Travel : Lexi Does NYC

How do you write a blog post about a trip to New York? I mean, there's so much to cover! Food, architecture, views, food, sport, transport and more food ...

I think I'll just diary wing it, and add useful tips along the way. This time, I went to NY with my friend Sam, so when I refer to 'we' it's just me and her, not an army or the Royal 'we'.

Good morning from Times Square

We flew with Virgin from Heathrow, who I love for flights to the US. I've had good experience with American Airlines in the past too. (I do not recommend BA. Avoid avoid avoid.)

We AirBnB'd it. Simply because it saves a freakin' TONNE of money. If you're doing NYC the way I do NYC you do not need a fancy hotel. You need a safe place, with a good bed, good shower, good transport connections and wifi. That you can get for around £550 for a week in Manhattan (total, so £275 each). We stayed in East Harlem, with a subway stop right outside our building, and an easy 20 minute commute downtown to Grand Central. 

This allowed us to come and go when we pleased, fill our fridge with breakfast foods for days when we wanted a snack before we got going on a morning.

Grand Central Station

I'm going to add lots of money saving tips in the post because who doesn't love saving money? We did all our tourism on a 5 day NY Pass and a 7 day Metrocard. The pass covers almost every attraction in NY, and gives you discounts on lots of things (including shopping) You buy the pass online in advance and collect when you arrive. The Metrocard is the NY version of an Oyster card, it gives you transport access to all subway trains and buses for a week for $31 (as a Londoner, I found that ridiculously cheap). Don't worry about using the subway, if you can deal with the Underground, you can deal with the subway, just get a map. You buy the card from any of the booths in the stations. 

I don't like strict planning for a holiday, I like to wing it. We wrote a list of everything we wanted to do, collated it into neighbourhoods, opening times (check this the night before, some things close on odd days) and made a rough idea of how we'd spend our days. Basically we went out every morning with location and intention, the rest followed. It worked for us, because we're both quite relaxed travellers. 

In a concise list, and a thousand photos, here's where we went: 

The American Museum of Natural History

Plus their ace Planetarium! Any excuse to listen to NGT talk about space is good with me!

I am svelte on Mars

Gunther Von Hagen's Body Worlds Exhibit (okay, some people will see the next two photos as ghoulish, so scroll fast if the human body without skin on freaks you out)

The Star Wars Costume Exhibit (a cosplayers dream!)

Central Park Zoo: This zoo is small but fantastic, it has big, old grizzly bears!

And everywhere else in Central Park too!

The Museum of Modern Art (just for Van Gogh, really, because <3):

Rockerfeller Centre Tour (the actual walking-talking tour, it's so interesting and gives you a bit of history into the architecture of midtown):

And Top of the Rock by night (waaaaay better than the Empire State viewing desk, by a country mile):

9/11 Memorial : I loved the outside fountains but felt really creeped out by the memorial inside. It might be a British thing, it might just be me, but if I had the time back I would skip it.

Yankee Stadium: to see the Yankees play, obvs! YS has excellent IPA on tap, so you can have a decent beer whilst watching the game too. Sam had never been to a baseball game before and she loved it. Essentially, it's the US version of cricket - you go to watch a bit of sport, chat with people and drink. It's a lot louder than cricket, there's a lot of music playing, you get to sing after the 7th inning - it's all great fun. 

Tourist info: you can buy your game tickets in advance and then just download them on your phone when you get there.

The Museum of Sex, which was most fun, very interesting and had an excellent gift shop:

Battery Park: 

Liberty Island: 

Tourism LOLS

Madame Tussaud's: because Selfie Queen here loves to add a layer extra fun to her photos:


Next up, FOOD! Food is ridiculous and amazing in equal measure in this city. Everyone has their favourites and here are mine: 

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop: Rocky Roadhouse waffle cone is pictured, which is chocolate soft serve with marshmallows and toasted almonds, washed down with Mexican Coca Cola. That was our dinner that day and we gave no fucks about it. 

