The Twenty-Something Series: Right through the very heart of it, New York, New York!

So as I mentioned in my post yesterday about WattCon 2018 - I went to New York recently!

Now I've never been to New York before. I've never been to the States outside of Orlando but New York's just one of those trips that I've always wanted to do. A bucket list kind of trip. 

And I bloody loved it.

It was a brief trip: landing Wednesday night and flying back Sunday night. My parents came with me and even though I spent the weekend at WattCon and went to a breakfast meeting with some of the Wattpad team and brands on the Friday morning, we made sure to pack in all the usual tourist attractions.

At the top of my list to do there were three things: Times Square, a Broadway show, and some real New York pizza. Lucky for me, we were staying in Times Square to be near WattCon, we got to do two (!!!) Broadway shows, and lunch on the second day of WattCon? A slice of pizza from a hole-in-the-wall place across the street so good, the grease was running down my hand.

But, of course, we managed to do pretty much everything else in about a day and a half...

The Empire State Building

The view from the top of the Empire State Building is just... WOW. It's so strange to be in a city where you can crane your neck back and still not see the tops of buildings, and then from here you're looking down on them like they're so small. And the noise of the traffic! It really carries. 

Fair warning: This time of year, it's bloody cold up there.

Grand Central Station

After the Empire State, we made a brief stop at Grand Central Station to see it and whoa, that architecture. It's so impressive. The artwork on the ceiling of constellations is gorgeous

The Tour/The Ride

We booked tickets on a bus ride around Midtown Manhattan with The Tour/The Ride. My parents did the usual double-decker bus tour to see more of the city on the weekend, but this bus tour was so cool. The seats on the bus all face sideways so you look out facing the streets and the city as you drive past, and there are little screens showing clips relevant to the tour. Plus, the tour guide was really fun and engaging - and not in that annoying 'oh, God, please don't pick me' way. I'd have happily done it all over again!

A River Cruise on the Hudson & The Statue of Liberty

I got one of my favourite pictures of the entire trip from this little excursion. We booked onto a river cruise down the Hudson and the tour guide on the boat told us a bit about Manhattan, the buildings we could see, and New Jersey across the river. (Side note: It's so close? Like... SO CLOSE? I don't know what I expected exactly, but it wasn't that. I'm still not over it.)

The boat took us out near the Statue of Liberty. Even though it looked tiny from up on top of the Empire State Building, up close, you can see how big it is compared to the people visiting it. It's an unmissable attraction.

The boat cruise, however, was also bloody freezing. It was bitterly cold and windy as heck - so while I took my woolly hat off to take a cute selfie with the Manhattan skyline, my mum was so wrapped up against the cold I have a picture of her that just looks like an M&S coat bundle, which is one of my fave pictures of the trip! Aside from the cold, though, this was a lot of fun and a well-spent hour or two.

Broadway Baby - Part 1

But of course, what trip to the Big Apple is complete without a show on Broadway? While my vote lay strongly with Anastasia and my mum wanted to see the Donna Summer musical, we compromised on Pretty Woman. Bryan Adams music (my mum was sold), a story my dad knew (unlike when he took me to Les Mis and Wicked) and, ya know, it was a Broadway musical (so of course I was sold).

And Samantha Barks herself was in it! Which I totally didn't realise until we were there! And Orfeh, who I recognised as Paulette from the Legally Blonde soundtrack. She has an absolute belter of a voice.

The guy next to me was loving it: he kept quoting the lines from the film as they came up. (And, no, that guy was not my dad. I feel I need to point that out.)

Honestly, if you ever get chance to see this musical anywhere, I'd so recommend it. Everyone was on their feet by the end of it, everyone left with huge smiles on their face, and the cast just looked like they were having so much fun. 

A Picnic in Central Park... ish?

Alright, so we didn't exactly see much of Central Park. As in, we got ourselves a Subway sandwich after booking our tickets at the Rockefeller Centre, got the actual subway to Central Park and walked about thirty seconds into it to sit on a bench and eat our sandwiches. 

Which I'm totally counting as a picnic in Central Park. Until such a time as I can go back and have an actual proper walk through Central Park. I got some nice pictures and saw some cute dogs, so I was happy.

Afternoon at the Museum

We were not about to go to New York and not go to the Natural History Museum. I was not prepared for how colossal it is in there, though. Night at the Museum definitely does not prepare you for that. (I don't think I can ever watch that movie the same way again, now. And you bet your bottom dollar I looked for a Capuchin monkey and was sad I didn't find one.)

