We flew out on the day before my 21st birthday and undoubtedly we flew out in style with champagne cocktails and a light pre-flight meal at Heathrow Airport. But I guess you only turn 21 once.. (even if I did have an entire week of birthday celebrations to turn 21 with).
Then when we went to board the plane, we found out it had been delayed. I didn't mind too much though as it was only for an hour and I got to use the last of my 4G. Swings and roundabouts, eh?
It was amazing taking off as London turned from day to night and then to chase the sunset around the globe. Also a little confusing as I'm used to flying to America first thing in the morning, never last thing at night.
The flight was six hours long.. I think. I'm not too sure really as I discovered United Airlines had wifi so me being me, I spent my first lot of dollars on wifi and ended up creeping on Twitter for the entire flight. It was no different to being at home really, just more people and turbulence. Lots and lots of turbulence. Since my phone was still set to UK time, at midnight (about three hours into the flight), I turned 21. I was physically 21 but geographical 20? My mum sang 'happy birthday' to me and then we set our phones to New York time so I had another four hours to go until I got to do that again.
And then we landed in the United States of Ameri..ca. (It said 'NO PHOTOS' pretty much everywhere in the terminal but I just had to get a photo of this.. Soz, Obama. I broke da law.)
Once we'd gone through customs and been accepted into the country (thanks Obama), we got into typical tourist mode and flagged down a yellow taxi. But we landed at Newark in New Jersey (don't worry, it's pretty close to NYC.. we didn't accidentally go to the wrong state.. it was on purpose) and our taxi driver literally had no idea where our hotel was and since I'm a city geek with living in London for the past two years, I ended up giving him directions to a place I'd never been before without the help of Google Maps or Siri. My mum might have felt betrayed for me ditching the sheep of Yorkshire for the lights of London but even she was pretty thankful of my cityness - if that's even a word.
I also got to witness New York City for the first time in the dark with the skyline in front of us as we drove into Manhattan. It was indescribable!
(You would usually expect a photo here of the skyline of New York City at night as we drove in but iPhone cameras are about as useful as a chocolate kettle when it comes to nighttime shots so blame Apple.)
And after checking into the hotel, connecting with the hotel's wifi to let my dad know that we'd arrived safely in the Big Apple and going to paradise in the hotel's shower that was like one of them waterfall showers, I fell asleep, missing my second midnight turning 21.
Onto day one.. (or is it day two? Do you count the day you fly as day one? We'll just call it official day one..)
Official day one was my official birthday - both physically and geographically but not mentally because that's about five - and I woke up to my mum giving me presents and cards from everyone back home. I cried like a baby at all the little messages my family sent me. I've always been a little emotional wreck on birthdays. No idea why. Maybe because I'm just an emotional wreck in general..
And after breakfast, we walked a few blocks (look at me with the American lingo) to Central Park and ended up having a mother and daughter walk all the way through Central Park. It was beaaaaaaaautiful.
I went to town taking photos in Central Park as every view was so picturesque, especially with the sunny sky, but here's a select few..
My mum has been to New York before and she has always wanted to take me to the 'Home Alone' bridge with them being our favourite Christmas movies to watch as a family so we were on a mission to find it. We made a promise that we wouldn't Google its whereabouts so we could explore the park properly. But I wished we did as my mum kept saying "It's just after these trees here" every five paces. And baring in mind that Central Park is about 2.5 miles long and took us over an hour to walk, it was a lot of "It's just after these trees here". As it was, we didn't end up finding the 'Home Alone' bridge until we gave up looking for it and headed towards 'The Plaza'. Typical.
So here's a piccy of the notorious 'Home Alone' hotel.. THE DING DANG DONG.
And then here's the 'Home Alone' bridge.. right in front of the hotel.. convenient.
My mum and I had booked in at 'The Plaza' that night to celebrate my 21st with lots of cocktails but we got impatient so decided to go in for a look around before our reservations.
And obviously a 'look around' turned into a champagne tea lunch.. casual.. My first legal drink in America was rosé champagne. Go hard or go home. And since our flight home wasn't until the following Friday, we went hard.
Then after my mum stole the pen she signed the bill with (okay, we didn't steal it.. the waiter gave it to us but stealing it sounds much more adventurous).. we walked down Fifth Avenue, past all the flagship stores that makes Oxford Street look like Frenchgate Shopping Centre in Doncaster. Then we went to the Rockefeller Centre and moaned like the English people we are that the Christmas tree wasn't up because back home, there's been Christmas decorations on sale since August.. Then we walked a little further. And by little further, I mean a few miles, until we were getting confused as to why we hadn't seen the Empire State Building yet. I mean, it was a pretty big building according to Wikipedia yet neither had us had seen one glimpse of it. Until we looked up and..
The tallest building in London is The Shard and I used to think that was ridiculously tall until I saw the Empire State. Now, whenever I walk beneath The Shard, I'm like 'pfft, you're nothing'. It was unbelievable seeing it as pictures do not do it justice.
And then the inevitable happened. Shopping. And bankruptcy.
Being let lose in Macy's with birthday money was pretty amazing, I gotta say. It was even better when I was wearing my '21' badge - I wore that bad boy all week - as I kept getting free stuff and people kept saying 'happy birthday' to me. It was the best!
We then saw the Flatiron building. Still to this day I have no idea how to pronounce it. Flat-iron? Flat-ear-on? Both? If you do know, please comment in the comment section so I can finally find out.
And then we walked all the way back to Times Square.. I thought Piccadilly Circus was great. But this was something else. It was amaaaaaazing. It was heaving on a Monday night at 4pm so God only knows what it'd be like on New Years Eve at 11.59pm. Watching the ball drop is definitely something I want to do though, regardless of how busy it is!
