New York State of Mind

I’ve no idea why this post has taken me quite this long to write but I’m finally sitting down to write about my “recent” – over 4 months ago now – trip to New York. Despite it taking me so long to write, it is most definitely my longest post yet so grab yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine and settle in. I’ve also put keywords and places in bold so if anyone only wants to read about certain things they can scroll through and it should make them slightly easier to find.

As my flight was leaving on the Tuesday morning from Manchester, I took a train down on the Monday evening and after many failed attempts to find the entrance to the hotel I checked in and had a restless night’s sleep. I woke up earlyish on the Tuesday and after a fairly large breakfast to fill myself up I headed back to the airport. Check in included a number of unexpected questions including where I group and the head teacher of my primary school but I wasn’t going to argue. It was then on to security where the queue was insane, every time I thought I was getting closer to actually being near the machines there was another unexpected corner. Fortunately I’d given myself plenty of time and was able to grab some water before heading to the gate. I boarded the plane and found that I’d lucked into had extra legroom and after sitting for 10 minutes it became apparent that the seat next to me was empty – winner. The flight didn’t pass too slowly after I’d eaten, watched the Lego Batman Movie and umpteen episodes of Riverdale, napped a little and eaten every snack the stewardesses had thrown at us. Soon enough we were landing in JFK where I was mentally preparing myself for customs but was pleasantly surprised when it was dead and it took minutes for them to check my passport and ESTA and I was through to the other side. I made my way to the airtrain and after a little confusion about which side I needed to be on, I was on the subway on my way into Manhattan. I made it to Fulton Street which is the nearest station to where Cat works but after making it to street level I realised I had no idea how to get to her work so ducked into the nearest Starbucks for a sandwich and a drink. Cat came to meet me as soon as she could get a break and we walked to her work where she took my suitcase so I could start my solo adventure without having to lug and extra 13kg around with me. As she works on Broadway I decided to venture down to Battery Park where I wandered around a little before deciding to take the Staten Island Ferry to get a better view of the Statue of Liberty and to try and cool down as I was already feeling the oppressive humidity. I joined the huge crowd of people waiting for the ferry and made my way to the outdoor seating. Once at the other side I simply got off and joined the queue to return to Manhattan and managed to get a seat outside on the top deck where I was treated to spectacular views of the statue and the Manhattan skyline.

Once back on land I walked towards a bar near Cat’s work where she was going to meet me once she’d finished. I started drinking while wondering if I was making the best or worst decision as I was already struggling to keep myself awake.

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Once Cat had finished she and one of her friends came to meet me and we continued drinking – by this point I’m sure the alcohol was the only thing keeping me from falling asleep in the middle of the bar. We decided to call into Shake Shack in Fulton station on our way back to her flat – the chips are so goddamn good – before taking the train to Brooklyn. I think I managed to stay awake till about 10.30 before passing out only to wake up at 5.30 – not ideal.

On leaving the flat we discovered that it was chucking it down and after speed walking to a café on Cat’s street we took shelter while I had a smoothie and Cat had a coffee and waited for the rain to pass.

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Thankfully it didn’t take long and soon enough we were on the train making our way back into Manhattan. I left Cat at work before heading towards Battery Park where I was taking the ferry to Governors Island. There were a few people milling about waiting for the ticket sales to open and at about quarter to 10 I bought my ticket and joined the growing queue waiting for the ferry. Although it was a weekday morning the boat was still pretty busy with large groups of children on trips but luckily I got a decent space on the upper deck so managed to get some good photos on the very short boat trip across to the island. Once the ferry docked, one group of children took off and I had overheard them discussing renting a bike and as I wasn’t sure how many bikes were available I picked up speed and quickly followed the signs to the other side of the island. As I turned the corner I realised there had been no need at all for me to walk at anything faster than a crawl as they had loads of bikes but I joined the small queue and quickly was riding away on a little blue bike with a basket on the front. I had forgotten how much I love bike riding and compared to the sweltering heat of Manhattan cycling with the wind in my hair was absolutely joyous. Governors Island is only open during the summer so on weekdays between 10-12 they offer an hour free bike hire with a charge of $15 for each subsequent hour. After stopping for 10 minutes to eat the sandwich that had begun leaking into my bag I decided to stretch into the 2nd hour and definitely didn’t regret it – those 2 hours cycling around the island which occasional stops to look at the view and take a few photos were among my favourite of the entire trip.

