Hello New York!!!! As if I am finally visiting the city that has been the platform for every fashion dream I have ever had. I was so excited to see the bright lights of the city. With a list as long as my arm of things I wanted to see and do and in my comfiest shoes, I was ready to explore the city of my dreams. However to my surprise my first impressions of New York was that it was very very overwhelming to the point where I almost felt a little anxious at just how big it was. Stupidly I thought Times Square, Central Park, The 9/11 memorial, just all these iconic things I have ever known New York to be made up off were all together, almost like the strip in Vegas!!! How wrong was I? I don’t know what things I conjour up in my head! So to anyone else that thinks New York is compact, it most certainly isn’t! 🙈 I think just having came from Vegas which was compact and warm, to New York which is massive and cold, it was maybe just a shock to the system. But when I think about it now I think it was our first day in a brand new city, like give yourself a chance Ro! But I put my anxious thoughts to one side and wanted to make the most of my time there. I was so excited to explore and see what this city had to offer.
Five hour later after leaving Vegas we are finally in New York. I remember landing at JFK and thinking "as if I'm at JFK airport" like even I thought that was a big deal. However at this stage, we were tired and just wanted to get to the hotel but of course one of our bags didnt arrive. Nightmare!! Long story short…. two hours later the customer services assistant noted the lost baggage. It was about 11 o'clock at this stage and we knew we had an hour long journey to the hotel from JFK so we didn't care, we just wanted to get to the hotel. We got a shuttle bus that took us from the airport to Grand Central Station, which was so handy and was $18 each making it a lot more cheaper than getting a taxi. It takes you straight to Grand Central Station where a free shuttle bus takes you to your hotel. The bus journey wasn't the smoothest and I thought I was going to have to refrain Aisling from shouting at the bus driver at one point but I kind of enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong for New York to have so many highways, the bus driver seemed to take every tiny, awkward road he could have found to avoid the highways but he did take us through the neighbourhoods and back streets, which I loved! We got to see (what I call it) "Real New York" where people live and their neighbourhoods, the typical "American house" I see in movies, yano with poarches, and net wired fences, I even seen Kids playing basketball in a really run down basketball court. To top it off the bus driver was playing real RnB soul music on the bus, like I really felt like I was in a New York gangster movie. But as I mentioned in the Vegas Post, I love seeing that part of city away from the touristy parts and the lights. However as much as I loved seeing this, and being in this amazing city, I loved nothing more than getting to the hotel and to bed. It had been a long day.
Our first day in NYC! The original plan for today was to hit up the Woodbury Commans Outlet just to get it ticked off our list as we knew it would take up a full day but after the antics the night before we thought we would just have an easy day of getting to know the place. So we got up and headed for some breakfast on 5th Avenue, which was just a short walk from our hotel. We were staying in the Hilton Garden East on 52nd and 3rd street which was so central to everything. Once we left the hotel I just couldn’t believe I was walking the streets of New York. Seeing the sky risers and the yellow cabs was something I thought I would only ever see in Instagram pics. I was in complete awe of the size of the buildings as I walked down the street. Once out and about we thought the best thing to help us find our bearings was an open bus tour. NOTE* The sellers of the open bus tour are everywhere and there are so many different companies that offer the same service. We went with ‘Top View’ bus tours but honestly we just jumped on the first one we saw and when walking around there was different companies offering the same tour for cheaper, so shop around if you are going to do this. We purchased a four day ticket which included the liberty boat cruise, which takes you around the Statue of Liberty and cost us $59. I didn’t think this was bad because you can just jump on and off all weekend rather than get a taxi.
