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Thursday, 28 May 2015

New York, New York!

The moment is here. This is the blog I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for.  If not, then Mama Redman definitely has! I wrote about a quarter of this last week and then my blogger went and froze and I ended up losing it all. Don’t you hate it when that happens?! You just suddenly lose all that motivation and to write it all up again just seems like the most difficult thing in the world. What makes it worse is that I made it super funny and had made some witty comments that I now can’t remember… Dang it!

Anyway hopefully I manage to capture it all in this little* (*and I’m lying by the way) blog. Make sure you grab yourself a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits to tide you over. Put you’re feet up and enjoy reading about mine and mother’s recent adventures to the Big Apple!

Day 1: An unforgettable journey to the Airport…

Mammy Redman arrived the day before and we went out for tea at a Café Rouge with the housemates and then got an early night, as we had to be up and raring to go the next morning. I had to also finish my packing, which I’d told my mum upon her arrival that I had done some of it and was waiting for her to help me finish it. In reality I had packed my shoes and knickers…that’s what you call doing ‘some packing’ in my eyes. After finishing the packing, we made our way towards Heathrow airport, lead by the trusty* TFL journey planner.

*The TFL journey planner decided to screw me over on this day of all days.

We were travelling during the morning rush so the London underground was heaving with passengers looking to get to work and this meant the tube carriages were cram packed and here’s the two of us with big suitcases, looking to get on. Here my friends, was possibly where the funniest thing happened, although at the time my mum was terrified.

Picture this; the tube doors open to an already quite full tube. Mama Redman gets on the carriage with her suitcase and at this point I realise that I’m not going to get on, let alone with my suitcase in tow. I tell Mama Redman this who then decides to turn around and get off. But was Mr Tube door going to let that happen? OH NO IT WASN’T! The warning beeping sounds chime and the next few seconds seemed to go by in slow motion. As mother turned, the doors started to close and she somehow managed to get her head caught by the door, got her head out and then proceeded to get her bag stuck. Pure, utter, indescribable panic washed over my mother’s face. I think her exact thoughts were ‘This door isn’t going to shut and my bag is going to be trapped in the door whilst it leaves’…or something to that extent.  Thankfully the other passengers in the carriage assisted her in removing her bag and the doors shut. By this point I’m shouting through the door ‘GO TO BAKER STREET…NO, NO NOT BOND STREET, BAKER STREET!’. As the tube left I did a roll of the eyes to the man standing next to me before looking down at my shoes and letting out a muffled giggle. When I got to Baker Street, I saw Mama Redman from the carriage door, looking genuinely like a small child who had lost her mum. Role Reversal eh?! After a quick hug and a check over, we had a giggle and carried on with our journey.

Cue TFL journey planner screwing me over. It told us that the Heathrow Express was in fact the quickest route. What it failed to tell me was that it cost £20 each to go on it, when we could just as easily get to Heathrow by tube without spending any money. How annoying? and they say bad luck comes in threes…So after we finally managed to get to Heathrow airport, we made our way towards the check in desk. Here comes bad luck numero three. Our flight had been cancelled. There’s me and mum, mostly mum thinking we were going to be diverted onto a very late flight but fortunately luck finally came through onto our side and we boarded a VIRGIN ATLANTIC plane an hour later than our original flight.

We got free drinks, free food and the great Mama Redman mentioned that it was my belated birthday to one of the cabin crew and they only went and got me a bottle of Cava as a present! We suffered minor travel sickness upon landing in New York though after a bit of turbulence. I think it was mainly due to how much free food and drink we had! After getting off the plane, we had to wait a good hour to go through customs and security before doing it New York style and hopping into a yellow cab! Now I felt like I was in New York. It was great hearing American radio and breathing in American air. This is going to make me sound like a right weirdo but I just love everything about America, the feeling that you get when you’re there. For me, it feels like home and I’ve only been to America twice. I say it feels like home because I’ve not yet found anywhere in the UK that I feel I belong to or could settle down in. Even in London, it’s a beautiful city with so much life but it’s not somewhere that I want to settle down and raise a family in. It’s too god damn expensive for one thing! But back to New York! We pulled up at the Waldorf Astoria which was the hotel we were staying in. Our luggage was carried up to the main reception and I felt the need to tip the porter but I had nothing less than a ten dollar bill. Sorry porter! We checked in and made it to our room where we collapsed on the bed. We were going to head out to Times Square but we mutually agreed we were both too exhausted and felt getting a good nights’ sleep would be better.
New York SignNew York streets

Day 2: 9/11 and Exploring NYC!

