Thursday, 22 August 2019

NYC Part Two

Oh, hello there! Sorry for the long delay - I was going to publish this post days ago, but the last week at home was packed fuller than I thought it would be and the days kept slipping by. Thank you for your lovely comments on my last post, it is nice to know you enjoy being dragged along on these holiday posts with me.

So, where were we? Friday, day three of our week in that glorious, hustly-bustly city, began spectacularly well with a fancy breakfast out at Pershing Square. Freshly squeezed orange juice came in wine glasses, the freshly brewed coffee was topped up as if by magic, and the food...worth every dollar, and it added up to quite a few of them. Getting wise to the bonkers portion sizes, I ordered myself a fruit bowl while Bella chose chocolate chip pancakes, Angus French toast, and John waffles. I doled out a portion of fruit to each member of the family and relieved them each of one pancake, one piece of French toast and some waffle. I think I had the best breakfast, to be honest. Hands down the best waffle I have ever eaten - light inside, crispy on the outside, and I love how they bring a jug of maple syrup to the table so that you can decide yourself how much you want. 

But yes, the best breakfast out ever. We then made our way downtown to the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side, a place we'd been recommended countless times and were keen to experience. It's less a museum than a collection of tenement buildings (a bit like a big old Victorian terrace as far as I could tell) owned by the museum, and you book onto a tour and are shown around by a guide in small groups. The buildings were abandoned in the thirties or forties and then discovered recently, when the museum acquired and restored them, creating examples of how immigrants would have lived in New York at various points during history. Photography is not allowed but it was excellent and well worth a visit. 

Lunch was pizza, sold by the slice and we shared two between four of us. Still a bit full after that breakfast, you understand.

We pottered around pleasantly for a few hours, popping into the odd shop, wandering up and down streets, and making sure we stopped at Flour Shop at Bella's request. Have a look at their website to see how bonkers their cakes are and why Bella so badly wanted to visit. We bought cake pops, it was all we could afford. They were very nice though. 

Then it was my turn to drag everyone to an ice cream shop - Milk & Cream Bar, where the ice cream is blended with the cereal of your choice and then topped with all manner of delicious things. You know how the milk tasted when you were little after you'd finished your bowl of cereal, and you'd drink it with the spoon so that you didn't waste any? It's like that but in ice cream form.

Further downtown we went, full of ice cream and pizza, and aiming for the Financial District.

We were heading for the 9/11 Memorial, somewhere Angus had asked to see and a place John and I wanted to visit, as when we last visited New York in 2005, the twin towers were a large patch of ground with fencing around them.

The memorial fountain is beautifully done; quiet and peaceful, despite the number of visitors, and it forces you to look down, away from the sky and tall buildings, and lose yourself in some quiet contemplation as you read the names of the victims inscribed into the edge of the waterfall.

After popping back to the hotel for showers (me buying a cup of tea on my way, as I did at that time every day) we got the tube out to Citi Field in Queens to see the New York Mets play.

One thing John had wanted to do so much, for years and years, was go to a baseball game, and he'd booked tickets before we went. (You can get tickets for $16!) I just went along for the ride - I had dragged him to a Broadway show, after all - but it surpassed all my expectations and was one of the best things we did that week. The atmosphere was incredible, friendly and relaxed, and it was much more family-friendly than any football game I've ever been to here. We bought beer and hotdogs and just enjoyed ourselves. The subway ride back to the hotel, in a carriage mostly full of people who'd been at the game, was the icing on the cake, with everyone chatting and laughing. Talking to strangers, on public transport? 

We weren't feeling quite so energetic on Saturday morning, and it was about 11 am by the time we got up, had breakfast and made our way back downtown again, to the prettiest subway station, to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.

It was busy. We should have got there earlier in the day.

But the sun shone, the breeze blew and we walked the mile or so slowly, stopping to admire the architecture and view on the way.

We spent the next few hours exploring the Dumbo area of Brooklyn, just under the bridge, once I'd bought an iced coffee and the kids had bought shakes from Shake Shack.

We browsed shops and bought souvenirs, while the kids spent some of their pocket money.

 Then to Prospect Park, where we bought burgers from a nearby Wendy's and ate them in the park.

I absolutely loved Prospect Park. It feels wilder and more rambling than the parks in Manhattan, and has a faded grandeur feel to it.

It was a park I could have spent a lot longer in.

I think it was all starting to catch up with them by this point.

For some reason that I will never understand we went back to Times Square on Saturday night, along with the rest of the world, but we bought takeaway pizza by the slice (again) for dinner and it was cheap and delicious and everyone was happy.

