Monday 30 December 2013

New York, New York

Hi strangers, long time no blog update! It's been nice to take an extended break from everything recently, including work, uni and blogging, but it's time to get back to it and I was suggested to write a 'What I got for Christmas' post to get myself back into the swing of things, and.. here it is in a nutshell: a trip to New York. 

I still got a little stocking to open on Christmas morning full of sweet surprises that included the typical new PJs, slippers and fluffy socks, chocolates, a pair of Pandora charms and a small dose of make up too, but my 'main present' was combined with my 21st birthday present and was an amazing four day Christmassy visit to the Big Apple! If there's a time to visit New York it's definitely got to be December.

The following pictures are all taken on a phone (my iPhone or my mum's Samsung Galaxy) so they're not jaw dropping quality, but they'll do, and I thought I'd share a snippet of my life and tell you about my time in the most amazing city I've ever been to:

Saturday 30th November:
- My 21st birthday! 
- I had absolutely no idea what my 21st birthday present was going to be from my parents so it was a complete and utter surprise, but even more so when they tricked me slightly to throw me off the scent.
- Their present was one of my last to open and it was a sheet of paper that said 'Guess What Your Present Is... 3 Nights in a Spa Hotel in York' and I was absolutely over the moon! 
- Then, my grandparents passed me my present from them and it was 150.. US dollars.. which completely threw me and I asked if I was missing something as I didn't have any trips to America planned soon, which triggered a couple of smirks around the room as my Dad passed me a 2nd envelope in the same format as the first, with one small alteration: 'Guess What Your Present Is... 3 Nights in New York'.
- Smiles all around and a little while for the shock to sink in, and I looked at the date it said: 19th December, less than 3 weeks to wait! 

Thursday 19th December:
- Departure day! 
- A 2am wake up call ready to set off to Manchester airport and take the first flight out of Manchester to Brussels, and then on to JFK Airport. (It's worth noting that we flew with Brussels Airlines and they were absolutely fantastic, I'd completely recommend them and use their air service again if possible.)
- We took a shared taxi from JFK to our hotel and that was an experience in itself - inner city driving is scary! It's like there's no rules of the road and everyone just pulls in and out wherever they feel like it.. at high speeds with constant horn beeping!
- We did have plenty of time on this first day to explore and tick some things off our 'to do' list, but all that travelling had worn us out and we weren't adjusted to the time difference either, so we just had a little wander round the streets nearby soaking it all in admiring the towering skyscrapers and over the top Christmas decs, grabbed a quick McDonalds (they have food we don't have in UK McDonalds!!), and snuggled ourselves into bed ready for a big day in the morning.

Passport and Boarding Pass | Duty Free Shopping: Mac & Clarins | Frozen Rivers in Canada | Flying over America | First Glimpse of NY Skyline in a Fast Moving Taxi

Friday 20th December:
- Waking up at 6am for our biggest day of the trip my mum greeted me with breakfast in bed of a huge cherry danish pasty and supersize New York coffee.
- Up and at 'em before 8am, we walked a few steps down the road to Grand Central Station, picked up our pre-bought New York Pass that allows you free entry to all the sights of the city as well as 'hop on, hop off' of the tour bus service. 
- We walked to Times Square and got the Downtown tour bus from Times Square to Battery Park. We had an amazing guide who gave us so much information on all of the parts of Manhattan that we saw and gave us lots of interesting tidbits of history on some of the buildings that we saw. We also went past the apartment building where Beyonce and Jay-Z  live which excited me greatly.

Breakfast | Deauville Hotel (Our Hotel) | Mother | Start of Exploration
101 Building | Grand Central Terminal | Inside The Station | Times Square
- From Battery Park we got a boat over to Liberty Island. We couldn't go inside Lady Liberty herself as booking reservations have to be made months and months in advance - When my mum booked our trip there wasn't any tickets left at all until February 2014.  Still, we walked around the bottom of the Statue of Liberty and got some amazing views of Downtown Manhattan because it was such a bright and clear day. The return ferry boat goes via Ellis Island, but we stayed on boat and got ourselves a hot dog before heading back to the mainland.

Statue of Liberty Barbie Dolls... Have you ever seen anything so ridiculous before?? ^^

- I've included a short video of one of the moves from a street dance acts that we watched in Battery Park below:

- From there, we walked up Wall Street and further on to the 9/11 Memorial site, which caught me off guard with how touching and emotional it truly is. There's construction work ongoing at the bottom to build a memorial museum which I'm sure will be amazing to visit once it's finished. Seeing those beautifully designed waterfalls and all of the engraved names around the outside really tugs on your heart strings and I was close to shedding a tear on the realisation that the white roses inside some of the names are placed there on that person's birthday.

