NYC DAY 6: “Oh my god, they have a dinosaur section.”

Ahh, the last day in NYC.

We had to be out of our hotel rooms by 10, making sure that all our bags were put in to our lecturer’s room in order to prevent us hauling them around the city. The coach was picking us up at 5, meaning we had to be back at the hotel at around half 4. So…6 and a half hours in New York to do whatever we wanted.

We went out for breakfast first. Jess and I went to McDonald’s while Heather and Ben went to the deli. We were in there for about half an hour before deciding to go and find what the hell happened to the other two. We found them upstairs in the deli with quite a number of other people on our course.

After chatting for a bit we split in to separate groups with Jess, Heather, Ben, Tala and I heading to Times Square. Ben needed to change a jacket he got at a what I’m just gonna call knock-off Ralph Lauren store. The polo shirts there seemed pretty good so I got one for my friend as a birthday present.

We made our way to Fifth Avenue for a bit more shopping when it started to rain. Tala, Ben and Heather decided to go back to the hotel because their feet hurt (they’d been walking for stupid hours over the past few days so I didn’t blame them), but Jess and I carried on because there was no way we weren’t going to go mad sitting around the hotel doing nothing for four/five hours.

Our route of Fifth Avenue took us first to Build-A-Bear because we are very mature grown-ups. I kept “Aww”ing at the different clothes for the bears they had, particularly the Avengers and Star Wars clothes. Jess got herself a Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon, something I’ve got already. Downstairs was the party area as well as a “Build your own Dinosaur” section. This part of the store also included Disney princess clothes. Do you ever get envious of the costumes available to teddy bears?

We’d walked past St. Patrick’s Cathedral before on the walk back from Central Park a few days previous, but this time we actually went inside. It was relatively busy, but New York isn’t exactly sparsely populated. We lit a candle each at the main altar and walked around it. The cathedral was undergoing some restoration work, meaning that there was a lot of scaffolding about.


After going to the cathedral we decided to take a look at the Apple store we’d seen. It’s a large glass cube that has an elevator and stairs leading underground to the main store. In all honesty, we mostly sat on their chairs to have a rest and maybe borrow some of their internet.

Next stop was a large toy store that stood just a few feet away from the Apple store. They sold some ridiculously expensive toys (I saw a tall toy unicorn for about £800). On the ground floor is the only place in the world where you can design your own Muppet. I daren’t wonder how much it was.

We treated ourselves to a cute top each in Abercrombie and Fitch before heading back. This was around 3 o’ clock and figured we wouldn’t get too bored if we slowly made our way back to the hotel.

After getting some t-shirts from Hooters and bumping in to Heather, Ben and Tala we went in to a small pizza place where they did huge slices for about $3. There was an attractive guy in there who we ended up nicknaming “Italian Liam Hemsworth”. We then headed back in to the hotel and up to the third floor. We could have stayed in the lobby and been sociable, but the lobby didn’t have Wi-Fi (oh, shush).

From then on out the day wasn’t entirely eventful. We grabbed our bags from the hotel room and put our breakables (cameras, laptops etc) inside our hand luggage and I saw a girl have a bit of a meltdown because she couldn’t find her passport (she found it in the end), then we got on the coach to the airport.

On the coach there we were in some traffic and noticed that there was a person in the car next to us receiving ridiculously long texts, so took fascination in the prospect of him being in trouble with his missus.

Ben and I were sat at the back and so could see the cars behind us. Some people noticed us and did some gang-looking sign to us, to which Ben slowly closed the curtain. We also drove past the largest graveyard I have ever seen. There were countless headstones that seemed to go on for miles.

The rest of the journey went a bit like this:

Airport. Queuing for check-in. Taking the piss out of people who elect to wear sunglasses inside at 6.30pm. Moaning about queuing. Worrying that our bags would be too heavy. Forgetting that the Americans use pounds and not kilos. Security. MASSIVE BODY SCANNERS. Duty-free shopping. A woman pointing to a woman in a bikini on a magazine cover and telling me it was disgusting. Metaphorically biting my tongue. Sitting. Playing a memory game on an interactive wall. Getting free Krispy Kreme doughnuts because Halim is a babe.

