I hesitate to use the word epic since it so rarely is used anymore to describe things that are actually epic by definition, but I’d say a 17 day road trip across 4 American states and 5 major cities ticks all the boxes for epic in my own life, so here we are.
Several weeks ago, Jon and I flew into the hell hole that is JFK International Airport on Wednesday evening, and the heat that greeted us as we walked out of the terminal was like a breath of new life into my cold, damp lungs. We ubered into the city (can we use Uber as a verb yet?) and eventually found our hotel, the trying-very-hard-to-be-trendy W Hotel on Lexington. It was very nice, but the minibar had a Snickers that cost a ridiculous $12 USD so we steered very very clear of that nonsense. The bathroom was pretty much as big as our flat here though, so all is forgiven.
Three days isn’t really that long, and our trip mostly consisted of eating (shortlist of what was eaten: bagels, ice cream, very bad Italian food, very good tacos) and revelling in time spent with one of my best and oldest friends who now lives in the city and has a fancy job at Christie’s, meaning he’s smack in the middle of Rockefeller Center every day, watching them film The Today Show.
There he is! There we are!
I’ve been to NYC a few times, but Jon hadn’t been since he was a little kid, when his family lived in Connecticut and his dad worked in the heart of Manhattan, commuting in every day and leaving the little Norris fam out in the suburbs. Wandering around with Jon and his fresh eyes was particularly fun, especially as he acclimated his very British self to the streets (and people) of New York. It was like dipping a toe into America before heading straight to the deep end further on in our trip – I always think that NYC is much more European than American in its sensibilities, so it’s a good middle ground on the spectrum.
There wasn’t much on our bucket list really – we are both big fans of wandering and picking a thing or two to do per day, filling in the rest of the itinerary around that, all very low-key. We only had one full day in the city anyway, but our list included a walk down to Battery Park to take a look at the tip of the island, waving to the Statue of Liberty from afar.
There she is – way out yonder.
I also really wanted to take a moment at the memorial to the World Trade Center and 9/11. It was sobering, and much more emotional poignant than I could have possibly expected. I think it’s a fantastic space and they’ve done such a good job with it as a place of remembrance. I’m very certain I couldn’t make it through a visit inside though – outside was more than enough.
Walking and eating took up most of our time. It was very very hot and you may be surprised to hear that Jon and I aren’t really used to that sort of thing, living in England as we do. It was amazing just to be outdoors with no need at all for a secret hidden jacket in my bag, but also it was very sweaty and I immediately got sunburned. Worth it.
New York, your parks are too beautiful.
Bagels were a big draw for both of us. We went to the same place around the corner of our hotel both mornings – a little place called Fresh & Co. It’s a chain in NYC with a dozen or so locations, and I highly recommend it. They have lots of healthy options, including gluten-free bagels and turkey bacon/sausage, but they also do all the regular stuff, and their salads look amazing too. The staff was also delightful.
Jon ate four bagels over the course of two mornings. He is dedicated to carb loading.
We just had to walk through the Beaux-Arts beauty that is Grand Central Terminal. We were walking by and you can just stroll right on it, so it seemed like a good thing to do.
Another must visit was the American Museum of Natural History. After a lazy lunch in Central Park (where Jon and his bottomless pit of a stomach ate an entire tray of street meat and rice while I had a cherry ice cream sundae), it was off for a few hours in one of my favorite museums in the world. What a place.
It seems like a building that’s locked in time. I can very easily imagine ol’ Teddy Roosevelt wandering around its halls.
And there are dinosaurs!
On Friday morning, slightly worse for wear from a rowdy dinner the night before in the Meatpacking District with a couple of friends, Jon and I had just enough time to down another bagel and coffee breakfast before taking a walk over to Rockefeller Plaza to poke around and take in the hustle and bustle.
I’ve never seen a building with as many American flags – Saks Fifth Avenue is a pretty patriotic place, apparently.
And then it was back to the airport for our flight to New Orleans. Three days (really two) could never be enough in that beautiful city, but it was a great way to whet the appetite for the rest of our stay in the US. I can’t wait to go back.
Three days in New York City – A very loose itinerary
(in case you’re looking for a little inspiration)
Check in at the W Hotel
Blockheads Burritos for burritos and margaritas
Fresh & Co for coffee and bagels and then…the walking begins
Washington Square Park
9/11 Memorial and Museum
Battery Park (then go all the way back up north – could walk along the Highline if you give yourself time)
American Museum of Natural History (leave a few hours for this – also it’s pay as you wish, but only if you talk to someone in person at the till)
Hotel to freshen up, hotel bar for a drink
Dinner at an Italian restaurant that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone because it was both expensive and not good. I think it was called Santina? Then more drinks at a German beer garden nearby.
Fresh & Co for more coffee and bagels
Walking – this time to Rockefeller Plaza
Hotel check out and back to JFK