New York Pt 2: The homes of the TV shows
It was another hot day so we headed back to Central Park for the day. It was stiflingly hot with no breeze, and with no pool to jump into, even I was struggling with the heat a little bit. Nevertheless, I got through it, and we had another good few hours in the sun.
That evening, we went back down to Battery Park for our sunset tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The hour long boat ride was amazing, taking us around the harbour and within a stones throw away of the Statue of Liberty. It was incredibly impressive, and with the sunset, we were able to take some amazing photographs.
We also saw the Brooklyn Bridge, and got some great pictures of New York's skyline, which again, looked phenomenal.
For just $12, the tour was worth every penny. A must-see when visiting NYC.
Although it was another gorgeous day, we still had a few of the big department stores to have a nosey in, so our first stop was Bloomingdales. The store is absolutely huge, and with lots of money, one could easily spend the whole day in there. However, that could also be said of Macy's and Sak's Fifth Avenue. It actually wasn't that enjoyable, as neither of us had any money to spend. Bloomingdale's is where I saw the $1,400 Michael Kors bag though, which made me feel great when I only spent $274 on mine..... And it's not a knock-off!! That's what I call good shopping!
We then walked for what seemed like hours to Schwartz FAO, where Sarah and I queued with the children to go on the big Piano, featured in Big! It was great fun but annoying trying to get a photo of each other as there were kids running in front of the camera. I was screaming in my head at the mothers who clearly knew we didn't want their kids in our photos but didn't do anything to get them out of the way! Sarah managed to get one photo of me and I think my annoyance shows.......
We then had a quick look in Macy's, before taking the subway to Soho, where we had planned to go out that night. We settled on a nice restaurant for dinner where we both had fish and salad, and a glass of wine. Soho is a fantastic area, with a great atmosphere. It is not far from Greenwich Village, which is probably my favourite district in Manhattan. I definitely prefer the east side of the city than the west.
After dinner, we hopped back on the subway to our hostel to get ready for our night out. Naomi, a girl from Manchester who we were sharing a room with also came out with us. We went back into Soho to find a few bars there. It is very difficult to know where to go in New York if you are not familiar with the city. We found a nice bar where we had a drink, before heading to a late night bar called Gold Bar. We had been recommended this bar by a friend of a friend who is a DJ in New York. Apparently, it was the place to be on a Sunday. That is, if you are a millionaire!!
It was a great bar, playing great music, but it was ridiculously expensive. The cheapest drink was $15 but then you're always expected to tip, so one drink would set us back $17. I kid you not, there was a bottle of champagne on the menu for $29,000! More than both mine and Sarah's engagement rings put together! We just had the one and left in search of a slightly cheaper place. We did eventually find somewhere, had a couple drinks then headed back to the hostel.
Today we were checking out of the Broadway Hotel and Hostel and moving to a hotel on 23rd street, on the east side of Manhattan. It was really great that we got to experience both sides of Manhattan.
Luckily, we had pretty much seen everything we wanted to sight-seeing wise, so with the weather so hot at 90 degrees, we were looking forward to a few days of sunbathing.
We woke up just in time to finish packing and changing before we checked out and got on the subway over to the east side. Annoyingly, we got off at the wrong stop and we had to walk for what felt like miles, to our next hotel. Our suitcases had got so heavy, I was starting to wish I had kept my backpack! Anyway, we finally arrived and we checked into our room. This time we had booked a private room so it was much better. Very basic, but clean. As we got there just before breakfast finished we took advantage of the free food then headed to a nearby public pool, which was free. Despite the amount of kids running around, it was a big pool and a nice place to sunbathe. Our hangovers had begun to kick in by that point so it was exactly what we needed!
We woke up to another glorious day so we headed back to the pool. We were under the impression that the pool opened at 11, but as we were queuing we quickly realised we were the only people on the right side of 50! It turned out 11am-midday was seniors only, and had to be at least 55!
We finally got access to the pool at midday, and settled ourselves there until the sun went down.
After a quick shower back at the hotel we headed back out and walked down 3rd Ave and Bowery in the direction of Little Italy. We hoped to find Patricia Field's shop, but we couldn't find it. We did come across some lovely bars and restaurants though, stopping in one for a cheeky $3 Margarita, before making our way to Little Italy. It was a hot and humid night, and just as we had finished eating the heavens opened. We had planned to go straight back to the hotel after dinner, but the thunderstorm meant we had to go find refuge in a nearby bar, and wait it out with a glass of wine! Luckily, by the time we had finished our drink, the storm had eased, so we made our way to the subway stop.