We walked to our gate and Ben and I saw some conveyer belts so stood on them and must have gone around on them a good three times before getting off and sitting down with the rest of the group, where we chatted and looked through the pictures we’d taken the night before.

They called us to board and Ben had the absolute delight of sitting next to me. Tala got a whole row to himself until someone wanted to move seats. What was nice was that there was no one sat behind me so I could lean my chair back without worrying about squashing someone’s legs. There was no one sat on the other side of me either, so could happily go to stretch my legs whenever I wanted.

We were seated on the plane ready to leave for about an hour and a half. Ben was halfway through Captain America: The Winter Soldier and I was happily sat watching the rest of The Imitation Game, that I started to watch on flight to New York.

The captain of the plane said to us on the tannoy “I’d like to be able to tell you that we’re going to be moving soon, but the weather’s bad and there’s lots of planes in the air, but we’ll get going as soon as possible”. We remained stationary for a bit before ever so slowly moving forward. To start with, I was worried that we were moving back to where we started and that they were going to tell us the flight was cancelled, but we were eventually on our way. The first twenty minutes were very turbulent, but soon enough we were on our shorter flight back to the UK.

Good night, New York.


NYC DAY 5: “Your accents bring Jesus in to my soul.”

For day five I wanted to do as much as I possibly could. And by this, I mean just visit the places that I couldn’t leave New York without seeing. My priority was the Brooklyn Bridge. Don’t ask me why, because I’m not too sure myself.

In the morning Jess and I went to the 9/11 Memorial. We were told that we could get the subway to South Ferry and then walk up, using the Freedom Tower as our guide. However, we decided to make it easier for ourselves and get off a station early. The whole of our train carriage was mesmerised by an adorable baby being swung around (not violently) by her dad. She enjoyed it, though, and surprisingly wasn’t sick, taking in to account that she was also on a shaky subway carriage.


We left the memorial and wandered around for a bit before fining a map that would lead us to the Brooklyn Bridge. We turned a corner to see a hoard of press taking pictures by the city hall. Through the crowd I could just about see a small group of people holding a red banner. In the background, away from the press, I could see white home-made signs that said “Say no to the Dream”.


I saw a group of three people – a woman and two men – standing on the sidewalk talking amongst themselves. I approached them and asked what was going on. The press conference was for the NYS DREAM Act. According to their website, “The New York DREAM Act would allow undocumented students who meet in-state tuition
requirements to access state financial aid and scholarships for higher education. It would also open  529 tuition savings accounts to all New York youth, and establish a DREAM Fund Commission to raise private funds for a college scholarship program for children of immigrants.


We discussed the differences between the higher education system between the UK and the US, explaining how financial aid for education works here in the UK. I thanked her for talking to us and we went on our way. I really, really wish that I’d asked for her name.

We were really excited to see a brown squirrel.
Things America has that England doesn’t: Brown. Squirrels.
Hello, Brooklyn.


 We arrived at the Brooklyn Bridge at about 12:40 and, of course, walked it. A similarity we noticed to Amsterdam was that people tied padlocks to the fencing that sectioned the pathway away from the road. At the half-way point there were some panels that told the history of the bridge and how it was built.

 The pathway continued for a good while after we got off the bridge. The pathway was fenced off so we didn’t have anywhere to go unless we turned back and walked back the way we came. We eventually found a map which led us to the subway station. On the way we spotted a small park with a large war memorial.


That evening we went to the Hard Rock Cafe. Before we went in to the restaurant we had our picture taken in front of a wall of guitars. They printed off the pictures and tried to sell them to us for $25, but none of us really wanted them that much so we turned them down.

The food at the Hard Rock was amazing. I had a pulled pork sandwich with fries, beans and coleslaw and thinking about it now is making me salivate.

We bummed around the shop upstairs for a bit then discussed what we were going to do next. We decided to still to go to the Rockefeller despite the fact that it was slightly drizzling outside.

We walked through the Square and took some pictures and a lovely girl came up to us and asked if she’d like her to take our picture and we accepted. As soon as we had said “Yes, please” she asked us where we were from and when she found out that we were from England it was like all her Christmases had come at once. She completely lost her cool and in a very star-struck voice said to us “Oh my God. Your accents…bring…Jesus into my soul”, all while playing with a lock of hair like a smitten school-girl. Ben got his phone out and asked if she wanted to be in his vlog, to which she excitedly asked “You’re a YouTuber?”. When we parted ways she still seemed amazed at the fact she’d met British people.

