This time I definetely have an interesting post for you all.
I went to New York! I actually went some time ago – and I was there for 5 days and 4 nights with roughly $1000 to spend and one credit card between us to use for the entire duration. Needless to say that was enough! (….or not)
So I’ll write about my first time going and also my second time (which was like…last week). My first time going to NY was just for vacationing purposes and then the second was to attend KCon 2015 in Newark (which I will write in a second post soon so stay tuned).
WARNING: PIC HEAVY
We arrived in the afternoon at JFK. We were on a 1 hour flight to Heathrow and 7 hours to New York. The 7 hour flight felt extremely long to us and we flew by British Airways. Two words: BIG MISTAKE. Usually I get travel sick on long haul flights especially when it comes to Hong Kong but I thought I’d be okay for 7 hours flight. I was fine this time round flying to New York but the in-flight food was horrible (chicken curry or pesto pasta) and the turbulence was crazy. The flight entertainment was equally as crap, compared to Emirates. There was only a handful of new movies, old movies and about 5 other options in each section under TV, Audio, Drama etc. I ended up watching some cartoon shows (Adventure Time for example lol).
When we arrived in JFK, we went to US customs and security where we waited a loooooong time in this long-winded queue to get our fingerprints on this scanner. The guy was friendly and asked us how long we were here for. We said 5 days. A few minutes later after we scanned prints and he asked us that question again. We were like “Uh…..We said 5 days?” Nevertheless everything was okay as we had our ESTAs sorted out beforehand and we went to claim our luggage (again, took a long time).
So we took a taxi to get into New York City. The first thing I noticed was that every car in the US is much much bigger than cars in the UK. Even the BMWs were bigger sizes, like double the size. I saw a lot of car manufacturers that weren’t in the UK such as Jeep or Caravan or GMC. The taxi driver was also extremely rude; when he was in the city, he stopped at a street and we were wondering what he was doing. He gave us a look so we asked if this was where he was dropping us off. He just ended up tapping on the window and saying “There’s your hotel over there, can’t you see it?” When we were like “Oh, right” and tried to leave, he somehow drove further up with this agitated sigh and we didn’t know what was going on. Was he letting us out or what? Again, when he stopped, he tapped the window and basically barked at us that the hotel was over there. YES WE KNOW.
We took this cue to hurry and leave. It was perhaps the first time we had come across someone as rude as that so we just got out as soon as possible.
Well, it didn’t appear to be a good start to the trip considering the rude taxi driver and we checked into our hotel. After a quick shower and we headed out to Times Square although the whole grid system was awfully confusing at first. We were at 8th Ave and 44th Street and we needed to get into Times Square. It took us some time to work it out but we eventually visited Toys R Us and American Eagle Outfitters. Times Square was mobbed with people. There were also people walking around dressed up as Iron Man or Captain America who were willing to take photos with tourists (but then had to pay like $20 or something).
Then we went to a diner called Ruby Tuesdays to get dinner where my sister ordered a Chicken Bella and I got a Smoky Mountain Chicken or something along the lines like that. Even though it was a Thursday it was very busy. It was all just to get a good feel of the place, after all.
Our next day was more promising. We left early and were stopped by Street Vendors selling a tour package called Grayline SightSeeing. He was friendly and gave us a 72 hour pass which would cover 3 days, including the Uptown Tour, Downtown Tour and the Night/Brooklyn Tour. Plus he gave us 1 hour bike rental at Central Park and 5 passes for various attractions. We paid by card, standing in the middle of the street in the early morning like 7am (which was MOBBED by the way), and we got our tickets. We went on a bus to take the Downtown tour and sat upstairs to get a good view of the entire area. They go through lots of areas and highlighted Soupman to our attention. The buildings in New York are CRAZY!!!!!
Check out this McDonalds!!! PS I’m not sure why the picture is so squint. Sorry!
The tour guide posed for me too!!! 🙂 That was sooo nice XD
We decided to get off at Battery Park, although the tour guide actually told us we had to get off and get on another bus in the opposite street, and because tipping is a major thing in the US, we plonked down 2 dollars and got off. We went to the free Staten Island Ferry instead of taking Ellis Island which took us past the Statue of Liberty at a very, very far distance but we still managed to get pictures so whatever. We didn’t mind.
TIP: Go to the top of the ferry, at the right to see the Statue of Liberty (and to avoid getting seasick if you do)
After Staten Island, we had to get the ferry back so basically we just got off, made a U-turn and got on an awaiting ferry that was heading back to the city. It took like 10-20 minutes altogether. We left Battery Park to find the bull of Wall Street which was bombarded by tourists, who were all fascinated with it and its balls and they were touching it and getting photos of its giant bronze bull ass. Lovely.
….I got a picture of someone touching the bull >_> We couldn’t even get near it!
