I HAVE OFFICIALLY VISITED NEW YORK!
Where do I even begin? I’m currently drafting this post whilst consumed by jet lag and reminiscing about THE best trip of my life. How will any other place be able to top this city when New York has been at the top of my bucketlist for as long as I can remember…I’m barely even back and settled into my normal routine and I’m already scouring the Internet in search of a deal that will take me straight back as soon as physically (and financially) possible. For the next several weeks on A Daily Dose of Holly I’m going to share EVERYTHING I got up to on my 6 night trip to the big apple, and by everything I mean where I ate, drank, what tourist attractions I visited, and any tips for anyone planning to visit in the future.
It all started on January the 13th when both my best friend and I boarded our Delta flight to JFK International Airport. The flight itself was only just the beginning of the experience and I really couldn’t fault it in any single way. The strange thing is that Delta is a mixed bag when it comes to reviews and its reputation, or so it seems. In my experience, everything from the overly enthusiastic and attentive staff, the service, the comfort, and even the flight itself had me happy as larry and in a way, set up for what was to come during my time in America. Any airline that supplies me with Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream is a winner in my eyes. Airport security though? Not for me. I’m thankful such precautions are taken like this to ensure passenger safety, but 2 and a half hours feels like forever when you are absolutely desperate to get freshened up after a long haul flight and wanting your first taste of New York city life.
After locating our suitcases, which were literally chilling in the middle of JFK airport’s floor and no longer riding round on a conveyer belt due to the long wait at border control, we hopped in a YELLOW CAB to Manhattan. FINALLY! I’d highly recommend getting a yellow cab, there are so many as soon as you come out of the airport arrivals so 1) you won’t be waiting in anymore lines and 2), come on… a yellow cab is true New York style and part of the experience. From JFK Airport to Manhattan yellow cabs have a standard fare of $52 plus additional fees such as a peak time surcharges. I’d say this was reasonable, as after searching long and hard I found out that a shuttle bus can end up taking 2 hours to get into the city (due to making multiple stops), when the airport is only about a 35-40 minute journey away if you’ve hit the jackpot with the traffic. I’d also be wary when booking any private transfers online, something we realised after booking one for ourselves. ALWAYS CHECK THE SMALL PRINT. After receiving our booking confirmation and giving it a read over we found out that the company we booked with actually charge a waiting fee of one dollar per minute, which given the fact we didn’t get out of the airport till 3 hours after our flight landed, our taxi fare would have been ridiculous! Luckily we had the opportunity to cancel before a certain date and received a full refund. Always look into who you’re booking with and check the reviews because an appealing taxi fare at the time of booking might actually cost you three times as much that you had anticipated.
Not long after defeating typical rush hour traffic, we could see New York’s skyline glistening in the background and I would have jumped for joy had I not of been tightly seat belted in and slightly terrified of the way some Americans drive. Before we knew it we were crossing Queensboro Bridge and in the heart of Manhatten, passing by some of New York’s iconic buildings that we’d be visiting during the trip. Was this real life?
Where did we stay?
For 6 nights we were staying at the Hudson Hotel, located in the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan, which in terms of location couldn’t have been better, see for yourself below:
- 5 minute walk from Central Park
- 10-15 minute walk from Times Square
- Across the road from 59 St – Columbus Circle subway station, which we used on a daily basis to get around the city
- Beside an upscale shopping mall
So as for the location, the hotel was perfect, but would the actual hotel itself live up to its standards?
I have never come across a hotel were the vast majority of its review were in between absolutely horrendous and pretty average. Searching through TripAdvisor I actually found it difficult to find even a semi-good one. Could it really be that bad? I knew for a fact we’d only be in the room to sleep as no one possibly goes all the way to New York to sit in a hotel room, but even then I was dreading it, with the mention of rude staff, unclean rooms, it being almost ‘hostel’ like, in addition to several other negative points. One thing about me though is that I always like to give people or places the benefit of the doubt, and so I did. The hotel was everything we could have wanted. Yes, the rooms are tiny, but aren’t most in New York? The hotel staff couldn’t have been more welcoming and friendly if they tried, the check in process was quick and easy, the room, yes, small, but they were certainly tidy and cosy, and home to one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slept in. I’d say this hotel is suited for those on a budget who are wanting something cheap and friendly. The only downside during the stay asides from not all of the lifts working, was the see through glass shower in the room. Don’t get me wrong, there was a shower curtain…but that was see through too and in no way covering up my dignity, so just a heads up for anyone that wishes to stay here, there is no hiding any part of your body from whoever you’re staying here with (fun fact: the tiredness from such a busy nonstop trip does make you forget about it after a few days).
After dropping off our luggage, taking a quick shower and making more of an effort with our physical appearance following a makeup less flight, we were ready to take on the world and ventured off into the streets of New York to our first stop of the trip….Times Square. It may have been a dark Winter’s evening but on approach to Times Square it was like walking back into broad daylight with tonnes of big billboards and bright lights making it feel like it was 8 in the morning rather than 8 in the evening. As we got closer, passing some of New York’s biggest and best theatres on Broadway, you could really feel the buzz, and despite being awake for almost 24 hours, the city sucks you right in and makes you feel so alive.
Little tip though for when you’re wandering around this wondrous square…it’s so easy to get caught up in all of the excitement and want to take photos with everything and anything but remember, nothing in life is free. Times Square is FULL of people dressed as Sesame Street characters, Marvel characters and even individuals on stilts dressed as the Statue of Liberty who will try and lure you in for a picture and then expect you to pay for it (once they get hold of you there’s no escaping) – so be prepared to cough up the cash, a couple of dollars probably won’t cut it. Times Square is also full of some insanely talented individuals, whether magicians (yes I witnessed some Dynamo standard magic) or street performers who perform flips and tricks I didn’t know were physically possible. You could easily spend a full evening here watching it all, which is what we done before heading for our first taste of American food, which just so happened to be McDonald’s.
Ordering McDonald’s in America scared me as I had been warned prior to the trip by multiple people that regular translates to large, and large translates to extra large. Struggling to find my usual 6 piece chicken nugget meal at the self order machine I asked for assistance, only to find out that meals only start at 10 chicken nuggets or more. Seriously, help me?! I knew I would be needing extra baggage allowance on the way home after this trip, but not just for my luggage. Grabbing a window seat, we sat quietly eating our McDonald’s watching the world go by, with the constant business of New York there is always something to see, so we picked a prime spot for people watching. Full to the brim, and barely able to keep our eyes open from the travelling AND the portion sizes, we took the short walk back to our hotel ready for a no doubt restless sleep from our unsettled body clocks.
If you’re interested to find out what I got up to during my second day in New York then keep an eye out for next Wednesday’s post.