We got to the Rockefeller and were told that there was 50% visibility that night, but we got tickets anyway because we wouldn’t see New York at night like this for a while. Just like at Hard Rock, we had our photos taken that would then be offered to us later…at a price.

The elevator leading up to the top floor had a glass ceiling where clips were played, but we could still see all the way up to the top. It wasn’t something we were expecting, but it was definitely the most interesting elevator ride I’ve had.

The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking. I found myself mouthing “holy shit” quite a few times. It was mildly foggy but I feel that added to it as you could see the tops of the skyscrapers begin to disappear beneath it. The viewing platform allows you to see New York from all sides, meaning you don’t miss out on seeing anything.


Needless to say, my last night in New York City is definitely something I’ll remember for a very long time.

NYC DAY 4: “Come on, babe, why don’t we paint the town?”

Yeah, I know this wasn’t put up on the day – sorry! 

Day 4 of New York was intended to be the day that I got all or most of my souvenir shopping done. Jess, Heather, Ben and I were going to breakfast and then go to have a mooch around Times Square again for some shopping before heading to Central Park and then down 5th Avenue to have a look at the Apple store. However, I felt horrendous and went to back to the hotel after going to the deli for breakfast. I’d already eaten half a bag of cookies, so I was pretty full.

When I got back to the hotel my key card wouldn’t work. Not cool when you’re in horrendous pain. My card worked eventually, thank goodness. I don’t think I would have made it back down to the lobby if it didn’t.

I relaxed for the rest of the morning and early afternoon in my lounge pants, using a little hand warmer as a hot water bottle. I FaceTimed one of my friends and then my parents. It was a bit annoying how I started to feel better almost immediately after getting in to the hotel room, but I really did need that rest.

When I felt confident I could make it down the street without passing out, I got changed again and headed down 7th Avenue towards Times Square. I passed a few souvenir stores on my way there, but knew I could go have a browse in them on my way back.

When I was about to cross the street I turned to my left and instantly pulled myself back. Midtown Comics. This was definitely the kind of place worth checking out. You need to climb a flight of stairs to get to the main floor, which is filled with comic books. Then there’s a second floor that sells merchandise, like a dancing baby Groot that plays I Want You Back. They had a copy of Classic Deadpool: Volume 4 that I’m currently after, but I need to actually finish Volume 2 before I add to the collection.

So I had a browse through the stores before heading back at around 5. I headed over to Ben’s room for a bit and then Heather joined me soon after, unable to let herself in the room because, like me, her card wasn’t working.

We headed out to Hooters for dinner at around 6. We wanted to get there early because Jess and I were going to see Chicago on Broadway at 8 so ideally had to leave at 7.30.

Jess and I got to the Ambassador Theatre about five minutes before the show started. Our seats were allocated quite high but slap bang in the centre, meaning we still had a fantastic view. It’s been a while since going to see a show. Apart from the University’s Musical Theatre showcase, the last actual show I saw was Avenue Q at the Noel Coward Theatre probably six or seven years ago.

The show itself was fantastic. It was glamorous with just the right amount of grit and humour. I’m no critic, so I’m not going to go in to intense depth, but one particular plot twist at the end of the show had us speechless.

NYC DAY 3: “Once again, I’ve been defeated by a sandwich.”

Today, I got on a subway and didn’t end up anywhere I wasn’t supposed to.

We had breakfast at McDonald’s because if you’ve never had a Big Breakfast with Hot Cakes then you haven’t lived (apologies to any vegans/vegetarians out there). The vanilla latte I had with it wasn’t half bad, either.

We nipped back to our hotel room to get our cameras and brush our teeth before heading back out again. I had a rough idea of where to go, just not the specifics. We got to Penn Station and shared a Metro card between us. Metro cards work in the same way as Oyster cards, in that you top them up with money to get places, except you can share it between as many people as you like. Take note, TFL.

