After falling in love with Toronto and wishing we’d added more days, New York was like an all night party of which we were sober for. Don’t get me wrong, we loved New York, but the vibe in both the city and Brooklyn were just so busy, and aggressive. They made London look like a chilled out surf town. Our first five nights we stayed in another AirBnB in Brooklyn, specifically, Crown Heights. My oh my what a place. The house was absolutely beautiful and very comfortable, however as soon as you stepped outside the front door it felt like a different place. We didn’t have any problems, but we also didn’t hang about to see if we’d get any. The commute to the city was very easy on the subway from there though, so it worked.
While walking through Toronto city to catch the train back to the airport (after the kerfuffle last time we knew the quickest route would be by train) we walked past the Fairmont hotel and noticed a lot of commotion. People standing around, a couple of policemen on motorbikes. I turned to Phil again, “PRINCE HARRY” I screamed. By now, Phil bless him, is probably sick and tired of hearing about Prince Harry – but to his merit when I promptly crossed the road to get a better look, he followed me. And holy hell was I excited when that sexy ginger came out of the hotel door and gave us a quick wave before he jumped into his SUV. After that I could barely breathe and talked about Harry the whole way to Toronto airport. I mean, what were the chances we were walking past at that exact moment?! Phil doesn’t know the probability either, but he sure enjoyed hearing me babble on.
We left Toronto in the late afternoon and arrived in New York in the evening – you forget how much time it takes with travelling. Especially airports, you can waste a day of your trip easy!
On Saturday we decided we’d go and watch the Yankees play the Toronto Blue Jays, and our new love of baseball started. People kept telling us it was boring, but if you like cricket you’ll definitely find baseball fun. It’s very American with the music, big showy stuff, people selling peanuts and beers. It’s an amazing atmosphere. Of course we had to buy the merchandise. We’re both suckers for buying merch. Hats, shirts, even a glove and baseball! I think Phil is now planning that one day he’ll be playing baseball with our kids. I’m not complaining, as long as mama gets her gin and tonic time.
Phil had booked tickets to the President’s Cup at Liberty Park in Jersey. While at first I was not too impressed with a day at the golf. I realised this was Phil’s trip too – so maybe he could have 5% of the say in what we did. Turns out he picked a winner! The boat over from Manhattan to Jersey was stunning. It was a blue, sunny day and the views impeccable. Also, even once we hit the golf course it was beautiful looking back at Manhattan. We timed things perfectly and made sure to be back on the ferry as the sun was setting. Sunset behind the Manhattan skyline was perfect. I mean the golf and beer were great too.
Day seven and eight.
Brooklyn Bridge was a highlight for me. The views. The bridge. So stunning. It also helped that it was a beautiful, blue sky day. The walk doesn’t take you very long, even stopping for a gazillion photos. I can see why people have wedding photos up there.
After the bridge we jumped on the subway to the 9/11 memorial and museum. We had previously walked through the memorial a couple of days earlier. I didn’t know anyone who was lost on 9/11, and being in New Zealand at the time have always felt somewhat removed from it. It’s awful to admit, it just never really hit home for me. Until we were there and a lady and her son were praying by the memorial, their hands on a male name (I can only presume, husband/father, brother or friend) and when the lady burst into tears I welled up at the thought of losing a close family member or friend.
We took our first peruse around Times Square. That place cray. Much like Oxford and Regent Streets at Christmas, I’d advise avoidance. But being tourists we had to go. It’s just manic and noisy in every direction. Worse than New Yorkers, there are tourists everywhere with matching caps and fanny packs and flags. HUGE groups of them. You’ll notice I said first peruse – yes Phil insisted we go back to get a New York caricature of ourselves as a fun memory – boy did that turn out to be a failure. More on that later…
That night we were headed to Madison Square Gardens to see the New York Knicks take on the Brooklyn Nets. Much with all American sports events there were lots of lights, music and fanfare – I had started to wonder if people even enjoyed the sports they were attending or just the cheerleaders, fireworks and beer. The game itself was entertaining, but Phil and I both decided baseball was still our firm favourite. We did some celebrity spotting while there and saw one of the kids, Caleb McLaughlin, from Stranger Things in the front row.
Phil had insisted we book ourselves a hotel for a couple of nights in Manhattan. I had told him it was too extravagant at £400 for two nights, to stay on Fifth Avenue, but he insisted – after we stayed in Crown Heights for five nights for the same price – that we’d made a saving in Brooklyn so could now spoil ourselves. The hotel was lovely and the staff upgraded us to a HUGE room. I was very happy, as after sharing a place it’s nice to have your own space, and I’m always a fan of luxury.
Walking through the meatpacking district we stopped for a couple of beers and simply watched New York City buzz. Afterwards, slightly buzzed ourselves, we walked up to the High Line Park – an old train track turned into an oasis to escape the bustling city – where we enjoyed an ice cream and the sea view.
Staying close to Times Square we did another loop to fulfil Phil’s dream of our joint caricature. He said it would be a fun memento for our trip, something to show the children. So I agreed. All was going great – we sought out the lady who was there the previous night we were in Times Square because she was good. Tonight she wasn’t on form. Our picture looked nothing like us. Just a cartoon man and woman who could have been anyone. Clearly Phil and I need to work on our telepathic skills because when it came to paying I was all “oh well, let’s just get the frame (or the charcoal would smudge)” and Phil was dead-set against paying her even more as her. After we spent $35 on the thing, we ended up leaving it in our hotel room in NYC. I took a photo of it as a memento, but it will always just be a story.
Our last day in NYC we decided we’d wander through Central Park, but first we stopped at Magnolia bakery and a small deli bakery for picnic food. A steep $45 later we had two sandwiches and a sweet treat each. Sensible Phil nearly lost his shit when we paid $21 (£15) for two deli sandwiches, and I do agree they were steep. But we had walked for aaaaaages and it was all we could find except pizza and it was too hot for pizza in the sun. We did look at the prices of the sandwiches before we bought, we weren’t that blind. But somehow I forgot the whole adding tax bit and they somehow became exorbitant.
At Magnolia bakery I picked a coconut meringue cupcake (which was amazing) and Phil had a coconut and almond slice. The park was stunning on such a sunny day. We hit all of the spots from the boat house, the fountain, walked down the tree bordered lanes and watched the horses and carriages. I can see why it’s such a popular spot to relax in New York, you actually feel removed from the city.
We finished up our last night in New York City by hitting a bar, ordering soup (we were still full from our expensive picnic lunch), a couple of beers and watching our new friends the Yankees.
New York City really was amazing. It’s a shock to all senses and is busier than you can imagine (and we live in London!) but the sights are something to be seen. Next stop, a train ride through Philly to Washington DC.