We left our valiant heroine (aka me) anticipating a week of work-mornings, play-afternoons in the greatest city on earth. For more about my arrival into New York and the first few impressions, check out my previous blog post.
So, back to the story…
Day 3 – Monday
Monday’s weather was dreadful – not quite cold enough for snow, so instead soaking icy rain. I got the downtown subway with Tom to near where he works (jetlag meant that waking up before 7am wasn’t a worry) and found a cosy Starbucks to nestle in and hammer away at some work. Feeling very cosmopolitan, I worked for about 5 hours until Tom took his lunch break in a little cafe near work. Afterwards I headed back to his apartment, planning to do some sightseeing that afternoon. The drizzle and freezing temperatures put me off, so I stayed in all afternoon, deciding to leave my sightseeing adventures for brighter days.
At 4:30pm I met Tom from work and we headed to Cowgirl Seahorse, a Mexican place he’d visited during his first week here. It was amazing – the frozen margarita flavours included blood orange and melon, and I discovered a new favourite in fish tacos. Tom picked the weird sounding “chicken fried chicken”, while the live band pumped out lively country songs.
Day 4 – Tuesday
Tuesday saw me visit Green Nature, an independent coffee shop across the street from Tom’s apartment. Cappuccino in hand, I settled down at 7:30am to a good morning of work. Sadly the wifi ran out after two hours, meaning I had to relocate another of the 212 Starbucks scattered across the streets of Manhattan.
That afternoon I traipsed from Tom’s Midtown apartment to “the Village” – Greenwich Village, that is, and Noho, Soho and Little Italy. I started in Washington Square Park and combined several walking tours together to see me through 4 hours of wandering, finishing on Lafayette Street. With temperatures barely hitting 2 degrees (you can see why they use Fahrenheit over there – Celsius is too depressing), I had to make frequent pitstops in the many small coffee shops, plus a “kati roll” (Indian burrito) place for lunch.
Several cups of coffee left me sufficiently buzzed that I was recovering fast from jetlag, and I really enjoyed my afternoon wandering the streets of New York. I saw a ton of things I’d only ever seen in movies – in fact many things I believed only existed in the movies, such as yellow school buses and fire escape ladders. I even saw some actual filming going on.
Tom got the subway to me that evening, and we meandered around Little Italy searching for somewhere to eat. We settled on Rubirosa, a small Italian family-run joint, and tasted some real American pizza (yummy).
Day 5 – Wednesday
I’d been planning to head to a BNI meeting on Wednesday morning, but it was cancelled that week. Instead, I stayed in and got some work done, then headed out about half 11 to surprise Tom for lunch – it was his birthday after all! We went to a chain fast food place called Shorty’s with some of his work friends, and I tried a Philly Cheesesteak (basically a baguette with steak and cheese). We ate lunch in the 18 floor cafeteria of his work, with beautiful views across the Hudson to the Statue of Liberty.
That afternoon I headed along the south end of Fifth Ave, passing the Flatiron building, and then popping into Macys. Sadly I couldn’t spare a few hours to try on clothes – I was on a mission! Instead, I popped into shop after shop in search of the perfect birthday present, which I eventually found in the form of a grey New York hoodie – though he probably wouldn’t use it while he was in the US, it would make a nice memento for him to bring back home. That wasn’t all, of course – I also queued up at TKTS in Times Square to get us both some tickets to see Once!
Rather than finding a nice pre-theatre restaurant menu, we decided to head to somewhere we’d been dying to go since arriving in America – McDonalds! Classy, huh? And yes, it is tastier there than it is in Britain. We then went to the theatre, only a few blocks from Tom’s flat. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Once, not having seen the movie, but it was both hilarious and touching at times, and both the singing and acting blew us away.
Day 6 – Thursday
On Thursday, I headed back to Green Nature Coffee House, then stayed in a few hours longer than my promised morning work schedule, so I could justify not working on Friday. It was almost 3pm by the time I headed out in search of lunch, and as I wandered aimlessly in the vague direction of Central Park, a lady called out to me – “do you want to be in our TV show?”. Well I’m never one to turn down an opportunity. It turned out they were from a TV programme called Extra, a sort of celeb gossip show that screened daily on CBS. Television personality AJ Calloway was interviewing Isaac Mizrahi, fashion designer and judge on Project Runway All Stars. It wasn’t the most thrilling TV debut, but I was stood right in the centre of the crowd and I think my cheering was very realistic, considering I’d had to google both the guys. Sadly I didn’t manage to catch it on air, but I’m sure everyone who watched was blown away by my role.
With only an hour left before I was meeting Tom, I decided to head to a certain nearby Irish bar that was definitely on my to-do list – McGees. You might know it better as the bar from How I Met Your Mother: not the actual bar, as it was filmed in LA, but the bar it was based on. Unsure of American pub protocol, I sat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine, then tipped 10% of my bill.
That evening Tom and I met up with a friend from uni, Ed, who is currently working in upstate New York. We met at the enormous book store Strand, then headed to Gyu-Kaku, a nearby Japanese BBQ place for food and drinks. Mountains of food were brought out to us, and we had to cook our own meat on the central BBQ hob. It was awesome to see Ed again, and really great to learn a bit more about the American culture from someone who’d been living and breathing it for the past few years. He insisted we get some Smores for dessert – but then managed to tip our chocolate and graham crackers into the fire when he posed for a photo. Luckily the waitress brought over replacements.
We decided to head back to McGees as they were both pretty eager to see it. This time I purchased a drink from the HIMYM cocktail menu – a Robin Sparkles, to be precise. Ed also told us the typical tip for drinks at a bar – a dollar per drink. Useful advice!
Day 7 – Friday
Friday was my final day alone in the city. Having gotten through a lot of work the previous day, I only felt slightly guilty for sacking it off and heading out for breakfast of Applebees – a huge stack of pancakes with blueberries and syrup. It had to be done, really.
Then I, in my infinite wisdom, decided to purchase a coach tour for myself and Tom. An open top bus tour. In freezing cold temperatures. I’m not sure what came over me. I took half the “Downtown” tour, passing down Fifth Ave, through Chinatown, and into the Financial District, where I disembarked, frozen stiff, and sought heat in Chipotle for lunch with Tom.
Then I got the bus back to Midtown and did a little bit more shopping. That evening we had plans to go to the cinema to see Mockingjay, and beforehand we headed back to Applebees for dinner. Sangria seems to be another popular alcoholic beverage in the US, and I had two enormous glasses with my triple bacon burger (exactly as awesome as it sounds). Then we went to the cinema, purchased some popcorn, and headed to our seats.
And what seats! Fully reclining leather couches, with an armrest that folded back for cuddles. Absolutely the most relaxing cinema experience ever – plus the movie was pretty great too. It was after midnight when we left the cinema, so we headed home to rest up for a full day of sightseeing.
Check back tomorrow for the final installment!