Because Ben and Heather had a CityPass they went a different route to Jess and I. They got a ferry to the statue and Ellis island and had a look at the museum (which was apparently crap, but that’s just what I heard from them). Jess and I went on the free ferry that took us past the statue and back. When trying to get some photographs I pondered maybe getting a new lens with more zoom.

When we got back we waited around for Heather and Ben for a while, until Heather text us saying to go because they’d be a while and they knew the way back anyway. So we hopped on the subway to Central Park.

Central Park itself made me fully aware to the fact that I was actually in New York. It sounds odd to say, but before then it hadn’t really hit me that I was in the same place where a lot of my favourite movies were filmed. We took a stroll through the southern part of the park, seeing a jazz band as well as an ice rink and finally the zoo. We didn’t buy tickets to see any of the zoo’s attractions, but from a distance we could see some sea lions getting fed. It was strange seeing wildlife amongst the surrounding concrete towers.

When we left the park we took a look down Fifth Avenue. There were some truly amazing sights such as Trump Tower and the Apple Store, which is essentially a large glass cube where you get the elevator down in to the store below.

In movies set in New York, or any popular city for that matter, you see large skyscrapers branded with a name, such as OsCorp of Stark Tower. I never thought that any of these were practical until I saw Trump Tower.

After a while we took a right and ended up in the Rockefeller plaza. There was a large Lego store and a building home to NBC news. 

We kept walking and eventually reached Time Square, at which point we had gone from a little peckish to rather hungry and with a “will literally eat anywhere as long as we can sit down” attitude. We were constantly being…how do I say this?…pestered by people trying to sell us tickets to stand-up comedy gigs.

We ended up eating at a place called Liberty Diner, below Applebee’s, next to Madame Tussauds. Again, I proved myself an unworthy competitor in the great Hannah vs. Food battle. I ordered a grilled chicken club and a diet coke. The coke came in a normal sized glass, but the food was generous. One thing I can say about being a tourist in New York is that you don’t leave a restaurant feeling unsatisfied.

When we got back to the hotel we discussed our plans for the next two days. Tomorrow we’re planning on going souvenir shopping followed by Chicago at 8. Then, seeing as it’s our last full day on Wednesday possibly going to Coney Island as well as the Brooklyn Bridge and Wall St, followed by a final meal out and a visit to the Rockefeller observation deck.

NYC DAY 2: “This drink’s the size of my face”

Besides from going to Time Square, eating and trying to get tickets to see a show, we didn’t really have much planned today.

We got up at about ten, showered and then Jess and I headed off in to the concrete jungle. I thought I knew which direction to go in, but it turned out I was wrong. It’s my first time in New York, leave me alone.

We eventually made it to Time Square where we ate and Applebee’s and sweet baby Jesus the food was good. We both ordered an Artisan Grilled Chicken Ciabatta and a bottomless drink. You know how in the U.K. you’ll order a bottomless drink and it’ll come in a pint glass, if you’re lucky? This drink came in the most enormous glass I’ve ever seen.   

I couldn't finish it. But my was a beautiful defeat.
I couldn’t finish it. But my God…it was a beautiful defeat.
I couldn’t finish it. It defeated me. But my God, it was a beautiful defeat.

We were trying to find a place where we could get discounted tickets to see a show. I personally wanted to go and see Avenue Q because I’d seen it before and it was a cheap ticket. We approached this lovely guy called Eduardo from Colombia. He told us that he could do us tickets to Avenue Q but because it wasn’t on Broadway anymore we may as well go see a show that’s actually on Broadway for the same price that has higher production value. When we arrived at the ticket office we discussed going to see Wicked, but its $160 price tag wasn’t within our range, so we got tickets to see Chicago on Tuesday night for a healthy $99.50. I’ve never even seen the film before, but thanks to the university’s musical theatre showcase, We Both Reached For The Gun is one of my favourite songs.

Our next port of call was Toys R Us, naturally, because we’re proper adults. Inside they have a massive ferris wheel that looks over the entire store. They even have an animatronic T-Rex and a massive model of Optimus Prime.


There was a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine, which was creepy as well as funny. If you get why this is, good for you, you spend a lot of time looking at SFM videos…or goths dancing. If not, then ignore everything I’ve just said and don’t let your mind me tainted.

