I went to New York with my two best friends this October, and we had a blast! Neither of them had been before and it was my 5th visit so it was lovely for me planning out the perfect trip, but also seeing everything through their excited eyes. Quite a bit had changed though, and all for the better.
We stayed in the Evelyn in Nomad, just a stone's throw from the Flatiron. It was so swish; newly refurbed in glorious art deco, we were offered vouchers for a free cocktail at check-in, what a way to start our trip! The first night I wanted to bring the girls to East Village, my favourite part of town. We had dinner at Yakatori Taisho. It's a real local’s kind of place where you just have to pick some random dish from the menu and cross your fingers, but trust me, everything is amazing! A Korean couple sat alongside us at our bench, heard our accents and bought us warm saki! He loves to golf in Mayo, loves Ireland...yep, we were in New York alright! A pub crawl later we fall into our beds, ready for an early start the next day.
Sunday morning early in Manhattan is magical; jetlag had us up and out at 8am, hunting for a Jewish deli for our breakfast. We were almost the only people on the street, it was so quiet. Two hours later, when we came back out from Eisenhowers, full of coffee and salmon bagels, the noise hit us like a ten-tonne truck! The peace didn't last long!
This morning we walked the Highline, a new experience for me. Spanning from Hudson Yards on 34th all the way down to Gansevoort Street, this raised up walkway on a disused railway track gives a fabulous view into the backs of apartments, showing New York and everyday living from a completely new angle, great fun! Plus, now you have the amazing new Hive at the start of the walk; 3 miles of sloping staircases and viewing platforms in a rose gold monolith, built just for looking out on New York. We stopped for lunch at Gansevoort Market and then Chelsea Market for dessert, both essential for people watching and food from all over the world. I had Colombian beans and rice!
We walked Greenwich village that afternoon with 'Free Tours by Foot'. They are a wonderful sustainable company that give employment to local people, walking around their own area and showing you all the sites you would miss if you walked alone. You pay what you can afford. I have been to Greenwich many times but really enjoyed this local lady's perspective, she had so much gossip! That night we went to the Village Vanguard for jazz. It’s one of the originals and best.
Monday the girls headed off to the Empire State while I said I would queue for discount theatre tickets. Here's a tip: if you skip Times Square and go to the Lincoln Centre, round the back is a tiny desk where the local's go. It opens at 12 and there are never more than a handful in the queue. I got tickets for School of Rock and then had a few hours strolling Central Park, eating sushi to die for, and met my friends again at Central Station.
That afternoon we headed to Brooklyn and after a few pizza slices and more coffee, we walked Brooklyn Bridge. We got really lucky with the sunshine and had a fab view of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline as we made our way through the throngs crossing the bridge. As we came down from the bridge, there was a gathering around some buskers and a gorgeous little park with hotdog stands and kids running around, a little low rise oasis in the middle of all the skyscraper madness.
Tuesday was our last day but not flying until late we packed loads more in. We went to the 9/11 memorial, which was new for me too. That area of the island has really transformed into a thought provoking but fun and vibrant part of the city, with it's incredible Oculus Shopping Centre, shaped like the skeleton of some weird alien, it has to be seen to be believed.
I would recommend getting up early and going to bed earlyish… go online to find the happy hours...they are all over the city and some last right up to 9 p.m. Fit in some live music, whatever takes your fancy, there is no better city for it. Take in Manhattan one section at a time and use the subway! It's fun and cheap. New York is all about street food, it is everywhere and there is something for everyone so make sure you try it! Our next trip together will be Chicago, can't wait!