The big apple. The city of dreams. The city that never sleeps. New York City always seemed like a distant dream to me; something I would only ever see on TV. Looking back now, having visited every year for the last 4 years, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic about that very first time.
November 2013, I was living in Boston, Massachusetts for my new job. There were 28 new hires that were on this programme with me, people (that I’d never met before) from all over the world living and working together for 2-3 months, an incredible and unique experience. Having spent the first couple of weeks working hard and getting to know each other, we needed a weekend away to let our hair down… and what better way than a long weekend in the greatest city in the world (apparently); New York City.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, it couldn’t possibly live up to the unrealistic expectations I had. We drove down in our huge 4×4, I was chatting away inside and didn’t realise that we arrived in the city until the noise hit me. I looked outside and saw nothing but tall buildings, bright lights, thousands of people and the famous yellow cabs… I don’t get stunned often, but my mouth was wide open, I didn’t speak for at least 10 mins and I hurt my neck from constantly looking up (major tourist alert). I was lucky to go with good people, and once we checked in to the hotel and got ready, someone had the idea to go up to the roof and check out the view (May have seen this in a movie once or twice). We walked out and took in the view of the Manhattan skyline. Hell of an introduction.
The next few days consisted of largely tourist spots, but things that had to be seen. The bright lights of Times Square, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Staten Island Ferry, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Village. So many photo opps, if only I had Instagram back then.
One of the best things to do, like most major cities, is to just walk around. There are so many gold mines, so many little local places that you may never find otherwise. Something I learned quickly was that food in New York is unbelievable. Whatever kind of cuisine, at whatever time of day, it is ready and delicious! We made some great discoveries, most notably; Most interesting slice of pizza can be had at a place in West Village called Artichoke, best cookies ever (like seriously) are at a place on the Upper West Side called Levain Bakery, and for an upscale, high-end, romantic restaurant take a stroll down to the Flatiron District and book a table at Gramercy Tavern (bring your wallet). Of course if you visit none of these places I’m sure you’ll come across something just as good, there are too many places to list !
Another obvious thing to do is Central Park. We took a stroll down the park, did some people watching, walked across the famous bridge and ate hot dogs (best hot dogs in the world). I don’t think there is another place quite like this one, even when comparing it to Hyde Park back home in London (though finding greenery in London is more common). The views are beautiful, you can go for runs, ride a bike, bring the family, or even bring a date… something for everyone, just look at this picture!
I absolutely fell in love with New York City. Not saying that it’s necessarily better than back home in London, but was something a little bit different with enough familiarity. I’ve been lucky to have gone back many times since then as a visitor… I even tried to move out there permanently; but migrating to the U.S. is not as easy as I hoped. I’ll have to make do with being a tourist for now… there is still so much to see, I will be heading back out there in 2017 to tick more things off my list! Any recommendations are welcome 🙂