We did find the Easter Island head though! At that point, I was really suffering with back ache and had to sit down while my parents went to explore the rest of the wing we were in. They came back to collect me especially to see it though, knowing it would be a highlight.

Another highlight was the giant sloth skeleton. It was just so... weirdly giant? Not like a slightly larger than usual 'giant' sloth.Think Hagrid giant. Then you're getting close.

Shopping at Macy's!

...for all of about fifteen minutes. (Oops?)

By this point, my feet were wrecked. We were all tired. I'd been up since before six to get to my morning meeting with Wattpad. We found the original wooden escalators and managed to find the department selling men's t-shirts so my dad could buy a new one - and at that point, the store was unbearably hot. I'd been looking forward to Macy's but within ten minutes, I was done.

None of us were really up for a wander around the store but to be honest, I think if we'd wandered much further, we'd have lost the exit and been trapped for hours.

The store is weirdly stacked and there seem to be bits and pieces of departments scattered everywhere instead of clustered in one place, like we're used to here in the UK. It would be so easy to spend hours there when not completely exhausted!

Some real New York Cheesecake!

Apparently, Junior's is the place to go for cheesecake in New York - so it's just as well that's where we went! And let me tell you, I've been thinking about the apple crumble cheesecake I had there ever since. It was gorgeous.

The cheesecake and tea was a much needed pick-me-up at this point in the day for all of us. My dad asked for his cheesecake with whipped cream. Now imagine a dollop of whipped cream, like you'd expect. That's not what they give you. It came out with like, half the can of whipped cream on the plate. New York cheesecake is next level.

Top of the Rock!

To quote Pretty Woman... "It had to be the top floor? / It's the best!"

I am sooo glad we did this view at night. You get a stunning look out over the city from the top of Rockefeller Centre but with everything all lit up, it's just beautiful.

When you're in Times Square, it's lit up like... well, I guess like the Forth of July. But when you see it at night from the Rockefeller - I mean, you can see it. It's like daylight down there.

And, again, shocking as it may sound: it was bloody freezing up there.

Thus ended our second day of sightseeing. (Or mine, at least - my parents still had the weekend.) Thursday and Friday were as busy as we could make them, and then WattCon took up the weekend for me. We were flying back on Sunday night, so I didn't think I'd get chance for much else. 

But this is New York we're talking about. The city that never sleeps! So you know things didn't actually end there...

Broadway Baby - Part 2

Our hotel was right around the corner from the theatre playing Chicago. I saw the show advertised when we first arrived in the city, the giant poster of Cuba Gooding Jr saying 'It would be criminal to miss it.' I've never seen the movie or listened to the soundtrack, didn't really know the story - but we all agreed we should go. It was only around the corner.

And, hey, when in New York, right?

PLUS, we managed to find a lady handing out flyers that got us $60 off the tickets, making them almost half price. You couldn't go wrong!

If you've never seen Chicago, they're right: It would be criminal to miss it. I watched the movie afterwards and it was... okay? Good, I guess, but not a patch on seeing it performed live. The show was so funny, which I'd not expected either! I left with a feeling of awe and still can't believe what a phenomenal performance it was.

Also... the orchestra were on the stage. As in, taking up almost the whole stage. With the actors moving in and around them. It was the coolest thing I've seen since the rotating barricade when I saw Les Mis.

These vagabond shoes are longing to stray...

...right on back to NYC!

New York was a crazy, whirlwind experience and I'm so glad I was able to go. I had a great time with my parents seeing the sights and shows, and loved the whole experience of WattCon.

Although you can totally bet I slept almost the entire plane ride home, the taxi ride back from the airport, and was out like a light early evening on the Monday once I was all unpacked. 

(Just as well I managed to catch up on sleep - I was back in work the next day!)

Kudos to my new military boots from Clarks for being some really damn comfortable shoes for walking miles and miles around the city, though. I may actually be in love with them. Less vagabond and more worth-every-pound shoes, honestly.

The only thing I wish I'd seen in New York that I missed? The Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Sadly, we were there too early for it. But I guess I'll just have to go back another time for that one...

Have you ever been to New York? What was your favourite thing to see or do there? Or what would be your number one thing if you visit one day? Let me know in the comments!

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