And ended the night by walking back to the hotel the scenic way.
We didn't even make it for cocktails in the end as I was dead to the world by 9pm. But I had had the best birthday ever. It wasn't over yet though.. Not by a long shot..
Official day two. My dad had arranged for my mum and I to have a helicopter tour of the city and the views were amazing! It was easily the best way to view the city that we did all week. I did feel a little bit like James Bond though boarding the helicopter. The name's Bond.. Jenny? Bond.
After circling Ellis Island and Liberty Island, we headed back up the Hudson River towards the city. Seeing the city from such a height made all the buildings look really teeny but from standing beneath the Empire State Building the day before, I knew they were anything but teeny.
After landing, we headed to the Statue of Liberty ferry port. And left the city for a couple of hours. (Mind the grey skies..)
I did try get a selfie with Ms. Liberty but the poses I had to pull just to take it weren't attractive in the slightest so it just wasn't worth it. I should have probably taken the selfie stick that I had bought specifically for the trip but left it in my suitcase back in the hotel for the entire week.. I'll just have to go again to get a selfie.. :) :) :) What a shame :) :) :)
Anyway.. then we popped into Ellis Island to say *puts on native Yorkshire accent* 'ayup'.
And then got the ferry back to Manhattan since it was getting to be about -19639 degrees.
On the walk back to our hotel, we made sure we stopped at Ground Zero. It was somewhere I always wanted to visit. Even though I was in no way affected by 9/11 and I was only six years old when it happened, I remember it so clearly. I came home from school and my mum had the television in the kitchen on and it was just news all night on what had happened. I was only six but I understood everything that was going on. My mum had been to New York only a few months prior to the terrorist attacks so she had seen the Twin Towers in real life, not just on photos, so it meant a lot for her to go and see the memorial too. As we walked towards it, everything just felt really weird. It's such an experience that I'll never be able to describe as it's just surreal. You never get the true scale of what happened until you go and visit Ground Zero and realise how big the Twin Towers were. I cried just reading all the names on the sides of each pool of all those who lost their lives and I knew none of them so I just couldn't imagine how people who actually lost somebody because of them attacks felt visiting it.
On our third day in the Big Apple, my mum knew how much of a fan (okay, obsessed lunatic is probably more apt in this case) of 'FRIENDS' so she let me take her to the apartment block used as the exterior shots in the show in Greenwich Village. And since it was raining cats and dogs, it meant I got to ride the Subway too! Anyone who has had the pleasure of experiencing the London Underground with me will know how well I know the tube. I can tell you how to get from one station to another using the quickest route, telling you which lines you need and even how many stops between each changeover so I picked up the subway system in NYC pretty impressively. Even so that a New Yorker got on at one stop and ended up asking us for directions, and I managed to tell them how to get to their destination within seconds of looking at the map. I was impressed with myself, not gonna lie.
And once we reached the 'FRIENDS' apartment, I went into major fangirl mode. I'd grown up with watching 'FRIENDS'. I remember watching the final episode with my older cousin when she was babysitting us and I remember sneakily buying my mum the first season of 'FRIENDS' on video (yeah, remember those things? Absolute pain in the ass to rewind) for Christmas, knowing full well she wasn't a huge fan of the show and would just end up giving them to me. Even today I still watch 'FRIENDS' and laugh at jokes I never got when I was seven. So it was amazing!
Then I raided Sephora. And the less said about that the better as my bank account is still a little tender six months on because of it.
(Totally irrelevant but whilst walking around on the third day, we saw a pet store with puppies for sale in the window and I fell in love with this one.. I called it 'Pebble'.)
♥LOOK AT PEBBLE!♥
Then we went back to being tourists and headed to Grand Central Station.
To be honest, I was slightly disappointed that Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis weren't there, doing a flash mob and declaring their love to one another but hey ho.. I guess that day it was more 'Central' rather than 'Grand Central'. It was raining after all.
On our final full day (super unhappy face), we woke up to see that the sun had popped his hat back on, hip hip hip hooray, and was making New York look even more prettier than the day before so we headed back out into the city with our mission to go up to the Top of the Rock!
Like our first day, we walked into the city so here's a few snaps from our travels..
Hello, Rockefeller Ice Rink! (Still pretty pissed the tree wasn't up)
The next thing we did was pretty big for me as I hate heights. I mean, I struggle with being on the top floor of my university building and that's only eight floors up so to be up sixty-nine floors in the middle of the city was pretty wow. I've been up the Eiffel Tower before (twice) and nearly fainted (twice) so I was a tad bit scared. Especially considering I kept joking that we were secretly on 'The Tower of Terror' at Disneyworld as the elevator went up at roughly two floors a second. I'm my own worse enemy. But I'm glad I did it. The views were incredible.
And I even managed to peel myself off clinging the wall to take a quick selfie.
Then to finish off what had been an amazing few days in New York City, mum treated me (not that she hadn't treated me enough that week) to a visit to Bloomingdales and a birthday sundae at Serendipity 3!
I can honestly say that I've never been to somewhere as amazing as New York City. I fell in love with it even more and cannot wait to go back! I had the most amazing week with my mum. Living in London, I don't get to see her much these days so it was so good to spend time with it being just me and her, to shop until we drop (or until our bank accounts became fun sponges and declined our transactions) and explore a city we've both wanted to visit together. I also need to add that I fought the urge to sing 'NEW YORK! CONCRETE JUNGLE WHERE DREAMS ARE MADE OF' all week, which is an achievement in itself. I did, however, listen to Frank Sinatra's 'New York, New York' and Miley Cyrus' 'Party In The USA' for the entire duration of the flight there so I didn't deprive myself of all the relevant songs. It was the best birthday ever and I'm one very, very lucky girl!
See you soon, New York! x