New York City.
Updated: Feb 26
I arrived in New York on the megabus late Friday evening and of course you know you're in New York the minute you see the bright lights of the big city. I was meant to meet Becky, Eve, Stacey and Lora that evening but of course things didn't go that smoothly. They were delayed twice on the first leg of their journey and missed their connecting flight so didn't arrive until the afternoon the next day. So my first meal in one of my favourite city was food truck pizza van by an American who loved my Northern accent because of Game of Thrones and an Italian who loved my name - so much so I got my can of diet coke for free - dreamy. A great welcome to NYC. My task whilst I was waiting for the girls was to go and get us some basketball tickets and I managed to get us amazing value tickets to see the Knicks for way cheaper than we expected and with no ticketmaster fees RESULT. When the girls finally arrived and freshened up I took them to Times Square for their first experience of the amazing atmosphere. I may have been to New York twice already but there was still things I hadn't experienced. I had never been at Christmas before so the magic of the city was even better than it had been the previous times. We went and saw the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree (from Home Alone) where we saw a proposal that was cute enough to almost make us cry and then we saw the light show on the Saks Fifth Ave building. If there is something America really does well, it is Christmas.
We packed every day full with things we wanted to do. We took the ferry to catch a glimpse of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty where the tour guide played Frank Sinatra 'New York, New York' and 'Empire State of Mind' and so the top deck became a kind of party with us all singing and dancing with the New York skyline in the background and it was beautiful. Here we met a group of 5 older women from Beverly who were essentially us in the future, they were great. We got off the ferry and walked the New York Highline, something I hadn't done before and it was top of my list - a disused railway track which takes you around the meat packing district above ground. Great Views. We went out on the eve of my birthday and drank the night away in Irish pubs before ending up in a gay bar and spending the rest of the evening with Versace designers, what better way to turn 25? The night ended with them grabbing a taxi which only had 4 seats and somehow the tallest in the group had to lie across the 3 in the back, but it's New York so it's fine. We then spent my actual birthday on a tour of Brooklyn and walked the Brooklyn bridge back into Manhattan. This was the highlight of the trip for me as I had never walked the bridge before. We started as the sun set and all of a sudden New York was lit up like a Christmas Tree. It was beautiful and the bridge itself is incredible as well. The Knicks game was that night and it was amazing to see and experience a live basketball game, especially on my birthday. They lost by 3 points but it was exciting right until the end, very similar to the excitement at the end of the 49ers game in San Francisco.
Aladdin on Broadway was another highlight, however I didn't rate the actor who played Aladdin as highly as I expected to. But this was completely made up for by the role of the genie. Incredible acting and a hilarious role who made us all giddy with laughter. We biked around central park, not as impressive in winter I have to say, and me Becky and Eve ice skated in Central Park. Well me and Becky tried to, Eve showed hidden skating skills learned from years of rollerblading but it took the less confident skaters a few laps before we could let go of the side. But the backdrop and the views were like no other, definitely beat the car park of Designer Outlet. We did this on our final day and then got hot chocolate and lunch at the Christmas market and it was perfect.
New York also brought an air of sadness though as it marked the end of my incredible trip. I was absolutely exhausted after 3.5 months of travelling and experiencing so much stuff my head might explode, I was ready for a week or 7 of just relaxing.
I can't put into words how much of an amazing time I have had. And I will apologise now as it will probably be all I talk and think about for the next year whilst I work and earn money to leave again because I have well and truly caught the bug. I already can't wait for the reunions with all the wonderful people I have met along the way.
If you are even vaguely thinking about going travelling I would say do it. But save double what you think you will need because if you are not going to be working whilst you're travelling you will need all the money you can get so that you never have to say no to an opportunity or an experience. I am so lucky and so grateful for the past 3.5 months!