About 6 months ago, my friend and I decided to book, probably, the biggest trip of our lives. It all started when I saw a post on the app I non-stop rave about called 'holiday pirates'. The post said "Winter in NYC: 4nts in historic Roosevelt hotel & flights from £442pp". After we added on a few extra nights, baggage and flight seats, the holiday came to around £600pp not including spending money. So for a week in central NYC, I thought this was a deal we couldn't say no to.
So, before we knew it the holiday was booked and paid for and we were on the plane for a week in NYC!
On the first day, our flight from Gatwick Airport departed at 9:55am and landed at JFK at 12:55pm EST. This meant that we still had the majority of the day to check into the hotel, we stayed at the Roosevelt hotel on 45th street, explore some of the city and come to grips with the subway system, which we managed to master with no 4G! At the airport, which was already stressful enough, me and Chloe were split up as she was visiting on a returning visa whereas I had a new one. After that, we took the AirTrain from JFK to Jamaica station which cost about $7 and then purchased an unlimited week metro pass for around $40 each.
By 4pm we had checked into our hotel, freshened up and were on our way to visit Grand Central Terminal and Times Square. Grand Central was not particularly necessary for us to dedicate a specific day to visit as we didn't realise how frequently we would be using the station considering how close it was to our hotel. One thing I would recommend doing when at Grand Central is to find the whispering wall and make whoever you are with stand at the opposite corner, even though the terminal is incredibly busy and noisy, even when you are whispering you can hear each other perfectly. its located right under the east balcony and then to the left.
After this we took the shuttle to Times Square and had only a very brief walk around, got some quick dinner and then headed back to the hotel as we were both very very jet lagged.
Somehow, we managed to get up early and were out of the hotel by 8:30am and on our way to go to the top of the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building cost $36 each, that included up to the 86th floor and the 2nd floor museum. I'm not sure whether it was the time of day that meant it was very quiet or whether it's because we travelled in January which is very out of season, but either way there were barely any people. One thing I would suggest is if you have long hair, tie it up. The winds are so strong up there and I made the mistake of having my hair down and the view for me was just my hair!
Once we had took in the breathtaking views of the New York skyline we made our way to Central Park of which we spent the majority of the afternoon wandering around. We saw so many street performers, dog walkers and even a castle. This was probably one of my favourite parts of the trip, I thought it was such a great place for a date or just a casual walk, I definitely would go back simply for another walk around Central Park. Maybe in summer?
After we had gone back to the hotel, for our daily 2 hour break from constantly walking around the city, we headed back out to go to the top of the Rockerfeller Centre. As you know we had already seen the New York skyline from the top of the Empire State Building so our idea was to do one of them in daytime and the other during the nighttime and I would definitely recommend doing it this way because both of the views are stunning in their own way but at nighttime it looks magical. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
We also didn't realise that the Rockerfeller christmas tree was still up, which was a nice surprise. So we also saw that for a while too.
Day three we headed to Brooklyn, so for this we took the metro to the stop closest to the Brooklyn Bridge on the Manhattan side and used the bridges walkway to take us over to Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Bridge is definitely a must-see on your trip to New York, however we only got there around midday and it was very crowded even in January. So, if you want a quieter spot for photos then I would suggest going very early morning.
After this we walked 5 minutes to DUMBO which is an iconic photo spot of the Manhattan bridge going between two buildings. Again though, it is a very well known spot so your best option is to get there early morning to avoid the crowds.
We then thought whilst we were in Brooklyn we should visit Brooklyn Heights, which is where all the posh brownstone buildings are.
I could definitely see myself living in Brooklyn at some point, I don't think I could handle the hustle of the city centre but Brooklyn had a quieter, more residential vibe to it that I really liked. However, both me and Chloe were almost blown away by the winds during our walk, I have honestly never witnessed winds so strong, not even at the top of the Empire State Building. It was insane, that is one thing I have taken away from NYC that I didn't know before, is that it is incredibly windy and I mean WINDY.
Everyday we took a 2 hour gap in our day around 3pm - 5pm EST where we would chill out back in our hotel room, talk to people back home and update our social media. This worked really well for us because we both got very tired very quickly, partly due to jet lag and partly because we were averaging 23,000 steps per day compared to our usual 7,000 step average.
After our little rest break back at the hotel, we headed to Times Square for a bit more shopping and food. You could easily spend an entire day getting lost in Times Square and spending far too much money, but we decided we were more interested in seeing the bigger attractions, as we thought we can do shopping back home. This meant whenever we had a bit of spare time or ended up in Times Square for whatever reason we would have a little mooch around, buying souvenirs for ourselves, family and friends.
