The honeymoon part 1… NYC!

Pretty much as soon as we got engaged we started talking about where we wanted to go on our honeymoon! We were keen on having a proper adventure, rather than just flying to a hot place and relaxing for two weeks, but I didn’t want to have to choose between a city destination and a beach holiday.

We found the perfect compromise on a website called The Internet Traveller, who are an online travel agent who specialise in multi-centre trips. They had loads of different USA options and we decided to go with the New York, Las Vegas and Mexico trip.

We told them exactly what date we wanted to fly, from where and how many nights we wanted to spend in each place and they just organised everything for an amazing price. It was such a good deal for what we actually got and we had a choice of hotels and room types too.

Day 1: 31st May

So on 31st May, three days after our wedding, we set off to Manchester to get our first flight to JFK airport in New York! The flight was great (we were the last to board because I was shopping for new sunnies in duty free, whoops!) with complimentary alcohol and snacks as well as two meals. It was a lovely treat to be given a glass (well, plastic cup) of champagne each from 1st class too after we mentioned it was our honeymoon. We also took with us a little scrapbook, after getting some great advice on Instagram about asking the pilots of each flight to sign our book for us. We did this as we left the flight and the co-pilot invited us into the cockpit to take some photos which was such a surprise! Amazing…

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By about 5pm we were through customs, had collected our luggage and were ready to leave the airport. We decided to brave the subway with our luggage to get back to the hotel which was a little overwhelming at first but I had done the research and knew which trains we needed so that took a bit of the stress away. We bought a 7-day metrocard as we expected to use the subway whenever we could and found it very easy to use the subway system, although looking back, using it for the first time during rush hour with two suitcases in tow probably wasn’t the best idea! However, in less than an hour we were checking into our hotel, the Distrikt hotel on West 40th Street and 9th Avenue.

This was a lovely modern hotel, albeit on the small side, there were 32 floors with only 4 rooms on each floor so not a big hotel by any means. However the staff were lovely and the standard queen room we stayed in was a decent enough size for us to live out of for 4 days considering we would hardly be spending any time there. We dumped our bags and headed straight out with the map the concierge had given us to explore a bit of the Big Apple.

Since we were only two blocks away we decided to go and check out Times Square. After reading up on everything about New York for a few months leading up to our trip, I knew this was going to be a “been there, done that” type of experience just to see what all the fuss was about. That was exactly what it was, we really didn’t enjoy just how busy that area is and we didn’t think there was much to look at so not really worth going at all. We took a few photos just to show family back at home and then headed up towards Central Park to try to get away from the craziness! Sadly at this point we thought we had made a huge mistake in coming to New York and wondered what everyone who had visited New York was raving about! I think we just felt quite overwhelmed by the noise, smelliness and vast amount of people after such a long day already. So my tip here for anyone visiting NYC for the first time is to take it easy on your first day and try not to get overwhelmed by the city!! After a little while we just made our way back to the hotel and got some sleep ready for the very busy three days ahead of us.IMG_1462

Day 2: 1st June

I had planned an itinerary in the months before the trip so that we could try to make the most of our short time in NYC. Luckily we are not big museum or theatre fans so we didn’t have to try to squeeze in those activities. Our first full day in the city was to be spent in Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History, followed by a quick tour of Midtown highlights such as Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Centre and the Empire State Building. Breakfast first though, which we chose to eat at Westway Diner which was just a short walk from our hotel. We ended up eating here every morning because the food was great, we never spent over $35 for the two of us including tip and always had a huge, satisfying breakfast. Even though it was always quite busy no matter what time we turned up, the service was always excellent.

We then walked up to Central Park and explored the south of the park for a few hours, unfortunately destroying my feet in my new leather sandals… Central Park was very pretty though and the weather was gorgeous. We managed to see Bethesda Fountain, Bow Bridge and some of The Rambles.

After a few hours we decided to go to the American Museum of Natural History which is at the side of Central Park. This museum was the setting of the Night at The Museum film so it was fun to go around the museum and find some bits from the film including “Dum Dum” the Easter Island head. We also found the big blue whale, lots of interesting cultural stuff and a really cool new exhibit which displays some of the largest dinosaur fossils ever found called Titanosaur, found in May 2014 in Patagonia.