After that, we returned to the city and got off at the stop near Macy’s which we had been wanting to visit since I wanted a Macy’s bag. My sister brought her passport and showed it at the Visitor’s Centre so we got a 10% discount off goods. Plus, it was also an extra 25% off as there was some promotion and my sister got a Michael Kors bag at 25% off.
TIP: Bring your passport for further discounts in Macy’s.
All in all, Macy’s is like a giant Harrods/Selfridges.
We then popped into Victoria’s Secret and got some perfume, some make-up goodies. No undies because the designs were a bit too much and it was quite expensive. We saw a lot of tired-looking husbands and boyfriends sitting down or standing by the wall, waiting for their partners to finish shopping. Lol.
We also went to quickly get some snacks. Look, Cappuccino-flavoured crisps!!!!
In the evening, we pre-booked tickets to see Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre which was easy to find nearby. We had tickets at the Front Mezzanine in Row B, which was very good seats. Although we had this family beside us who didn’t even bother to say “Thanks” when they had to get up to go to the bathroom and back during the break. Wicked was good, but I thought Part 1 was a lot better than Part 2 which was rather confusing (and way too fast). Don’t worry I will remain spoiler-free for those who have yet to see this musical.
You aren’t allowed to take photos or vids so I was a bit out of place.
Afterwards, we hadn’t had any dinner so we went to Shake Shack. The one in Times Square is always, I repeat, ALWAYS busy with queues all the way outside so we waited for about 20-30 minutes (thank god it was good weather) and we ordered a Shroom Burger and I got a Stack Shack Burger which was a burger AND shroom burger. We took it back to the hotel room but I couldn’t finish it so we left it. We also ordered Cheese fries, normal fries, and a chocolate and strawberry shake. Because it was like 12-1am in the morning, unfortunately we couldn’t eat it all and left it alone.
Sorry for the crap photo btw.
SHOPPING! We decided to use our third day to head to the premium outlets called Woodbury Common. We got the bus at Port Authority around 8.30am-ish and as we were a bit late, we were counted as ’50’ and got on the bus but had to sit at the back. Along the way, some people will also try to jump the queue and the people who work at the bus station won’t say anything. Just a word of warning, folks.
Yes, so we went to Woodbury Common. It took about 50 minutes as there wasn’t a lot of traffic and he drove very fast. There will be a guided ‘tour’ on the busy but it wasn’t very good (for eg, “And on the right you will see Manhattan Skyline.” 5 minutes later….no skyline to be seen. “On your left you will see the shopping mall.” – Big tunnel obstructing your view). Once the journey was over, they will ask to be tipped because they provided a fantastic service during the trip. Riiiiight. We arrived in Woodbury hasslefree and got our discount coupons. The first store we went to was Michael Kors. We waited for a bit as we were early but when the doors opened, we entered and were greeted by the sales assistants.
And this is what happened:
Sales Assistant: “Hi, good morning and welcome.”
Me: “Thank you” *goes to a bag stand*
Sales Assistant: *follows me to the bag stand* “I’m Ashley by the way”
Ashley the Sales Assistant: “Can I help you with anything? What’s your name?”
Me: Uh……..my name’s Fish and Chips (FYI – I didn’t really say that), and….uh, no, I’m just browsing, thanks.
Ashley the Sales Assistant: Yeah, that’s fine, no problem. I’m Ashley by the way. Sorry, what was your name again?
Me: ……………(Are you kidding me?)
Ashley the Sales Assistant: Right, great, if you need help then let me know ‘kay?
Me: Okay, thanks. (LEAVE ME THE FUT ALONE I JUST WANNA SHOP!)
Hah, just kidding. But yeah that did happen. They ask you for your name and tell them theirs, but it’s because when you go to the till, they will ask who served you so they will get commission. We ended up going to Michael Kors, Converse, Prada and Kate Spade. Converse was very busy and so was Prada. Kate Spade was surprisingly disappointing with sales assistant more interested in talking to each other and ignoring you altogether. We received better service in Prada because we were already carrying some designer bags. When they saw us come in dollar signs probably popped up in their eyes or something.
We also went to the Coach factory Outlet where we went craaaaa-aaaaa-aaaa-aazy!
Once we had shopped ’til we dropped, we got the bus back at around 1pm, returned to the hotel, dropped our stuff and then we went into Rockefeller Centre to the Top of the Rock Observation deck which was surprisingly disappointing. Despite giving a good view, there wasn’t anything else to do. Around the area, we ordered a McDonalds and had lunch there.
As you know, I love architecture so this picture definetely has to be posted up:
We got lunch at Ruby Tuesdays again and finished the day with the Night Tour which took more than 3 hours due to the traffic. The Night Tour will take you downtown and into Brooklyn which was very interesting. It also rained so we had to wear the plastic ponchos provided when taking photos. It also got chilly and by the time we finished all the rain seeped down and into my butt. Yucks.
