, people just don't start talking to you. But in the US, people are so friendly and chatty without any ulterior motive that it's the most natural thing in the world to talk to anyone, no matter what their sex. This is why we ended up meeting so many new people on this trip!
In the end we probably stayed at the game for half an hour max before leaving to go to our next destination! We decided to go to Coney Island that day, despite it being literally an hour in the other direction. It was a way to get the furthest places done first, and we had the afternoon to go. We took the subway and went all the way to Brooklyn, stepping off at the board walk. Coney Island is that retro theme park in Bey's XO video, as recommended to me by the sassiest of them all, Victoria. Thank you again SO much for giving us so many recommendations girl! She's awesome, trust me. You need to follow her Instagram.
So we spent a few hours riding these retro rollercoasters - hold the phone, I actually spent the time watching from the ground as I just do not like rides, eeek! I did go on a few but oh my gosh, never the big ones! I had a pizza slice and took in the views, obviously pretending to be Beyonce. We had major fun on the go carts (of course mine was the pink one) before having dinner at Applebee's served by the cutest waiter ever! He was probably around 19 and even wrote down his number to give us some tips on Brooklyn, awwh! We already had the Bronx guys download Whatsapp, or as they said 'Whatsupapp' - LOL - and so there was already starting to be a list of new friends recommending things.
We went back to the subway and missed a train just by seconds, and it was starting to get late now. I watch other city break vlogs and just don't get how people are not pushed for time, as we always seemed to be rushing around from A to B on every holiday. We left the station and grabbed some water before hearing the next train and finding our subway passes didn't work at the gate as they had just been used! The train had arrived and we saw a dude open a door to exit the platforms, so we rushed in through the door and up the stairs, but missed the train again! We were laughing and panting before we heard 'Excuse me girls' and a cop was walking up to us!!!! After a minute of all apologising profusely at the same time and explaining the story and faux almost-crying, he realised we were tourists and soon enough was giving us destination tips and posing for a selfie. This was not the last time we almost had a run in with the law, and I'll explain that later!
So we're eventually we were back at the hotel and getting ready for a night on the town. It was Saturday and we had a list of the most exclusive rooftop bars. We took one step down from The Standard and chose the Gansevoort Hotel, as recommended by a gal I follow on Instagram called Maya who is an NYC resident! Love her Instagram long time! We wore our fanciest dresses - Carrie eat your heart out - and stepped out of the cab into a line in the Meatpacking district (pinch me!). Some dudes in front of us suddenly walked to the front and got straight in, so as the bouncer walked by I said 'Hey' and he sort of looked at us and beckoned us to go straight to the front. As we stepped into the building the bouncers were a little uptight but we were taken in the lift up to the top floor, and wow, once you party at a rooftop bar, you can probably never party anywhere else again! It even felt so normal to be clinking cocktails while gazing out across towers of dotted lights for miles and miles. Amazing! These New Yorkers know how to party too, and the vibe is inclusive and anyone will talk to anyone. It was the best club ever basically, and that was considered a usual place!
So I'll round off this post from the 20th floor as it's so long already and we've barely even started! My vlog has already uploaded though if you want to see a snapshot of some things, although the juicy details will be right here on my blog of course :)