I’m like a shooting star, I’ve come so far: Expensive food, rain and Aladdin

I’m currently finishing this blog off while on a Megabus to Boston. I’ve loved my time in NYC, but I’ve been suffering from exhaustion so badly, it’s really bit a downer on me. So apologies in advance, this won’t be as entertaining as my usual posts. Nonsense, it will be spectacular as always πŸ˜‰βœŒπŸ½

I want to add that I clearly looked like a New Yorker, or had the air about me that I knew what I was doing. On four separate occasions (that I can remember) I gave subway directions, telling which line to take and which stops to change at. The first occasion was to a guy from New Jersey, then two women from Brooklyn and then another from Staten Island. A chap who was a typical dad-looking fellow, asked how to get somewhere and I didn’t even need to look at the amazing, and free, subway app I downloaded onto my phone. “Take this line uptown two stops, where you change to the green line at City Hall and Brooklyn Bridge.” Yeaaaaaah I gots it πŸ’πŸ½πŸ—½πŸ‘ΈπŸ½

Day One

Waking up in NYC,  baby! Our first mission of the day was to have a bagel at a place on the corner two blocks down from the apartment. I opted for cream cheese and grape jelly (jam, obv, but it wasn’t far off the jelly consistency!) in a plain bagel. The bagels cost about $5, a much more realistic price for food. And the bagels were a good size. I wolfed it down far quicker than I should have.

The apartment we were staying in was a few blocks from Central Park, so we walked up towards there and went for a wander, just taking in all the scenery.

I took this cracking photograph of the Jackie Onassis Reservoir, with a few tweaks on Instagram. Such a grey morning – we left the hot, sunny weather in Philly. Long gone were the days of me getting my legs out.

That tall building across the reservoir is called The Eldorado. Famous people live there basically. It’s an Art Deco masterpiece.

What I loved most about wandering through Central Park was all the spring blossoms, daffodils and floral buds. It was so pretty, just wandering around listening to the birds chirping away. And there were so many birds, colours I hadn’t seen before. I would’ve loved to have cycled around it.

There were lots of random statues around Central Park, including one of Hans Christian Andersen. I saw a statue of him in Bratislava, Slovakia. So why not visit the one in Central Park, NYC?! I was reading the story of The Ugly Duckling, appropriate.

We came across some art, on the SE corner of the park. It was concrete furniture, in the style I cannot remember for the life of me. It was nice to put my feet up and rest my bad foot.

We passed a Uni Qlo and I HAD to go in. The store consisted of three floors and it was a work of art inside. So futuristic and modern. They even had a Starbucks and a water drinking fountain. I came away with a really pretty playsuit ($30) and a Captain America t-shirt ($6). Bargain! Oh and a coffee. I needed all the caffeine.

We got the subway to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, as we had a 4pm tour booked. It was quite upsetting wandering around, and on more than one occasion, my eyes were glistening with a few tears.

It’s easy to forget how many people suffered that day; the Museum and Memorial really ensured that not only those who died, but the stories of those who survived, were told. I listened to sound clips of those on the plane who phoned their loved ones to say goodbye, or the voicemail of one of the fire crew who died, with his worried friends checking in to make sure he was okay. Even a clip of one of the hijackers.

Almost 3,000 people died, but thousands more suffered, from being injured – physically and/or mentally. Entire fire station crews were killed. Can you imagine that? The entire unit. And of course, it wasn’t just the Twin Towers. The Pentagon and Flight 93 too.

The museum had preserved some of the original structure of the Twin Towers, including steel from one of the towers where the plane went in. It was completely bent inwards, from the nose tip of the plane.

I also learnt that work is still being carried out to identify remains. Some 15 years later, some families still haven’t been able to lay their loved ones to rest. How sad.

Below is a photo of the last bit of steel to be removed from the site. It became an important symbol and only right it was preserved. Different first responders painted the number of those who they lost. On the other side of the wall on the left, is the Hudson River! 

Outside the Museum and Memorial, were two giant waterfalls. These waterfalls represented where the Twin Towers originally stood.

The One World Trade Center tower is so tall, and really stands out on the New York skyline.

After a heavy afternoon, we got some retail therapy, trying on makeup in Sephora. I may have also bought myself the most beautiful underwear set from Victoria’s Secret. The set made me feel glorious, so why the hell not.

Emily wanted a burger for our dinner so we looked up places nearby that came highly recommended by online reviews. We went to a place called Bill’s, which is a block from the 9/11 Memorial. I really enjoyed my meal, but Emily, not so much. Those fries are covered in gravy and cheese, by the way. Tasty!

We also saw the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl statues on Wall Street.

On the Subway to Times Square, we were chatting to a chap from New Jersey. He said I sounded like Adele. Ummm excuse me?! Haha. He said all English people sound the same. How rude πŸ˜‚ He also said how nice it was to chat to someone (we got talking because he was asking for directions!).

