So imagine getting into a shuttle bus at 9.15am knowing that you have to travel at least an hour to get to your hotel. Once at your hotel you have to make sure all is good with the booking, dump your bags, change as fast as you can – making sure your smelly self is no longer smelly and then rush to your first tour by 11.45am. This… is what the start of our adventure in New York City began with!
Not the smoothest sailing when it came to the flights, checking into our accommodation and being relaxed on this adventure we were calling our honeymoon. To get straight to the point; we get into our shuttle at the airport where the driver says we will be the first stop. ‘Sweet’ we thought! We will have plenty of time to check into the hotel and freshen up before walking 20 minutes (minimum) to our two hour Central Park Movie tour. Oh boy oh boy were we wrong. The driver did not drop us first, instead we were second. Now being second doesn’t sound to bad but once you see the traffic in NYC you will understand how this was a problem. Cars, trucks, vans, taxis… almost any vehicle you can imagine were beeping at one another, cutting each other off and worse almost running over people. I must admit, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I am sure Nath was thinking and feeling the exact same and the way I can tell is by the blunt comments he makes to those that are causing him frustration – ha!
Anywho, finally getting to the hotel I was like screw it, the tip I was going to give this driver was no longer deserved. Beginning to run at this point we turned up to the hotel and ugh, another hault. There is an issue with our booking because of our change of flight/arrival times – even though Flight Centre was meant to have informed the hotel of the changes (I swear you can’t rely on anyone at times). Luckily the lady serving us could see how tired, stressed, probably smelly and rushed we were. She was amazing and sorted it all out and was determined to make sure we didn’t miss our first tour. Upgrading us to a king suite we sprinted upstairs, dumped our gears, sprayed way to much rexona and headed for the streets.
Hidden under sunglasses and a hat I tried to keep up with Nath as we saw the first sights of Manhatten as we ran as fast as we could. As mentioned above we had 20 minutes to try and find where we were meant to be in a place we had only been for about 20 minutes so far! At this point I didn’t have time to be overwhelmed, I just knew I had to run and not get killed by the madness of the traffic surrounding us.
Spotting the man with the blue umbrella we made it – BANG on time. Let’s just say I was so relieved and was thankful that I could finally start this honeymoon adventure! Gary, was the name of our tour guide and we were delighted that he was friendly, super American and really talkative. As we waited for others to join the group he made conversation with us in regards to where we were from, the flight, what it’s like in New York and more.
The tour began and we were starting to feel more relaxed. The tour involved walking throughout Central Park whilst stopping at various points a long the way for Gary to share with us facts about the park and especially in relation to a range of movies. So many movies were shot in Central Park but also as we found out many movies that include Central Park did not actually film in the park itself. With our brains exploding with information I can’t exactly remember it all. What I loved was seeing how beautiful the park was and how calm/relaxing the environment was even though we were in the heart of the city. What I also forgot to mention it was like almost if not definitely 30 degrees in temperature by now!! We witnessed buskers, a couple getting married and paddle boats. We of course took so many photos so here’s some of the many below…
All those on the tour were lovely – no New Zealanders though! We found it was so common for many tourists to be Americans. Just Americans that had never been to New York. Seemed so strange to us in ways especially with the accents being so similar and all.
As we headed back to our hotel I was now feeling the exhausted feeling again and soon became incredibly overwhelmed and somewhat emotional as we walked back through the streets. I sound pathetic in a way I know but it was just so intense with the traffic; people were so close to being run over, there were no buttons for pedestrian crossings at lights so you just had to make sure you watched the sign (No bleeping noise either!). The thoughts of the bombing issues still filled my head a little and the culture shock was definitely there. All I kept telling myself was that I was ok and it was just seeming worse because I was so tired and it was causing the emotional side of me to appear.
What did make the situation better though was stopping for a fresh, giant, salted pretzel from a stand on the side of the road. This is one way I have always viewed NY so I knew I had to try one and also it had been recommended by an American friend of mine. It was delicious, only $5 and the texture was soft and the taste salty! If you go to NY, get one.
As we made it back to the hotel I was so exhausted by this point but we didn’t have long before our liberty cruise at 4.30pm. Now I am not one for sleeping in the day, in fact if I do it’s extremely unusual. As I lay on the bed I began to hear Nath’s voice very faint and before long I was waking to his voice saying “Babe, we need to go soon.” Yep, I had fallen asleep… see below for proof!
