Another day of waking up in New York brings the exact same excitement as the very first day. There’s so much life in this city that a fresh day in it always feels like the beginning of a new adventure, and that’s because it kind of is, with so much more to do and see.
Like any other day in the big city, a substantial breakfast is important to start off a busy day, given the fact you’re up at the crack of dawn and aren’t likely getting back to your hotel until 11/12pm. Now, patisseries always provide some of the best on the go breakfasts so we popped in to Maison Kayser located just across from Central Park for our daily fix of coffee and a croissant to set us up for the day.
Weather wise, day 3 of our trip couldn’t have been any better, nothing but clear blue skies and the sun was absolutely blinding. A day for central park then? I think yes. Sangeeta almost questioned my decision-making when I told her I was packing a pair of sunglasses, but she done the same and soon found out that my quick thinking was a good idea as it was a day for shades and thankfully we both had them at the ready. If it wasn’t for the sunglasses we probably wouldn’t have truly enjoyed the beauty of Central Park as we physically couldn’t see much of it when walking in the direction of the sun.
I knew Central Park was massive but until that day I never really knew the extent of its size so make sure you have comfortable footwear on. There’s many ways to take in the beauty of this magnificent park, by foot, bike, or horse and cart, but on this day we decided it was best to be seen on foot – obviously meaning we wouldn’t get to see it all but what we did see that day was amazing. Note: if you have enough time in New York you could always split Central Park over two days and cover half of the park each day, this is what we chose to do as it was just too good to only do once.
Throughout parts of Central Park you will find clusters of rocks randomly dotted around, and these can make great sun traps or the perfect photo opportunity. Upon entering the park we quickly found these rocks and took part in a spot of rock climbing to reach the top in order to get that typical Central Park picture everyone posts with all of the skyscrapers in the background. Again, this is when I can confirm that sensible and comfortable footwear is a requirement as I attempted these uneven rocks with chunky heeled boots on and it was a little bit on the risky side. Really though, anywhere in Central Park provides the picture perfect background so you do make many stops throughout the day to snap plenty of pictures.
STRAWBERRY FIELDS MEMORIAL
One thing you MUST see in Central Park is the Strawberry Fields Memorial for John Lennon. I’m a big fan of The Beatles as is my mum, and since she wasn’t on the trip I knew I had to visit this both for myself and for her. It’s not hard to find with the help of Google Maps, and when you reach a certain point it is sign posted. Some people may think an ‘Imagine’ mosaic isn’t all that special, but there’s just something about it that makes this a must see. The added touch of fresh flowers around the word ‘Imagine’ made it that little bit more sentimental and with this being a quiet space it was so serene. As we stood taking it all in a busker was tuning his guitar and getting set up for playing a few songs, so we took a seat on one of the many benches in the sun and waited to hear some music. Obviously the first song he sang was Imagine, and I’m glad I had my shades on as being in the middle of Central Park at John Lennon’s memorial across from the location where he was sadly killed had me welling up. Not only that but the busker himself looked really like John Lennon had he been alive today. It was a moment I’ll never forget, truly surreal. I could have sat on that bench with the warm sun beating down on my face all day listening to the busker play, there was something so peaceful about it. I felt so content. That’s the strange thing about Central Park, despite it being in the middle of the city, it’s so tranquil and the noise of sirens and traffic soon becomes a distant memory once the park swallows you up.
I love the diversity in Central Park, there are so many performers, whether violinists, buskers with guitars, or individuals making beats by banging on plastic tubs, pots and pans whilst shouting ‘I’m making smoothies‘. There’s not just people making a living in Central Park but people starting their lives together, with wedding pictures being taken, couples practicing their vows, it really is like something out of a movie. You could get lost in people watching, trying to figure out someone’s story or what’s brought them here. Speaking of weddings, we headed to another Gossip Girl spot *GOSSIP GIRL SPOILER* – don’t say I didn’t warn you. Whilst walking around Central Park we found the spot where Blair and Chuck got married in the final episode of Gossip Girl, it’s at the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain for anyone who is interested. Although slightly disappointed that Chuck Bass wasn’t in sight, it’s always cool seeing a filming location in real life.
TIP: If you walk up the stairs at this spot and continue straight along the Mall and Literary Walk then look out for stalls selling art work as you can pick up some wall worthy art at the cheapest of prices. I ended up purchasing 5 paintings for 20 dollars, so whether for yourself or as a gift, these are affordable and can be a nice way to remember your trip. With our paintings in one hand and a smile on our face we spotted a carousel. I may be 24 but come on, no one is too old for a carousel and as soon as you get your leg over one of those horses and start going round with the typical fairground music playing in the background, you can’t help but feel 5 again.
TURNSTYLE UNDERGROUND FOOD MARKET
Street food and food markets are becoming more of a thing in the present day, popping up here, there and everywhere to fulfill all of our foodie needs. After a busy morning burning calories walking round Central Park we headed to the Turnstyle Underground Food Market. Located at 56 St – Columbus Circle subway station, this is a great spot to grab some food before taking a subway to the next destination on your itinerary. As New York has an incredible food scene, my aim was to try out as many different kinds of food as possible and not limit myself to the same things I could easily get back home. With that mentality day 3 called for some Mediterranean style food from Taheni. This place has screens for placing your own order and operates on a “build your own” basis which I much preferred as it meant there was no awkwardness asking staff to remove certain items from my order (I can be fussy). I decided to build my own wrap and so I chose the chicken shawarma for my protein, the hummus for my spread, garlic for my sauce and then I added, wait for it……halloumi cheese. YES… BIG BITS OF HALLOUMI!! Within a few minutes I was sitting on one of the many shared tables tucking in to one of the most amazing wraps I have ever had the pleasure in trying, whilst watching many undecided people try to work out where they were getting food from due to the many eateries on offer at this market.