After handing my bike in I began walking back to the ferry but was distracted by alcoholic slushes so decided to chill out in the garden area set up in an iron rocking chair – beyond dreamy.

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Once back in Manhattan I walked back through Battery Park towards the Liberty/Ellis Island to hop on another boat. The boat stops at Liberty Island first so I joined most of the passengers and disembarked only to realise later that I probably should have done them in reverse – there’s a lot more to see on Ellis Island but exhaustion kicked in halfway through.

I walked the circuit around the island, snapped a few photos of the Statue of Liberty while avoiding trying to walk through a photo from one of the hundreds of other tourists before heading to gift shop. I got myself a souvenir coin – crushed pennies/souvenir coins are one of my true joys in life – and a shot glass to add to mine and Roisin’s vast collection and bought my mam a Christmas tree decoration. I then bought a fresh lemonade in a Liberty cup – which I kept until the day I left when I decided to just throw it in the bin – before heading back to the dock to get back on the boat. I was looking forward to fully appreciating my second venture to Ellis Island – on my trip with the school I walked quickly through everything before spending most of the afternoon in the cafe – but after 10 minutes I ventured into the bathroom where I realised I had managed to burn my face and arms – I would later discover these weren’t the worst burns I got that day – and I was feeling more exhausted with every step.

I tried to listen to everything the audio guide offered but at about stage 12 I had to give up and just walk through the rest of the exhibits taking in very little of the information on offer – I suppose it’s an excuse to go back again, right? I walked around the Island taking in more of the views – and sea breeze – before heading back to Manhattan. I decided to wait for Cat to finish work in Battery Park so I found a spot on the grass and tried not to fall asleep.

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It was on lying on the grass that I realised I had managed to burn not only the top of my thighs but also my calves – not somewhere I even thought about burning – which was becoming increasingly irritated by the grass. Luckily it wasn’t long before Cat arrived with her friend Julie and we headed back to the same bar from the previous evening – Cat gets a lot of free drinks there so it was a fair shout – where I began to realise quite how bad my burn was as even the air con wasn’t helping to soothe it. We had a few drinks – including free shots of tequila – and I had some food and we were planning on heading back to the flat before I realised it was turning into a really good sunset. Cat knew exactly where we should go and we took off speed walking to Pier A where I got some glorious photos of sun setting behind high rise buildings.

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We started to make our way to a subway station but as Cat was hungry we headed uptown to near where Leticia, Cat’s friend, lives for some tacos that Cat says are the only decent ones in the city. While waiting for the train the heat underground began to really bother my legs and I started to feel a little faint but luckily it arrived quickly afterwards and most of them have air con. While waiting for their tacos Cat decided that going back underground may be an error so booked a car for our return to Brooklyn. After a few minor incidents with cars not turning up we were on our way over the bridge back to Cat’s air conditioned flat where I covered myself in after sun before falling asleep.

On the Thursday I had tickets for a recording of The View – a daytime chat show not dissimilar to Loose Women – uptown close to Central Park. Cat and I went for coffee and smoothies again before taking the subway which I stayed on for a few extra stops to get as close to where I needed to be. I decided to waste a little time with a walk around – a very small section of – Central Park and trying to figure out exactly where I had to be.

As the time neared closer to when I had to be at ABC studios I started walking down – what I thought was – the correct street. After walking for near enough 15 minutes and seemingly getting further from where I needed to be I decided to check the info I had which was when I realised I was two streets off. I gave myself a minute to cool down and sped walked back towards Central Park. Once on the correct street I found the studios without a hitch and joined the queue. We were soon ushered into a large room where we were offered juice before finally making our way to the seats.