Times Square had changed so much in the last 12 years, naturally. More shops had opened, with bigger, glitzier signs.

And this photo is just for you Mum, Five Guys in Times Square open until 4am!

Day Two

I woke up feeling a quite sad and tired, the exhaustion of the week so far and the intense first day in NYC just got to me. Plus the pain in my foot had radiated up to my knee from over-doing it the day before, making it a gazillion times more painful than what I’ve had to deal with so far. I managed to sleep in until about 9ish, but I was just totally out of it. Nevertheless, I had a fun lunch planned, meeting up with two guys I met in Spain some years before, Ian and Michael.

Emily came with me, and we got the subway down to East Village where the four of us had lunch at a Morrocan cafe. East Village is a very cool neighbourhood, and I wouldn’t mind staying there next time I visit. Check out this lamp post, for example:

Afterwards the plan was to walk along Brooklyn Bridge and get a rainbow bagel, but I just couldn’t do it. We walked 15 blocks to go to a gelato shop and the Converse store, and I just couldn’t handle the pain anymore, trying my best not to cry. So I left Emily up to her own devices. I got a subway back to the apartment where I fell asleep eating chocolate covered pretzels. I absolutely needed it, but the sleep was short lived as we had to go out to see a Broadway show!

I quickly got ready (well tried), trying out my new Sephora lilac lipstick, and off to Broadway we went. We went to Juniors, a famous cheesecake restaurant on Times Square. Eat in was almost $20, but ordering it as take out and sitting outside cost $8. Obvious choice. I ordered a carrot cheesecake. It was really tasty, but I want a biscuit base with my cheesecake and this was lots of sponge. So I threw about 1/3 away, such a waste.

We had booked tickets to see Aladdin some time ago, so we were able to get really good seats that didn’t cost an absolute fortune. I absolutely loved the show. It was so magical and I had at least two jaw drop moments; the first when Genie appeared out of the stage floor, secondly when A Whole New World came on. The magical carpet was just WOW. Captured my heart that teeny little bit. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, and not just because the woman in front of me had a large perm.

I was 5 years old again, wanted to belt out the songs from the top of my voice. No-one would wanna hear that.

The theatre inside was beautiful too.

Afterwards we had a Maccas. It was the most special McDonalds I have ever seen. Regardless, my quarter pounder meal wasn’t cheap – $9!

Day Three

After sleeping for 10 hours (getting a lot of sleep in NYC!), I strapped my knee up, took loads of painkillers, put on some music and ventured down Lexington Avenue. It started raining, so I hid in Starbucks for a short while to dry off, drinking my new fav the coconut milk mocha macchiato.

I lurked outside of Nate Archibald’s townhouse on 4 E 74th Street, but he was no show (Nate Archibald is a fictional character from a TV show I love, called Gossip Girl).

Despite the rain, I kinda loved it. It was so atmospheric.

And walking around with no real plan of where I am going, listening to music, is my favourite way to explore a city. I stumbled across this shop window of Ralph Lauren. Well, I was in the Upper East Side after all.

I popped by Dylan’s, which is the largest sweet store in the world. I loved the stairs to the different floors.

And these two cushions, of A and I. I found them next to each other, which was definitely I sign that I should buy them. A sign that I ignored 😒

I really wanted this mini marshmallow gun. Not worth $35, but how fun!

A few doors down was Serendipity 3, a restaurant that was frequented by the likes of Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Onassis.

I was due to meet Emily at 1:30pm at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, but upon getting on the subway, the services were on a reduced schedule, therefore taking longer and stopping a few stops short of where I was supposed to get off. I changed lines, and befriended a guy named Joe from Staten Island. We’re now Facebook friends, so it’s actually official. He was quite lost and needed to get the ferry; he was hungover and I was heading that way so suggested we walked together, and success – we found Emily – some 45 minutes late (luckily she had only been there 25 mins!).

We got the ferry over to Staten Island, so we could get some cool photos of the Statue of Liberty, and the city too.

Based on Joe’s recommendation, we got straight back on to the next ferry to Manhattan, but I had a few minutes spare to buy a hot dog pretzel for $2.50 (already food was significantly cheaper!!).

We wandered around Lower Manhattan, seeing some famous buildings like the New York Stock Exchange. From there we got a subway to Brooklyn, to have a wander around. We went over the Williamsburg Bridge to get there.

And once we did, the area was very much like I had imaged, super cool!! Even the subway station had a pizza and pasta fragrance to it. Lots of street art and wide streets, lined with trees.

We had hoped to buy a rainbow bagel, but the store had closed for the day shortly before we arrived – doh! No matter, off on a subway to midtown.