- We took the tour bus back from Battery Park, completing the other half of the Downtown tour through China Town and Little Italy, and ended up at the Rockefeller Center. It was interesting to see how different parts of Manhattan vary in architecture and vibe as you move through them.  
- Inside the Rockefeller we booked a slot for 'Top of the Rock' tickets and had a Starbucks to recharge whilst waiting for our turn to come. We had planned for this to be a daytime sight but time escaped us and it got dark quicker than we anticipated, so we ended up going to the Top of the Rock at night instead and what a phenomenal view! You can't help but just say 'wow' when you step out onto the viewing platform and all that stretches out for miles and miles infront of you is thousands of twinkling lights. A photograph struggles to do the scene justice, but it really is fantastic to see.

- After, we watched the ice skating outside the front of the Rockefeller - we didn't do it because the queue was a minimum hour wait and our poor feet had had enough for the day anyway - but we did battle the crowds to get a good look at the iconic giant Christmas tree and this whole evening was the highlight of my trip. Sadly, I got carried away with taking pictures earlier in the day and drained my battery right down so have had to salvage a couple of snaps from my mum. It was just magical and Christmassy with a really lovely environment, despite the busy crowds.

- Funnily, we thought we were walking back inside the Rockefeller Centre building, but in the crowded hustle and bustle we did accidentally walk inside a Michael Kors store instead. (Genuine accident, I swear!). This accidental encounter led to a little splash out and a very spontaneous purchase. You know when you just see something an instantly love it, without ever intending to? Well that happened with me and the Michael Kors Selma Tote Bag in Navy. I think I'm going to do a full post on my little baby, but in the meantime you can see which style of bag it is on the Michael Kors website here.

- Tummies rumbling we settled for the first restaurant we came across and went to TGI Friday for our evening meal (only restaurant trip of the visit!). We walked back to 29th Street from 51st Street (no joke, that is an incredibly long way to walk after an already long day), but to make it easier we walked along 5th Avenue where late night shopping is full steam ahead and popped into a multitude of shops along the way, ranging from Urban Outfitters to Steve Madden, resisting the urge to spend more money! 

Saturday 21st December:
- Second full day, we walked to the Empire State Building for 9am to make sure we definitely got a day time view of the city and to beat the weekend crowds. Absolutely amazing at the top of the Empire State, but a completely different view in the day time than from the Rockefeller at night time, although both  completely breathtaking.
- Like a true tourist, I raided the Empire State gift shop and got myself a fitting Christmas tree dec - Father Christmas making his way to the top of the Empire State Building ..King Kong style! I thought it'd be a lovely yearly reminder of visiting at Christmas time.

We've got arms-length-selfies nailed.

 I love how these are two separate pictures that almost seamlessly join together. That view is literally.. Wow. 

- We spent the rest of the morning doing some more shopping in Forever 21, Macy's (especially because they had a huge 1 Day Sale) and Victoria's Secret. I may, or may not, have spent a small fortune. 
- We went back to the Rockefeller Center for a 1pm booked slot that we had for the NBC Studios Tour, which is basically the American version of the BBC. It was a little bit underwhelming and literally the only thing that I wasn't blown away by on the whole trip. The only perk was that we weren't allowed inside one of the studios because Justin Timberlake was in there rehersing for that evening's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show. Somebody hold me back!
- More shopping to finish of the day off as we walked up to 59th Street and browsed 5 floors of Tiffany's (wall to wall with millionaires buying Christmas presents for their lucky ladies) and then went in Bloomingdales so my mum could buy a patent Little Brown Bag for a friend (and one for herself). It's a pretty cute bag and I keep meaning to put a snap of it on Instagram - I'll do it soon!

- We ended up a very weary pair from lack of sleep and messed up body clock with sooo much walking around that had caught up on us and all we wanted by this point was an early night - we could barely keep our eyes open!  So we decided to brave the NY Subway and went from 59th St to 23rd St where we got off and spent a fortune in Sephora - eeeeeeeeeep (You'll see what I spent three figures on in due course..), before walking back to 29th St and hitting the hay. No late night partying for us!

Sunday 22nd December:
- Last day! :(
- Braved the subway again and went from 28th - 59th St to do some pharmacy shopping in Duane Reade, Walgreens and CVS - names I always hear from American Beauty YouTubers and I finally felt like I could say 'Ooh I've done some drugstore shopping'. The above pictures is not the only shopping I managed to do.. Not forgetting Duty Free, I also got a couple of Wet n Wild palettes and some American exclusive Maybelline bits, which, again, will be revealed in due course. 
- We spent a few hours walking around Central Park, just relaxing and taking it all in, feeling like we were on the set of a movie, had a little nosy at Central Park Zoo and the street dance acts then looked round the New York Christmas Markets. We spontaneously bought a Christmas candle (that was nearly confiscated at airport security for being in hand luggage!) and a Tibetan Meditation ring that is supposed to alleviate stress.

- To finish things off, we got a big pizza from Little Italy pizzeria and then got a taxi back from hotel to Newark Airport all the way over in New Jersey.