TOP OF THE ROCK
After an absolutely gorgeous morning at Central Park, our next stop was Top of the Rock and with the weather that day we knew the views were going to be incredible. As we were visiting this AND the Empire State Building during the trip, I was curious to find out which one I would prefer, you’ll just have to stayed tuned for my post on day 5 to find out which one came out on top.
The Top of the Rock, located at the Rockefeller Centre has THREE observation decks so you can easily spend an hour or more up there. After taking the typical window photograph with the Empire State Building in the background we headed outside to take in some more breathtaking views. We started off with the Central Park side and given the fact we had just been there all morning, we were excited to see it from a great height. It’s no wonder we never got to explore even half of it, the view from the Top of the Rock showed off the true size of Central Park and I couldn’t quite get over it.
Nothing is more beautiful than New York from above and Top of the Rock really does it justice, showing off New York in its all true beauty. After exploring all three observation decks, we decided to take a seat at the top and just soak it all in. It’s not everyday you get to experience something like this. It really felt like being on top of the world, and I could have stayed up there all day, it was so peaceful and despite it being the middle of Winter, the sun was warm on my skin. I had that New York glow.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end as we had to head back down to earth and back to the hotel to get ready, but on another note we were seeing a show on BROADWAY that evening!
For dinner we decided to head to Junior’s Cheesecake as we had spotted this on our way to Times Square the previous couple of evenings. The place was very busy so we were seated at one of the high tables beside the bar. I went for the jumbo shrimp and chips, which cost over a whopping 32 DOLLARS! It was nice enough but in terms of food I’d say this place is overrated and the food is definitely not worth the prices they charge. For 32 dollars I’d expect something that was absolutely incredible. Maybe it was my fault that the visit was disappointing due to not trying what Junior’s is famous for…. the cheesecake, maybe the cheesecake is what makes the visit, but from the main I ordered it wasn’t anything spectacular. The prosecco was good but I could get that anywhere, it’s the food that has to bring me back to the place and I found this to be average. If I’m ever to go again I’d go for a cheesecake and hot drink, but nothing else. This brings me to another tip: avoid standard/big chain restaurants that almost everyone goes to as they’re all the same, overpriced and average and really you’re just paying for the name. By all means go if that’s your thing, but just be aware that you may end up missing out on some incredible food at smaller or unheard of restaurants if you continue giving your money to these mainstream chain restaurants.
MEAN GIRLS ON BROADWAY
You CANNOT, I repeat CANNOT, go to New York and not see a show on Broadway. If the theatre isn’t your thing then I’m 99.999999% sure it will be after seeing a show in this city. With so many theatres in New York you will not be short of shows to go to during your visit, you’ll be guaranteed to find one to fit your genre/needs/taste. Where can you get Broadway tickets from?
- You can get Broadway tickets cheaper on the day either from the theatres box office directly or from the TKTS Discount Booth under the red stairs at Times Square. You can get 20-50% off regular priced tickets.
- You can also get them cheaper from the following sites in advance: BroadwayBox and TheaterMania.
There were many shows on around the time we were visiting so it was hard to make a choice with shows such as The Lion King, Mean Girls, Aladdin and Wicked making us spoilt for choice. Given that Sangeeta has already seen The Lion King and I have seen Wicked, we decided a girly night at the theatre should involve Mean Girls. Of course, with it being Mean Girls we decided we had to see this on a Wednesday, for obvious reasons (you Mean Girls fans will know what I’m on about). Although as mentioned above you can get cheaper tickets on the day of the show, we had a very busy itinerary so didn’t want to spend time waiting in lines and we wanted to make sure we definitely had a show to attend. I purchased these online through BroadwayBox, which meant that we got them a little bit cheaper than the normal price.
Getting into the spirit for the show, I was dressed in all pink, pink dress, pink fur jacket, I basically looked like a pink Elmo, but ‘on Wednesdays we wear pink‘ so it worked. Sangeeta had her ‘you go Glen Coco’ t-shirt on and I had bought us Mean Girls themed hair-clips, because you just have to go all out when it comes to Mean Girls. Turning up to the August Wilson Theatre in our themed outfits we half expected everyone to have received the memo but we must have been the only ones who did because it was just a sea of dark/black clothing everywhere. Tip: take plenty of money with you if you’re going to the show, as it’s not just the merchandise that’s expensive! For two cocktails and two bags of m&ms we were 80 DOLLARS! I actually thought I misheard the guy that served, but no, he was correct.
Not long after being seated in the 7th row, the show started and it was everything I had expected plus MORE. It was glamorous, spectacular, girly, and by far the best show I have ever seen. In all honesty, I wasn’t quite sure how such an iconic movie could be turned into a musical but it was, and it worked. The show was produced by Tina Fey, the genius who wrote the film, so of course it wouldn’t be short of amazing. When the show sadly came to an end (I really didn’t want it to), we were humming the songs on the walk back to the hotel and found the soundtrack on Spotify to listen to whilst we got ready for bed. Lesson learned: nothing compares to a Broadway show.
So the curtain has now closed on day 3 of my trip and it was another busy one, it tires me out just thinking about it. Day 4 involved boat rides in temperamental weather and American portion sizes almost killing us off, you can read all about it here.