The last time I came here was nearly 10 years ago at the age of 21 with my then boyfriend whom I was totally in love with at the time, and it was my first trip outside of the UK since going to India at 9 months old with my family. Now aged 30, young (!) free and single I return to New York, a place I fell in love then, and I still feel love for now; its just magic. This is where my passion for travel, exploration and adventure began. My flight lands at 6am. My transfer arrives at 7.30am. I am dropped off at the YHA International Hostel in Manhattan at 10am. I notice that there are so many Chinese, Japanese and Korean people staying here and find it a bit overwhelming as I only saw a handful in my entire time in South America. I check in, lock up my luggage in the room, grab a bagel and coffee, find an ATM for some dollars and at 11am I start a tour with the hostel-why not there are about 15 people going and its only 10 bucks.
Its sooo cold outside, below 0 so I’m glad I kept my warm clothes with me. I become friends with an Indonesian girl and Parisian student today, they’re both way younger than me but we get along extremely well. D is working for the Institut Francais in San Diego and we discuss our favourite international films, and French ones too of course! We walk and take the subway around the city until 1.30am the following day so you can imagine how tired I am! We pack in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Bridge, ground Zero, City Hall, Wall Street, Stock Exchange, Broadway, Rockerfellar Center, Marriott Hotel, Times Square, Little Italy, China Town, Soho, and the ferry across the Statue of Liberty-phew! We go for an Indian meal and then home. I have to have a shower and don’t go to bed until 4.30am.
The next day is bliss. I jump on the subway and go downtown, straight to Macy’s. I buy a Kenneth Cole wallet for my brother, he needs a fresh one as the one I bought him from this exact spot in 2000 is worn out. I buy some make-up and go for a slice of amazing pepperoni pizza, I love New York pizza! I find a pair of jeans in Old Navy and then walk past a beauty salon and stop in my tracks. I head up the narrow stairs and enjoy a fantastic manicure, pedicure and back massage. I’m served by an Ecuadorian girl, my last pedicure was in Ecuador I sit there and reminisce. Feeling refreshed I hit the shops for some New Balance trainers, I’ve looked in Hong kong and NYC but can’t find what I want! Maybe in London…I bump into the Empire State Building and take a few shots, and imagine Spiderman zipping around. I watch some break dancers in the street and clap with the crowd to the music. As I near home I stop by Starbucks for a heart warming gingerbread latte before getting back to the hostel at 8pm to meet the girls for dinner. We have an Italian feast and one of my favourite desserts tiramisu, and laugh the evening away. It’s been two perfect days in NYC, I love it even more.
I’m glad I arranged a transfer to the airport, I am picked up at 4.30am and get ready for my flight home. I land at heathrow on Christmas eve at 9pm to be greeted by my brother in arrivals. We get home by midnight and I wrap a few gifts before going to my king size, fresh and lovely bed. I wake up on Chrismas morning to my 22 month old niece and a few hours later enjoy a feast with the entire family, a very happy Merry Christmas!
It’s nice to be home in England for the festive season, and to see in the New Year with my family. I catch up with one or two friends and pop over to Birmingham. Life goes on back here but I don’t feel like I’ve missed a thing. I’m reminded how much I love England though, it’s my home and where I’ll end up. But there’s plenty more to see and do, I’m not quite ready for the 9-5 just yet, roll on 24 January!