Tuesday 24th December:
A day of sleeping, recovering, and last minute present wrapping ready for the whirlwind that is Christmas Day. Plus a pamper session to rescue my hair and skin from all the outdoor weather (the cold winds out on boats and on tops of buildings isn't gentle on your face or locks!) and the two long haul flights also left me looking worse for wear - yucky! 

We crammed so much into the two full days and two half days that we had there and by the end of the trip we were both completely exhausted and burnt out. We definitely could've done with one extra day there to be able to maybe go to Top of the Rock in daytime and top of the Empire State at night time as well to see how they compare, to sample some more of the New York restaurants, see a Broadway show and definitely go ice skating! 

I recently shared a 'Flipagram' video on Instagram of a compliation of some pictures from New York. It's only 15 seconds long but it's a nice little brief summary, and of course has the background song of Empire State of Mind (Alicia Keys) to it. I've uploaded it below, but I'm not 100% sure if it'll work, so if it doesn't then you can check it out on Instagram here.

So, this has kinda been like a diary entry and differs from my usual content, but it's a permanent online reminder for me, a little something for all of you to nosy at, and something to read through and take notes on if you have an upcoming trip to New York too!

I hope you enjoyed the post; I certainly enjoyed my trip! 

Coming tomorrow: American Beauty Shopping.

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  1. Wow that was such a lovely present and it looks like you had an amazing time! I'd love to go to New York some time :) xx

    1. I really don't think I could've asked for anything better! It was so unforgettable and even a short visit should be on everybody's bucket list! :) xxx

  2. What an amazing present, and it looks like you had a great time :) Really looking forward to tomorrow's post :)

    1. My mum definitely did pull it out of the bag, it was amazing! Thank you :) xxx

  3. Ahh that was a lovely read, sounds like you had a great time and what an amazing surprise birthday present. Makes me look forward to going even more now. Im sure i will have questions for you nearer the time .. x

    1. Thank you for reading :) I can't agree more that it was an amazing surprise! Ooh when are you going? Feel free to ask away with any Qs :) xxx

  4. What an amazing read. I'm dying to go to New York! I've soaked up all these photos with glee. x x

    1. Thank you for reading :) I'd been desperate to go to, it's definitely a MUST DO in your life, you have to go! :D xxx

  5. Wow sounds and looks like you had the nicest Christmas and 21st, very jealous :)

    Sophierosehearts x

    1. Thank you for reading :) It definitely was amazing, thank you - don't think I could've asked for anything better! xxx

  6. Ah wow it looks like you had an amazing time and what a lovely birthday present! My boyfriend and I are currently saving to go to New York and I really can't wait! :) xx

    1. Aw that'll be lovely! There was a time when we were at the top of the Empire State and I though 'this would be so romantic'! It'll be well worth the saving, you'll love it :) xxx

  7. Looks like a trip of a lifetime, you lucky girl, New York is definitely on my list of destinations I would love to visit especially at Christmas time :)

    1. I agree that Christmas would be the best time to visit, it was so magical! :) I'm sure you'd love it. Thank you very much :) xxx

  8. Such a lovely post! Looks like you had such an amazing time. Brings back memories of when I went this time last year! Can't wait to read about all the things you bought :) xo

  9. wow, so happy you had a amazing time, its making me want to visit NY even more!


  10. Wow that looks absolutely amazing! I really hope I can visit New York one day!

    Beauty and Lifestyle Blog


  11. Ahh, I'm so glad you had a lovely time you lucky lady!
    This brings back serious memories of my last two trips and makes me want to go again! I don't think New York will ever get boring! I would love to go over Chirstmas/New Years but heck, that would be so expensive I'm sure :(

    Can't wait to see your beauty haul in full detail :D

    Peach Pow XO

  12. What an amazing gift to get, looks like you had a great time. I would love to visit New York someday. Can't wait to see your haul, especially the stuff from Sephora xx

  13. Welcome back! Isn't it nice to return to blogging after a break?

    Your trip looks like fun. My husband and I loved visiting New York during Christmas. We don't go often anymore, because we have little kids now, but we certainly miss the city, especially during the holidays.

    Have a fantastic new year!

    Beauty Fashion Skin Care Blog -Girlie Blog Seattle | Casual Chic Style

  14. What a lovely lovely present! looks like you had an amazing time :)

  15. Wow, what an amazing present! Definitely on my list for the future x

  16. You're so lucky - it sounds like you had an amazing time :)! x

  17. That looks amazing Hannah, so glad you had a lovely time!
    Gold Dust

  18. Looks like you had an amazing time there! I visited last year and loved it! Hope you have a fantastic new year :) xx

  19. I'm so jealous of you! Would absolutely LOVE to go to New York.. it's definitely on my to do list. It looks so amazing. So glad you had a fantastic time :) Happy New Year hun! xx

  20. Such lovely photos!
    Very jealous of your travels.


  21. This post was so great! my 21st is in March but I already know my present is a week's trip to New York in July! I literally cannot wait!

  22. Looks like you had an amazing time! What a great surprise! :)


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