Four Days in New York
As soon as I landed it felt good; the flight had been uneventful - if you're anything like me and are obsessed with how many films you can squeeze into watching on your flight I managed two; The Lobster (weird but very good), and Grandma (excellent). I hopped into a cab not entirely sure where I was going, but instead of feeling nervous like the control freak I normally am, I felt quite excited. I headed for Brooklyn; Clinton Hill, to be exact and toward my friend Carly's apartment where I would be staying for a couple of nights. As the taxi whizzed past delis and gas stations I felt slightly underwhelmed - until I spotted the Manhattan skyline glimmering across the East River. It's a sight you never get tired of, and I started to feel really excited about what my trip would bring.
After greetings, the abandoning of luggage and some wine and Red Bull later (not together, you weirdo) we headed out to Williamsburg, where Carly knew someone who knew someone whose band was playing. This is the sort of thing I love about New York. You just don't get the same kind of dive bar in the UK; this had a bowling alley and in the back was a small room decked out with fairy lights where various musicians squashed on to a corner stage. It was a fun night, probably helped along by the fact that I was a bit jet lagged and the USA pours liquor freely so I was nicely merry by the time I'd had a couple of gins.
When you're in New York it's kind of a requisite to fit a brunch into your weekend somewhere. So the following morning Carly and I strolled through the neighbourhood to this cute little restaurant where we drank cocktails and ate brunch with a middle eastern twist. I chose my meal solely on the fact that it was called Green Eggs and Lamb, and it was delicious. We continued our walk through Brooklyn, with Carly pointing out various bits and pieces about the area, including a brownstone which was used in Sex & The City, although neither of us could determine which house it was on the street. We wandered up towards the Brooklyn Bridge, along the promenade on the river, drinking in the views of the city.
Later I caught the subway into Manhattan and walked from Chinatown up through the Lower East Side, and back round through SoHo and Little Italy. You can lose yourself for hours wandering the streets in these neighbourhoods, people watching and spotting great street art at various levels. One of my favourite things about the city is that there's such a buzz about it, and the neighbourhoods are all so distinct. Chinatown is full of odd smells and odder things to look at, while the LES shows years of migrants passing through with shabby building exteriors and rusty fire escapes clinging to the walls. There's always something interesting to see. With jet lag washing over me, I headed back to Brooklyn for an early night.
The great thing about NYC is that it's perfectly acceptable to have two brunches in two days, so it was only right to act like a local. This time an old friend and colleague had come up to visit from Philadelphia for the day. Leslie and I worked together in NYC back in 2008, and although we've seen each other in between, we had a lot to catch up on. I was thrilled when she tried to order mimosas as soon as we sat down - a girl after my own heart. Sadly we couldn't get them til 12, so bang on midday we called the waitress over - she smirked as she approached us as she already knew what the order was going to be.
Next on the agenda was a Broadway show. Leslie had chosen Les Mis, and we were both really excited about seeing it. We couldn't believe it when we were shown to our seats - second row from the front with an incredible view. The performances were amazing and understandably got a standing ovation at the close. Whenever I see something at the theatre it always reminds me of a forgotten dream to be on the stage. A wander through Times Square and a stop at the Hello Kitty shop later, and Leslie was back on the train home.
Before I got to America I'd applied for tickets to see The View being filmed. It's a bit like Loose Women, where a panel of ladies talk about the topics of the day. Whoopi Goldberg hosts, the rest of the panel changes on a daily basis. It was quite interesting to see how the production process works, and as we were being herded to our seats I got chatting to a guy who is a professional comper - he was there to see if he could win a prize to give to his son. It was a really long process actually; I had to arrive at 830am, filming started at 11am and was supposed to take an hour (it's a live tv show) but there was an extra bit to film at the end, so we were a bit later coming out. It would have been more annoying if they hadn't been filming a quick interview with Cuba Gooding Jr...
After an overspend on salad at Whole Foods (£10 salad?!) it was time to take a stroll round one of my favourite places in the city: Central Park. There's something quite magical about seeing all that greenery in the middle of a concrete jungle. Of course, being January it wasn't quite so green, but you know what I mean. The snow from the week before had lingered and although the roads and paths has been cleared, the trees still had a dusting and the lakes were frozen over. I find it so peaceful just walking round and exploring, and I really enjoyed my couple of hours there. Later I visited my favourite place to go out - Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. Many an evening was spent playing beer pong and drinking Long Island Ice Teas when I lived in NYC, and this is the best place to do it because it's so cheap. I ended up at The Bitter End, a great little place for live music. I had quite a long chat with the guy on the door about Nottingham (he didn't know Lincoln) and Robin Hood, before going in to see two funk bands - not necessarily my kind of music but it was a fun way to spend an evening. I rolled home much later than anticipated, but with a sense that I'd really made the most of my day.
My last day in New York was really touristy. I decided to make a vlog on cheap things to do in the city, so spent all day dashing around to get the last bits filmed for that, taking in the Staten Island Ferry and wandering around the financial district. I went back to Chinatown and searched for ages for some char sui - oddly couldn't find any - so finally headed back to the Village and got a slice of $1 pizza instead. My four days (naturally) ended with a few drinks. I met one of my Mountbatten internship friends Mark for a couple of drinks before getting my train to New Jersey where the rest of my adventures were about to begin.