New York City

My New York review -For personal reasons, back in August, we decided that we didn’t want to be at home for Christmas 2015 and as we were planning to try for a baby in the very near future, we thought we’d cease the opportunity to go away for Christmas as it may be our last chance for a while. So with some savings in the bank, we decided to have an almighty blowout and go to New York for 10 days over Christmas, coming back just before New Year.

We booked the entire thing through Expedia,  having carefully watched the hotel prices not move much for a while we decided to go for it. The hotel and flights for 10 days flying Aer Lingus Newcastle – Dublin – New York cost just over £2000 for the both of us.

There weren’t any direct flights from Newcastle at that time of year, Emirates were running a summer one but sadly wasn’t available in winter. The Aer Lingus/Dublin connection ended up working really well for immigration purposes as they have an entire team of homeland security there, which means when you land at JFK you are classed as a domestic flight so no massive queues when you land – massive bonus! When I last flew to NYC from Edinburgh the security queue was 2 hours long! So this was great, especially as  by the time our holiday came around, I was actually three months pregnant! So my bladder control wasn’t all there for a massive queue! I didn’t find the customer service and quality of Aer Lingus to be up there with KLM (by far my favourite airline) or British Airways (Emirates doesn’t make my faves as the Newcastle to Dubai flight is very similar to a Ryanair flight to Magaluf in my opinion, just awful experience from start to finish for me and spoiled my opinion of Emirates from other routes such as Dubai to Bangkok) but at the price you get what you pay for!

We picked a cab up at the airport to take us to our hotel in Manhattan, there had been an accident so the roads were gridlocked, thankfully our driver knew loads of shortcuts, so it didn’t take as long as it could have! JFK is actually in Queens, so the drive into Manhattan can be long – but it’s all good to see. You can also take the sky train and subway, which I have done before but to be honest, there were some quite terrifying characters on the train, so I was quite happy we hadn’t bothered with that this time around!

We opted for the Park Central Hotel for its location really. Just a short walk away from Central Park (as the name suggests!), Times Square, Broadway and Rockerfella Center, it was ideal. We weren’t looking for a massively swanky hotel (although this had a lovely bar area) as we didn’t intend on being in the room too much, so this was a great price for a great location. Down-side of the hotel was that only one lift worked and there were about 25 floors of rooms, so as you can imagine – the queues got quite big from time to time and being pregnant and in the peak of morning sickness (which due to the time difference was afternoon sickness) this wasn’t great!

So this would end up being quite a big blog posts if I took you through step-by-step everything we ate and saw everyday, so here is a list of recommendations.

  1. Fluffy’s for breakfast – didn’t break the bank and was delicious, small seating area or get to go – try a cannoli. Loved this being opposite our hotel.
  2. Churrascaria Plataforma Brazilian BBQ – we went here for Christmas lunch, it was heaving, the meat is so tender and lovely – my OH went in a food coma as he ate so much!
  3. Katz Deli – went here for my second time for a Reuben. Not as good the second time around but I think this was my three month pregnancy taste buds!
  4. One world observatory – they have done an amazing job on this, I had massive reservations on visiting, but they have done a fantastic job and the staff are fantastically helpful. The videos of how much doing a good job meant to the construction staff was lovely, I’m usually very cynical of things like that but it was heartfelt. The reveal of the view when you first get up there is tremendous.
  5. Century 21 – my OH never goes clothes shopping, my OH became a shopaholic thanks to this shop. Lots of designer bargains to be had if you compare prices to UK. Obviously, US brands such as Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Michael Kors are a lot cheaper anyway, but at Century 21 there were additional discounts added so even cheaper. They had Tom Ford and Chanel sunglasses- if you don’t mind not having a box the prices are massively different. As I was pregnant, I didn;t quite feel like going shopping so I picked up a few bras and underwear for my changing shape and a pair of Paul Smith sunglasses. OH bought too much to mention, he came back with about four coats that he had to wear on the plane!
  6. Central Park – Lovely walking around the park, especially on Christmas day. There is an ice rink, which is very touristy, but lots to see and do all over the park. It;s a marvellous contrast being in this big open green area with all of the skyscrapers surrounding.
  7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art – If you have a spare day, it is easy to get lost in this place. It has the most amazing exhibitions and in my opinion, MOMA doesn’t touch it, this is THE art museum. Finally got to see my favourite painting, Madame Cezanne by Paul Cezanne. The fashion wing and the Egyptian art are also stand out areas for me.
  8.  The curious incident of the dog in the night – if you get to see one Broadway play, make it this one. The staging and use of space is absolutely brilliant. Loved it from start to finish as did my OH who had not read the book, so had no expectations at all. If you don’t mind queuing for a bargain, check TKT booths to see what is on offer that day. It’s a great scheme ran by Theatre Development Fund.
  9. NFL – if you’re going to New York with a boy, chances are they will want to visit some kind of sporting event. Basketball, baseball and football are the most popular. Out of the three, I’d recommend the NFL experience. We went to see New York Giants v Carolina Panthers. It is in New Jersey, so you have various transport options – I don’t recommend getting the bus from ocean terminal, there are zero signs to help you get to the right bus and the man who sold the tickets to us was less than helpful actually downright rude (clearly hated tourists) and the queue for the buses after is a couple of hours! The parties in the car park are quite interesting to watch beforehand! But if I was going again, I’d probably get the train!
  10. Highline – it’s great to walk around on a night, but it does close so make sure you’ve got time to have a wander. Also no toilets so have a wee before you get up there!

Things that I wouldn’t recommend you do is a very small list:

  1. Don’t go on the designated ferry to statue of liberty and Ellis Island… it takes too long to queue for the ferries.. just take the Staten Island Ferry, you get to see as much as you need to and it is free (I’ve done it both ways, definitely prefer this one)
  2. Don’t feel the need to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge if you have a fear of bridges like me, it’s not worth it! People like to jog it and don’t like it if you get in their way!