ed to get the downtown bus that day because we wanted to visit the 9/11 Memorial. This was on the top of my list for NYC. I was really looking forward to visiting it. But first we had to get there. When you are on the bus, it will take you around everywhere so it's a great way to see the city and find your bearings, but if you are wanting to get to one particular place, be prepared to be on the bus for a while because it has to go around every stop and then adding traffic to the mix makes it feel like your wasting your day away on a bus. But don't let that put you off because it is a great way to see the sights in which you want to see but don't particularly want to get off the bus and explore a little more. It also gives you an insight of the history and facts of each place. My fave!! The first place it took us through was Time Square, I was like WOW!!! Did you know? To advertise on one of the screens in Times Square, it cost companies between 3 and 4 million pounds a year….Mind blown! I did expect it to be a lot bigger (*note to self* don't have pre meditated ideas of a city again). However later on in the post you'll learn how amazing I actually found it compared to when I first seen it. Then it took us past Madison Square Gardens and I was in awe. I would love to go and see something in there, maybe see the Knicks play a basketball match or a concert or something. I could only imagine the atmosphere would be phenomenal.
op was Macy's, department Store. mummy was dying to see it so we hopped off the bus there knowing that the next bus would pick us up in the exact same spot. It's one of the most iconic department stores in the world, let alone in NYC so it was lovely to see, and was hiving with busy pre Black Friday goers. I not a big fan of department stores but I'm so glad I can say I've went to Macy's. The Christmas decorations are out of this world, as are all the store decorations and windows in New York, the work and the time that goes into them stores is mad although no where near as good as our M&S Christmas windows and displays. (Insert hair flick)
t think thing we visited was the 9/11 Memorial. So many had told me how emotional it would be, and I didn't think I would find it as emotional as I did. It is unbelievable to think I was standing where one of the most horrific tragedies of this century happened. It was made even more unbelievable when the tour guide beside me was telling of how he had been in the towers that day, getting papers signed by the woman who's name he was stood beside ingraved on the fountain. I just found it so sad that so many people in NYC have lived through this and although we had just heard of it through the media, for them in was real life. It was just incredible actually being there. We didn't do the 9/11 museum as the ques were very long but it is something I would like to do if I go again.
We then jumped back one the bus and headed back to the hotel, it rained the whole way back so we were soaked! Although we met an Irish couple, (the same Irish couple in the Vegas post, it just so happened they had done the same trip as us) and they gave us loads of tips on what to do in New York, because we honestly were abit lost. It's almost like you want to see so much but you don't know where to start. I get stress out when I don't know what to do or where to gO. I just love having a plan. They were great, and helped us set up our plans for the rest of the trip.
Today we headed to Woodbury Commans Outlet outside New York. Originally we were just going to head to Jersey Gardens which is closer to the city but a smaller outlet. We also thought that it might be a trek and a half out to Woodbury and we really weren’t sure it was worth it. However the Irish couple we met had told us that Woodbury Commans was so worth the trip if you wanted to shop like mad. Ehh hello? Did she know who she was talking too? So we decided on Woodbury Commans. They also told us about a deal on groupon (just in case any of you are heading to NYC soon). Basically the bus ticket for Woodbury Common’s is $42 however with the Groupon deal you get the ticket $25. It is valid for 90 days after purchase as far as I can remember so it is an amazing deal if you are planning to head out there. Just type “Woodbury Commons Groupon” into Google and it should come up. This also included the coupon book which you show at the desk to get more discount vouchers. We got the bus that morning from Port Authority Bus Station.
Now for the outlet. Holy Moly, the size of that place, it was massive! It had every shop you could imagine from sports shops, Fashion shops, designer shops and high street, believe me when I say it has EVERYTHING!! They also have a lot of eateries for you to stop and recharge your batteries. We got the earliest bus which is recommended simple because of the distance and we thought the earlier we go the less crowed it would be and the earlier we could get home. Well so we thought, we were still there 8 hours later!
My tips for Woodbury Commons…
Number one: Plan out what shops you want to go to because honestly you would need about two days to get around the outlet and you don’t want to miss the ones you really wanted to see. We didn’t even get around half of it in 8 hours which meant there was some shops that I wanted to get to but didn’t have time.
Number two: Have a rough idea of what you want to buy as you can easily just buy things you will never wear or use, as everything is so discounted. Basically try not to buy for the sake of it. I did get some fab stuff in shops such as addidas and Ralph Lauren, etc things that I will have forever. Some of the shops had up to 60% discount which was insane. I mean of course your going to get yourself some surprise purchases but just because it is discounted, doesn’t mean you will wear, which means your just wasting your money.
