Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Travel | New York, New York

Quite coincidentally, this year we both took trips to America with our families. Lola jetted off to New York for a week and had an overnight stay in Philadelphia for her cousin's graduation in May. Whilst, Fikki took a trip to New York, Philadelphia and Washington for her dad's birthday in September. As we had quite different experiences on our trip, we thought it would be best to combine them for our travel review. First up the Big Apple - Although Lola had been to New York as a child, her memories of it are quite absent so we have written this post as first time travellers. This is not a definite list of things to do in New York but if you are there for more than a week, these are a few things we recommend doing as a tourist.

Stay in...
an Airbnb apartment. This is something that we both now do by default when we travel! Airbnb apartments work especially well when travelling with family, as we both did, and do not want to eat out every night. We both decided to get apartments in Brooklyn. Slightly more affordable than Manhattan options and gives you that feeling of being a "real" New Yorker. We were both only a subway trip away from all the sights of Manhattan but still able to have that upcoming Brooklyn experience. Lola stayed in Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg which is a 'hipster' dream full of independent bars, restaurants and shops. Think $8 Margaritas that can knock the wind out of you!

Take a walking tour of Manhattan using this phone app...
As a bit of a nerd, Fikki created a walking tour for her family using Google maps and the Audio Tour USA: New York City app by Tour Buddy. Her family love a good Hop-on-Hop-off tour. However the heavy New York traffic doesn't readily allow for these tours especially when you have a limited amount of time to enjoy the city's sights. This incredible app allows you to create a fun and informative walking tour that lets you experience the city's incredible architecture and learn some of its history for just 99p per person. So take a pair of good walking shoes along with you on your trip.

Take a long walk on The High Line...
The High Line is a 1.45 mile long park built in Manhattan on disused railway lines. The High Line provides much needed green space in this urban jungle in a such an innovate manner as well as great views of the Manhattan area and more. The line starts at Gansevoort Street, in the Meatpacking District and goes down far north to 34th Street. This sight was number 1 on Lola's list of places to visit ever since seeing it featured on Project Runway. Take a walk along the line which is dotted with art installations, vegetation and vendors of all nature. In the morning, it is especially quiet and there are great spots to relax with a book.

at chain restaurants that you can't find in your home country. One of these was Bubba Gump Shrimp. Forrest Gump and shrimp - what's not to love?!?

Visit Ground Zero...
This is the somber part of any visit to New York. Although we all understand the impact of 9/11 and the amount of lives lost, it is certainly made real when you see the names of all the lives lost etched on the stones of the two large fountains which fill the scale of each building that fell. It is fitting that this is kept here as a reminder of the tragedy that befell New York and America as a whole. As you can see from the pictures below, various world trade centre buildings have now popped up in the skyline surrounding ground zero. 

Cycle around Central Park...
One thing that surprised us both is how extensive the park is. We definitely could not take advantage of everything it had to offer in a few hours. Lola and her sister have really bad allergies and so they could only manage to cycle for an hour before starting to get quite irritated. Dust and pollen allergies are the worst! Grab a rental bike and zoom around the park to take in all the sights. The bikes being rented outside of the park are so expensive. If you think money is no object, then go ahead. However, if you would like to save a few pennies, there is a great bike rental store on 892 Ninth Avenue called Bike Rental Central Park which offers rental for very reasonable prices. 

See Times Square...
If you are visiting New York for the first time, it is worth visiting this tourist trap just for the sake of it. The artificial lights are so blinding and the streets are jam packed that you are unable to walk down the street at a normal pace, but it is world famous so an hour or less is good enough unless you want to check out the shops in the vicinity. In the area is M&M world and a Hershey's store, so get stocked up on your favourite American 'candy'.

Take a cruise...
and see the Statue of Liberty. Fikki booked tickets online with her family for the Liberty Cruise with Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. And even though they missed the boat twice, they were still able to get a cruise on a later date without any added cost or hassle. The cruise cost $29 per person and departs three times a day in the Summer from pier 83. It is also a great chance to see the New York skyline from the river, another great attraction of the city.

View New York City from...
the Empire State Building, of course. Once the world's tallest building, this is a must for any New York first timer. Best time to go is just before sunset to view the city by day and night. It does get crowded at this time because a lot of people think the same but the sunset was incredible and worth the wait!

Broadway is a must...
Head to a TKTS booth and get discounted tickets for a broadway show that same night. These booths located in Times Square, Brooklyn and South Street Seaport, sell day-of-show tickets for Broadway and other New York City theatre events at discounts of 20-50%.  You can view which tickets are available at which booth online in the morning and then head out to buy the tickets. It is probably best to get there early because the best seats for the best shows sell out faster. We advise the Brooklyn booth because at about 11am, Fikki managed to grab tickets at $40 per person for the hilarious musical, Avenue Q.

And don't forget to shop until you drop...
Whilst 5th avenue has an incredible array of shops, the 30 minute bus ride from the Port Authority bus station in Manhattan to The Mills at Jersey Garden's Outlet Mall, in New Jersey, is absolutely worth it! It is very easy to get to, simply take a subway to Port Authority and hop on the 111 from the Bus Terminal for about $12 return from gate 222. The buses run every 30 minutes and takes about the same time to get to the Mall. The brands available include Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria Secret and Calvin Klein. It's a great place to go to first for shopping as the prices are incredible. Fikki got the blue Michael Kors bag for about £80 the Calvin Klein purse for about £30 and shoes from coach for about £40. Probably saving over £300.

We both had a fantastic time in New York and hope that we can both visit again sometime soon and who knows maybe this time it will be together!

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  1. I'm such an advocate for the awesomeness that is Airbnb and will be utilizing it when I head to NYC next year for the first time. You ladies look like you had a terrific time and I will definitely keep your recs in mind during my travels!


  2. It's nice to see other people who are full advocates of Airbnb. It's just so convenient and people have some really gorgeous homes. Have an amazing time when you visit!

    Lola xx


Thanks for all your lovely comments! - Fikki and Lola xx

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