So it’s our first proper full day in NYC, so we decided to start off nice and early and purchase a three day pass on the Hop on/Hop off bus tours. This would give us access to tours through Lower and Upper Town Manhattan and Brooklyn (which we never managed to do because of time restrictions). After that we hunted round for some breakfast. I was so overwhelmed by the height of all the buildings. In London, we have the odd few but New York is just skyscraper after skyscraper. It makes you feel super small and it was quite overwhelming when trying to find a place for breakfast. We were starving so we just went anywhere we could find where we could sit down. We got to this small diner and got ourselves some American pancakes, myself with Bacon and Maple syrup and my mum without the bacon. It was scrummy but at the same time, they were just so filling that we probably left a good quarter to a half of it. Slightly dissatisfied with breakfast, we made our way towards the stop to get onto our first bus tour. This was after being hounded by so many Bus Tour representatives checking we actually had the tickets to the tour and not just the flyer. It got annoying over the next few days but hey they need to earn their commission after all! We got on, sat on the top deck and put in our earphones to get some morning education about New York! There is so much history about New York and it felt like trekking through a film set, each street lined with yellow cabs, skyscrapers and more yellow cabs. We got off around the 9/11 area and went towards the two gigantic holes where the twin towers once stood. They’ve made this beautiful fountain which flows through the ground and is outlined with the names of all those who died in the tragic event. We then headed towards the 9/11 memorial museum and it was here that we brought our NYC pass. Anyone that goes to NYC in the future, I highly recommend you get yourself one of these, plus the Bus tour. You get around 6-8 passes to use at one of all the key/iconic buildings and landmarks that a typical tourist would want to see at such a reasonable price!
Natalie and her mum
We then queued up to see the 9/11 memorial museum. You could have literally spent an entire day in that building. It was so beautiful laid out, you had visual footage of the event on that day on these pillars that you walked past, it was dimly lit inside and it was quiet. They had parts of the wreckage from the planes and the buildings. They had the names and faces of every person who lost their lives on that day, along with a special room which projected the name and face with the added bio or audio from their loved ones. What was most haunting was the amount of things they had managed to find from the wreckage such as wallets, glasses, paper with work on and so many personal items and trinkets. It was so painful to see yet so beautiful for such a building to exist as a reminder of this day and the people who lost their lives, are never forgotten.
Tall buildings
After that we headed back onto the bus tour to explore some more of the lower town that would take us back to where we started. On this tour, we had a great tour guide who was actually planning on moving back over to London to be with his girlfriend. He may well be back now, as he’s transferring over to the British Bus Tour group in London! We then walked through Times Square which was so surreal to actually be in. The area just felt so alive with commotion, just like London feels like but a lot more vibrant and happier. We then headed towards the Empire State Building, where we found our way right up to the top and oh lordy lord we saw the most amazing views of New York. The only problem being that it was super busy and therefore you had to kind of fight to get up to the barriers to see everything. But it was SO worth the wait!

Heading back to Times Square, we grabbed a spot of lunch where we had the most delicious pananis (they made up for the breakfast) and took our places in line at that ticket office to book our tickets to see a Broadway show! I really wanted to go and see Finding Neverland but unfortunately it wasn’t one of the shows available at the office. We finally went for It’s Only A Play. We weren’t to realise until we got a playbill at the show that this wasn’t a musical. DUH, the clue’s in the title of the show ladies! However the star-studded line-up was hardly something to moan about. I only watched THE Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane perform on stage together. When they hugged, it reminded me of The Producers which made me feel all fuzzy and warm inside. It was a great show and we even spotted Helen Mirram on the way out of the theatre, as her performance of The Queen was playing just next door! We then tried to find somewhere to have tea as it was a late starting show and we’d done a lot in the day! We went to Planet Hollywood and had some food there at around midnight! Mum didn’t like her choice of meal but mine was pretty decent. We probably wouldn’t go back! It’s very much the US version of the Wacky Warehouse but without the play area. We went back to the hotel and SLEPT like babies!
It's Only A Play

Day 3: The Lady herself and Top of The ROCK.

