New York, New York. Definitely a city that deserves its own blog post because I simply can’t make up my mind whether I like it or not. Yes, it had us encounter quite a few little disasters, but there really is something about it. It’s loud, it’s dirty and homelessness is a real problem (much like I mentioned in this photo about Los Angeles) – yet I somehow felt content walking the streets, which are so easy to navigate once you get the hang of it, and enjoyed the variety that comes with a city that size.
Maybe it’s the seeming familiarity through shows like Sex and the City, Friends and Gossip Girl that instantly creates an atmosphere of recognition. Maybe it’s the fact that American culture is all over media – we know their currency, their sights, heck, we even know their crisps selection in the supermarket – even though they culturally have very little to offer, the latter being the part that makes me cautious to express my undying love.
Or is it the fact that I can be no one in a crowd of thousands? That I can walk between skyscraper after skyscraper, look however I want to look, do my own thing and nobody bats an eyelid? Hannah from Intrepid Introvert recently put it so aptly by saying, “While there are a zillion people around, no one really looks at you or speaks to you. You can just float around unnoticed […] What I loved about NYC is that it seemed like anyone can ‘fit in’.”
Whatever it is, I think I want to come back at some point (although the absolute mayhem we encountered at JFK when we left makes me wonder if I should). Before I decide, here are some tips and experiences on where to stay, eat, shop and sightsee.
Where to stay
In short: Don’t bother staying anywhere other than Midtown or Downtown, whether it’s an Airbnb or a hotel. And: If it’s cheap, it’s probably shite.
Our initial Airbnb was in Union City (as it turns out, not even part of New York but New Jersey, ffs) and it would’ve taken us around 45 minutes per way to get to and from New York City with public transport. (Fun fact: It took us ages to find an Uber driver who would even take us to NYC, so… really. Don’t bother.) For a variety of reasons, we had to rebook our accommodation and decided on the Hilton Garden Inn Times Square South, which was ok. Convenient location, close to Times Square (duh) and the Empire State Building and with a lot of subway stations dotted around. They need to work on their customer service a little bit, though.
(If you’re new to booking.com, use my link here to sign up and get a reward of £15!)
Where to eat
I don’t have tons of recommendations here but definitely check out Aura-Zoob Zib Thai (460 9th Avenue), Wok to Walk (570 8th Avenue, but different locations all over NYC) and Best Bagels and Coffee (225 West 35th Street). Also don’t miss the infamous $1 pizza slice!
What to see
So, what should you really bother seeing? Personally, I like to explore a city by walking around and a good spot of people-watching, but if you’re the sightseeing-type of person, then my top recommendations are
- the 9/11 Memorial
- the Statue of Liberty (don’t bother taking the ferry, you can see it just fine from Downtown)
- the Empire State Building
- a ride with the subway
Where to shop
I didn’t do much shopping at all, but you should definitely check out Spark Pretty and Metropolis Vintage for some cool retro vibes. And for that I <3 NY t-shirt, it’s got to be Grand Slam New York right in the middle of Times Square.
What are your favourite nooks and crannies of the Empire State?
’til next time x