By now, our feet were really hurting and we were in pain but we went on the Uptown Tour and got off at the Museum of Natural History with the intention to explore Central Park and the museum. We tackled Central Park first (which was probably a big mistake) before going to the museum. Central Park is too big, waaaaay too big, to be explored in 1 day but it’s amazing!!!!
We then went to the museum and got our tickets. We explored 3 floors and took a lot of pictures. My sister was really looking forward to the Maoi head but there was only 1 in the exhibit which was a bit of a shame. There were a lot of stuffed animals behind glass covers and I took a few pictures of some which I thought were interesting.
We had wanted to get the bus back to the city but the idiot tour guide didn’t allow us because they were full and there were only space for 2 people downstairs. When my sister and I went forwards, another two tourists rushed in and he accepted them. Then they said they actually had 1 more person and the tour guide allowed him on, too. We were raging!!!!
Yeah, so we walked like 20 something blocks back. I said to my sister “Why didn’t we just get on another bus or a subway?” but I guessed we didn’t mind the walk. We also found Fao Schweetz:
Look at all those chocolate @_@
We got mint flavoured M and Ms @_@
However, all ended well as we went to Tiffany & Co which my sister was really looking forward to. We got the elevator to the third floor (where an employee will help you too) and we bought some gifts for ourselves. We decided to treat ourselves – my sister treated herself for passing her Banking exams, her driving test. I treated myself for passing my driving test….and because I really wanted one. They looked so pretty under the gleaming light. LOL. I’m a spoiled brat. Well, no, not really, because I’m the one who paid for it anyway. I paid it myself. Plus, everything is US is much cheaper than the UK. The bracelet I got cost $150 but in the UK, that would be $215. I saved myself a lot of money!!!!!!!!!!!
We also went to the Abercrombie and Fitch flagship store where I wanted to buy a hoodie as it was cheaper in the US. We had to queue for a bit but it didn’t take too long. There was a half-naked male model standing at the entrance, too. I got my hoodie and was happy 🙂
After that, we decided to call it a day and returned to the hotel to pack. We also quickly stopped at a souvenir shop and bought some gifts for friends and family.
TIP: Some souvenir shops will offer say for example, 10 postcards for $1. Just to let you know they are not that great quality but its up to you if you want quantity over quality.
Day 5. Monday
We would be leaving today but we kept our luggage in hold at the hotel and checked out at 8am. We would come back to collect our stuff at 3pm. Since we hadn’t been to the Empire State Building yet, we headed there first. It was very nice, much better than the Rockefeller Centre. We went on an escalator to the 80th floor and then had to get another to get to the 86th floor. The staff here are very friendly and polite (much better than the Rockefeller Centre anyway) and are dressed in maroon uniforms which made them look very smart. We also got great pictures from the deck and left very happy.
Grand Central Terminal was also a must-see so we headed there next. It was much lovelier than I had anticipated, with tonnes of facilities in the lower level. Despite being a train station there was no horrid smell or foul air. It was extremely clean and spotless and was great to walk through. We got excellent pictures there, too. Plus we tried some cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. Mmmm.
We also visited the New York Public Library but didn’t spend a lot of time there. It was funny they would allow tourists to enter the library grounds and walk around bookshelves and stuff, especially when people are studying inside. Hahah.
It was nearing 3pm so our final stop was the Avengers Station where you can see all the props and costumes in the Avengers movie. So we saw the Iron Man suit, Captain America’s custome, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Thor and Loki’s helmet all up close. I even got my own S.H.I.E.L.D ID! Whoohoo!
Since we only had half a day, we got the taxi to JFK and we were headed home 😦
All in all, I really enjoyed New York despite a few bad experiences, namely the taxi driver and the Grayline bus tour guide when we were at Central Park. I really enjoyed the weather and the shopping. Shopping was great! We went to so many places, including Sephora, Victoria’s Secret, Tiffany & Co, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters and the Woodbury Common outlets. I really enjoyed the tours, the Night Tour was probably the best, since it went on for a long time but well worth it.
Here is a picture of some of our souvenirs; it doesn’t include the keyrings, the fridge magnets and postcards I bought from the NYC gift shop or the Abercrombie & Fitch hoodie or the American Eagle Outfitter top I bought.
And here is the Tiffany & Co bracelet I bought. It came in a nice mint-green bag, box, trinket bag and was wrapped up in a nice white ribbon:
And here is a picture of all the makeup I bought from Sephora. I bought a Nars concealor, Benefit They’re Real mascara and gel-liner and a Dandelion face blush, Too Faced mascara called ‘Better than Sex’ (lol), tarte BB cream, mascara and an eyelash curler. I also bought a mascara from Covergirl which I bought from a pharmacy called CVS.
Yeah, so I spent a $hitload of money :S I’m up to my eyeballs in debt it’s really not good. But wow! New York was totally worth it!!!!