IMG_1431After spending another few hours in the museum we jumped back on the subway and headed back to the hotel to apply some plasters to my poor feet. We also grabbed a Five Guys before making our way towards the Empire State Building.

Our Five Guys was very good, we don’t really have one that close to us at home so it was something we wanted to try, as well as Shake Shack but unfortunately we didn’t have time to try that too!

We had to go to the Empire State Building first to exchange our free voucher from the travel agent into tickets for later in the evening, so we did that then headed to Rockefeller Centre after that to check it out, then onto Grand Central Station to have a nosy and get some photos. We also sat down at one of the bars in the main concourse and had our first alcoholic drink in NYC. It wasn’t cheap either! We also discovered Bryant Park on this day, which was just around the corner from our hotel. Bryant Park quickly became our favourite place to sit and soak up the atmosphere of the City and to people watch, we spent quite a few hours there over the course of our trip.

After that we had a bit of time to kill before heading back up to ESB so we wandered down 5th Ave and decided to buy ourselves a little something. I headed straight for Tiffany & Co to buy some silver heart shaped earrings and Matt ended up with some new Flyknit Free Runs from NikeTown. We had a little browse in some of the other shops but didn’t bother going into any of the expensive designer places, no need to torment myself!

Once it was almost time for sunset we went back to the Empire State Building and got in line to go to the viewing platform. Unfortunately by the time we got there the sun had already set but we still got some really great photos of Manhattan at night and it was a lovely warm night so we didn’t rush once we were up there. It was very busy though and hard to move around with that many people. We headed back down after around 45 minutes and stopped to pick up a slice of pizza on our walk back to the hotel.

Total step count: 37,418 or 26.72km!!

No wonder my feet didn’t feel like part of my body anymore.

Day 3: 2nd June

On the itinerary today was Downtown, from Brooklyn Bridge upwards. After breakfast at Westway, we headed to Port Authority to get the subway all the way over to Brooklyn (High St station) so that we could walk back over the Brooklyn Bridge. I seem to remember we had a late start this morning so by the time we got over there it might have been around 11am. The walk over the bridge was lovely, it was a nice day and very clear so we got a great look at the buildings in Lower Manhattan on the way. I had planned that we would check out Brooklyn Bridge Park before getting onto the bridge but we didn’t want to do much more damage to our feet so never got to see it.

Next was a wander through to the One World Trade Centre (or Freedom Tower) and the memorial pools. I didn’t think I would get emotional at the memorial as it isn’t something that impacted me personally but I (and my husband!) was very surprised to find myself shedding a tear whilst thinking about all of those innocent lives lost. IMG_1516We had not considered visiting the memorial museum but I am quite glad we didn’t now as I think I would have just felt too emotionally drained afterward to do much else. After taking in the memorial pools we headed inside the Observatory part of the One World Trade to buy tickets and make the ascent up to the 102nd floor. This was a fantastic experience and one I am happy we did as the views during the day were stunning. Even though the “main sights” are harder so see as the tower isn’t in Midtown it is still very much worth the visit in my opinion. The size of the observatory meant that it didn’t feel too crowded and you were able to move around and get a full 360 degree view. The photos I took of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge from the OWO are some of my favourites from the trip.

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Once we got back down to ground level, we made our way towards Battery Park and to South Ferry to get on the Staten Island Ferry. The walk through lower Manhattan was nice, longer than we expected (feet were protesting a little) but we enjoyed the nice mixture of business and residential buildings and the clearly well maintained green areas. When we reached Battery Park we sat down to take a break and get something to drink, another pint for Matt and lemonade for me.IMG_1510 Just sitting and taking it all in ended up being my favourite thing to do in the City, the surroundings in some areas are just lovely. Eventually we made it to the South Ferry terminal and waited a few minutes for the ferry to arrive. The line to board the ferry looked huge but I was pleasantly surprised to see the size of the ferry and that we were all able to get on no problem. Lots of great photos taken of both the Statue of Liberty and the south of the island on the way over to Staten Island. Unfortunately we had to wait another half an hour after disembarking to get onto a different ferry as the one we were on was getting some maintenance but we didn’t really mind the wait.

Once back in Manhattan we then walked towards Wall St (again, just for photos and to “see” it). We walked past the Charging Bull and snapped a quick photo but it was obscured by lots of people standing around it for no apparent reason! Then we managed to jump on the subway back to our hotel to save our feet as we needed to get changed for our fabulous meal at The River Café that night.

