I am a huge fan of TV and movies, and it is through this often addicting habit that I fell in love with New York City. It is romanticised on screens everywhere in the world and I would watch the typical opening credit pan over Manhattan shot with wonder and desire to experience it for myself.
To say I had placed New York on this ridiculous pedestal of unreachable expectation is an understatement. But there it was, the city that changed my mind about even wanting to visit America at all, just waiting for me.
Like all good decisions the initial idea to travel to America came from a few too many beverages, except I was truly serious. The planning began and I knew that while we had a basic itinerary planned out which involved Orlando and San Diego, the journey for me would have to start in NYC.
It was December 2012 and our previous international travel experience involved Fiji…but here we were after what felt like a million hours, 2 flights later in JFK airport needing a taxi to Manhattan realising we really had no idea what we were doing! Very sleep deprived we let ourselves follow this man to his shady unmarked ‘taxi’ before waking up and realising this was not at all the situation we needed! So into the line for the yellow taxi’s we went as they looked like the ones on the movies so obviously they were legit!
During this trip I realised I may have placed too much emphasis on the fact that all my New York research was done by watching Friends…
Cold and tired we approached that famous skyline at night, the lights captivating me while Alicia Keys sung ‘in New Yooooork” in my head. I was finally here!
With five days to spend exploring we set out to get lost. And that we did, wandering through a door to realise we had just stumbled into Central Station! Every major landmark seemed to be within walking distance. It took maybe 3 days to get the courage to jump on the subway, but once we did it was like why hadn’t we been using these cheap, bumpy, fast trains the entire time?
When waiting in line to get to the observation deck of the Empire State Building a lady behind us commented ‘I bet Cary Grant didn’t have to wait in this line!’ So true. Cold, windy and crowded I didn’t really find it the romantic scene from the movies I expected but my movie moment was to come!
I almost found myself falling into a familiar routine. Mornings were about bagels and coffee and yes, American coffee is pretty awful compared to ours (sorry America) but hey, I’ll take what I can get! I always seem to associate places with their food so egg rolls, perfectly cooked Filet Mignon, meatball subs and all of the sweet potato fries I could find became my diet. Eating mixed with walking around exploring new things; these are my favourite things to do when travelling.
Five days only gave a taste of what New York has to offer but it gave me a pretty great overview and answered a lot of questions that I had.
So what of the romanticisation and unreal expectations of New York City? I can’t really comment on that because well, I got engaged on our visit!
On a cold winter’s day, after a stroll through Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in front of my favourite Monet painting I was presented with a ring! Afterwards we had a beautiful lunch at the Boat House looking out over the lake in Central Park, fire roaring and a piano playing in the background. Then, just like they would on Friends, we went to a Knicks basketball game at Madison Square Garden.
So I would have to say that my expectations were surpassed and New York continues to hold an important part of me, quite possibly holding onto the title of my favourite city in the world (I probably need to visit more cities first though, to be sure).