Sunday, our last day, and so much we still hadn't done. We decided to go uptown to visit The Guggenheim. It's worth going for the stunning architecture alone, and I wish I could go back again now and look at it all again because there was so much to see and I didn't have the energy to really drink it all in.

I felt a little under the weather Sunday afternoon so I went back to the hotel and had a lovely long nap while John and the kids went back out. As far as I can tell, they continued their quest to visit every sportswear outlet in the city, along with Barnes and Noble too.

We found a great place to eat while we were there called Urbanspace, which is like a food hall of great, independent food stands. A few times we called in there and on our last night, Angus ordered fried chicken with mac and cheese, John ordered a Baja bowl, and Bella ordered Ramen. I had some of everyone else's. Like I said, the portion sizes.... After that is was packing and an early night, then on Monday morning the alarm went off much too early.

We were driving over the Queensboro bridge at 6.15 am and in the airport by 7.00 am.

And then the journey home. I think it took us longer to get off the plane, out of the airport and to our car at the Heathrow long stay car park than it did to actually drive home, but at midnight we were putting our key in the door and it was good to be home.

There is so much we didn't have time to do. We didn't get to take the kids to the Statue of Liberty or the Ellis Island museum (although John and I have both been there before), we didn't make it to Coney Island, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Roosevelt Island, The Color Factory, Magnolia Bakery, and so many other places, but it doesn't matter because we crammed in as much as we possibly could, made some of the best memories, and I don't regret a thing.


While we were away, quite a few people via Instagram asked for tips on our trip. Now while we're not exactly seasoned travellers, these are some of the things that we discovered or that worked for us:

  • Buy a weekly (or three day) subway ticket. It is incredibly good value and as easy to use as the London Underground.
  • Accept that eating out is expensive, get over it and enjoy your holiday. Portions are huge so share when you can, embrace the wonderful thing that is the NYC 99¢ pizza slice, and balance breakfasts at Starbucks with breakfasts in diners.
  • Accept that small people (even ten and twelve year olds) need regular refuelling and use it as an opportunity to try as many ice creams/shakes/doughnuts as possible.
  • If you plan to go up the Empire State building, then get there at 8.00 am when it opens. No queues!
  • Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge early or late in the day. It gets very, very busy.
  • Book tours in advance if you plan to visit the Tenement Museum. We didn't know this and were very lucky to get four places on a tour that morning. 
  • Book tickets for things like sports games and shows in advance before your holiday. However, if you do want to get cheap Broadway tickets while you're there, go to the TKTS booth in Times Square on the day of the show for heavily discounted tickets. 


  1. My brother and I were only just talking about black cherry beer over a meal tonight - we were wondering how to make it ourselves! Great pictures again Gillian. You kids look like they are having a ball. Jo xxx

  2. I love seeing NYC through your eyes! I lived there after college for about 10 years, most of that time in a quaint apartment in Little Italy with the bathtub in the kitchen. Now I live about 3-1/2 hours north of there. So glad you had such a wonderful vacation and appreciated the specialness of NYC.

  3. You did so much! I was surprised your family are baseball fans, but it is one of the things I always try to do with out of town guests. Also cool that you explored Brooklyn! All your places are ''home'' to me, so it was fun to see it thru your eyes, all new and exciting. btw I belive the Tenement Museum is not in the Garment District, which is a midtown location, near Macy's and Madison Square Garden, on up towards times Square. The Tenement M is in the Lower East Side.

    1. You are quite right, thank you for correcting me! x

  4. Like your first NYC post, this one again makes me want to go there for myself, something I never thought I would say (I am more the mountain hiking holiday type than the city type now, in my middle age).
    It all looks and sounds great, and I am happy for all of you that you could do this together.
    Were your parents looking after Ziggy for you?

  5. Wow, that was a trip and a half. Glad you all had such a lovely time, and what fantastic photos you have to remember it all. CJ xx

  6. I've loved seeing your NYC pics! It looks like you all had a wonderful time! There were lots of things we didn't get to on our list when we were there in March, but we had a wonderful time, and will go back again someday. The meal portion size here in the US is really ridiculous, I think. A meal intended for one person is definitely enough for two to share.

  7. I've loved reading your blog posts and seeing your pictures on Instagram. You've inspired us to take Kitty in about 10 years time when she'll be old enough to really enjoy it and be part of everything. We'll start saving now! x

  8. Another great post. You never get enough time to do everything whilst away. Looks like you've had a wonderful trip. Take care.

  9. Another great post. You never get enough time to do everything whilst away. Looks like you've had a wonderful trip. Take care.

  10. Another fab post, Gillian! It's lovely to see these places through the eyes of a normal family, not some tv programme which would always have some kind of slant on it.
    What wonderful memories for Bella and Angus!

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