. As we drove into the city, it began to get dark, we could still see the cityscape emerging in front of us but other than the Brooklyn bridge, we were unable to point out much that we recognised just yet. When we got further into the city, the yellow cabs dominated every street, making lanes that didn't exist, zipping in and out of gaps that weren't there, it was so exciting to see, if a little scary as we were in one that was dong much the same. Then, we started to drive through the tall red brick apartment buildings making episodes of friends or sex and the city pop into your head before eventually our cab pulled up outside our hotel and we made our way in to check in. We checked in and were given a room on the 16th floor with views of the Empire State Building, we looked out of the window to the bright lights, tall square buildings and roof tops and couldn't believe we were there. After settling in and having a bit of a rest, we didn't want to waste any time on our short visit to we went out for a wander, we didn't know where we were heading but the streets were light and busy so we just went out to explore. We wandered past, Macy's, giant pretzel stands, bagel shops, pizza shops where people pick up a 'slice' - all things New York and some how had made our way to Times Square. On first glimpse I thought to myself 'yep, lots of huge screens and flashy lights, just what I expected' and then we walked around the corner properly and the sheer scale of the square hits you and is so impressive.
Yes, there are plenty of tourist shops and restaurants, it's busy and a bit tacky but the lights, the buildings with advertising screens that go so far up into the sky you are leaning backwards to see it all, the massive M&M outside the M&M shop, the Mini that is driving attached to the side of a building as advertising, Broadway, the NYPD cop cars.... just magnificent. We took no time in getting right into some tourist shops for hat's, scarves and gloves and you can't help but pick out something that says New York on it, it's like love at first sight and you just want everyone to know. After that we made our way back to our hotel, stepping out of the shops was a bizarre feeling as the lights in Times Square made it so bright that it actually looked like day time and I forgot it was almost midnight already. We slept well that night and were so ready to get out there and see more the next morning.
The next day, we were meeting up with my sister - Chan, for brunch in a cafe called the Cupping Room that she had recommended. I hadn't seen my sister since before we left on our trip and luck had it that we were both in New York at the same time so me and Rob hailed a cab and made our way to West Broadway and Broome to meet her. We got there early and got a table in the cozy cafe warming up with a coffee as we waited. My sister arrived and we had hugs and a great catch up about our travels, Christmas, what had changed and what had stayed the same since we had been away and as much as we could cram in on Chan's few hours break from her busy work schedule - the food, conversation and company was fantastic and so surreal that the first place we met up would be in NYC
. After a great start to the day, me and Rob made our way down Broadway for a wander, we decided to be pretty relaxed that day and save the real jam packed sightseeing schedule for the next few days so we walked and took in the sights,building's, sounds and smells of the big apple. As we wandered, we realised that we had walked to City Hall, then walking further, we had made our way to Wall Street, then to the sight of the Twin Towers (which is currently undertaking a huge construction to build the memorial plaza) and the firefighters memorial, then we walked more and found ourselves in Battery park looking over the water to the Statue of Liberty and watching the Staten Island ferry - an accidental sightseeing bonanza. We marveled in all the sights, the huge buildings of Wall Street to the humbling firefighters memorial, we didn't mind that we had walked all day, we didn't feel tired we were in awe of this big city and needed to see as much as we could. On the long walk back from Battery Park, we took a detour through China town to Little Italy for dinner -BADA BING! We choose a restaurant that was not too big, busy and made fresh pasta every day and took a cosy table in the corner of the candle lit restaurant. We chatted to the waiter who told us about the specials and that all the food was fresh, homemade and as close to Italy as you would get outside of Italy whilst giving us a huge bread basket with homemade pesto. We chose stuffed chicken wrapped in pancetta with a mushroom and marsala sauce accompanied by homemade linguine and a bottle of prosecco - the food was delicious and when the waiter took the plates away and asked 'if we enjoyed it' the empty plates spoke for themselves
. As we enjoyed the atmosphere and let our food digest with an amaretto, we chatted to the waiter about our travels and New York. When he asked what we though of the city, I told him that there was a feeling here that you just can't escape - 'just something in the air' and he told us that many people have told him that before, it's like an energy that bounces through the streets that you can't help but get caught up in. After our dinner, we were going to meet up with Chan again for dessert, we walked to her hotel on 16th and went to an American Diner for dessert of New York cheesecake and chocolate fudge sundae's before saying a big goodbye until our next reunion in the UK, it was a perfect ending to a perfect day.
