When I went on my epic adventure to the Americas (see blog post: The Adventures of Angie), it included a week in the city that never sleeps. It’s really hard to explain how I felt in the Big Apple. Yes, I enjoyed it. It was fun and exciting and I’d do it all over again. But I say that with every place I visit. NYC is different. It’s electrifying! It has a life of its own. It lives with its own rhythm and heartbeat. The city emits a unique energy not felt in any other city I’ve been to. So with Manhattan as my base, and a whole week all to me, I felt like a hyperactive kid in a humongous candy store. Where do I even begin?!
I’m such a girl. Although I hardly shop these days as every dollar I have goes towards my travel-piggy bank, things were different back then and I did a hell of a lot of shopping. Clothes, shoes and accessories are so much cheaper in America than in Australia, so I think that’s a reasonable justification. I spent a good chunk of an afternoon in Sephora and Victoria’s Secret. Australia doesn’t have any real VS Stores that sell lingerie, and underwear is a necessity! I also browsed around Macy’s and Forever 21 – still one of my favourite stores. But the bulk of my shopping was done at Greenwich Village and SoHo. In my opinion, this area is the best for shopping in Manhattan. You will find popular chain stores like Mango and H&M but there are also plenty of independent stores selling unique pieces that will make you feel special when you rock them at home.
You will never go hungry in Manhattan. My hotel was just outside of Times Square so I had endless options available to me. If I was on the go, there were plenty of street food vendors, typically, hotdog stands. There was one night when I met up with friends I met in Peru. They kindly took me out to dinner at East Village, where I had the most delicious Hungarian goulash! This was followed by cocktails at a speakeasy. That still remains to be my first and only time in a prohibition-era bar. It was great! Another first for me was eating fried chicken with waffles at Smorgasburg, which is a market in Williamsburg. I try to limit my fried food intake but the combination of chicken and waffles is surprisingly tasty.
When I booked the New York part of my trip, I knew I had to see a musical. There were a number of productions to choose from but being a Disney lover, I chose Aladdin (“A whole new wooooorld….!”). It was the best! Despite it being summer, it rained that night so I was drenched when I arrived at the theatre. Thankfully, they had t-shirts as souvenirs so I bought one and wore it throughout the show #musicalgeek Just to add to the joy of that night, I saw actor Zach Braff on the way back to my hotel. True story!
I happened to be in NYC on the 4th of July (2014) and to my excitement my friend Ricky from Melbourne was in America too! The celebrations in the city were amazing. There was a concert at Central Park that started as early as 6:30am (televised on a morning show) and if I can recall correctly, popstar Jason Derulo was one of the acts. Wherever I walked, the colours of the American flag – red, white and blue, where decorated everywhere, and firework displays were being held at various locations across the city. NYC already has its own buzz but the people seem to turn it up a notch for Independence Day. Earlier that week, while I was having dinner, I was kindly invited by a group of people (who liked my Aussie accent haha!) to watch the 4th of July fireworks with them. So on the evening of Independence Day, Ricky and I caught the subway to Brooklyn Heights and watched the incredible fireworks over East River. I could not help but feel really lucky to be part of it.
Most importantly, I made sure I enriched my cultural education and visited the major sights. I’ll start with the Statue of Liberty. I actually did this on the morning on July 4th with my friend. In addition to seeing the remarkable Lady Liberty, the ferry also docked at Ellis Island. Is anyone else reminded of the movie Hitch starring Will Smith and Eva Mendez when they think of Ellis Island? On my own I visited the ever-so-popular Rockefeller Centre, and went up the Top of the Rock observation deck. I didn’t visit the Empire State Building but you can get a great view of Empire State from Top of the Rock. One day I will return to Rockefeller Centre during winter and go ice-skating! I wandered around the Financial District, including Wall St and paid my respect at the 9/11 Memorial. I commuted Uptown to explore the glorious Central Park, which is even bigger than what I imagined, and spent a couple of hours at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) and Guggenheim Museum. My favourite attraction was Brooklyn Bridge. I don’t know much about architecture but I can appreciate an outstanding piece of structure and engineering when I see one. I walked from one end to the other, admiring the views and snapping photos. I definitely recommend a walk along Brooklyn Bridge if you’re ever in New York.
I did my best to cover as much ground as possible in NYC. Downtown was by far my favourite place to be. It is super hip, not as busy as mid-town, there’s a really relaxed vibe and it just oozes cool. It’s where I spent most of my time and I fantasise about living in Brooklyn. I’m sure I missed out on many other aspects of New York so I will do my best to go back. For now, my first week in New York City will remain very special to me.