I have always wanted to go to New York, ever since watching episodes of Friends back in the day. With so many movies, shows and series set in New York, I am sure everyone feels similar. It’s almost like a second home, with certain places so familiar you feel you have been there already. So to say that my expectations were high was an understatement.
On the day of our flight, my husband and I were dancing around packing with “Empire State of Mind” by Alicia Keys blaring in the background. We were lucky enough to fly pretty much direct (Cape Town – Johannesburg and then Johannesburg to John F Kennedy airport) on flight SA203. I really believe it is worth spending that extra penny on a better connection. It’s already a very long flight and with the time difference, too many stop overs will mean you are completely dead when you land.
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We stayed at Strand Hotel and I can’t recommend it enough. It is absolutely gorgeous and has a brilliant view of the Empire State Building from the roof terrace. It’s a great place to wind the day down over cocktails after a long day of shopping.
Here are my top 10 Highlights of the trip:
- Being a girl, I speak to the womenfolk when I say the shopping is mad. The best store by far is Macy’s. It’s 8 floors (if I recall correctly) of pure magic!
- Cocktails at the Mo Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Lots of beautiful people and the best cocktails I have ever tried. Check the price though! At $25 per cocktail it’s easy to rack up quite a bill.
- Burgers at the Shake Shack with chilli cheese chips and custard milkshake. Only the Americans could come up with such a combo.
- Friendly Americans – WOW – don’t take out a map as 10+ people will stop to give you directions, recommendations, review your itinerary etc. New Yorkers love their city.
- Broadway. You have to go to at least 1 show! It’s such a typically New York thing to do.
- It really is the city that never sleeps, one night we went to Bowlmor in Times Square and had a late dinner in their sports bar feeling very much like “locals”.
- New York is known for some awesome pizza and Grimaldi’s is as authentic as they come.
- The Statue of Liberty. Take a boat, go to the Island. There is something about that sight that makes you shiver.
- With so many famous comedians coming from New York City, you have to make your way down to a comedy club and catch a show. I recommend the Gotham Comedy Club. American humour translates well, but can be a bit harsh. If you don’t want to get picked on, don’t sit up front.
- Times Square at night. When you get off the subway you will be blown away. The lights, smells, people, buildings, and cars catapult you into another world.
Overall an awesome trip but plan for a day or two of down time when you get back as the time difference can really get to you.