There was so much cool stuff, like a comic book section as well as a huge Optimus Pride model. I was so close to getting a selfie with Spider Man. So. Close.

Following the theme of toys, of course we went to the Disney store. They had the most adorable baby Kristoff doll and the escalator was lit with the lanterns from Tangled. Urgh, my heart.

 I kept seeing a lot of children’s Avengers toys and clothes and the urge to buy them for a family friend’s little boy was too strong. I almost wish that I was little enough to fit in to a Thor costume.

We walked further down the street and came to a set of red stairs and instantly recognised them from The Amazing Spider Man 2 (can any of you guess that I’m a Marvel fan?).

After a pit stop at Starbucks we went to collect our tickets for Chicago and made our way back to the hotel, but not before stopping at B&H, which is a massive camera store. I was after a second hand Nikon lens (a birthday present from my parents) but realised that I didn’t wanna go ahead and get one straight away, just because I was wary of spending my money too quickly.

We chilled out at the hotel for a bit then headed out again in search of food at around 8. We stopped at Wendy’s because it was cheap. 

Order a small drink, not a medium.

NYC DAY 1: I never want to look at an airport again.

The last time I blogged about something other than university was in August of last year where I made a post saying that I would be writing lots of entries about my recent holiday to Italy…oops.

So this time round I’ve made the decision to (try and) blog every day so a) I don’t forget stuff that’s happened and b) I don’t end up with a massive list of blog posts that I need to write. Go me?

Let’s begin…shall we?

So, 21st March 2015. My twenty-first birthday, woo! I get up and 6am and rudely awaken Ben with my bedside table lamp. I didn’t sleep that great that night, probably because of my cold and Ben’s snoring. Apparently I snored too. I swear we’re an actual old married couple sometimes.

So yeah, queuing happened as well as a woman moaning about the queue followed by more queuing followed by me getting felt up at airport security and then finally food. I’d like to emphasise that the first queue was an hour long and that was just to check in.


When we arrived at the gate, three Muslim people from our course were “randomly” searched. Yeah, the airport staff weren’t even subtle about it.

There were no shortage of films to watch on the plane, which was a relief. They had films that I’m pretty sure aren’t out on DVD in the UK yet, like Big Hero Six and The Judge. Despite the shed load of films, that 7 hour flight felt so long. The food was so good, though. It got quite warm so they started to hand out chocolate ice cream and water. Aww yes.

So, you know how I said we were waiting in queues a lot before we got on the plane? Turned out that was NOTHING compared to what happened when we reached passport control. Again, we were probably waiting for about an hour before we got our passports checked. Once we were through we found that our luggage had been taken off the conveyer belt, so that part was easy, as was the customs line. We were in New York and we were free.

Or so we thought.

The boredom got too much.

We had to wait for everyone else to come through from passport control and customs. We were mostly all together, so it shouldn’t have taken that long surely? WRONG. Our lecturers didn’t make an appearance for another hour or so. Without them we couldn’t get on the coach to go to the hotel. I was texting someone from the Photography course, who were also going to NY on the same day as us but on a later flight, and he told me that they had already arrived and were on their way to their hostel. Needless to say, that was frustrating to hear. Two out of three of our lecturers arrived eventually and after a while we FINALLY got on to our coach to the hotel, which is located opposite Madison Square Garden.

The hotel. How do I begin to describe the hotel?

The lobby is large, busy and inviting. When you arrive on our floor, however, it’s a stark contrast. Imagine a classic horror film or game that’s set in a hotel. Can you imagine those dim-lit hallways with old-fashioned interiors? Yeah? Nailed it.

Personally, the fact that this hotel is rough around the edges and looks like it should be haunted makes me warm to it. It’s eery and creepy and totally imperfect. But it’s got its charm. Don’t take my word for it, though; this is coming from a girl who had pictures of zombies above her bed when she was ten.

Our original plan was to go to Hooters. Because Hooters. However, because the majority of the group aren’t 21 we couldn’t go in as a group. So we pottered about and eventually a few of us went to McDonald’s because it was easy and we were tired and grumpy and couldn’t really be bothered to go walking around 5th Avenue with the rest of them. Then bed.

Okay, so my 21st birthday wasn’t exactly a massive celebration, but I spent it in one of the most famous cities in the world.