It’s easy to take things for granted. I often forget how lucky I am to work for a company that enables travel. I’ve added three countries and four cities to my list of destinations at their behest and at times, it’s been life changing. Almost one year ago I travelled across the Atlantic Ocean to the USA for the first time in my 30 years on earth. I got sent to Miami, a city I’d never really considered visiting before but one that I ended up taking a small bite from… now I need to go back and finish my meal. However, it was a personal post work trip to the most iconic city on earth that really opened my eyes and never before had I wished for an American passport so intensely. Hyperbole aside, New York City is really an incredible place to visit and I imagine even more so to live in (although I’m certain the novelty of metropolis life wears off) and it’s somewhere that even now, a year on, still cracks my sometimes deadpan veneer with a smile.
I’m planning on heading back there in 2019 (maybe even 2018 if circumstances allow) to seek out the experiences I didn’t manage to cram into five days, but also to relive the ones that I still cherish now. Here are five of my memories that make me smile most on even the gloomiest, greyest Scottish winter days:
1. Arriving in New York City at night
My flight from Miami was delayed by over an hour, which was an inconvenience sure, however it meant that landing in -12 degrees felt more magical at 11:30pm. The sky was clear and the journey smooth and when plane turned slightly I caught my first glimpse of the NYC cityscape at night. Orange and white lights glittering below had me smiling until we hit the runway and it was almost time for me to set foot on NYC concrete for the first time.
The city was quiet (by NYC standards), snow piled up against the sides of the roads. I took a yellow cab to Midtown, mouth ajar the entire drive, overwhelmed by the sights at night; the sights I knew I’d be seeing in the flesh, in daylight, in the coming days. When I got to my hotel, I went straight to bed, like a child does on Christmas Eve. Then, lay awake for over an hour, wide eyed and planning out the day ahead.
2. Hanging out with a local
I got chatting to a guy in Miami departures, threw back a gin or two and almost missed the flight. We ended up meeting for dinner the day after and it was my first inkling into what it must feel like to be a NYC resident. He took me to Hell’s Kitchen (only a 25 minute walk from my Midtown hotel) to an eponymous restaurant which served the most delicious tacos I’ve ever tasted. I felt like I was being filmed for a scene in an HBO series, I was actually dressed up and out like a NYC local, in NYC, doing NYC things. It was awesome. After dinner, my first walk through Times Square at night, which I must say is much more impressive when the sun goes down and also outrageously busy. You’ll never see more iPhones in camera mode than you will here at midnight. I walked back to my hotel, after declining an invite to a Brooklyn party because I’m old and tired, in the freezing February night and I’ve never felt safer. I never thought I’d feel safe, alone, at night, in one of the world’s biggest and most populated cities. Don’t be stupid though.
3. Brunch at Buvette
This is up there with key attractions like the Empire State, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty etc… A good friend ‘Stories My Suitcase Could Tell‘, recommended this spot to fulfill my brunch needs. I posted about this last April and I talk about it whenever I get the chance to. This is a gorgeous destination and if you can just imagine being surrounded by red brick, bottles of a red and white, the sound of coffee being made and newspapers rustling, all whilst snow falls on the sidewalk at the wheels of the restaurant’s own branded bicycle… you’re almost there already. I bought a ridiculous backpack with one of those rolling flap bits at the top (what are they called?!) and my entire arm submerged in the contents looking for my wallet was very amusing to the staff. I started to sweat in the panic. It was all very awful and hilarious at the same time.
4. West Village
Buvette is in the West Village, but it’s a very small part. It’s actually quite confusing because all the streets are similar, but the wonder of City Mapper got me through it. I got off the Subway in downtown, next to a caged basketball court. A short walk North/North West took me into the West Village and it’s so cool and clearly unaffordable that it made me feel inadequate. My own insecurities aside, this is the place to go if you want to see the exterior used for Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment, go to Magnolia Bakery (incredible cakes), sit in a park across from said bakery and be accosted by cute, tiny, evil birds who manipulate you into sharing crumbs of your cake, visit expensive as hell boutique stores and see attractive people walking very small dogs. It’s also a good starting point to embark on your journey along the High Line, which I absolutely loved.
5. The Brooklyn Bridge
I broke my toe through the night by drop kicking my bed frame in my sleep. To be fair, the length of the bed was only suited for very tiny people, not males of normal height. Broken toe painfully concealed tightly in my trainer, I still managed to hobble to the subway and make my way to Dumbo. From there I saw the Manhattan Bridge, which I stupidly mistook for the Brooklyn Bridge. Happens all the time, right? After looking to my left and realising my idiocy, I ambled East not unlike Quasimodo to take my first painful step onto the bridge itself. It’s an incredible feat of engineering but it’s when you’re about half way across and you stop and look out at the view on both sides, all the while traffic is hurtling by below your feet, you realise how special and experience this is. I look forward to experiencing it again with both feet fully functional.