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Unfortunately one of the major selling points for The View for me was Whoopi Goldberg who ended up not being a part of the show I watched. It was interesting to see the show and watch the interview with Laverne Cox but in the end I spent 2½ hours to watch a ½ hour show so I don’t think it was worth it. Once the show ended I walked back out to Central Park before venturing further for some food. Cat recommended Brooklyn Diner and as it wasn’t too far I went straight there. The place wasn’t too busy and I was seated straight away. I ordered a BBQ chicken sandwich which wasn’t great – the chicken tasted like it had been reheated in a microwave. After consulting google maps I realised I wasn’t too far from Times Square so walked there. I had been previously when I visited New York with the school but had seen it at night after a meal at Hard Rock Café which was definitely more impressive.

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I then walked back to Central Park so I could find a patch of grass and lie down for a while before taking a subway back to Fulton where I met Cat after work. Once back in Brooklyn we wandered around her neighbourhood before stocking up on snacks and watching a very young Hugh Jackman in Someone Like You.

As soon as Cat’s alarm went off on Friday I knew that I would not be taking the subway to Manhattan with her. The jet lag had finally set in so I decided to have a lazy morning in the hopes that I wouldn’t be quit as tired for the rest of my trip. I napped, – twice – finished watching Riverdale and got myself dressed. At about 1 the hunger set in so I found a decent diner in Brooklyn – Mega Bites Diner – and started walking. I had excellent chicken and waffles with a smoothie

before walking towards the Brooklyn Museum. I had seen one of the installations in an episode of Master of None and was keen to see it in real life.

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On arriving in the museum I also realised there was a Georgia O’Keefe exhibit so was quickly very excited for a few hours of female strong art. As I had arrived late in the afternoon I didn’t have much time so I went straight to the top floor with the intention of taking in as much as possible before I ran out of time. The Georgia O’Keefe exhibit was not what I was expecting and was less pieces of her art and more about the artist – her clothes, interviews with her and old photos taken of her at her home – which was very interesting to see.

I then made my way down to The Dinner Party  by Judy Chicago – the exhibit featured in Master of None – which is a triangular table set for thirty nine historical female figures with a further thousand names written across the tiles on the floor.

I then headed to We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965 – 85 which had some incredible and very poignant pieces. I then realised I was almost out of time so walked towards the gift shop where I ended up spending nearly the rest of my daily budget on gifts – mostly for myself. It was wearing the end of Cat’s work day so I took the subway into a very gloomy Manhattan where I wandered towards the One World Centre

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before meeting Cat and her work friends for some drinks. After a few glasses of wine we took the subway back to Manhattan but as we reached the Brooklyn Bridge subway stop I convinced Cat to get off so we could walk across it and I could get snaps of Manhattan in the dark and mist.

Unfortunately we missed the subway stop on the other side and ended up walking most of the way back to her flat where Cat and I watched the Green Wing before heading to bed.

We woke up on the Saturday morning and as the weather forecast looked fairly optimistic we decided to walk for brunch in Brooklyn before heading to Coney Island for the Mermaid Parade. We walked past some of the gorgeous old brownstones on our way to Walters in Fort Greene where I had more glorious chicken and waffles followed by a flourless chocolate cake to share – not the best.

It was as we ordered dessert that suddenly the heavens opened and didn’t stop so we realised we needed to change our plans for the day. Cat decided to order a car and even running from the restaurant to the car we were soaked.

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We headed back to her apartment with the plan that we would spend the day watching Green Wing, running out for snacks and when the rain took a break. The rain ended up taking a much longer break than expected leaving us feeling like we had wasted the day so we quickly got ourselves sorted and made our way to Coney Island. Just as I should have expected it started to rain again just as the train pulled into Coney Island. Luckily it meant that it cleared quite quickly so I could force Cat straight onto the ferris wheel.

