Kel: New York, New York…. very, very excited. It's the third visit for both of us but I reckon this is my favourite city in the world so we're dead happy to keep lapping it up as much as possible.
First up, we got the welcome committee at the airport from Kevin Bacon and his wife. He was looking very very skinny but we refrained from telling him that (or asking for his autograph at the conveyor belt)
Trekking across NY avec bags was ok actually but we were happy to dump them down when we got to our cool we budget hotel, The Pod, near central station area. We went for a very excited wander about the neighbourhood and then settled on a byob thai restaurant (ironic). Lovely meal, soft shell crab so M was happy, a few drinks, a few more in a bar, a starbucks on the way home, taken to the roof terrace of our hotel to watch the skyscrapers in the dark. Ace. It is a pretty unique place.
There was no beating about the bush with Matthew. He knew that in the space of 7 months we were going to have one proper day of shopping and NYC had to be the place for it…. I introduced him to Bloomies and some of the cool wee shops in Soho ….. but this travelling malarkey has done something to me. I didn't know what was in or out, what I was doing next and therefore what I needed …. I just didn't even know where to begin. Very scary. I managed to buy a lippie (desperate moment) and a pair of jeans. Matthew tried to hide his smile as we headed uptown toward the meatpacking district for a look about up there.
We started with a New Yorkers tip off for some amazing falafel while sitting in Washington Sq park people watching. Idiots taking hacky sacks too seriously, dog run parks, jazz bands, buskers, tap dancers, big fountain in the middle with lots of soaking children. It was a really nice snapshot of New Yorkers at the weekend hanging out. We carried on from there and walked past Carrie Bradshaw's street (didn't get the same level of interest as our uni girls trip) but the Magnolia bakery did and it's cupcakes were on the mark. From there we walked into the meatpacking district, which on a Saturday afternoon at about 4pm, was absolutely banging. Restaurants packed, wedding pics being taken on the street, parties round the rooftop pools (including the Soho House one), banging clubs, yes, clubs…. blacked out to block the sunlight. So Saturday nights, that became Friday nights, and then Thursday nights are now Saturday afternoons in NYC… who'd have thought it?
From there we walked around camp corner into gay central. Really funny passing by a couple of massive body builders with the tiniest chiwawa you've ever seen, shops dedicated to speedo pants (any print), everyone lunching, everyone shopping, everyone eyeing each other up, you get the idea.
From there we wandered back uptown past a theatre that had a lot of buzz about it … only because Mr and Mrs Obama themselves were going there on a date that he'd promised her he would do if he got the presidency (you might have seen pics of it in the rags where they get out of a helicopter and she looks stunning in a black dress) Anyway, we weren't going to hang around and wait but it was fun watching the crowd get going and people being interviewed about how excited they were.
That night we headed out for some mussels and beer at a local bar. Matthew had been eyeing them up the previous night when we'd gone in for a drink. And they did not disappoint. Yum.
Next day we headed off Manhattan Island to visit Ellis Island. The boat went to Staten Island first so we got some fantastic close up shots of the Statue of Liberty, but we stayed on board as we were more interested in learning about life as an immigrant in the early 1900s. It was a gorgeous sunny day so we had tonnes of energy and were well up for it. We got a wee headphone set each (so funny being a tourist in the western world… it costs loads more but they really do do it well) and off we went. The building was close to demolition about 20 years ago but thanks to private money it's been renovated really well now. The photos in the main hall back in the day compared to now were really interesting, and the museum was excellent at giving you a really good feel for what it must have been like. Definitely recommend it to anyone who's visiting.
Back on the mainland we had a nice wander around the town, dodged the rain, got a spot of lunch and chilled out. That evening was our last night of our trip, so it felt like the end of an era. We decided to splash out a bit and went for a really nice meal uptown on the border of central park. It was a really dark moody restaurant with fantastic food (especially desserts which Matthew hoovered up) so we toasted to our amazing experiences with a nice cocktail (and a glass or two of wine) Awwhh. At the beginning we couldn't believe we had so much time to explore, and now we can't believe it's almost over.
We left the next day, but our flight wasn't until the evening. We wandered up 5th Avenue, had a very healthy brunch in a busy wee diner, Matthew nearly freaked out when I suggested Abercrombie and Fitch, and from there we wandered through Central Park, past the John Lennon memorial. Lots more people watching and then we walked again up to the Guggenheim, which was an amazing building. Being the skint travellers we were, our approach was to wander round the reception area to see the building properly inside and out, go round the gift shop to get an idea of what was in there (!) and then leave.All for free!
We had a nice time walking back through the posh neighbourhoods on the way back down. Porters at every apartment door, limos everywhere, kids being picked up from school all wearing the weirdest tie die uniforms, a jewellery store on every corner. Before long we had to accept that our time in NYC was over and we made the same long journey via subway - train - airtrain to the airport. Sob.
It ain't over yet though. Next stop London.