We walked around the High Line, a park on a high bridge over the city. The park was a bit bare so it was a bit, meh, to put it mildly.

At this point it was nearing on 6pm and I had barely eaten all day. We got back on the subway (been making a fortune outta us this week!) to a place called Grey’s Papaya, that I read about the night before. Well known for it’s hot dogs, it’s featured on several TV shows including Glee and How I Met Your Mother.

It costs $5.95 for two franks and a drink. The sauerkraut was free but I had to pay an extra dollar per frank for relish and cheese. Worth it. I opted for Papaya juice because, the name innit. It hit the spot!

From Grey’s Papaya, it was supposed to take about 50 minutes to walk to Grand Central Station; Emily wanted to tick it off her list as well as the Chrysler Building. It ended up taking two hours, as we stopped off at a few places along the way. I hadn’t been to the Upper West Side, so it was nice to explore a different part of the city.

Like I saw this statue of me. I had no clue I was famous!

I came across the Hotel Empire, another famous Gossip Girl location.

I saw where Stephen Colbert’s show is filmed, which was probably a celeb hot spot earlier in the week.

The New York Public Library looked very cool with the eerie, grey sky.

As did the Chrysler Building overlooking Grand Central Station…

I was relieved by the time we made it to Grand Central Station as my leg was really hurting, I felt utterly exhausted and on the verge of tears again. Time for food! 

We got the subway to Chinatown and into a restaurant called New Cafe Hong Kong. I ordered cream of corn soup and vegetable noodles. It was soooo good to eat proper food! The soup was $3.50 and the noodles $9. I ate all the veg, and about 1/3 of the noodles – the portion was so big! And for the first time this trip, a portion worthy of two people. I look so smug.

After dinner, we walked a few blocks south and saw the New York Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse and City Hall.

We walked along Brooklyn Bridge for a bit, well for as much as my leg could handle. I took a “behind” photo of the court buildings.

And of course one of the famous Brooklyn Bridge.

Back to the apartment, where I rested my leg with a pack of frozen fruit before nodding off.

Day Four

I had a terrible night’s sleep, waking up frequently due to my knee pain. Feeling like a zombie, I went to the rooftop of our apartment block to catch a last glimpse of the skyline. It was beautiful, and such a contrast to the weather the day before.

We made our way across the city on the subway, lugging around our cases. We were running late, and only had 10 minutes to eat our brunch at a diner four blocks away from the bus stop.

I ordered real food! Say whaaaat! A brocolli and cheese omelette! Which came with the worst fried potato ever – no thank you. The ice tea was literally, iced strong black tea. Oh I miss English tea.

I ate the omelette, the toast that came with it and left the burnt and greasy potatoes on the side.

We got to our bus with five minutes to spare, and joined the queue managing to relax a little. I can be a bit of a chancer when it comes to pushing my luck with catching flights (not feelings πŸ˜‰), but I felt very uncomfortable with running so late and not having the time to even finish my drink! Probably would’ve been easier taking a taxi and paying $20 than managing the subway with our luggages, costing us $3 each.

When we did get on the bus, an older lady was in my seat. Emily and I had booked the seats at the front again to help with our travel sickness, and paid for the privilege, so there was absolutely no way I’d let this one fly. I am British after all, and polite, so I asked her very kindly to move as she was in our seats.

FML. The woman was bonkers. Latino, her broken English was like, “this is my seat move elsewhere!” Properly shouting. People were a little shocked by her reaction, as was I. I showed her my ticket proving that she was in the wrong seat, but she wasn’t having any of it. I was just, wooooow okay. The people sat around suggested she move, and she just point blank refused, and told me to go speak to the man. In my nicest, ‘kill them with kindness’ voice, I said, “Yes I think it’s probably best I do go speak to someone as you are in the seat I paid for.”

I suggested to Emily to go sit next to her while I sorted it out, just for jokes. She didn’t. I might’ve died with laughter.

It took multiple people around her, and three bus attendants to finally move her. Not only was she in the wrong seat, she was on the wrong bus!! Her bus was 12:30am! This Boston bound bus departed at 1:10pm. Loooooooool. She was shouting saying she had been there since midday and her bus was late. Well, she was late for her bus! Some 12 hours late. I think the confusion was that this would’ve been her seat had she got on at the original time. As there were a few seats spare, the driver let her on and she assumed she could still sit in the best seat on the house.

I would’ve felt sorry for her, but she was so rude to me, Emily, and everyone else around her. Karma. Because of her, the bus left a little late. She was lucky she still got to stay on the bus; I thought we may have had another United Airlines situation!

It took ages to get out of the city, into the Bronx past the Yankee Stadium.

Boston bound! A travel day resting and chilling is what I need. Here is to the final stop of my US east coast tour πŸ‘πŸ½


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