Better late than never. I apologise for the lateness in posting this, as I had promised.
Its been a while since I returned from my trip to New York, so I just had a complete memory blank for about five minutes standing there looking around trying to remember where I'd put everything I'd purchased while I was there.
So here is a little assortment from my week in the big apple.
As we were checking in to the Park Central Hotel, me in my excitement decided that I wanted to tip the concierge, so I reached into my bag where I'd stashed a bit of cash (in order of denominations lowest to highest) and pulled out three notes from the lowest end ($3) and handed it over feeling all pleased with myself that I'd tipped someone. The woman seemed surprised and then said,"oh well, let me give you guys a better room, earn my tip" so she puts the room keycard back in the reader and proudly hands it back to us. We go up to the room, which indeed had a gorgeous view (partly Time Square) and had to sort out some cash to give my Brother for the taxi (he'd booked using an Über style app). This was when I noticed, to my horror, that instead of taking three notes from the lowest end, I'd actually taken three from the highest. Cue stomach flip. Now I can't remember whether I'd put more than one $50 bill in my small handbag, so it's likely that I'd tipped the woman anything from $90-$150!! WHOOPS! Then, it didn't help finding out that my Bro paid $160 for our "people carrier" (SUV) taxi, instead of a normal yellow cab that would've cost us $70 (inc tip).
The first night of the trip was spent at The View at the Marriot Marquee hotel in Time Square. Being the ever organised individual, I'd duly booked a table thinking that we were going to have a quick few drinks before heading back to the hotel to crash. Being on U.K. time, this would've been midnight for us, so drinks seemed the perfect end to our long day of traveling. But oh no, I'd only gone and booked a table for food, hadn't I. So at $89 per person for three courses (for three of us), plus tax, plus drinks, plus gratuity. This ended up costing $415!!!!
Our first morning, after the most wonderful sleep ever in our queen beds, we found ourselves wide awake at 03:30! Not surprising, as this was 08:30 at home. One of the good things about going that way across the world is that the time difference actually worked in our favour. We were glad to be up early to make full use of the day (the latest we woke up was 8:30am/13:30 at home) and then we were shattered and in bed for 19:30 (average, although the latest was 21:30/02:30 at home).
On our first early morning, we made use of the time by visiting the hotel gym and then we took a stroll down Fifth Avenue via Starbucks for morning coffee. It was so lovely and quiet and its true what they say, you really do spend most of your time looking UP because the buildings are just huge.
I would not go as far as to say that our trip was a holiday, as we did that much walking while we were there (an average of 10 miles per day) that I only put on a total of 2lbs despite the amount of food I stuffed my face with. Pancakes, home fries, crispy bacon and maple syrup, fried chicken & waffles. You name it, I ate it for breakfast. Not to mention the late night Cheesecake, cocktails, ice cream, dunkin donuts, the Starbucks with half n half and the hotdogs… Food was certainly one of my personal highlights!
Needless to say, the boy hated me being away, which was incredibly sweet. The lack of wifi combined with the time difference just did his head in. There were times when there was no wifi in a restaurant (rare, but it did happen especially in the small ones) and he couldn't see where I was or contact me. I think I did everyone's heads in because I was constantly asking for wifi, but of course I was going to be. I was away from my partner and nothing amplifies your feelings more than separation via an ocean!
Having said this, free wifi in New York is plentiful and this makes navigating the city so incredibly simple. You can't have your mobile on properly due to "roaming charges" so it helps to use either the hotel wifi, Starbucks, every subway station has it and most street corners have wifi and charging stations too. You locate your destination using maps, click public transport and it'll give you the route including which subway trains you need and even how long it'll take you. The only drawback to this was finding our bearings, as we'd come out of a subway and as we'd be on a corner we wouldn't always know which way we needed to walk. Perhaps it was just me, but the street signs are often blocked from sight by other signs and/or too close together and my signal on my phone didn't always tell me accurately where I was or whether I was even walking in the right direction. Sometimes we'd walked half a block the wrong way before realising!!
This may be why we walked ten miles a day… backtracking!!!
