If you know me IRL, you’re probably more than aware of the tiny fact that I went to New York earlier this month. If you don’t, get ready to know about it.
My trip to New York was consummated by the fact that flights from Manchester to JFK airport were much cheaper than I imagined. I was able to get a return trip for only £350. I was also able to spend a couple of days covering an event, which helped to reduce the cost of the trip (more about that shortly).
To keep prices down, I decided to stay in an hostel in the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan. A pretty-expensive area in terms of hotels, but a great location to get round to all of the places I had in mind. I won’t name and shame the hostel I stayed in, but it wasn’t really a positive experience for me. Despite this, It was pretty cheap and I think I actually stayed out more than I may have originally just so I didn’t have to go back.
I landed in New York on a Friday afternoon, which meant I had time to go find the hostel, scout the local area, and have some food and drinks before the event began on the Saturday. There are bars, restaurants, shops EVERYWHERE so you’ll never be without an option – and there seemed to be a Starbucks or McDonalds on every street corner.
Friday was also my first chance to experience the dreaded NY Subway. It was entirely overwhelming to begin with, but I eventually managed to get to grips with it – mostly thanks to the Citymapper app, which I would definitely recommend.
Saturday and Sunday were spent at RuPaul’s DragCon, the first time the event had been held in New York. If you’re interested, you can read my coverage of the event on Into here and here. With 35,000 attendees, it was hella busy but so much fun. I met lots of lovely people, including some amazing costumes and outfits, and got to attend some really interesting panel discussions.
Monday was my first proper touristy day and I did it in style. I headed to South Street Seaport and hopped on an cruise along the Hudson River which let me see Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. The tour I went on was only an hour and didn’t let you get off, but I was fine with this – there’s plenty of other tours which let you explore the islands and the statue up-close if you fancy that.
After the tour, I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a little bit confusing at first to find out where the start of the walkway was, but when I found it, I was good to go. The walk isn’t that long really, I think it probably took me around 40 minutes to get across.
I headed to DUMBO (short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and hung out in the Waterfront Park for a good few hours. The park has an excellent viewpoint of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, alongside a great spot to watch New York go through a busy day. Hanging around the waterfront with a book and just admiring the views was an excellent way to spend the day, I could not recommend it further. I also got a bit sunburnt here, oops.
Heading back across the Brooklyn Bridge was a bit of a chore (who decided that if you cross a bridge, you have to cross it to get back eh?!!?) as the sun was in full heat mode and I hadn’t come fully-prepared in terms of hydration. Beers were waiting for me on the other side though so made it entirely worthwhile.
Tuesday I spent doing the museums. I headed to the Museum of the Moving Image to get my movie nerd on, and there was an ace Jim Henson exhibition on there featuring some of the original Muppets characters and props. There was also some original arcade machines on the top-floor that you could have a play on.
After I hung out with the Muppets, I had some lunch and headed over to MoMA. I’ve always heard good things about this museum, and some of the exhibitions that have been held there in the past have really intrigued me. However, when I got there and saw how busy it was, I decided not to pay for full entry and just had a wander around the free parts, such as the garden area.
Instead of MoMA, I went and spent a bit of time in Central Park and it’s as beautiful as you hear. It’s also MASSIVE, and I was hoping to be able to visit it again but never got the time to.
Tuesday evening, I decided to splash the cash and go to Madison Square Garden to see Arcade Fire perform. It was a very spontaneous decision, as I had only discovered they were playing there a couple of days earlier. As the arena was so near to my hostel, I decided to treat myself. They were exceptional, and put on a spectacular show. If you ever get the chance to see them, DO IT.
Wednesday was my last day and I decided to take it a little bit easy as I knew I had my flight later on and would need to go back and forth to pick up my suitcase from the hostel. I headed to Times Square but instantly realised that it wasn’t for me. There were far too many people and tourists there, and more than enough dodgy Mickey Mouse mascots.
I headed to Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan as I had bought a ticket to go to the NBC Studios Tour. I’m a massive fan of the TV show ’30 Rock’ so being able to see the famous location was a big deal to me. The tour was great, we got to see the SNL studios and make our own talk show. After the tour, I even got invited to attend a monologue rehearsal for Seth Meyer’s late night show. He practised the evening’s jokes with us, and our reaction helped the writers decide which jokes to keep in for the final recording – it was brilliant.
My time in New York went really quickly. I was surprised at how enjoyable I found NY. I was sort of expecting it to be a bit like London, where it was swamped-full of people. Don’t get me wrong, it was busy but, minus Times Square, it never really felt like it.
I really enjoyed myself at New York and it’s definitely somewhere I want to visit again. I could even see myself wanting to live there at some point, although I’m sure that probably won’t ever happen.
Have you been to New York before? Comment on the post and let me know your favourite spots!