When I found myself sat in the travel agents this time last year, putting down my £175 deposit down for what would be my first trip to New York I didn’t really think too much about the city I would be spending almost £1000 to visit.
I’d seen snippets of NYC on the TV (thank you Sex and the City) but it had always been “one of those places” on my imaginary bucket list I’d quite like to visit…
So here we were; 6am last Tuesday morning and we were finally on our way to the big city. Visas approved, bags packed, email out-of-office notifications firmly ON. I was finally heading to New York for a girly week away with one of my very best friends with a vague image of yellow taxis, skyscrapers and dollar bills imprinted in my brain.
P&P was about to hit New York for the very first time, and what a rollercoaster ride it was.
The fun began almost as soon as we realised we were waiting at the wrong gate in Heathrow’s Terminal 5. As we legged it to the other side of the terminal to board our flight my heart stopped at the uncomfortable “bleep” and error message that flashed up as the ticket inspector swiped our boarding cards and proceeded to tear them up right in front of us with a strange, sly grin.
“Ladies, I’m sorry to tell you that these are no longer your seats…”
Wait, what? Does that mean we weren’t going anymore? Disappointment began to sting the back of my throat…
“I’m delighted to tell you that you will be joining us as World Traveller Plus guests on the aircraft today.”
Holy sh*t we got upgraded! I had visions of being stuck cross-legged and bored on the 7.5 hour flight, but instead found myself in a snug 2-seat part of the plane sipping champagne and perusing the menu to see what we’d be having for lunch! We had all of the leg room in the world, state-of-the-art TVs and all of the snacks we could wish for. The flight quite literally flew by, two films later, a few more glasses of prosecco (before, after and during lunch) and touched down at JFK around midday NYC time.
Hailing our first yellow cab, we drove flat fare from the airport across Manhattan to our hotel in Times Square.
I practically had my head hanging out of the window like a dog the whole journey excitedly nudging Ashleigh telling her what I’d seen. “Just wait”, she said with a knowing smile, having been to New York a few times already.
As the taxi made its slow crawl through the busy streets of Times Square, I sat happily in the back gazing out in awe at the view. A sweet smell of honey roasted nuts and doughnuts hung in the air as the spring sunshine brought the tiny birds out of the trees onto the pavement, sending blossom cascading from the sky alongside their chirpy birdsong.
I decided there and then that I loved New York.
The people, the smells, the skyscrapers, the noise, the organised chaos, even the lack of any kind of road/traffic rules. It was a complete culture change – just what I needed.
We checked into our hotel, The Sheraton in Times Square, threw our bags down and headed straight out onto the streets (after a quick selfie of course).
We walked for miles along those wide streets, passing some of the world’s most famous landmarks like Broadway, 5th Avenue and Central Park. With nowhere to go, and nowhere to be, we melted into the city. Just leisurely wandering, stopping for lunch, a drink, a seat wherever we fancied and just took in the view. I honestly can’t tell you how long it’s been since I had the luxury of doing nothing..
I was still going strong after dinner, despite our early start and so we decided to walk the 13 blocks or so to the Empire State Building. Open from 8am – 2am, Ashleigh warned me that every time she’s been the queues have been ridiculous. This time would be different, I could feel it…
We joined the back of an hour-long queue of excited tourists and New Yorkers keen to see the city in all of her evening finery and patiently waited as the queue snaked through security scanners….up escalators….around corners and 86 floors before we finally made it to the top around 10.30pm. I didn’t dare admit it to Ashleigh at the time, but I was starting to feel pretty demented at being penned in like cattle walking tiny baby steps, not knowing when or where the end of the queue would finally reveal itself.
The moment we stepped out of those double doors and outside onto the Observatory was unforgettable (and totally worth the $32 entry fee). The view was beyond incredible. We must have taken a thousand pictures and not one did the view any justice. The city was sparkling, the lights went on forever and despite experiencing all of that noise down below earlier that day, the atmosphere up here was so tranquil. I’d never seen anything like it and could have stood there staring at the view for hours.
New York was turning into the most magical place I’d ever been and we still had four more days of discovery…