Lastly number three: Bring a suitcase or a large bag. I brought a hand luggage suitcase and honestly between the three of us, after about two shops it was full so bring a big bag just to save your arms. However it does have lockers you can rent out during the day if that’s what you would prefer.
Then 8 hours later (I mean that’s a shift in work) we headed home. Again the bus just picked us up where it left us off. It was so handy. I would really reccomend Woodbury Commons, it has everything, some similar to what we have at home but the discount we got was amazing. We were truely wrecked after the day at Woodbury, so we came back to the hotel, and headed to a little Irish bar which was right beside out hotel called Nialls Bar. I really love finding an Irish bar when you are on holidays. Then it was bed time. The thing with New York, you are so busy during the day and you walk so much that by the evening you are shattered and just want to go to bed early to recharge the batteries.
Today we wanted to take in more of the sites of the city. I was adamant I wanted to see everything I wanted to see in NYC so with a busy schedule ahead, we got going. We got up early and on our first list was St.Patricks Catherdal. Mummy’s choice of course! But it was fab, I really appreciate buildings and their architecture whether it be an old building, like a church or the sky risers that filled New York, my camera role is just full of pictures of buildings. After seeing the Cathedral we headed to the Rockafella Centre. I either wanted to go to the top of the Empire State Building or the Rockafella Centre. I was just dying to see the New York views. Mummy and Aisling had literally no clue where I was taking them, they just followed my lead. However when we got to the top, it was honestly unbelievable! The views were amazing, my photos don’t even do it justice, it was out of this world. It was the best day to see it too as it was so so clear and you could see New York for miles. It was honestly probably the highlight of New York for me. Like buildings, I love a good view, I find there is just something so serene and calm about an amazing view so you can just imagine what I was like when I seen this one. If you are in New York, you have to go to the Rockafella Centre, it cost around $35 each to get to the top but it was so worth it in my opinion. Even if you aren’t sure about going to the top or may have a fear of heights, the building itself is amazing and the little courtyard around it is so magical. As it was Christmas, the ice skating rink was there and they were in middle of building the famous Rockafella Christmas Tree. There are little restaurants and coffee shops inside it where we had breakfast a couple of morning because the food was so tasty and homemade. Also around the courtyard there are fab shops such as Kate Spade, Tiffany’s and an amazing Lego shop, my nephews would have had a field day. So to summarise it is a fab little compact area to visit and will make you feel so festive.
Believe it or not we had all this done by 11. That’s the thing I found in Both city’s, because they are so busy you almost feel like your waking up when everyone is heading to work, which is great cause you aren’t wasting the day away in bed (although jet lag plays a major part in the early mornings).
Next on our list was the Liberty Boat Cruise, this was a boat cruise that took you around the Statue of Liberty…..funny enough!! I mean can you go to New York and not see the Statue of Liberty? Originally a lot of people had told me about the Staten Island Ferry which is free and will take you over to Ellis Island where the Statue stands. However our ticket for the Liberty Boat Cruise was included in our open bus tour so there was no need for us to get the Ferry but it is an opinion for you if you want to see it. We had planned to jump on to the roof top bus and head to the pier…. this is where I don’t reccomend the open bus tour. Remember I mentioned earlier in the post how the bus has to stop at every stop well by by the time the bus stopped at each spot it was going to take over an hour and we would have missed the boat. Obviously they can’t help it, but if you want to get to a certain spot in a certain time then I would just spend the money and get a taxi. To be fair I didn’t find the taxis that expensive. And I just loved the thought of getting a yellow cab.
