How to spend your time in New York

This day last month mum and I were enjoying the sights of NYC. When I came back from New York, I went to bed at 7pm and woke up the next morning at 7am, 12 hours sleep, it was almost like I was in a coma, I have never slept for that long. Clearly I didn’t miss anything in rainy Belfast and the exhaustion when I got home was well worth it. When I look back at everything we seen and did in New York, I’m so glad I came home absolutely exhausted with very little of our feet left, they truly had been walked off us both. Each day we walked no less than 10 miles with the longest day being 17 miles! In January it is freezing in New York but we hardly noticed with all the running around we managed to do. With tourist attractions and locations of interest on every corner, we journeyed out of our hotel with a map that has ended up dog-eared and folded in so many different ways. Mum is without a doubt one of my favourite people to take a city break with, every moment is precious and she really likes to get lots packed in so there was no time to settle into the room we headed straight out for a wander.

Day 1 : Thursday

Our hotel, The Wellington, was just off Time Square. We walked down at around 4pm and under the red stairs there was such a long queue for the Broadway tickets, we thought we would come back later and see if we had any chance so we headed off to our first stop, Ground Zero. Ground Zero was a subway ride away to Wall Street and all I can say is that the subway was an experience not my favourite form of transport, plus it is no London Underground. The London Underground has an amazing map and directions within are great but the New York subway was a nightmare to work out with very few staff available to answer questions. We eventually got the hang of it and hoped we were on the right way to our destination.

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Ground Zero did make us completely forget the subway experience as it is the quietest place in New York which is so peaceful. No matter what your thoughts are on 9/11 more than 3000 people died there, and the saddest thing was the women who were named with their unborn child. The size of the buildings around and the close proximity of the two buildings, it was the first time I felt that New York was small. This set a high for the trip, it was so moving and mum and I reflected on where we were when we heard about this momentous event and thinking about how our lives have changed since then. After Ground Zero we went for a walk around Wall Street and Courtland Street then got the subway back to Time Square.

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Time Square was our base point so we would always get the subway back here and then walk to our next destination. We walked a couple of blocks over to Rockefeller Centre, stopped for a coffee and watched people ice skating and took in the scale of Rockefeller Centre itself, standing at the bottom, we couldn’t see the top. It was beautiful with the evening setting in and the twinkly lights of New York City. It was here we stopped by Anthropology and I picked up a candle from my previous blog post. We then walked over to 5th Avenue and stopped in Saks. I had a look round while we were there but with the exchange rate and New York tax it really was much more expensive to buy any of the luxury items I had my eye on. We went back to Time Square to grab some dinner and this was when Time Square really took my breath away, it really looked like the city that never sleeps, in fact it was so bright, I could have put my sunglasses on. We made a quick stop to Sephora, and you can see what I bought in my last post, I really went for a tangle teezer because I forgot to pack one, and after a day of wearing I woolly hat, my hair was in great need of a good brush. After an exhausting day of walking around we made our way back to the hotel to get a good night sleep before another busy day. We grabbed a cup of tea in our hotel room and went straight to sleep…rock and roll!

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Day 2 : Friday

Friday was our main shopping day. I had asked lots of people about the outlets and did a bit of research to see which shops where at which outlet, where they were and how we would get there. After careful consideration we decided to go to Woodbury Common and after lots more research we decided to go by the bus at Port Authority. The bus is pretty cheap from there and it runs every 30 minutes from 9am with the last bus leaving at 9pm, lots of time for us to get our shopping fix. When we arrived at Port Authority we were advised by what I can only describe as the most unhelpful information desk ever…he proceeded to tell us to go in the opposite direction to buy a discount book from a random man but I refused not only because it sounded dodgy but because I had been advised that if we arrived with our passports we would get it from free the information desk at Woodbury Common…we went on our own way despite his disgust. When we eventually found the ticket desk (Port Authority is the biggest bus station in NYC) we were delighted that we made the first bus and were on our way. Woodbury Common is about 1 hour outside of New York and it’s crazy how quickly we left the high rise buildings and travelled through suburban New Jersey, I just loved looking at the different style of houses and gardens and thought about the number of people who travel into New York every single day, it really makes my journey to work seem so simple. When we arrived we called at information and as expected we showed our bus ticket and passport and got a free discount book, now it was time to see what discounts would be worthwhile and come up with a plan for how we would tackle the day. We stopped for a McDonalds breakfast and made a plan. I had thought about buying a pair of Valentino Rockstuds while I was in New York and with a Valentino in this outlet, I would have a look there, we made that our first stop. I left disappointed with the shoes from previous season more expensive than they are at home plus they didn’t have any in my size…oh well more to spend in some of the other shops. Initially we walked in 3o lots of different shops and didn’t buy anything so we decided to focus.

The sheer magnitude of this outlet is a lot to take in. I made a stop to Thomas Pink and picked up a shirt for Chris, The Cosmetic Company, which was such a good find, and picked up a few past season items, Estee Lauder Doublewear and a Mac Lipstick as well as a few gifts it really was a bargain. We went to Kate Spade and I picked up a cross body cream bag and again a few gifts for people. Things got serious when we went to Ralph Lauren, it’s a personal favourite for mum and I, not only did we pick up somethings for Chris and my brothers but we also managed to pick up a lot of bargains for ourselves, so much so that we came back again later. We skipped over to Tommy Hilfiger and it was brilliant and with a breton or two later we left and went to Under Armour, Levis and Nike. We made a stop in Jimmy Choo to have a look at wedding shoes but without a dress we couldn’t really make a purchase although we do have a better idea of what I’m looking for. Honestly we went into so many shops I couldn’t even name them all but overall I really enjoyed Woodbury Common. We left at 7pm on a full bus, meaning we had bags at our feet and our lap we had just bought so much but never the less I was glad to be on our way back to our hotel. We walked straight back to our hotel and reviewed our purchases, my feet were well and truly sore after a day of very little rest.