Now, I'm not sure whether this day was an absolute disaster or the best day of the trip and here is why. Day 4 was the day we were supposed to be seeing the Statue of Liberty, before we came here we quite liked the idea of walking up to the crown of the statue and admiring the view from inside the Statue of Liberty, however, this day was very groggy and cloudy, we were both knackered and quite frankly couldn't afford the extra money to go up to the crown. If you've ever been to London before you know there are people that try to sell you knock-off tickets to some of the tourist attractions, well it was a similar situation here. We were approached by a man in a red uniform, that was an advocate for the hop on and hop off boat tours, he asked us if we already had tickets to which we answered no. He then got distracted and started to compliment Chloe's eyes, saying how they reminded him of his ex-girlfriend. Odd, I know. Anyway he offered us two tour options, the first a 3-5 hour boat tour where you can walk around liberty island and be underneath the statue, or second an hour boat cruise seeing all the famous New York and New Jersey landmarks (including the Statue of Liberty) from the boat. He also gave us a discount because of how much he liked Chloe's eyes. Again, odd, I know, but thank you to Chloe for having discount worthy eyes! So anyway, we decided to take the 1 hour boat tour and as did a mother and her son who were the first English/Australian tourists we had met on our entire trip. One of the tour advocates took us to a 'bus stop' which was basically just the side of some random street and told us that a bus was on its way to pick us up, not mentioning what bus was going to pick us up or what stop we were supposed to get off at. At this point we began to think we had all been scammed and with every minute that a bus didn't pull over that feeling grew stronger and stronger until some old, worn bus pulled over to let us on. Kindly, a man who lived in the area and could obviously tell that we looked lost, asked us if we were going on the boat tour and then told us what bus stop to get off at and the directions from there to the port. Earlier, the woman had told us that the boat tours were every half an hour but when we got there at 11am the next boat tour wasn't until 12:30pm. So, we stuck with the people we had met and went to Starbucks for something to eat and drink and just got to know each other better. They were the loveliest people and if you're reading this, thank you for making a bit of a disaster of a day a whole lot better :). Once we had finally managed to get on the boat tour, it was great, you could see all the landmarks on both the New York and New Jersey side, including a really close up view of the Statue of Liberty. This tour cost us about $35 each, which was probably slightly overpriced considering you can get the ferry to Staten Island for free but even so it was definitely a day of stories.
After an eventful morning, we took ourselves to the 9/11 memorial or 'Ground zero'. It is an incredible memorial, but I didn't feel comfortable taking many photos as in my opinion it isn't very respectful.
Later in the evening, we made the mistake of taking the subway out to Queens for dinner at Denny's as Chloe had been wanting to go since she visited Florida earlier last year. The subway was packed and I mean busier than the underground in London, it was mad. The walk from the subway to Denny's was the most dodgiest walk I've been on that trip. I had felt pretty safe in New York but walking down a dark street was not my ideal scenario in a foreign country. However, we survived and Chloe very much enjoyed her burger and gave me her side of chips as I wasn't overly keen on having a burger that evening. Of course though, not even me eating chips could go smoothly as I poured what I though to be vinegar on my chips turned out to be maple syrup! Honestly, someone help me please.
This was our last full day in New York and we spent it at the American Museum of Natural History (or the night of the museum museum as I like to call it). We thought the entry price for this museum was around $30 for an adult however, what we didn't realise was that it is a suggested price and actually you can pay whatever you like to enter, or what you think is a reasonable price to pay for the amount of time you plan on spending there. So, us trying to save money, spent $5 on entry for the both of us, so $2.50 each, oops. I think they hated us but oh well. We were a tad disappointed by the museum as we thought it would look a lot more like it did in the movie, with the giant T-Rex in the centre of the museum but it wasn't like that at all. However, if you are into museums and history then it is definitely worth making time for, I think we were just too tired to appreciate it.
We then spent the rest of the day/evening in the hotel, ordered a massive pizza and garlic knots to the door and just chilled out.
This was the day we left NYC, so we packed all our bags and checked out of the hotel at 12pm, left our bags there and headed out for some food and last minute shopping before making our way to the airport ready to fly back to London Gatwick.
This trip was one of the funniest and best city trips I have been on, if you are thinking about booking a trip to New York City....DO!!! Be prepared for lots of walking, lots of wind and honestly the best trip of your life. Book it cheap though, don't waste your money, book through "Holiday Pirates".