We had just one more shopping outlet still to see, so we got up early and headed to Jersey Gardens. The outlet is about 30 minutes out of New York City, and we got the bus from Port Authority at Times Square. It is quite different from Woodbury Common, in that it is all indoor, and the shops are much more high street brand names and cheaper, rather than top designers. We had a great day, mainly because the clothes were far more within our price range. I had been looking for a pair of my favourite brand jeans, For All Mankind, as I had been told I could get them for a fraction of the price I pay in the UK. Our first stop was Saks, where I tried on about 8 pairs of jeans. I settled on one pair, which, after tax, I expected to pay around £80. I got a nice surprise when I got to the till. No tax was added to them and I found I had a 30% discount card for Saks, so I actually only ended up spending £50 on them! In England, they retail at, at least £170, so I felt I'd found myself a nice little bargain!
After a few hours of shopping, we had dinner in a lovely Mexican restaurant, where we both had an amazing salad and a couple of frozen margarita's to wash it down, before heading back to the bus terminal. We were both absolutely shattered. Shopping really takes is out of you!
We made our way back to Times Square, on the corner of 51st street and Broadway, for a TV and Movie Tour. We had expected an open top bus, so when it arrived to pick us up and it was actually a coach, we were initially a little disappointed. Having said that, it turned out to be a lot of fun. All he guides who work on these tours are aspiring actors, so very enthusiastic about everything! Our guide, Jesse, was very funny and entertaining, and often quite embarrassing, when he would suddenly burst into a song and dance. We didn't stop off at every film location site, but Jesse did point out many locations from films, including, The Devil Wears Prada, Hitch, Spiderman, The Godfather, the Mode Offices from Ugly Betty, as well as, When Harry Met Sally.
We also stopped off and got out at Will Smith's house in I Am Legend......
The Ghostbusters Headquarters.....
The Huckstable's house in The Cosby Show.......
And, saving the best till last, Monica, Rachel, Joey and Chandler's apartment block in Friends.......
We also went for lunch at Ben's Pizza; a location they have used in Sex and The City and Men In Black II.
The tour lasted about 3 and a half hours, and all in all, it was very entertaining. Definitely worth the $36 we paid. Throughout the tour, Jesse would show us clips from the films and TV shows he had shown us locations for, so it was interesting to see what the locations looked like in the films.
We were also shown where celebrities including Janet Jackson, Renee Zellwegger, Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, and David Schwimmer live. Janet Jackson lives in Trump International by Columbus Circle, setting her back $50,000 a month!
The bus dropped us off outside the building where many of the cast from Gossip Girl live, on Madison Avenue. From there Sarah and I walked to Central Park, after realising, although we had been to Central Park, it was merely to sunbathe and we hadn't actually had a look around.
We walked first to Strawberry Fields, which was commissioned after the $1m donation given by Yoko Ono to help towards the conservation of the park, following John Lennon's death. Although, the whole Strawberry Fields area is a memorial to John Lennon, the plaque on the ground, spelling out, Imagine, is the only clear tribute to him. The plaque, I thought, actually looked a little tacky as people had placed teddy's all around it.
We then walked on to the Bethesda Fountain, and on to the conservatory where there is a statue of Hans Christian Anderson, and also Alice In Wonderland.
Central Park runs for miles and miles, so obviously, we didn't have time to walk it all.
We arrived back at the hotel early in the evening to get ready for our final night out in NYC, and of the whole trip!
We met a friend of ours called Emily, who we had met in Fiji a few months before. Emily is from New York State, and she had moved to New York City for the summer on an internship. She took us to this amazing restaurant called Metro. I probably had my favourite meal in months. It was great to catch up with Emily for a couple of hours, before saying our goodbye's again. Sarah and I then jumped on the subway to go back in to Soho. We had been recommended a good club to go to, but as it was only early, we decided to check out some of the bars first.
We ordered a drink, and just as we were about to pay, this guy who was stood behind us told the bar man to put it on his tab. Out of politeness, we got chatting to him and he left a while later, but not before giving the bar man a wad of cash, so Sarah and I could pretty much drink as much I wine as we wanted all with his cash! We didn't get our purses out all night! That gave us a good enough reason to stay in that bar longer than we had first planned, and by the time we left, I think we were both a little tipsy! I was really going to miss the generosity of American men when I arrived back home!
When we finally left, we went in search of the club, but we couldn't find it, so we went to a bar called O'Neals, which is the bar Steve owns in Sex and the City. Unfortunately, it wasn't very good, so we left and went home.
We both woke up with extremely sore heads, so we scrambled out of bed, had breakfast, and headed straight for the pool. The pool closes between 3 and 4pm, which is really annoying, and by the time we arrived back at 4pm, the clouds had turned black and it started to pour down.
