After I left school, I took a year out. I’d love to tell you that I spent it building shacks in Africa or teaching English to kids in some other exciting part of the world, but honestly, I spent most of it in an office. I learned some valuable things though, such as how to stretch an hour’s worth of work over a whole day (hint: spend a lot of time on the internet) and that a career in admin is definitely not for me. In truth, the year was pretty bleak. I spent my days in a job I hated, and my evenings doing another A-level to ensure that I’d actually get into uni when the year came to a close. I needed something to look forward to, so I roped two friends into organising a trip to the States over the summer.
We spent a week in Boston, a week in New York and a week in Washington DC. Boston was amazing, New York was just okay and DC was nice, but by that point we were seriously running out of cash and ate McDonalds for almost every meal. When I came back, people were like ‘New York! Was it INCREDIBLE?’ and I’d be like ‘Um. It was okay?’ which was the truth. I didn’t love New York. I saw the sights but I don’t remember much else, apart from nearly breaking a rib on the 4th July trying to watch the fireworks from the street amongst a huge crowd.
You’re probably wondering why I wanted to go back, but the truth is that I felt like I didn’t give New York a chance. These days, it’s easy to find places off the beaten track to go – last time I went to Times Square MORE THAN ONCE. I know, I can’t really believe it either. I’m glad I went back though. The internet gave us some great recommendations for restaurants and things to do, and our friend Cat came too, who lives in Virginia and goes to NYC for a week every year. It meant that we avoided Times Square and most of the tourist traps. We didn’t even do the Statue of Liberty (we'd seen it before) but we did eat at some incredible places, see a couple of fantastic shows and I came home feeling like I'd seen New York, not just that I'd hung out with a bunch of other tourists. This time, I loved New York, and this time I wanted to go back, instead of feeling like I should.
New York is expensive, and loud, and the people aren't the friendliest, but if you're used to London, then it won't seem too dissimilar. And actually, on average, London is way more expensive when it comes to eating out, although New York wins on hotel prices. We stayed in The Pod, which was basically a trendy hostel - no frills, tiny rooms, but super central.
I'm not a big museum girl, but I'm glad I let my friends persuade me to see MOMA. Excellent gift shop. Also, they had my favourite Van Gogh painting, which wasn't so bad either. We got to see a show in Carnegie Hall, which I never expected to get to see, and went to see Daniel Kitson in Brooklyn (well, it's impossible to get tickets in London). And we ate a lot of food.
The end of November is the perfect time to visit. It was cold, but not TOO cold, and it was just starting to look all Christmassy. We were there in time to see the unveiling of some of the Christmas windows (like Macy's) although we did just miss the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Plaza.
You were pretty awesome, New York. I'll be back soon!