I can't even think of an introduction that will do justice to my trip last week... Last week I went on the trip of a lifetime? Last week I went on the best holiday of my life? No, I'll keep it simple: Last week was one of the best weeks of my life.
Ladies and Gentleman, my much anticipated, saved for and dreamed about trip finally happened, and Lady Writes went to New York! Although if you follow me on Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram you'll already know this because I went trigger happy on the social media front as I tried to capture every precious moment. Some of you are aware of how poorly I was before my trip - I had a post-op infection that was so bad I should have been in hospital when I was flying to New York, but I just couldn't miss this trip. It meant too much to me. If you read my post months ago you'll know why.
So after almost heartbreakingly being forced to miss the trip which meant more to me than any other trip in my life, when I finally set foot in New York, I knew right away that it was going to be everything I had hoped. But I didn't know it would be so, so much more than that too.
New York is the most alive place I've ever been. I love big cities, I love the hustle and bustle, the noise, the activity. But New York takes it to another level. I love London - I find it busy but sometimes stressful. Whereas New York is busy without the stress. It's cleaner - not just in the clean sense, but the layout is clean. The whole of Manhattan is built in straight blocks - you'll only ever walk in straight lines. It's clean layout means navigation is easy, and yet you can still walk for hours, 'get lost' and find yourself somewhere completely new. The buildings are perfect, clean in architecture. Everything feels clean and picture perfect...so I naturally took as many pictures as possible...sorry, not sorry.
My hotel was located approximately ten steps from Times Square. So naturally we ended up in the centre within seconds of leaving the hotel. You see it in so many films, on TV and online but it's even better in real life. The colours are loud, the people are busy and yet as I looked around that first morning, I've never felt more tranquil. I had dreamed about this instant, worked hard to afford that moment and I drank it up and loved every second. It's an experience that I repeated numerous times every day - I'll never forget how sentimental those moments in Times Square were.
Where better to start the sightseeing than at the top of the Rockefeller Centre? The views were every bit as stunning as I hoped. Those people who say you can't find beauty in man-made places need to stand at the top of The Rock and say that to me - I challenge them. The views of Central Park won't be found anywhere else in the city, and I personally found it less busy than the Empire State Building (later in the diary.)
After a pit stop at the Concourse - the underground part of The Rock - where the choices of food and drink are so vast it's hard to make a decision - we moved on to Central Park itself and went on a pedicab tour, with a charming man as our guide. He showed us all the main sites of the park, pointed out the homes of the rich and famous surrounding the edges and then took us back to Times Square - pointing out landmarks and telling us stories of the people we'd heard about throughout the journey. It was a wonderful afternoon full of knowledge, history and fantastic sites. I finally got to see the Alice in Wonderland statue as well as the tribute to the children who lost their parents on 9/11. A moment which wasn't lost on me as a Mummy myself.
The second day was all about Brooklyn. If you visit New York, you MUST visit the Brooklyn Bridge. Not only is it free but there is so much to look at that you'll likely forget the time and realise you've spent hours on the same bridge...and you're still not bored.
The bridge gives fantastic views of the city and of Brooklyn itself but it also gave me my favourite photo of the whole trip... a love lock dedicated to a mother from her child. I spent ages looking at the love locks in the centre of the bridge, but none were as poignant, or resonated with me as much as this one.
After crossing the bridge we spent some time walking around Brooklyn itself too. There's an awesome little deli on the corner as you enter the borough with pizza slices as long as your arm for only $3 - and yes, broccoli and chicken on a pizza really does work!
After all this walking we headed back to the hotel, ready for an amazing evening at the world exclusive launch of Michael Buble's new perfume 'By Invitation'. The most amazing night as a blogger, I was one of only seven British bloggers invited and it was a small and intimate event. It showcased the perfume perfectly (there's a whole blog post coming up dedicated to it) but the overall evening itself was stunning. Buble being every bit as charming, witty and talented as you'd think. The evening was made when he sang my all time favourite song 'Home'. Yet more wonderful memories to add to the New York memory bank.
I'd not been phased by seeing the Statue of Liberty but Leah had been keen, so we decided that the best way was via the Staten Island Ferry - which happens to also be free. So it's absolutely worth a visit if you're on a budget (and even if you're not.) For me the best part however, was the lower Manhattan skyline views. They took my breath away.
We then paid a visit to the 9/11 Memorial - something I've always wanted to do. Having been old enough to remember and fully understand the horror of that day, I've always wanted to go and say a prayer and pay my respects. It was incredibly sad - as expected, but they've done it so well that it's classy, elegant and tactful. A beautiful tribute to such an atrocity. Most poignant was the occasional white rose left in names along the wall. Which we then discovered were left by the memorial volunteers on the birthday of each victim.
My first full day alone as Leah left New York in the early morning. I headed out via bus to New Jersey for some serious shopping at an Outlet Mall - which was fantastic fun! Five minutes outside the city and everything looked so different and gave me the more 'everyday' sites I'd been desperate to see - not just the wonderful skyscrapers, but the everyday homes and streets. Plus I did some major tax-free shopping, so it was win-win.
My plan for later that day was that I'd decided I was going to start walking and see where I ended up. Five hours later I'd seen some wonderful side streets, taken some lovely photo's and enjoyed Times Square by day on the way out, and by night on the way back.
The open top bus tour was day five's entertainment. Such a fantastic way to see the city - if you want to see everything of importance, learn about the history behind the buildings and big sites, then this is the way to do it. Again, I'll be giving you all the info, tips and tricks in a later post, but suffice to say that if you're going to New York, you need to add this to your list. I absolutely loved it. Plus it was beautiful weather (as it was every day) so you can catch some rays while learning about the city too.
I spent my final night in New York at the top of the Empire State Building watching the sunset. I'm not ashamed to tell you that I shed a couple of tears as I stood and watched the sky change colour. It's another moment I'll never forget - one of many during my week's visit. The views were spectacular. I've never seen a sunset like it - but hey, that's what the cities tallest building will do for you! I stood at the top for over an hour and reflected. I'm a sentimentalist and the surroundings were perfect for reflection.
My final day. I could dress this up - but I'll be honest, I had to buy an extra suitcase to house all the things I'd bought! Oppsie. I did a bit more shopping - spending an hour each way walking to the only shop in the city that sold the exact gift my bestie wanted for her birthday... And spending $30 on two tiny bags of M&M's in M&M's World...so small were these bags that I'd have got more in the £1 grab bags you get in Tesco. But it was fun. Until I got to the till. Ha.
I didn't need to leave my hotel until 6:30pm so I did get another full day, which was mostly spent mooching, viewing and adoring the city I'd fallen in love with. I can honestly say that New York has captured my heart and I am already planning my return trip.
Oh, and being the sentimentalist that I am, I wanted a permanent memory of my trip. So the tattoo that I'd been wanting for months became a reality, and I absolutely love it...
"Find me where the wild things are..."