Last Saturday morning I thought I knew exactly how my weekend was going to go. I had a flight to New York that evening and the following day I was going to take myself, my laptop and my printed manuscript to sit in Bryant Park, drink coffee and work! How wrong I was…
‘You know I’m off college on Monday morning?’ mentioned my daughter as she headed out to her Saturday job at the vets. No I hadn’t realised that, nor did I quite understand the point of her comment. It transpired she was trying to suggest that I should take her to New York with me, to which I have to admit my initial reaction was ‘absolutely no way, I have things to do on that trip, besides you will cost me an absolute fortune!’ Have you ever heard the expression 'Having a daughter is like having a broke little best friend who thinks you are rich'? Well, that sums up 17 year old Olivia to a tee 😅
Two hours later a standby ticket was booked, a captain contacted (to ensure, just in case things went wrong and we went suddenly over sold, she could have a jumpseat to come home), and when she walked back in the door at midday you can imagine her face when she was instructed to quickly pack a bag… my broke little best friend was coming with me, and I wasn't going to get any work done at all! I wish that I’d had the same opportunities as her as a teenager! (I did stipulate, however, that shopping was not on the agenda and that it would be nice to do something that we hadn’t done before since she has been to New York twice already. I also said that she should bring some homework to do too. She agreed to everything, of course 😅... wouldn't you?!)
So where should we go and what should we do?
The hotel in which I stay when with work is located not far from the tourist traps of Macy’s and Broadway, a short walk from Times Square and a slightly longer one to Central Park, and it is normally in this direction that I would go, especially when showing someone around town. So I decided this time that we would head south, and somewhere over the Atlantic a loose plan was hatched. We would go South and visit the 9/11 museum before walking over the Brooklyn Bridge… two things that I have never done in my hundreds of visits, tying in a nice scenic walk along the Hudson River on the way 🙌
So, the next morning we joined the queue at Liberty Bagels (260 W 35th Street) to fuel up… if you’ve never been and you are in the area then it is definitely worth a visit, there is always a reason that people queue up outside any eatery! Don’t be put off by this though, it moves quickly and you will not be disappointed when you see the array of hand baked, kettle boiled bagels and mouth watering fillings! Ranked #1 place to eat in Midtown according to their website! https://libertybagels.com/
Next we walked down to the water and through the Hudson Yard development, with its the iconic 16 floor Vessel, which was finished in 2017. I suggested we climb its 2500 stairs and see the view from the top just to see Olivia's face (exercise is not her favourite thing 😂), and she was relieved when I told her that it was actually closed indefinitely now. It's a shame as I would have loved to have climbed it myself, but sadly after a string of suicides I'm not sure if it will ever be an open again.
From here it was just a single flight of stairs and we were on the wonderful High Line, one of my favourite places and ways to spend a morning here.
If you’ve never heard of, or walked the High Line before it is a 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) elevated trail/park created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan. It has now been regenerated and added to to provide a most magical walk with the most wonderful views along the way, with entertainers and food vendors during the summer season. I have walked it several times now and every time see something new along it’s twists and turns, not only in the buildings and foliage around but new places to sit and sculptures to admire. This stunning neon pink tree is the one that greeted us that day 🌳
Some of the apartment buildings that line it are quite spectacular and you can’t help but imagine the lives of the people that are lucky enough to live there with everything that you see on their doorstep.
A mile or so later we descended into Chelsea, at my insistence as I wanted to visit the Starbucks reserve that is there next to Chelsea market (definitely worth a visit too but not on our agenda https://www.chelseamarket.com.) I’ll admit that on entering I was rather overwhelmed with the huge coffee shop, with its many bars and counters, and wasn’t quite sure if it was acceptable just to order my oatmilk latte or if I had to up my game somewhat! The flight of Espresso Martinis certainly caught my eye, but it was only 9:30 so I exercised some restraint! It turned out to be perfectly acceptable to order something normal, although the presentation was something to be admired and I sat at the counter with my lovely mug and delicious coffee while we decided on the next part of our course.
Continuing South we detoured past the famous Friends building and then on through streets lined with Restaurants and bistros bustling with New Yorkers relaxing over Sunday Brunch in the sunshine. I ignored my urge to join them, but added it to my list of new experiences to have one day with my friends.
West to the water and South we continued… Here we found ouselves amongst a sea of joggers of all ages, shapes and sizes. Olivia pointed out that we seemed to be the only ones not in sports wear, I had to agree with her. We saw the dog play parks, where the apartment-bound puppies did zoomies around with their friends, and watched the kayaks out on the river... it is always free to kayak here for any of you that enjoy water sports, or you can pay for lessons if you want to try something new 🛶
World Trade One was soon upon us and we swapped the carefree Sunday vibe for one more solemn as we took the elevator down to the 9/11 museum.
If we were alive/old enough, we all remember where we were that day, and it was truly humbling to read the stories and see the artifacts that had been saved. The crushed fire truck was, to me, the one that will always stick in my mind. I remember seeing the rubble maybe two months after it happened, and the missing person pictures tied to the church railings opposite, and admit that I avoided it for years after. I felt then that the air was heavy with souls, but now it has been transformed beautifully into a place of remembrance that is tranquil and humbling to visit. It would be wrong for us to forget their names and forget what happened so I’m glad that we went.
Emerging some two or three hours later we pushed onwards, past the beautiful Oculus Westfield shopping centre with its angel like wings. Manhattans biggest mall and worth a visit another day!
In no time at all the Brooklyn bridge was in front of us and the cameras were out! I’ve seen it before, but nothing can compare to walking over it, the traffic rumbling underneath you as you stop at the traders to see their wares and take photo after photo, every few steps giving a different perspective.
On the other side we followed the crowd left. I’m ashamed to admit we were only here for the photo! You’ve probably seen it a hundred times or more, with the Manhattan Bridge at the end of the street between the red brick building? The one at the top of this blog?! It’s called DUMBO, short for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. With its cobblestone streets and converted warehouses it is a hive of high end restaurants and trendy cafes. The waterfront there is lined with the best Italian restaurants, where I saw pizzas that would rival any you could buy in Rome! It was sooo busy though, the weekend drawing everyone to the waterfront, and who can blame them?
It was here that we realised we were hungry, but with her head firmly set on true American food and definitely not on pizza, we failed to find anywhere that we could agree on to eat 🙄. So we snacked, and refuelled on lemonade (her) and beer (me!), resting our weary legs before making our way back. I teased that we would walk it, but I’m not that mean, it was a straight subway ride to Times Square and by 5pm we were settled on The Yard House enjoying all the things that a British teenager thinks of when they think of America! I know we should try new things and experience great restaurants but there is definitely something to be said for a good chain restaurant when you are weary, where you know what you are getting and don’t have to think too much!
It was 9pm when we got back to the hotel. I may have surrendered to a visit to Sephora and another shop or two on the way! A full twelve hours since we had left, and an impressive 29,930 steps. I did suggest that she should walk around the corridor to make it a round 30,000, but she impolitely declined 😂
And that was that! Eight hours later we were up and checking out for our flight home. It was fun, we’d had the best time, and I hadn't got a moments work done! That was fine though, it can wait, we have to seize these opportunities with our loved ones and make the most of every day, I’m sure all of you would agree 🙌
So many steps and yet so much more to see. Next time we'll head North...
Thanks for reading!