Day 3 : Saturday

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After a busy few days of walking more than 10 miles a day we took the morning easy. New York is like every other city or town on a Saturday morning, its got the Saturday hustle, not as busy as normal but still errands to be run. We grabbed breakfast and took a walk around Central Park, it was a really relaxing walking round, surveying all the Park Runners, dog walkers and a wedding photoshoot, taking every moment in. We kept a spot that we would be able to come out of again, the magnitude of Central Park is huge, I thought we had walked the length of it in an hour but really we had only walked the width. Signage wasn’t really great in the park but we did find our way around so it was fine.

We walked out of the park and walked to the New York City Library, it was just getting close to 10am so we had to wait outside for a couple of minutes on the steps but of course that wasn’t a waste of time, there is always a photo opportunity. Walking up the steps to the NYC Library I remember seeing this very scene in Sex and the City. I just love reading and the stories this library held, we took a walk around and see the various different rooms and the best part is that it’s free to walk around and see. We took our time walking around reading the tourist information and their was an art exhibition while we were there so we got to see something extra. Serious marble envy, the walls were amazing and the interior alone made me want to stay. There is a gift shop but nothing really we were interested in so we left and went on our travels.

Back out in to the freezing cold and we wrap up warm and got walking again. We walked around to Grand Central Station, a pinnacle point for New York and seen in many movies, initially when we walked into the Grand Hall of the station I was shocked at how small it was, although it wasn’t until we tried to find the subway that we got a little lost, it really was huge, I had completely underestimated its size.

Finally getting on the subway we made our way to the bottom of Manhattan and walked to the Staton Island Ferry Port, it was really busy with sales people and well I guest we just looked like tourists so we were hassled while we were trying to walk in. We were told it would be a 2 hour wait because we had not pre booked so we decided against it. We walked outside and walked over to the see the Statue of Liberty from the end of the Island, it was absolutely freezing so we were pleased that we didn’t do the boat tour but still got to see the Statue of Liberty.

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After we walked to the Dead Rabbit, where we seen the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, which was just a few streets away and was a welcome relief from the cold. Walking along a quirky street, we couldn’t have missed it, it stood out for all the right reasons, not to mention the sign at the very top of the building, worlds best bar. The street was quiet so it was a great opportunity to get some pictures and then we went in to the heat. On entry to see the sawdust on the floor and the pictures around the wooden bar, it felt like a bar from a small town at home, it was comforting after a few days in the US. It came as no surprise that this was were Irish people came to gather, when we walked in there was only one group of people sitting a mix of Irish and American but then we were later joined by another couple from Belfast who, like us, were visiting the bar for the first time. Mum and I perused the cocktail list and chose one, such a tough decision as there were so many that looked delicious. We stayed for the drinks and then left, it was starting to snow outside and we wanted to get back to Time Square to see about a Broadway Show.

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After getting lost trying to find a subway and with no cabs around we wandered around and eventually got the subway back up to the Centre of Manhattan and somehow ended up on 5th Avenue and walked past the Empire State Building, Trump Tower, made a stop in Tiffany’s, for looking only, then walked past the Paris Theatre and off into Central Park again. This time we wanted to go for a walk to see the Dakota Building where John Lennon was shot and the Strawberry Fields Gardens back in Central Park. Walking through Central Park at night was beautiful and gave us a completely different perspective of just how big it is.

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We walked back to Time Square about 7pm to see if there was any chance of tickets, we went to see The Perfect Crime, an off Broadway Show. This by far was the busiest night at Time Square where we seen a proposal, multiple street artists and a multitude of selfie sticks on the red stairs. By 10.30pm when it was over, my eyes were feeling heavy and we headed home to pack our bags so we were ready to leave the hotel in the morning. I checked my Apple Watch and we had walked a total of 17 miles in 1 day and now we were really starting to feel every step.

Day 4 : Sunday

A later start than normal but we had a lazy breakfast in the Hard Rock Cafe after packing and getting ready to leave. The last 3 days had really started to take its toil on us and we definitely were not moving as quickly as we previously had.

We walked around Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue, seeing Andy Warhols Original Factory, Marilyn Monroe’s famous subway grating and Studio 54 which is now a theatre. We walked past Trump Tower and were amazed to see the level of security outside, mum had never been inside a Trump Tower before so we went in and had a look at the tacky insides. Shops were just beginning to open and we went into Diptyque and Aesop, my new favourite shop!

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We continued walking up until we got to The Met by this stage we were both so tired from our previous few days we sat on The Met steps *Gossip Girl Fangirl* and soaked up the rays. This was the first time we really seen a lot of sun and it really was such a good day we just enjoyed the sunshine, it was so warm so we grabbed a cold drink, people watched and rested for a while. We didn’t have time to go into The Met so we eventually walked through Central Park back to the hotel to collect our bags and make the journey home which was seamless.

I had such an amazing time in New York and my top tip is, do your research first, when you get there, there are so many people who are trying to sell things to you on the street plus your hotel is helpful but they have sources who they work for and more often than not they were more expensive. When we wanted to go to Woodbury Common we could have got a mini bus from our hotel which would leave at 11am and collect us at 5pm and it was $85 each whereas the bus from Port Authority just a few blocks away was $82 for the both of us plus we didn’t know if we would either be there that long or if we would require more time.

If I were to go again, firstly I would go at a different time of year, when it is much warmer and I would like to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and also take the Staton Island Ferry there and back to get a closer look at the Statue of Liberty.

Until next time New York!

Lashings of Love,

Kerrie

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