Quickly getting myself together it was again a mad dash to the port. Now this was a faster run then earlier, this run gave me the stitch fast. Following Nath’s lead I tried to keep up and thankfully we made it to the cruise with only minutes to spare. As we entered the cruise Nath lapped up the opportunity to get food – his goal for the trip, eat as much as possible! All those who know Nath well will be aware that this is extremely unusual as salads and protein shakes are his thing. Trying our first hot dog and oreo ice cream we climbed the stairs to the top balcony and took a seat letting the wind blow through our hair. On board was a tour guide who was extremely American, had a sarcastic personality and was very intense in ways. Picture man in his mid 40’s with old fashioned glasses, his polo shirt tucked into his pants and a receding hair line.
As we sailed along the sea we had clear blue skies, the temperature was still 30 degrees and we saw and heard about all the buildings and areas of Manhatten and New Jersey we were passing by. The cruise was an hour long and was definitely worthwhile. It was nice to see the sights this way and seeing the Statue of Liberty was a great experience.
Returning to land we thought we would casually take the time to begin exploring. This time with no pressure and definitely no more running! Right by the port was an amazing water feature, a beautiful looking restaurant that was filled with people and a dog playground. Yes, that’s right. A dog playground that fully fenced where owners take their dogs in and they can run around freely. They can hang out with their fellow doggy friends, play with balls and even take a bath in the pool that is available to them. Nath and I thought this was a fantastic idea and immediately thought NZ should follow New York’s lead with this.
Continuing our adventure – trust me this day was a big one! We headed back into the main city part and found Gotham West Market, a food market Nath had read up about and wanted to try out. We love places like this as it’s pretty much a fancy food court with such a variety of foods to choose from. I’m a big Asian food fan and noodles or nice dishes are always a go to for me. Ramen noodles with duck and boiled egg was my choice here and it was delicious. What I began to love about Americans at this point was their ability to somehow always be happy. For example – the man who greeted me said, “Hello there, how are you today?” and in response I told him I was good and asked him how he was. This is when he responded with, “I am amazing, thank you!” (in a really loud, happy voice). I mean come on… I don’t think I have ever heard a New Zealander respond with such confidence that they are amazing! It was truly brilliant to say the least.
After dinner we had decided we wanted to check out Times Square. This place is the way I have always viewed NY and currently I hadn’t been wowed by this massive place quite yet. As we wanted to wait until dark we stopped for an ice cream cookie sandwich and found an amazing dance school along the way. For you dancing friends out there I loved this wee experience! Walking into the dance school you stopped at the shop but whilst in the shop (full of amazing dance gear) you could see through the doors at a ballet class currently happening. It was exactly how I have seen it on the movies. A real piano was being played and danced to and there were stairs heading up to other levels of the school and people coming and going. The two males (who would have been early 20’s) in the shop were laughing and singing away to the music that was on the speaker and it was just a cool vibe. I was stoked to come away with a top for keep sake.
It was now time, the one part of this journey that I had been waiting for. As we went a little further down the street we heard the mass noise of traffic, people talking and others yelling. Then it hit us; lights everywhere but not from street lights instead massive and I mean the whole width of a building in size live billboards. We were in Times Square, it was a Thursday night and thousands filled the street, shops and cars. I was left speechless and pretty overwhelmed but this time in such a – wow I can’t believe I am witnessing this kind of way. As we soaked the atmosphere up I spotted Forever 21, the clothing store and told Nath that we must go in. Heading inside and might I just had it was like 8pm at night by this stage, the store was buzzing with people. It was then that we realised the shop had about 4 levels and each one labelled different kinds of clothing/accessories and gender types.
I will be honest I lapped this up. I had money to spend and things to buy and nothing was going to stop me. I can’t even remember how long we spent in the store but we came out with four things for me and one for Nath – finding cheap but good shops for men is a lot more challenging then looking for woman. As we paid the lady shared with us that the shop closed at 2am, yes our jaws dropped and that’s when we knew we were in NYC.
Before leaving Times Square we climbed the stadium seating stand and took some photos amongst the many people doing the same thing. Something that you may not know is that there is a little café right in the middle of Times Square including little tables and chairs – this is always busy. Within the thousands of people there are also people dressed up; Elsa, Ana, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Spider Man, Topless American woman, Elmo are just a few of the many characters that you can get a photo with. Be prepared though! They pressure you into a photo (we were ok as I wanted just one anyway) but once the photo is taken they surround you.. and I don’t mean a nice distance they literally crowd around you and ask or more like demand money from you for having a photo with them. So as day one comes to an end I will leave these photos with you… I need my bed.