That evening we walked to a lovely restaurant called The Smith, just a few blocks down from where we were staying. With it being a Friday night, it was absolutely packed, and everybody looked amazing. With my hair scraped back, specs on, and no make-up on, I felt incredible unattractive! Nevertheless, we had a nice meal, and left for an early night in.
Our last full day of travelling. I could not believe it was coming to an end. Although I was looking forward to catching up with all my family and friends, I felt gutted that it was all going to be over so soon.
As the weather stopped our plans to have a last day in the sun, we decided to go for a pedicure and manicure. Although we couldn't really afford it, we put it on the credit card and we did find a really good deal for just $27. That killed a some time and it was a lovely, relaxing couple of hours.
We then walked further down 3rd Avenue and after much searching, we did find Patricia Field's shop. She is the costume designer for Sex and the City, but I wasn't very impressed. I thought it was a sex shop at first!
That evening, we went for a nice meal and a couple of drinks. Neither Sarah or I wanted to draw anymore money out of the cash machine, meaning we were limited to what we could buy. We ran out of money by 9pm, so we had to resort to another early night.
August 23rd - Time to go home!
August 23rd and 241 days on from the start of our amazing journey. It was now time to go home. I am writing this a couple of weeks later, but I remember how sick to the stomach I felt at the prospect of this. I have appreciated every single day I have been able to travel, but I was physically gutted it was all coming to an end.
Each day has been a different adventure, and we have met some amazing people who I hope will be lifelong friends.
Sarah and I had been planning this trip together for almost 3 years before it actually came to fruition, so for it all to be over in what seems like the blink of an eye, is just so surreal. A year ago, Sarah and I were itching to get away and everyday we would count down the days. I cannot believe that was a year ago. This has been the best year of my life, and I know I will cherish all the amazing memories I now have for the rest of my life.
There are certain places I have been to, and some things I have done which I will never get to do again, and then there are others which I can't wait to do again.
So many things pop into my head when I think of the past 8 months, but the ones that particularly stick out in my mind are the 3 weeks we spent on Koh Tao in Thailand and the day we fell in love with diving, tubing in Laos and the people we met there. That was probably the single best day of my life. It took me 5 days to recover but so worth it!
Then there was the jungle trek in Chang Mai, and meeting the Lahoo Hill Tribe, who were truly inspirational.
From there we made our way to Australia and our university reunion when Helen came out to meet us, and the amazing time we had on Fraser Island. The kiwi experience in New Zealand was incredible, meeting amazing people, and doing crazy activities like the Nevis Bungy Jump, and the Franz Josef Glacier hike, which was a once in a lifetime experience.
Next came North America, and the fabulous week spent in Las Vegas. I want to do that every year!
Vancouver was great fun staying with Lindsay and her family.
But, I think the most sentimental and overwhelming part of my trip was visiting the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. I felt a great sense of pride towards my mum, and I am so glad I have got to see for myself a part of my mum's life which was such a huge achievement for her and what was such a huge part of her life.
Finally, the last two weeks spent in New York were incredible and so much fun. It was the perfect ending to the perfect trip. The only downside of New York was that Sarah and I had very little money, but what could we expect after travelling the world for 8 months! Next time I go back those Manolo Blahnik's will have my name written all over them!
We arrived back in the UK on the morning of August 24th. We landed at Heathrow airport and Sarah's friend Lucy who lives in London with her boyfriend, was there to meet us at the airport so they gave us a lift to Kings Cross where we had to catch a train to Wakefield Westgate...... Now that was a shock to the system!
Since I have been home I have had a fun packed few weeks catching up with all my friends and family. First there was our annual trip to Liverpool for the Beatle's festival, which never fails to disappoint and was great fun. Then last weekend was my birthday, which was excellent. The weather was gorgeous so we were able to sunbathe for the day, before some of my other friends came over in the evening for a BBQ. We then had a great night out in Headingly and Leeds.
What the future now holds I don't really know. I have booked to go back to Thailand on September 28th, to what has been my favourite place of our adventure, Koh Tao. I have booked to do more dive courses and hopefully in a few months I should be working as a professional diver. I don't expect this to be a permanent career move, but what this last 8 months has made me realise, or confirm, is that I am not a 9 to 5 office girl. I need to be outdoors and active, so hopefully this will be a perfect move for me for just a couple of years.
I still hope that one day I will be able to find a job in television, which is something I have always wanted to do since I was small. While I am in Thailand I plan to do an underwater videography course which will then enable me to work as a videographer out there. I will build up a portfolio of work, and I hope that, along with the work I have done at the Examiner, will help me towards finding my dream job in television, or at least give me a step in the right direction.
Whether this plan works out or not, only time will tell, but I am happy enough in knowing I now have a goal to aim for.
I am looking forward to seeing what the next chapter of my life will bring.
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