The attractions/landmarks/places we visited in New York were; Rockefeller Centre, Serendipity3, Tiffany's on Fifth Avenue, Ground Zero & the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Battery Park Harbour, Carrie Bradshaw's apartment, Magnolia Bakery, West Village, Chelsea Market, Grand Central station, Central Park (a rickshaw ride "tour" including Strawberry Fields, Proposal Bridge, Bethesda Fountain & The Mall, the F.R.I.E.N.D.S fountain, The Lake & Loeb Boathouse, Conservatory Pond & the Alice in Wonderland statue and Umpire Rock). We also saw; Serena Van Der Woodsen's "Millan" apartment building & The Met Gallery steps from Gossip Girl, The Sky Terrace at the Hudson hotel, Ellen's Stardust Diner, Bloomingdales, Macy's, Barney's New York, The High Line park, The Met Cloisters, Bath & Body Works, Century 21, Brooklyn & Williamsburg and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
A few of the places I pursed things from were;
Birmingham Airport – I resisted the temptation to purchase a bumper sized Toblerone but I did get a perfume. I don't know what it is about airports and perfumes? Last years holiday to Benalmadena with the boy I bought Mon París by YSL and this time I treated myself to another YSL favourite, Cinéma.
Tiffany's – on the very first day (unlike most who save extravagant purchases to the end of the trip) I bought a really cute bead bracelet with a little "Tiffany blue" heart. I loved my experience in here. The atmosphere isn't like I thought it would be at all. I imagined that the assistants might be annoyed by the constant flow of people who don't purchase anything, but just want to say they've "been in Tiffany's". It isn't like that at all. They're genuine and helpful, pointing out the priceless diamond on display and letting you try on various items when it was abundantly clear I couldn't afford them. I tried on the most gorgeous diamond engagement ring with diamond studded band. Only $72,000!! The assistant even got me to take a selfie with my little blue bag #Instagram #Tiffany
Macy's – This building is OLD. The famous (Miracle On) 34th store has escalators still made from wood. Talk about rickety. The place is huge and a lot more reasonable in price than Bloomingdales or Barneys, that's for sure! We had some teeny tiny macaroons and I got the boy a smart blue shirt, which he loved (but can't wear until winter!)
Lush – Maybe not the best idea to go in here for the novelty aspect, as I ended up purchasing two items which came to over $30! Big mistake but I'd already handed over the cash and walked out before it dawned on me that Lush is a British brand, therefore imports will inevitably cost about treble the price! I have to say though, that the sales assistants at the one on the corner of East 61st & Lex were a bit rude. No one spoke to me in there at all and I was stood at the cash desk for a good few minutes before anyone served me. Why did I purchase? I have no idea, but I did get the Godiva shampoo bar and a Jungle conditioner and they're both gorgeous. The Godiva smells like jasmine flowers.
Duane & Reade – This is the equivalent of a cross between Boots, Superdrug & Co-op. I got some chocolate to take back to work (about 2kg of mixed butterfingers, Reese's pieces, Baby Ruth's etc), some Wet n Wild nude nail polish, some packets of Ranch Dressing, Miracle Whip, Strawberry Pop Tarts, Lucky Charms and some Graham Crackers. I'm planning on baking a proper New York cheesecake and having traditional S'mores with these on bonfire night (5th November), so I haven't opened them yet. I have checked the use by date and they're fine.
Bath & Body Works – I went a little nuts in here if I'm honest because they currently don't ship to the U.K. The staff are so friendly and they really make your experience just that, an experience. They find out your name and they basically assign themselves to you when you come in (just in case you need help). I can't find absolutely everything I bought from here, but here are a few items. I got a gorgeous vanilla candle (with three wicks, so disappointingly it burns really quickly), a circular silver candle holder, a beautiful day diamond shimmer body mist, a tonne of (well, six) pocket hand sanitisers in different scents, a Shea Cashmere soft cream body butter, a cucumber body mist, a gorgeous smelling shampoo and body wash and body spray in Teak Wood for the boy and because I'd spent over a certain amount, I got this super cute tote bag containing $60 worth of products including a real bath sponge, some Cocoa Shea shower cream, a limoncello hand cream and some more Cocoa Shea body cream. Maybe not the best idea to buy all of this in the morning, as I then had to lug it all with me to Brooklyn and back for dinner and cocktails. Effort!
Century 21 – I wasn't impressed with this store, as it was literally just like an upmarket version of T.K Max. Fun fact: its called T.J Max over there! I walked around for about an hour looking for bargains, but ended up spending $60 on two things, a juicy couture tee shirt and a really pretty blue and white striped off the shoulder frilly shirt.
