Mini Adventures

Empire State of Mind – Part 2

So in continuation of my epic love letter to New York, here is Part 2 of my adventures.

Bethesda

Bethesda Terrace ❤

After a powerhouse start to our New York leg of the trip, things only got better the more of the city we discovered.
The next day we headed off to our first official tour in New York City and which tour would be better than a tour for the show that first made me fall in love with the city, the Sex and the City tour.
I cannot speak highly enough of this tour, not only as a fan of the show, but also because of how in depth the tour guide was when it came to anything and everything New York related and just how much fun we had!
Starting at the Pulitzer Fountain and outside probably one of the most aesthetically pleasing buildings I have ever seen, the Plaza Hotel, was almost poetic as it is also the setting of one of my favourite episodes in the entire series of the show. The famous line uttered by Carrie in “Ex and the City” when she bumps into Mr Big leaving his engagement party to Natasha the stick figure with no soul and tells him “your girl is lovely Hubble” (quoting the famous scene from “The Way We Were”, so many amazing movie references, my cinephile senses are in overdrive) and he says “I don’t get it” where she responds “You never did…” is one of my favourite scenes between Carrie and Big so starting the tour at the Grand Army Plaza, on the very spot where that scene was filmed, had me crying from the utter happiness of it all.

So once I had one of my many minor conniptions of happiness that I experienced while on this trip, we set off on the tour. We covered so much ground and had quite a few stops all ranging from Midtown, the West Village for some amazing red velvet cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery, Soho and Tribeca, the Meatpacking District with its gorgeous and old timey cobblestone streets and Chelsea where we got to go inside Budakkan, the restaurant made famous in the Sex and the City movie as the venue for Carrie and Bigs reception dinner. We subsequently made a reservation and had dinner there that night and it was one of the top 10 meals I’ve ever had in my entire life! Despite my flair for the dramatic I am not exaggerating when I say that. It is a must visit for any foodie. The tour ends at O’Nieals Grand Street bar which stood in for Scout, the bar owned by Steve and Aidan in the show, and we all had a cosmo (naturally) and it was the best cosmo I have ever had. (Again I promise I am not exaggerating, cross my heart!)

Cosmo

We topped off an amazing day with a high tea spread in the Palm Court of the Plaza Hotel. The food was amazing and the atmosphere elegant and reminiscent of 1920’s glamour. Such a highlight of the trip and a great way to experience how the other half live.

More tours ensued in the following days with another standout tour The Gossip Girl tour, run by the same company as the previous tour. We even had the same tour guide, Lindsey, which we loved because she is hilarious and absolutely fabulous. It was the same format as the Sexy and the City Tour with episodes played back while we drive to each next stop and all the landmarks from each episode pointed out as we passed them. This tour encompassed a lot more of the Upper East Side which we adored as we got to stop at places like The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the upper end of Central Park which we otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to see. Finishing the tour at the high end department store Henri Bendels on Fifth Avenue, that the likes of Blair Waldorf and Serena Van Der Woodson visited regularly, we did a spot of shopping. We had to forgo the $300 headbands that Blair was always wearing (but tried to look unfazed by the prices as we were trying to give off the illusion of being high society ladies) but I was cajoled into buying an $80 body cream! They’re very clever putting extremely attractive men at the entrance of the store. As if I was going to say no to the model applying hand cream on me!! Well played Bendels, well played.

Met

“Could you do me a favour? Move down a step.”

After that we headed into Central Park. I can honestly say that there is no amount of time that I could spend in Central Park that would be enough. We adored every part of it. Starting at the Central Park Duck Pond (also Blair Waldorfs favourite place in the city) just off the Grand Army Plaza, we wound our way up through the Mall and Literary Walk made famous in movies like When Harry Met Sally and Maid in Manhattan, it is absoloutley stunning with all the trees hanging overhead you can’t see the city at all and you are just absorbed in the peace and natural beauty of the park. We continued on to Bethesda Terrace (my favourite part of the park) filled with artists and street performers and then up to the path that leads to the Boat Pond where there was the usual collection of people with their miniature sail boats.
We then headed over to the Central Park Boathouse for an amazing lunch right on the deck overlooking the lake. I highly recommend a visit to this New York City fixture made famous by the likes of Seinfeld and Sex and the City. (Again I had palpitations of excitement as soon as we were sat outside on the deck which is notoriously hard to get) If you are visiting though a reservation is imperative as the wait is well over an hour and even with a reservation we waited about 40 minutes but it was well worth it.
After lunch we headed back to the Met and spent a few hours viewing exhibits like the Impressionism exhibit, with all of our favourite works by Claude Monet, and the Punk Rock fashion exhibit which was this year’s headline exhibit for the Met Gala.

Central Park

The following days included a Movie and TV Sites tour (yes we love TV and Movie themed tours) where we got to visit the Soup Nazi restaurant and had lunch at McGees pub in Midtown which is the inspiration behind McLarens Pub from How I Met Your Mother and makes a mean Rueben Sandwich. (If you go to New York City and don’t eat a Reuben sandwich you have basically cheated yourself out of food heaven)
We also spent a couple of days exploring the Lower Manhattan neighbourhoods like Chinatown and Little Italy, Soho with all the amazing cast iron architecture, cobblestone streets with so much personality and unique boutique shopping, and Greenwich Village with its arty student population and Washington Square park where you can hope to spot the infamous man that wheels in his grand piano every day for a performance. Of course we also went and saw the “Friends” building while in Greenwich Village and as is anything TV related, was very exciting for me. There is always something quirky and unique happening in the downtown neighbourhoods and we visited some of the best bars and nightspots there too.

Friends

Soho

Finally (I know I don’t want it to be over either!!!) we headed over to Brooklyn for a morning and got to cross the famous Brooklyn bridge. Not much time was actually spent in Brooklyn so it’s definitely somewhere I plan on coming back to on my next visit but we spent the rest of the day in downtown Manhattan, specifically the areas around the Civic Centre and the Financial District. Stone street is full of great NYC establishments that have been around for years, awesome pubs like Ulysses Folk House, frequented by Wall Street types and has great food at super affordable prices. Wall Street is impressive and the entrance to the Stock Exchange equally as impressive and imposing. It’s just a very eclectic mix of architecture downtown which I really loved. Mostly surrounded by your typical high-rise buildings but then interspersed with older buildings like the Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall National Memorial. The 9/11 memorial is also around the corner from the Stock Exchange as is the World Trade Centre currently still under construction.

 

We spent our last night in New York City in the company of friends and had dinner at a fun Mexican restaurant in the Meatpacking DistrictBrooklyn Bridge called Tortilla flats. It has a fun atmosphere with Monday night being bingo night so we sipped (AH-mazing) frozen margaritas and played bingo where a winning scores your table a round of free tequila shots which we totally won! For a really fun night with a group of friends I highly recommend it.

As we parted with New York after 7 days, it felt like nowhere near enough because the more time we spent there, the more we fell in love with everything about it. Even the loud noisy street vendors and hawkers selling “I heart New York” paraphernalia and the rude subway commuters!
Until next time New York City….
And the next (and final) leg of our America trip was sunny Los Angeles, so stay tuned for that.

As always, more photos of the trip are on instagram @miss_norton

Xoxo
A

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