Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Travel: New York days 1 and 2

So if you're wondering why it's been so quiet here over the last month it's because I've been on holiday. This can only mean one thing: travel posts! I did a lot of tourism for 2 weeks and then had a more relaxed family holiday for the end of the month.

Anyway, right at the beginning of july I went to New York! I was there for 4 full days with my Mum. It was partly an 18th birthday present/graduation present but also just because we both wanted to go.

First things first, we flew from Brussels to London with British Airways then to New York with American Airlines. I would highly recommend American Airlines as they were really friendly, the seats weren't too small and it's not overly expensive. We came back with Iberia and that was not the best experience.

We got there late at night so caught a taxi and went straight to our hotel, the Hampton Inn hotel on west 31st street. The taxi driver, like all of the ones we had when we were there was very friendly. The hotel was really good. It wasn't the most luxurious but breakfast was included and it was nice, the beds were incredibly comfortable, the staff were nice, the location is good and it wasn't overpriced.

The next day, we were luckily only slightly jet lagged. We were up quite early and were out before 9 am but considering the 6 hour time difference it was pretty good. The first thing we did was go to Macy's as it was right near the hotel. Macy's is brilliant. Everything is reasonably priced and if you're not a US citizen you can get a 10 percent discount on almost everything. Just make sure you carry ID around everywhere though.

 After that we walked up Broadway in the rain, which was lovely and refreshing until it really started throwing it down. Walking up Broadway is nice because you can see the lights from Times Square a long way away.

After we stood at Times Square in awe for a bit, we went and had lunch at The Counter which is amazing. Basically you can make you're own burger: you choose the bread, the sauce, the meat/veggie and then up to 3 toppings (you can have more but then you pay more). They also have a fixed menu with fixed burgers. The chips/fries are amazing too. The food is really delicious, and I'll definitely be going there again.

We then went to Grand Central Station which was incredible. You can't really capture how grand it is until you see it in real life. I never thought a station would be so interesting. It also has a food market downstairs which was buzzing and looked really appetising. Then, upstairs, there were a few jewelry and phone case type stalls.

Near Grand Central Station there is a park called Bryant Park. It was really nice and calm and you could play table tennis and they even had a reading corner outside as it was right next to the library. They also have music events there.

We pre booked a tour at the Rockefeller Center which was really really good. We learned a lot about New York and about some of the buildings and architecture of the city. I went there knowing nothing about the Rockefeller Center at came out knowing a lot. It was very well done and not at all boring. We had also booked the Top of the Rock but it was so cloudy that they recommended we reschedule.

After that we walked up Fifth Avenue and went for a quiet stroll in Central Park which is just amazing. It's huge and so quiet considering you're in the middle of a city. It also is really pretty. Then, we just grabbed a slice of pizza as you do in New York and went back to the hotel.

On day 2 of our trip, we decided to go to Central Park in the morning. We went all the way up to west 103 street on the subway which is really easy to use once you get the hang of it. We wandered across to the east side of the park and found the conservatory gardens of the park which were beautiful.

After Central Park we walked down to the Guggenheim Museum which is on Fifth Avenue. We visited the museum which was quite interesting. The whole set up of the building was the main attraction because everything is circular/oval. If you're in to modern art it's a very interesting museum. They do also have some more classical paintings from Paul C├ęzanne for example. We had lunch there which was not that good. It's a fixed menu and we ended up having too much, the food was alright but not amazing and there wasn't much seating space.

Then, we walked down some more of Fifth Avenue and saw the Central Park Reservoir which is quite a sight. Its huge and on each side you can see towering buildings. We decided that our feet were quite sore so we caught the bus back down to 48th or 49th street, near the Rockefeller Center.

At 4.30 pm, we had a ticket for Top of the Rock and about an hour before we went up, the skies completely cleared and the sun came out. The Top of the Rock is a must do in New York. It was incredible. Even if you're scared of heights it doesn't feel that bad because all the other buildings are so high. The view was quite literally gobsmacking.

After that, we caught the subway to Lexington Avenue to go and have a wonder around Bloomingdales. There are a lot of gorgeous clothes, accessories and makeup products in there but it's expensive. Personally, I preferred Macy's.

We decided to get some dinner close to Bloomingdales so we found this amazing restaurant called Brio. We had the most amazing pasta, it was just so yummy and fresh. It was also quite different, it wasn't the usual spaghetti bolognese or penne carbonara. They had homemade canneloni's with freshly cooked cherry tomatoes and scamorza (smoked mozzarella), etc.

I will tell you about the last 2 days of my trip in the next post which should be either tomorrow or the day after. Hope you found it interesting and helpful if you're planning a trip to New York City!

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