Lombardi's Pizza : the first pizza place in NYC and the pizza is incredible. This is a medium, which we split and that was enough for lunch.

Levain Bakery, for freshly baked 6oz cookies. I'm pictured here with the chocolate chip walnut and I fell deeply in love with the dark chocolate peanut butter. - genuinely one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth.

Katz's Deli,  because PASTRAMI, BRAH. This $20 sandwich did two meals.

And finally, Junior's for the BEST CHEESECAKE IN THE GODDAMN WORLD. Seriously, no one does cheesecake like NY.

Last up: SHOPPING!

I went with a shopping list and knew what I wanted, there were few impulse purchases. I tended to stick to things I'd wanted a while or could replace whilst there (example, my pink Cons are dead, so I bought new ones and threw my old ones in the bin there). 

If you're after serious bargains, I can recommend a bus ride to Jersey Gardens, which is like a shopping outlet mall. There I hit up Levi's, Bed Bath & Beyond, Converse, Sketchers and Torrid. 

Denim jacket and fitted shirt cost me $95 total in Levi's, shorts from Forever 21+ ($15), leggings from Torrid ($25)

Space Chucks! $55

Home smelling like Cinnabon: $11

I picked up a few things as I went around the City, like these Star Wars goodies and a tshirt from Target: 

Burrito life: 'Lettuce, no cheese, no sour cream, just guac. Yes, I know it's extra'

On the last day we did our Fifth Avenue shopping, as I knew where my budget was by then and knew I had limits!

FYI: My budget can always stretch to Tiffany

New Make-Up Bag Goal Met

Yet to try the Sephora Primer and the Too Faced Mascara - reviews to follow!

I hate shopping at MAC in the UK because their staff are so rude. SO RUDE. It doesn't seem to matter if I go to a shop or a concession in a department store, all their staff have been unfriendly and rude to me for years. You're basically made to feel like you get in their way. I hate it so much that I stopped buying MAC products. I went to the flagship store in Times Square, I was in the door 10 seconds and someone greeted me, someone helped me find the lipstick I wanted and while she was looking, two other staff members asked if I was being helped with my search. While chatting to two staff members at the tills, I told them how incredible and courteous they'd been in stark comparison to MAC in the UK: 'you're not the first person to say that, we've heard all the horror stories about the customer service in the London stores'. ARE YOU LISTENING, MAC? 

MAC Crosswires is finally mine!

I took a Travelex Multi Currency Cash Passport with me with all my cash on, as it's just like using a credit card and PIN. Your cash is safe and it works in all the ATM's. It meant no currency conversion charges from my bank on each transaction too.

I love NYC, and your first trip there will always be the most exciting. As this was my third, I felt a lot more confident in the city and subway, so nothing felt too out of my comfort zone. Like I said, if you can handle London, you can definitely handle NYC. 

Take ID everywhere with you, double the tax for a quick tip, take a Yellow Cab from JFK for a flat fare, drink the tap water as it's free and fantastic (and soft, your skin and hair will have a great week), be prepared to take food home with you from a restaurant and get used to Starbucks as coffee options are limited.  I'd also advise to pack some English Breakfast tea in your bags too, as tea in the US is not great AT ALL. Take a few pairs of comfy shoes, so you can rotate the wear. We walked over 55 miles in 6 days and I had to buy Sketchers to mix in with my DM's and Chucks. Don't forget earplugs for good sleep, the city is never quiet. 

Oh, and for phones, I bought a PAYG SIM from Three for £20 which gave me 300 minutes, 3000 texts and 12GB data to use. Useful for Apple Maps, Citymapper and uploading bragging holiday photos to social media! 

It was a super-hot week (one day hit 27 degrees, yes it was a shock coming home to zero temperatures and snow), so I got sunburned but I went super blonde, so it wasn't all bad.

Good work, NYC, it was an absolute please. I'll see you again soon. 

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