I then went to Zoltar for my fortune – a la Tom Hanks in Big – before we went to IHOP where I had birthday cake pancakes which were good but I definitely regret not going to Nathan’s for an infamous hot dog. We then walked along the pier, I bought some souvenirs before we took the subway back to Brooklyn.

Once there we downed a few bottles of hard lemonade before meeting Cat’s friends, Julie and VyAn, in Williamsburg for drinks. Unfortunately the places we went to were either way too loud or way too quiet so we called it a night fairly quickly.

On Sunday we had reservations for bottomless brunch as Julie’s friend had had to leave and she was able to change the reservation from 2 to 4. We slowly made our way to Randolph – walking through more Brooklyn neighbourhoods on the way – where we met Julie and VyAn and headed inside. I immediately noticed one table who taken the ‘bottomless’ aspect of bottomless brunch too far and one of them had ended up spewing all over the table. We started with jugs of bloody mary, summer punch and mimosas – treat yo self – so we could decide which we’d like to drink. I had a chicken sandwich with top-notch waffle fries washed down with 2/3 of a jug of mimosa.When we were eventually cut off as our time limit ended we finished our glasses and asked for the bill. Julie then asked if we could take the leftover summer punch home but were told they had no cups so if we brought cups next time we could. It was then that Cat and Julie decided to head out to find some cups. When they returned with water bottles they had emptied on the street Julie realised they had tried to charge her twice.

When they came back with the correct bill they also brought another jug of summer punch meaning we were able to leave with full bottles of cocktails – what a dream brunch! We then made our way to VyAn’s rooftop where we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening drinking prosecco and summer punch, eating ice cream, watching the sunset over Manhattan and eating pizza – absolutely dreamy Sunday.

After the sun had set Cat and I made our way back to her flat where he watched more Green Wing before going to bed.

One of the things I had wanted to do while in New York was to buy a few books I had struggled to find at home. Cat recommended I try Strand books near Union Square Park so I decided to head uptown for the day. I spent hours wandering around looking at books, stickers – I bloody love stickers – art, t-shirts, before finally buying Phoebe Robinson ‘You Can’t Touch My Hair’ and a book of poems by Mary Oliver. I then started wandering around and found myself at the New York Public Library where I spent most of the time looking for where they had filmed parts of The Day After Tomorrow.

I then quickly wandered through Grand Central Terminal before making my way to Rockefeller so I could buy some gifts in the NBC shop. I ended up spending ages looking at everything before just buying a Jimmy Fallon bottle for myself. I decided to head to the restaurant at the Rockefeller for lunch which ended up being an error as it was very hot so I paid an extortionate amount for pasta that I didn’t eat.

I then wandered through the concourse where I finally did buy gifts for my family before taking a subway to Fifth Ave to buy an SD card reader for my iPad that actually worked unlike the cheap one I had bought before my trip. I made my way back to Battery Park where I had planned to stay until Cat finished work. However the weather had different plans. I had been lying on the grass for about 5 minutes when I noticed black clouds rolling in from the river and realised I needed to find somewhere inside to hide for at least an hour. I headed to a café next to Cat’s work and was nearly there when the heavens opened. I made it inside without getting completely drenched where I had a drink and a cookie, read the book I had just bought and waited for Cat. Not long after arriving back at her flat the rain finally stopped and we were treated to this gorgeous sunset.

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For the final time I woke up on the Tuesday and went with Cat to work where she took my suitcase to her office while I went to spend the rest of my money on a bus tour. Unfortunately the one I picked ended up not being the best and I couldn’t get the headphones to work until my last ‘hop on’. I spent the day on the bus taking in the parts of Manhattan I hadn’t previously seen while enjoying the breeze from sitting upstairs.

At about 2 I made my way back to Cat’s office to collect my case and say goodbye before taking the train to the airport. I made it through security without a hitch – didn’t even have to take any electricals or liquids out of my bag – before grabbing something to eat and making my way to the plane.

My time in New York was amazing and it was excellent to finally catch up with Cat who I hadn’t seen for over 3 years. There are still so many other places I want to visit and I will definitely be returning as soon as possible.

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