Today we both decided to thoroughly have a look around for a nice breakfast location and we stumbled upon a little traditional American diner called Cozy. It was super yummy and the coffee was scrumptious. American coffee is so goooooooooood! After that we hopped back onto the downtown tour bus and headed towards the lady that is the STATUE OF LIBERTY! Now this is the one icon I was most excited to see the most because you see it so much in the movies. I was actually surprised to learn (and this was only 5 years ago), when my mum went to New York with my Auntie and Nan, that the Statue of Liberty was actually on a island. And here was me thinking that it was just sat on it’s own in the middle of the sea. What a pleb.
Statue of Liberty
The island was beautiful and it has so much history to it. We did the typical thing on these sorts of tours, where we took advantage of the audio tour guide who would guide us around the island and around the lady herself, telling us all about the history behind her. We then went over to the Ellis Islands where we walked around the massive building that would bring in the immigrants from overseas all those many years ago. There was so much to see that we really only got to see one or two sections of it. There is so much to do in New York, like London, where you could literally spend a whole day in one of the places. Like the 9/11 memorial, I could have spent all day looking at the Ellis Islands. We then got our portraits done as a caricature. Mum didn’t think it really looked like us and the guy ripped us off a little but I just loved the experience of it, even if it doesn’t look like us! 
Cartoonist
I think he's pretty convincing....
We then sat and had some olives and a glass of vino at this beautiful café/restaurant just near to get a glimpse of Brooklyn Bridge. Mother at this point, took full advantage of taking selfies of herself which I got on camera, although I later found out she was taking photos of me! How sly of her!!! We then picked up the Pandoras we were meant to buy for each other but mum refused to let me pay for hers. I honestly tried my hardest to pay for hers as that’s what I thought we could do as a present to each other but she was having none of it. DAMMIT!

We decided to go for a big apple with a gold leaf on the top, emblazoned with the letters NYC on the front of it. It was either that or the Statue of Liberty but we went for the apple in the end because it encompasses everything about NYC and not just the one iconic building. Now you may or may not know that I am a big fan of the Kardashians, so being in NYC I knew full well that they had a store. The guy on the tour bus had handily pointed it out to us earlier and we were just around the corner from it when coming out of Pandora. By this point, it was nearing 6pm. We rushed towards the shop in the hope of getting my hands on something Dash/Kardashian related and much to my dismay the shop had closed. I.Was.Gutted. I did manage to take a few sneaky photos of the outside and inside of the shop though so it wasn’t all bad!

After walking what felt like over several hundred blocks to get back to the hotel, we quickly got changed and got our glad rags on to go to the Top of the Rock which had been highly recommended by my mum’s friend and boy was it something else! Seeing New York by day is one thing, especially from the ground, but to see it by night, up high? OMG it was probably one of the best experience’s of my life to date. I’d say it’s up in the top 5 of the best moments of my life. The view was just incredible, albeit a little cold up at the very top but nevertheless, the view was absolutely stunning. You could see a 360 degrees view of the entirety of New York and it was just beautiful! We then walked around for ages until we found a nice pub/restaurant where we had the yummiest steaks and washed it down with a few pints of larger!

Top of the RockTop of the rock view

Day 4: Museums, A Singing Diner & Going Home! ):

WAHHHH, it was our last day today and we still hadn’t managed to do the downtown tour or the Brooklyn tour. As my mum had been to NYC twice, she suggested we skip the Brooklyn tour as there wasn’t as much to see there as downtown. We also could then do some of the museums that were included in our NYC pass. Downtown Manhattan again had so much history, we were pointed out to where all the famous people lived or had lived and then we finally got around to visiting some of the museums. Again, we had to be quick due to time and getting back, but we still managed to see some great things. After doing the tour, we headed back to Times Square to have lunch at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Now if you go to NYC, please please please go here. This is no ordinary diner, oh no, this is a diner where the waiters and waitresses actually get up and sing. They don’t even stand in one place, they literally sing all over the diner, on top of the tables, EVERYWHERE. It was such a fantastic and surreal experience that I couldn’t even really concentrate on what I was eating or drinking because the experience of the waitresses/waiters singing was just SO COOL!  After finally dragging ourselves away from the diner, we did a little sweet shopping for American candy (Jolly Ranchers are my fav) and then we headed to the famous Magnolia Bakery in search for the renowned cupcakes. I had a red velvet cupcake and my mum went for a lemon one. We had these when we arrived at the airport and they were so delicious. They got squished slightly in the box but they still tasted like heaven. We then got back onto our flight for home!
Magnolia Bakery
So that’s everything, jesus I hope you guys are still alive after that and if you’ve managed to read it all? DON’T YOU HAVE A LIFE?! No I’m only joking, thanks for reading it all, this took me like forever…

I hope you guys enjoy the rest of you’re morning/day/evening!

Natalie-Ann x


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