It’s that time of year of again which reminds me of when I visited New York in Winter 2012, after looking through my archive of pictures, my nostalgia has brought back so many fabulous memories of such a stunning place.
In December 2012, I was invited to join my partner and his business associates on a trip to the city after spending three days in the Swedish capital of Stockholm. We flew with United Airlines at 9am UK time, and even though I’m not the best passenger when it comes to flying ( I suffer from flight anxiety) a 9 hour journey seemed quite daunting, so I was super pleased to flick through the touchscreen TV in front on me, insert my headphones and watch a few episode of SMASH! (A grown up version of Glee with an all-star American cast) I soon dropped off into a deep sleep and woke up 3 hours later…starving! I really fancied some crackers, cheese and a coffee, but when I asked the air hostess she rudely told me they don’t sell food but that a sandwich would be given to us an hour before we landed…that was another 4 hours, was she for real..? Not only couldn’t we buy food, or drinks, but also duty free. I had to sit with my rumbling stomach until we landed; I’d gone past the point of hunger and was just eager to get to the hotel for a shower.
After a smooth landing, ridiculous long passport control and security checks at the airport, we grabbed a taxi to take us to our hotel destination. We were staying at the Hilton Hotel on 6th Avenue in the Upper East side, and when we arrived we were give a warm welcome, a swift check in and taken to our 33rd floor suite by our bellboy. The rooms were very traditional and vintage, as some say ‘Oldie Worldie’. Not really my style but the bed was huge, super comfy and we had a great view of the Upper East Side.
After a quick change we took a stroll around the village…Park Avenue…Madison Avenue and finally Central park. The air was cool, and the sun was beaming, a saxophonist was blowing some smooth tunes, and brave women were rollerblading around in bikini tops. The park was so clean and beautifully preened, I noticed that everyone walking around was an eclectic mix of the world’s travellers, visitors and locals. We walked until we arrived at the Boathouse, a quaint restaurant on the river that flowed through the park, with outdoor seating and a fabulous a la carte lunch menu. The setting was unreal, watching couples rowing along the river in canoes taking romantic rides across the water, a group of local New York women having a luncheon talking with thick New York twang’s, and a Jewish bar mitzvah celebration with 13 years all asking their parents for more Red Bull! We grabbed a light bite and headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and change. We had dinner reservations at a recommended Italian restaurant which was located in Soho called Cipriani.
As usual we running late after stupidly taking a power nap, not recommended when you’ve gained another 8 hours to your day, the trick is to stay awake and get an early night, not us! Since the restaurant was a traditional Italian haunt we were worried about losing our table, and we couldn’t find a free cab anywhere, so we found a limousine parked outside the hotel and raced to the venue in hope we still had our table free. For $10 more than a cab it was worth the extra few bucks!! We arrived in Soho and were promptly taken to our table. The restaurant was 35 years old and famously filled with local New Yorkers, ladies in Chanel and men dressed in suits. It was a nice change to be somewhere authentic and take in traditional Italian surroundings in traditional New York. We dined on calamari, tagiletelli and fresh cooked pizza washed down with Pinot Griot and finished with Illy coffee cappuccinos.
We decided to go for a night cap at Buddhakhan a super funky, trendy bar and restaurant where Carrie Bradshaw filmed her engagement dinner to Mr Big! I’m a Sex in the City fan so this was a real treat. We then moved onto an open roofed bar in Soho for a few French Martini’s and headed back to sleep…which was much needed at this point. We all decide to have a lazy lie in and go for brunch the next day.
I woke up fresh, alert and ready to see more of New York, we met our guests and took a cab to a rooftop garden restaurant at 230 & 5th Avenue. We arrived at what looked like an office block, and took the lift to the 46th floor. As soon as the doors open, I realised how much this place was a secret little hide away. Smooth soul music was playing and the brunch buffet smelt delicious. But the view took my breath away! The skyline was stunning; you could see all the skyscraper buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge and multi story apartments…now this is what I call brunch with a view! We snacked and nibbled our way through until the late afternoon, and then it was time to shop! The guy’s took shelter in a nearby bar while the girls hit the pavement to hit the stores.
Victoria Secrets was in the top on the list for me, I left with swimwear, lingerie, and make up, toiletries…the works! Never leave America without a little pink bag full of treats! Next on the list was MAC cosmetics, American Apparel..shopping heaven! After a good few hours of visiting Mercer Street and Madison Avenue, we met up with the guys laidened with bag.
As the afternoon meandered into the early evening we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. No power nap this time, quick change and out! We booked a lovely Thai restaurant, since we were all craving some light aromatic food. We dined on sushi, beef and chicken soup and soon noticed Bon Jovi’s guitarist Rick Sombraro sat on the table next us. I used to have a school girl crush on Jon Bon Jovi so meeting a member of his band was super cool. Since were amazed by all the rooftop haunts to visit, we headed out to a rooftop bar at the Gansevoort Hotel for after dinner drinks. One thing to remember when visiting the US is always take your ID! I only just managed to slide in and soon realised that without age identification, we would have to spend the rest of the night here. But I wasn’t complaining, this venue was simply stunning. The venue had lots of different rooms playing different genres of music to suit everyone’s taste, outside bars with swimming pools and white king size bed’s to relax and enjoy the view. The Empire State Building was lit illuminous green next door to us and we stayed until the bouncers were closing the doors. We stumbled back to our hotel and I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I woke up with a slight hangover, so decided to rehydrate and hit the hotel gym. After an hour of running, rowing and cycling, I was feeling back on track. Nothing beats going to the gym with floor to ceiling windows of the city as dawn was breaking!
It was a Sunday afternoon and our last day in the city, so we decided we visit Central Park one last time. We walked and took a seat on the bench whilst listening to the most amazing ‘blues’ band from the New Orleans area. It was a perfect start to a Sunday afternoon. New York can be a little too busy, a little bit smelly and a little too hectic in the day, so Central Park is the perfect haven. Next on the list of tourist attractions to visit Macy’s, it would be tragic of us to not to visit some of the landmarks, so we all decided venture to Time Square, the Empire State building and Madison Square Garden. New York is a BIG city and there is so much to do, but this was just a short break and without doubt I expect to be back soon to catch a show on Broadway and perhaps take in some Christmas shopping!!
After a shorter flight back home, thanks to good old tail winds chopping down our journey by an hour, I reminisced on the fabulous places we managed to visit in three jam-packed days. New York has to be one of my most favourite cities to visits. It’s full of glamour but still has its old traditional roots abs history. Every street and corner your turn is like walking on a real life movie set with the New York skyline as a breathtaking backdrop.