New York was never high on my list of cities to visit. I’ve always preferred the idea of tropical climates, palm trees, or historical places with castles and cobbled streets. I didn’t watch Sex and the City growing up (I know, who am I? What am I? I’ve heard it all) and the only thing that ever made me think I would like it was the breakfast culture (I really do feel that strongly about morning eating) – pancakes and coffee are my happiness.
But I just never found the idea of some good breakfasts enough to flit across the Atlantic, weirdly enough. It was really, as it is with so many things, Instagram and blogging that grabbed my attention to New York properly.
I started to come round to the idea I would probably like NYC on top of the glowing recommendations from friends and colleagues and all the posts and photos I’d seen proclaiming it the best place on the planet. On top of that, my boyfriend was always very keen on going. He even looked into studying there which was news to me, and brought up the fact he wanted to go pretty much every time the place popped up on TV. I still wasn’t that fussed though, and we kept making other travel plans, so we just didn’t go.
Then this year, I decided to score some big girlfriend points when he turned 30 and booked a secret trip. I did it at work on my lunch break and then sat and googled ‘things to do in NYC’ for half hour. After that day, this secret trip became an obsession. I couldn’t talk about it at home, we couldn’t plan it together, so I just researched in secret and compiled massive lists of stuff we could do, eat, drink, walk to, look at, buy etc etc. By the end of the six month wait to actually tell him (we got drunk with all our friends and I made them put on Statue of Liberty masks and hold flags when he went to the loo then shout at him when he reappeared) I think I wanted to go more than him.
We only had two days of us both knowing we were going to talk about what we would do and be excited and squeal over the idea of the Rockefeller Centre view and Shake Shake. I don’t know how I went from so unfussed to so stupidly excited over a city, but it happened. It happened in a big way.
We expected to get there and fall straight into food comas, marching down 5th Avenue looking for bars and proceed to tick off all of the tourist trips with breaks every so often to eat burgers and get milkshakes bigger than our faces.
So, it was quite a come down when we spent the first day in a complete, underwhelmed, intimidated, slightly confused daze. It was NOT the blur of utter joy and excitement and calories I expected. We couldn’t navigate the grid system, we were shocked by just how packed the streets of Manhattan were and we really needed to sit down.
Looking back, it was obviously jet lag, immense tiredness, a stress comedown (our flight there was cancelled and we did a mad dash to a different airport and I forgot to pack to knickers) more than New York itself. Fast forward 24 hours later and we both looked like heart eye emojis, full of happiness, watching the sunset on the Brooklyn Bridge.
I definitely think the place would horrify people who don’t like the hustle bustle of big cities, and it is pretty intimidating the first time you step outside and try and navigate your way around, but as we’re used to London, we managed to get used to this quite fast. It’s actually smaller than London, with a much more simple subway system IMO, but it was more intense than I thought.
Overall we flippin loved New York. We loved it so much. It was so much better than I imagined after we got past the grid map confusion, the subway confusion and the dizzying jet lag. After day one, we spent the entire week talking about the nearest possible date we could return.
There’s a vibe about NYC that you just can’t find anywhere else, and believe me, I hate myself for saying that, buts it’s so true. It’s got everything to the point that you find things you never you wanted. We didn’t want to spend time inside, we didn’t want to waste time sleeping, we just wanted to be in the middle of everything. It’s like you pick up this new kind of energy that sucks you into NYC culture and makes sure you don’t want to leave. From the food, to the 24 hour service, to the shopping and the architecture, it’s like falling down a rabbit hole into a new life.
From strolling through Brooklyn eating bagels, to sitting outside in the sun drinking and watching the world go by, we fell hook, line and sinker for everything- even the people.
And then there’s the super sad feeling when you have to leave. Really, super sad.
I want to go back as many times as possible and although we ended up loving it for reasons we didn’t expect, I think you could go back and have completely different experiences every time. It’s going to be top of my travel list forever.