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I had booked The River Café months in advance after scouring TripAdvisor for the most romantic restaurant I could find. We certainly weren’t disappointed, I had the best steak I have ever eaten and the views out over the river towards Manhattan were outstanding. The service was fantastic; we were treated like royalty and received little “congratulations” chocolates on our desserts for our honeymoon celebration. We loved every minute and it was truly worth every penny of the $400+ bill! We asked the valet to call us a cab back after our meal which they did willingly and the fare was only $34 plus tip back to our hotel. A perfect night that we will never forget. The valet ordered us a cab back to our hotel when we were finished our meal which was a set fee of $34 plus tip and we enjoyed the ride back to Manhattan taking in all the beautiful lit up buildings.

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Total step count: 16,201 or 11.57km

Day 4: 3rd June

This was our last full day in NYC and on the itinerary was the West Village. We started by finding the entrance to the High Line after breakfast. We passed Madison Square Garden on the way so I’m not quite sure which route we took, we must have gone down 8th Ave and then cut across to enter at 30th St. We loved the High Line, such a great idea to bring a little bit of nature to such a built up city. We got some good photos of the streets that the High Line passed over too, very “typical NYC” type shots.

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We exited the High Line at 16th St and visited Chelsea Market. Lots of yummy looking and smelling food places in here, we decided to get some mini doughnuts coated in cinnamon sugar. Mmmm! From here we just explored the Village area, checking out the lovely building and shops, slowly making our way towards Washington Square Park for a little rest. Then it was back up towards the hotel via 5th Ave so we could get a good look at the Flatiron Building and up Broadway.

Once we got back to the hotel we considered changing and heading out for drinks but we didn’t really feel like it. We were craving Italian so we looked on TripAdvisor to find somewhere close that we could book online. We ended up booking a table at Patzeria Family & Friends on West 48th St for 7.30pm and made our way over there once we had freshened up. This ended up being another great night, the food was delicious on its own but it was the decision to sit at the bar for drinks afterwards that proved to be a good one. We got chatting to the lovely bartender Julie and then the other patrons and ended up being in there for hours. We finally headed back after one too many drinks at around 12.30am…

Total step count: 21,161 or 15.11km

Day 5: 4th June

Our last day in NYC before our flight to Las Vegas in the evening. We booked a car via the concierge to pick us up from our hotel at 5pm and then checked out. The hotel was kind enough to store our luggage for us until we were ready to leave so we were free to make the most of our final day in the city. Today was blank in the itinerary, leaving it up to us to decide which parts of NYC we still wanted to see or to revisit. We didn’t feel that we had enough time to really explore a new area (we are leaving that for our return trip in January!) so we went back to Central Park to take in some of the more northern areas of the park. This included Conservatory Water, the Alice in Wonderland statue and the Jackie Onassis Kennedy Reservoir.

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We started to get a bit peckish so thought we would leave the park to try and locate Levain Bakery which had been recommended to us a few times. When we eventually found it (further away from Central Park than I thought) there was a small line to get in but nothing too bad. I was expecting a sort of giant flat cookie, the kind you would get in the UK but maybe bigger, well I was very wrong. The cookies almost look like scones, they are that thick! They are sort of a lump of cookie dough which is only baked on the outside, delicious but very heavy and sickly. We bought 4 but only managed about 3 between us, we even took them to the airport to snack on but then decided to dump them before security.

After Levain we wandered back towards the hotel (pretty sure we got on the subway somewhere) and sat in Bryant Park for a few hours to kill some time. It was a hot day so we were chasing the shade around the park and spending a fortune on upmarket drinks from Le Pain Quotidien, chatting about the last few days and everything we had done, such a lovely way to spend our final hours in NYC before going back to JFK. Our car was waiting for us when we arrived back at the hotel at 4.30pm, so we were early for our check in at the Delta terminal of JFK. A kind member of staff showed us to the right desk and we were given our boarding passes for our flight to Las Vegas and our bags were checked. By this point we were starting to get hungry so we ate at an Italian restaurant beside our gate and the food was surprisingly good. Before we knew it, it was time to board our plane and say goodbye to New York – for now!

Total step count: 21,392 or 15.27km

Stay tuned for part 2 coming very soon… Las Vegas!

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