I’m really not the best on boats, the thought of one kind of makes me woozy, however it was such a good day so the sail was good. It was a brilliant way to see New York and New Jersey and aswell as this it took you under the famous Brooklyn Bridge which I was in complete awe with. The view of the city from the water was unbelievable and again my photos didn’t even do it justice. Also on the boat they give you an insight of the history of the city, the Irish immigrating to Elis Island, and the history behind the Statue of Liberty, which I loved. Then for the main event, it took us right up to the Statue of Liberty, I think that was a serious “pinch me” moment, It was so surreal that the Statue of Liberty was in front of me. So there was plenty of photo opportunities but the wind would have cut you in two so it was some quick photos and back inside to enjoy the views from the warmth. The Boat Cruise lasted about 75 minutes and it was a brilliant way too see the Statue of Liberty. It’s one of those things that once you see it, you don’t have to do it again, however I think I would love to visit Elis Island if I was to go back.
After The Boat cruise we headed into Times Square for Lunch, this place was getting more and more amazing, I think at the start it was just so hard to take it all in, but I was starting to realise the beauty of this busy city. We headed to Bubba Gumps which is a seafood restaurant right in the heart of Times Square. The restaurant is based around the movie Forst Gump which I thought was so quirky! I’m not a major seafood fan but they do regular dishes too such as chicken etc. The atmosphere is class in it and the food was delish.
That night we wanted to see a show. We had heard so much about the broadway shows that we felt we just had to go and see one. There were SO many to pick from. Originally we had wanted to see the Lion King but it was sold out the whole weekend. So just in case that is on your list of shows to see, I would pre book your tickets before you head to NYC because you might not be gareenteed to see it due to its popularity. We narrowed our options down to Aladdin, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and School of Rock. Times Square is where all the tickets are available for the shows, just under the famous red stairs. Between the hours of 3 and 8, all tickets for the shows that night are discounted. As we queued Aisling and I just couldn’t make our mind up but the staff are brilliant there and give you a little insight into each show. We ended up going to see School of Rock. Our tickets cost us $108 each and that is with 40% discount so it can be pricey, but when I say it is worth it, it is so worth it! The show was unbelievable, if you have seen the movie, it’s a very similar story line. It felt like the main character was actually Jack Black he was brilliant! The kids were amazing aswell, and they all played their instruments live on stage. It was such a good show, and mummy who had never seen the film, was standing at the end along with the rest of the audience. So if you are stuck on what show to see on Broadway, You will not be disappointed with School of Rock.
So this was a very busy day as you can see but it was the best day we had in NYC. We seen so much, and I was starting to fall in love with the city.
It’s our last day, so we were up early again as we still had loads to see before our flight that evening. We headed back to the Rockafella for Breakfast, it is just the cutest, you can watch everyone ice skating while eating your breakfast. Then we headed to Central Park, we couldn’t leave without seeing it. I was so excited. We got the taxi to drop us off at the bottom of Central Park beside the Plaza Hotel, Yes! The one with where Home Alone was filmed. Mummy was dying to see it and to be fair it was fab. We then crossed the street and headed into Central Park. Aww it was just amazing. It was such a fresh day and the sun was shining. It is so nice to walk through it. The fab autumnal pallet of the leaves, the fresh air and the street performer playing the saxophone, just set the scene beautifully. Obviously the park is so big so we couldn’t get round it all but we strolled through the south end of it and seen people ice skating on the ice rink created for Christmas, and everyone trying to get their scenic pictures (just Iike me) it was just unreal. It would have been brilliant to hire bikes and cycle around the park as we didn’t see half of it, it is just so big. Our flight that night was at 6 so we left for the airport at around half 2, as JFK airport was about an hour from our hotel.
And that was it, the end to the most amazing 10 days stateside. New York, like Vegas is just another world. It was amazing and I think because it was Christmas time it was even more magical. New York is so busy, so lively and so big so I think I just couldn’t get my head around the city, and I just wanted to do everything. I think that’s why I was so overwhelmed at the start, but by the time I was leaving, I appreciated how special this city was and now I can’t wait to get back to it… maybe during the summer. There was so many things I didn’t get to do, but sure, it gives me an excuse to go back. New York should be on everyone’s bucket list, it is truly an amazing city. I hope you enjoyed my travel blogs and hopefully I will get to do it again in some more fab cities. Thanks for reading.
P.s We booked our trip through Down Travel in Downpatrick and they were brilliant. They could not have done enough. I highly recommend them if you are planning a trip like this. X