Back when I was a young lady of just twenty years, I met a very handsome chap who wooed me with promise of a Christmas break in the land of New York, where we would ice-skate merrily with hot chocolate in hand and promenade arm in arm through festively lit, bustling streets filled with music and the intoxicating smell of honey roasted nuts…
Well, that chap was clearly just trying to get in my pants, because it took six whole years and a whole lot of begging to finally get him to take me there!
But it was worth the wait. For a long time, I wasn’t really bothered about visiting America -I think I felt that I’d seen it all in the ‘movies’. But then it became apparent that that was the best reason to go! And now I can finally say from first-hand experience – it really is JUST like in the movies!!
Our five-day trip was a sort of second honeymoon (read: we justified the cost by pretending that it was linked to our wedding); although we took two of our besties along for the ride as we always have a cracking time on holiday with them.
We stayed in the East Village/Greenwich village sort of area, in a traditional New York apartment block not too far from the subway. We got ourselves a weekly ticket and hopped on and off as we pleased (and I’m 45.6% sure I saw Jude Law at one of the stations, but no one else believes me). It was also just round the corner from Katz’s deli (of When Harry Met Sally fame) so obviously we stopped by for maple and pastrami pancakes and a cwoffee.
P.S. Ray’s pizza next door was also an epic find – huge slices and so moreish.
We took an early morning ferry to Liberty Island to climb to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty and visit the Ellis Island Museum, something I’d always wanted to do.
Tee hee, I’m so witty…
Would you believe that this incredible feat of engineering is hidden away under Lady Liberty’s skirt?!
It was the only day it rained and Manhattan’s ghostly silhouette peeped out ominously beneath the clouds.
Unfortunately, Ellis Island was still recovering from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy when we visited, so we could only visit part of the Immigration Museum. We did get to see the Great Hall, which is where they would gather the new arrivals for their health assessments and checks.
Late November was a great time to visit – Macy’s switched on their lights whilst we were there and everyone was gearing up for Thanksgiving, which was a few days after we left – I was repeatedly delighted to hear ‘Happy Thanksgiving!’ being hollered across the streets and in shops. We even had a little snow!
(FYI: the green sign lit up in the pic above says ‘Whole Foods’ which is a huge ethical supermarket chain in the US. Everyone seems to shop there and it has the most amazing range of products available, all displayed in the most incredibly attractive and tactile way. If I could have one wish for Xmas, it would be that we had these in Wales instead of flipping Tescos).
We were also there for the 50th anniversary of JFKs assassination, which was honoured with flags at half-mast, commemorative editions of the New Yorker and other local papers and documentaries, which we sat in a line on our bed watching from our apartment. If America knows how to do one thing, it’s unify over a common cause.
We took a spontaneous visit up the Empire State one evening, and I would totally insist that you go up there – I thought it would be an utter snooze fest, but it’s really incredible! Go just before you’re due to leave the city and you can pick out all the places you’ve been – a great way to round off a trip
Another surprising highlight of the trip was Grand Central Terminal (NOT Station – for heaven’s sake don’t call it Grand Central Station; in fact, don’t even mention the word station unless you’d like a half-hour lecture from a passing local).
We amused ourselves considerably quoting from Madagascar, whispering in ridiculous voices to one another over the Whispering Arches, and taking ‘Where’s Wally’ photographs to play when we got home (I still can’t find us all).
Did you know that Michael Jordan has a steak house in there?! Yes, THE Michael Jordan. How odd.
Keen to see the more suburban areas of New York as well as the touristy delights, we took an afternoon stroll over the Brooklyn Bridge and hung out for a while in Dumbo – where we ate more incredible pizza in the Front Street Pizzeria and found a little ‘beach’ to play on with lovely views of Manhattan (also the setting for a Ryan Adams video, according to Chris).
(Jane’s carousel is a beautiful restored fairground ride on the banks of the river – there was a couple having their wedding photos done here when we rocked up – I bet they look amazing!).
It was a shattering five days, and we packed in so much – much more than I’ve regaled you with here – but yet we still had to miss out so many things (we barely touched Central Park and Upper Manhattan). I would definitely go back again if I’m lucky enough to get the chance.
Oh, and the morning we left for home, I finally got my ice-skating session with my handsome man, which was magical and festive and wonderful (as well as being highly hilarious due to my complete inability to stand up straight on skates). We’ve still got it after all these years together