Bed, Bath & Beyond – My Bro & his wife have a super gorgeous shower curtain from here and of course as an avid SATC fan, I had to see what all the fuss was about. It is just like a cross between HomeSense and Home Base. Everything in there is fairly reasonably priced, except the bedding and shower curtains which tragically was what I was hoping to buy!! A shower curtain was $40, which to a New Yorker isn't that unreasonable, but I think perhaps a little extravagant for moi and the bedding… well, just don't even go there. I ended up buying a little squeaky teddy toy for Harvey, a set of cool bulb shaped solar lights for the garden (which were glass, so they were fun to pack in my suitcase), a rather large pot of almond butter (Mmmm) and some Starbucks coffee in both regular and decaf. I have since found out that Bed Bath & Beyond do deliver to the U.K. so I'll be buying more of the solar lights as they're quite short in length. I did pick up a tip from the store though: you know those foldback clips you can get from Amazon, well you can attach the lights to the edge of your outside umbrella/parasol and it looks really good with them hanging down in little scallops. I personally have them along my fence, but I intend to get some poles and have them running over my garden. One day!
Sephora – Make Up Mecca. And… horrendously expensive!! I got three things from here and it came to just under $150! I bought some Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer in the shade Light Sand, Cover FX Blurring Primer and some Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Moonlight. I do love these three items though, as I'd thought really carefully (and studied YouTube videos) before making my purchases. The enhancer drops are very pigmented and you can either use this as a highlighter (after foundation, before powder) or you can add it to your foundation for a more dewy finish. Just be careful not to add too much, or you'll look like you accidentally baked your face with highlighter instead of fixing powder! The concealer was perhaps a shade too light for me as I'd caught the sun, BUT it's super long wearing and doesn't crease (as much) as other brands. I wouldn't say that it was "creaseless", as that's a very subjective comment because some faces will naturally have more creases than others. To solve the shade issue, I squeezed a small amount into a little pot with a lid and then used a pin dipped in my NYX Pro Foundation Mixer to darken it. You literally only need a pin heads worth (rather you add more bit by bit than too much in one go and waste it). I keep the lid on and its the perfect size to carry with me. It also goes so far. You only need to squeeze the tube until the product is only just peeping out of the nozzle and just touch the end. Any more than that and you'll have to wipe the excess off your finger.
I will do another blog about all the food. Oh the food…. but for now I'll stick to a couple more funny stories:
On the first proper evening, we went to the Bowery Meat Company and I'm telling you, this place is a must go if you love a bit of steak. They actually bring round a platter for you to see the different cuts, so you know what you're ordering. Of course my eyes were too big for my belly and I was immediately drawn to the Chateaubriand, which I hasten to add was about $125 (although it was meant to share). We had some connections to the restaurant, so as well as giving us a very decent discount, they sent over a fair bit of free food. A small duck lasagne here, braised oysters there… I tried my best not to eat too much but I knew I was in for a struggle.
I won't say any more, but I think the pictures below speak for themselves. Needless to say, I did not partake in the free chocolate bread and butter pudding they sent over.
One of the things we did, which was actually completely free was to see the Statue of Liberty and of course the Manhattan skyline from the Staten Island ferry. It's a great little trip and fairly quick if you can get the same ferry back again, but as we docked we were told that the one we were on wasn't returning.
I was hungry (FYI: This was NOT the morning after the above) so we decided to go for breakfast on Staten Island. One of the best breakfast by the way. After eating, we walked back to the ferry terminal in literally sweltering heat (probably the hottest day) and waited for the ferry back. It was then that I had an unfortunate experience whereby a homeless person who I'd just bought a bagel for, sat right next to me (which I didn't mind) and then asked me…. "are you pregnant?" and then placed his hand (a hand which I'd just seen digging through garbage, hence why I bought him food) on my belly. I was mortified. Now, I'm not the skinniest person, I'm a mostest size 8/10 and today I did look particularly small because I had on small a-line denim skirt which nipped me in at the waist. It was made more embarrassing because he did not say it quietly and loads of people turned to look. I didn't really know what else to say (except to laugh and say no), but luckily the ferry was docking so we had a cue to escape. The journey back was spent watching out in case he'd decided to follow us!!
I hope you've enjoyed reading about my New York experiences. If you've been there, let me know your stories in the comments.
In hindsight, I think a week was probably a little too long and next time I'll definitely arrange to go someplace relaxing immediately afterwards!!!!
I'm STILL shattered!!