Bright lights! Big city! New York is a feast for the eyes and I stayed right in the thick of it in Midtown Manhattan for Social Media Week NYC.
As someone who’s grown up dreaming of working in New York at some point in my life, going back for more than 48 hours was a BIG DEAL. I also now have a good friend who has lived in the city for a few years and knows her way around quite well – someone to meet for drinks in New York – the dream was starting to come true! Add to the fact I was meeting three other ladies there who were making the 25+ hour trip all the way from Australia and you have a full-blown screenplay just waiting to get written. But I will save that for another day – you’re here to find out what I saw.
My first trip to NYC (a little background)
It was also in February, seven years ago and lasted for a whole weekend. I went with two girlfriends to visit a friend of ours who was doing a design internship in the city. We caught a bus after work on a Friday evening from Ottawa via Montreal and Albany, which brought us straight into city centre and kept us warm for the 12-hour journey. We stayed in a hostel in Central Park West and had a whirlwind two days, including a trip on the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, Chicago on Broadway, dinner and shopping in Chinatown and a night out in the Meatpacking District. Then we headed back on Sunday night for another 12-hour journey before heading straight into work on the Monday morning.
This time I took 10 days, flew over from Dublin and stayed in a hotel – oh how times have changed.
Planning for NYC
From the moment I booked this trip, I consulted my virtual source on the city – Joanna Goddard. She is a ‘magazine-writer-turned-blogger’ and I’ve been following her ‘A Cup of Jo’ site for years. She has a whole section dedicated to Travel & NYC, so I reread the most important articles:
Of course, I still looked like a tourist and it was -15 most days so I couldn’t cycle around the leafy streets in a cute dress and flats but you get the idea. She knows the city like the back of her hand. If you’re going to New York in the near future with or without kids, read her handy guides and start to get inspired!
Arriving in NYC
People stood in the cab rank outside complaining of the startling cold and jumping up and down to keep warm. But I had my parka and Canadian genes: the sky was blue, the winter air fresh and sharp – I felt like I was home!
My cab ride from JFK to Manhattan on a frosty afternoon was a sight in itself. You have to understand I had just left a tiny town of 20,000 in Co. Kildare to arrive in the city of skyscrapers. I felt like I had swapped the rolling green fields used by Tourism Ireland to entice the Americans over to the Emerald Isle for their concrete jungle Lego landscape. We rolled through the streets of Manhattan which were steaming at every construction site manhole where the underground air met the outside temperatures, pulling up outside the boutique Hotel Chandler.
I did a quick check in, got ready and changed for a cocktail party that night. On my 20-block walk to the Mutual of America building, I passed locals leaving their offices and heading for home. It was 8pm at night – talk about work/life balance, it had been dark for a couple hours already!
Sightseeing in NYC
Once the Aussies arrived, we woke early the next day to head straight for the Empire State Building at 8am. Call us keen but we didn’t have to queue for long and purchased a CityPass when we got there to save on other attractions. You can buy this online in advance of your trip or at any of the tourist attractions listed on the package. Despite the freezing windchill on the 86th floor observation deck, it was a great start to the trip and really shows you the city’s sprawl!
Other sights and neighbourhoods we managed to cover on our first few days in the city on foot and via taxi included:
- Times Square (day and night!)
- Central Park
- The Guggenheim
- The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
- Grand Central Station
- The 9/11 Memorial
- Meatpacking District
- SoHo and TriBeCa
- Union Square and the Flatiron District
- East Village
A few snaps from NYC for you
While I was sad to head back over that bridge to JFK, I knew it was only so long – not farewell. I still have not fulfilled the dream of living and working in the city and have yet to visit New York with the husband – we both love it but have had our own experiences there. We are heading to Canada again in October for a wedding, so maybe a short visit to Manhattan will be on the cards!
On the flight back to Dublin and on a high from my Manhattan shopping trips, I watched an inspiring short documentary about the Advanced Style blog which celebrates New York’s stylish older ladies. It had me laughing, taking notes and even shedding a tear at one point. If you love fashion, creative expression and kick ass attitude – give it a look.
If you’re planning on heading to New York (or anywhere in North America during winter) my final post in this NYC series will link to a few things I packed to ward off the cold, protect my skin and stay nice and toasty during the trip.
Hope you enjoyed sharing the sights with me, please do post any future tips for my first NYC trip with the husband in the comments below!