Oh New York. How can I even begin to describe what you mean to me?
This recent trip was my third time in this city, and if possible, it just keeps getting better.
We all know I am sometimes guilty of having a reluctance to return to the same places, but New York will always and forever be the exception to that rule. I swear I leave a little bit more of my heart in this city every time I go.
Coming back for the third time meant I felt I knew it that bit better and had a much clearer idea of what I wanted to do. Aside from all the eating and drinking that occurred (blog post on this to come) I want to share my moments that helped me get a little bit deeper in the city.
I had walked over the Brooklyn Bridge many years ago, but that was as far as I have got. I now know when I move to New York (I am not sure I will ever let go of that goal), Brooklyn Heights would be my destination of choice. Unattainable yes, but it is so beautiful. We decided to walk into Brooklyn over a different path and took Williamsburg Bridge. It was snowy that day and the industrial bridge was just so striking. For an alternative trip into this part of New York, this is a really cool option. I would love to spend more time exploring Williamsburg.
We then walked into DUMBO (so called because: Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass), another really cool and exciting part of Brooklyn.
Then from there to Brooklyn Heights. I cannot recommend heading down to Brooklyn Heights Promenade enough, the view of the city was just breathtaking. It offers views of such iconic New York scenes. Best viewed at sunset, and when we went the snow storm that had clouded the whole day had cleared and it was the most marvellous light.
At this point, we had succumbed to the cold and took shelter in the nearest bar. It was dark by the time we emerged, so decided to save walking back across Brooklyn Bridge for another day and took the metro back into Manhattan.
Brooklyn Bridge – cliched? Sure. But well worth it for those views of Manhattan. I would suggest walking from Brooklyn back into the city.
I was not particularly interested in heading to any of the museums, however I did make one exception. The Whitney. Now, I am not an art buff by any means – and I have to say a lot of art often goes over my head, however I really really enjoyed this museum. It was showing a fantastic exhibit by an artist called Laura Owens and I was so absorbed by it. If you are tempted to visit any of Manhattan’s culture spots, I would highly recommend this is the one.
The Whitney is right next to the High Line and are the perfect combination for a wonderful day in the Meatpacking District. It was unbelievably windy and cold on the day we headed down there, so we only walked a section of this wonderful park. But on a sunny day I could see myself spending hours here. It was an old rail line, that they have turned into a linear elevated park – and a wonderful spot for seeing views of the Hudson and glimpses of the grid of Manhattan.
One wonderful afternoon was spent walking up Fifth avenue and ending up on the Upper East Side. It was a long and busy walk from the Lower East Side, but worth doing. And any day where you end up Uptown is a good one.
It’s a great walk, and a lengthy one, but we did pass all the necessary New York sights, the Flatiron, Washington Square Park, Empire State, Rockefeller Centre and a quick glimpse of Central Park.
No trip to New York would be complete for me without visiting Central Park. It is my favourite place in the city. When I visit next I want to spend a day with a picnic and wandering around here, in a much warmer climate of course. I love the contrast of this huge open space with the tall buildings towering either side. I only had an hour or so in the park this time, but it is always worth it. Seeing the lake and the Boathouse in a frozen setting was a dream come true for me.
A little geeky moment – but one for the Friends fans. We took a stroll into the West Village before brunch one morning to have a quick look at the famous façade.
My final highly recommended tip is to go and see a basketball game. I had previously been to see the Knicks play, which was such an amazing experience. This time I headed into Brooklyn to watch the Brooklyn Nets defeat Orlando Magic. Basketball is always such a great atmosphere and even more so when the home team win. The Americans do sport well and it makes for such a great evening. It is easy to pick up the rules, I promise.
Managing to fit in all the above was busy but there were two things made this trip easier for me.
Firstly I totally nailed the Metro, finally. It took a few wrong turns and lots of staring at the map – but I finally understand it. Well, as much as anyone can. But I felt so proud having navigated it all by myself, it was one of those real ‘I can do this moments’.
You can have up to 4 people travelling on one Metro card, which means it is a cheap way to get around the city and it meant I could go a lot further in a day. For example, nipping to Central Park for an hour, before heading back to the Lower East Side and then out to Brooklyn. If you want any tips – I’m your person!
Where to Stay
The second tip that made my trip that little bit easier, was our amazing hotel. Orchard Street Hotel in the Lower East Side.
I need not say much more, as this was the view from our room:
(Also available while sitting on the loo). Yes, I could lie in bed and see the Empire State. Watching it dance and sparkle on New Year’s Eve when I woke up from my disco nap was such a pinch me, bucket list moment.
It was also in such a good location for so many of the bars and restaurants we wanted to visit, as well as a 3 minute walk from two subway stations. I loved staying in the Lower East Side, it was quieter and felt a bit less touristy. If you are looking for something practical and accessible this is your place, I would 100% recommend.
Despite having said I felt I got a bit deeper into this city, I am so aware of how much more this place has to give and how little I have seen. I have already been looking up flights to go back and started to write a list of things I want to do. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw: ‘I miss New York, take me home’.
For where to eat and drink, have a look here.
New York, I will see you soon.