We woke up the next morning and got all wrapped up for another day exploring, my sister had recommended that we take a trip to the 'top of the Rock' - top of the Rockerfeller centre so we took walk through Times Square and made our way there. We wanted to go to MoMa the next day so we bought a joint ticket for both to save a bit of money before we took the lift to the 67th floor observation deck. I thought the lift would take about 10 minutes to get there but it went so fast that we were there in a flash. When we got to level 67, we were told that you can go further up to 69 and 70 so we took the escalator and stairs all the way up. When you reach the top, you are treated to the most spectacular 360 degree view across the city, out in the open air on the top of the building taking in this gargantuan view, from there we saw the statue of Liberty, Brooklyn bridge, Empire State building, seeing such a different perspective from the streets where these giant buildings seem to never end - a must see for anyone who visits
. After taking in the breathtaking views for as long as we wanted to, we made our way back towards Times Square and visited Madame Tussuad's, we took plenty of snaps with the celebs, some so realistic that we though they were looking at us and would go 'boo' at any given moment but they didn't. We enjoyed the attraction but think it was a bit overpriced for what it was and needed jazzing up a little bit to be more entertaining. After that we made our way back to our hotel, the next day would be our last in New York and there was still so much more we wanted to see.
Our last day in the city we wanted to make the most of, we had planned to get up early and take a boat trip to see the Statue of Liberty up close but when we woke up it was pouring down and we figured that visibility would be pretty bad and weren't in the mood to get soaked. I had been dying to visit MoMa for years and we had planned to go that afternoon so took the subway there to enjoy a cultural afternoon of art. MoMa was really busy when we got there, a really popular place in NYC to visit, 5 floors of Modern Art, Impressionist, Abstract, Cubism, Architecture, Furniture, Photography, Sculpture and some real famous names too. I think everyone would eventually find something that they liked. We were probably there for 3-4 hours in total but you could easily spend a lot longer, I loved the Picasso's especially the special 'Guitars' exhibition, Van Gough, Warhol, Litchenstein and can die happy now I have seen a Magritte in person as his surrealist paintings are one of my favorites. Some of the modern art I think you either hate or love but we both couldn't help laughing when a member of the staff asked us to watch our step over a blob of white paint on the floor which was actually one of the exhibits - I looked back and when the member of staff was preoccupied, someone walked right over it - ha ha
! After that, we walked to the 'Meat Packing' district to find a nice little restaurant for our last night dinner, we found a nice little place, candle lit like most restaurants in New York in an old red brick building with wooden floors. We enjoyed a leisurely dinner, I had the most delicious swordfish steak in a creamed sweetcorn sauce and Rob enjoyed a homemade burger before we took the walk back down Broadway for the last time. The next day it was time to move on again, back to the airport and back to LA to pick up our car for a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to San fransisco - our final stop on our 4 month journey.
We left New York knowing that we would and wanted to return sooner rather than later.
We had taken a little bite out of the Big Apple but with a taste that unique and exciting, one bite just isn't enough, for now though, we will just have to savour the flavour that it left in our mouths.
After a few days in LA, we had boarded yet another plane for a trip to the BIG APPLE, this would be our first time in New York and we were so excited to at last wake up in the city that never sleeps. When we arrived and collected our bags, we made our way out of the airport and were hit by the winter cold, it nipped at our skin whilst our breath made steam in the freezing air, there had been snow in New York and although it had mostly gone by the time we arrived, it left a bitter cold behind biting away at all your extremities. As we queued up at JFK in rush hour to get the NYC yellow cab to Manhattan, the cold didn't matter too much as this was NEW YORK and it was as exciting to be there as it was cold - extremely! As we eventually got into our taxi (unfortunately not the cash cab from the gameshow) we made the 15 mile trip to our hotel which was on 32nd street in Midtown Manhattan, after hearing so many times about the 'blocks' and streets of New York in so many TV shows, it was so incredible to be there