You could spend a whole year in New York City as a tourist and still not see everything, so just 4 days was a struggle, but we literally didn't stop and here are some of the highlights.
This isn't my first time in New York City, in fact it is my 4th, but I am so in love with this city that I would happily come back year after year and never get bored.
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Whilst this isn't my first time in New York, it was my friend Claire's (who I am doing the first 2 weeks of the trip with), so all of the touristy things were on the itinerary and that was fine with me. I never get bored of the sight of the Empire State Building or the bright lights of Times Square.
After an easy flight (and after a champagne breakfast at the airport to start the trip in style) and transfer, we were smack bang in the middle of Manhattan and arrived at our hotel - Cassa 45th Street feeling a little bit sleepy. Whilst a little nap would have gone down very nicely, our bellies were in charge of the decision making and we headed out for some food.
In true English fashion, we felt a magnetic pull to the nearest pub - it has to be a sixth sense or something and it turned out to be an Irish pub with a roof garden, which was perfect coming from cold and grey England to hot and humid New York.
Look how epic this veggie sandwich is! It was a good introduction to the huge portion sizes in the U.S. It was washed down nicely with a gin and tonic.
After we made ourselves feel a little more human with a shower, it was time to head out and see New York City all lit up. In my option, Times Square has to be seen for the first time at night, as seeing it during the day just doesn't do it justice, so that is where we went.
Unless you have been living under a rock, I think you know exactly what Times Square looks like, even if you haven't been before. But the movies don't give you a sense of the atmosphere, as it really is a unique place. People dressed up as different characters charging for photos (I got photobombed by Olaf), lights flashing in every direction, and more people than is comfortable. It's not for everyone, but you have to appreciate it for what it is.
After getting some Italian food and finding a bar that actually serves cheap drinks (Jimmy's Corner just off Times Square), which is a rare find in New York, we went back to the hotel for an early night, as we wanted to get an early start the next day, because we had so much to pack in.
We were staying a couple of blocks up from Bryant Park, so it seemed crazy to not use that as my running route for the next couple of days. I was up at 6am, laced up my running shoes and I was out the door for a run.
Even at 6am the streets of New York are alive with a mixture of tourists wanting to beat the crowds and people on their way to work. Bryant Park is a little oasis of calm amongst that and I really enjoyed doing a 3km run there every morning, picking up a Starbucks on the way back to the hotel. You guys in the U.S. have much better coffee options than us, although maybe that isn't a good thing. I don't think I could cope with all that temptation every day. But, I did pick up some fruit for breakfast too.
I have packed a good selection of workout clothes for this trip, actually I think half of my luggage is Helly Hansen clothes, because I want to stay as active as possible, because I want to enjoy some good food.
Not only do I want to stay active, but I want to look good whilst doing it too. New York is the fashion capital of the world and that is obvious everywhere you look and workout clothes are no exception. That's one of the many reasons I love Helly Hansen clothes - not only are the super comfy and durable, but they are stylish too. Looking good when I workout is important to me because it makes me feel more confident and if I feel good, then I am more likely to have a good workout. Also, I think brightly coloured workout clothes give me more energy somehow, so I love wearing these Helly Hansen running capris. Their new rain wear is great too, so not even the rain can stop you from looking good on your workout.
You know what my favourite thing to do in New York is? Just look up! There is so much going on at street level, that it is easy to focus all your attention there, but above street level is what makes NYC so special and so iconic. I have serious neck ache from spending so much time looking up.
On our first full day in NYC we decided to do a hop-on-hop-off bus tour with Grey Line tours, as they were kind enough to offer us 2 tickets for the 48 hour tour to let you all know what we thought of it. I know bus tours are not for everyone, but I love them. In NYC when it is so hot and humid, sitting at the top of the bus with a nice breeze is a blessing! Plus, it gives you a great view point for photos and you can get on and off whenever you like.
The Grey Line tours are really good value and if you don't have a lot of time, then I really recommend going on one, as you can pack so much in to 48 hours. Depending on the time of year you go, you may have to queue a while to get on a bus, as there seems to be more people than buses, but there is always something to look at whilst in the queue. Your tour experience will vary depending on who your tour guide is too. We had a couple of really great ones, and a couple of not so great ones too. But regardless of that, we learnt something from all of them, as they are all full of NYC knowledge.
After hoping on the bus, it was soon time to hop off it again and our first stop was Greenwich Village, which is easily one of my favourite parts of the city as it lives up to it's name and it is very village likes.
Our first stop had to be Carrie's brownstone in Sex and the City. Sadly Sarah Jessica Parker was not there, but an angry man - I can't blame him, there were about 40 tourists outside his house. Apparently he bought the house for over $4 million. I hope she left her shoe collection there for that price!
How cute are these little police cars?
Can you guess where we went next? "So no-one told you life was gonna be this way......" A big high five if you guessed it. We went to the Friends apartment block, which obviously doesn't have Central Perk under it. I do wonder if someone has tried to get planning permission for it there, but it has been denied as it would be chaotic.
Just around the corner is Washington Square Park, where the fountain that is in the Friends intro is located.
By about mid-morning we were ready for a little pick-me-up and even though we had only been there one day, I was already feeling sluggish from a lack of vegetables, seeing as I have about 8 portions a day usually. So, using my trusty friend Google, I searched for the nearest juice bar and found Juice Generation.
Before I even managed to look at what juices they had, I spotted these mini vegan baked donuts and I couldn't resist, so Claire and I split one. I think if you compare it to a regular greasy donut, you will be disappointed, but if you take it for what it is, then it's really good.
I went with the Get Your Green On juice and it was really tasty and refreshing. Pretty expensive, but for where you are and everything you are getting in it, it's pretty good.
We spent a little while after wandering the streets of Greenwich Village, as that's my favourite thing to do in a city, just walk. Walk for miles until your feet ache and just take in the surroundings, the little cafes, boutique shops and people going about their day.
All that walking sure does give you an appetite, which leads me to one of my other favourite things to do in New York - go to a salad bar. You guys! These things are epic and we just don't have anything like it in the UK. Every other shop seems to have a salad bar in it and that makes me one very happy healthy foodie.
It's really good value, but if you are obsessed with salads as much as me, then it's so easy to go overboard and spend a lot, as the price is based on weight. So far I am finding it a little difficult to eat healthily and meat free (so I am eating more fish than I would like, as it's the easiest way for me to keep my protein up). I know someone is going to say "don't stress, you are on holiday, just relax your eating". But I am out here for 6 weeks and if I did that every day it wouldn't be good at all.
I am definitely indulging, but I am making sure it is worth it. I am trying not to eat for the sake of it and keeping my meals as healthy as possible, and then indulging on things like cheesecake and frozen yoghurt. Oh, and gin. We all know that is just empty calories! So, in NYC these salad bars have saved me, as although they are carb and creamy dressings galore, there is also lots of greens and veggies to fill up on.
We took our salads back to Washington Square Park and watching the various things that were going on there. People on their lunch breaks, friends catching up, children playing, dogs enjoying the sunshine and this man on the fountain with a giant stick. He was just standing there twirling it around.
We got back on the Gray Lines tour and headed down to see the new World Trade Centre and the twin towers memorial. I don't have any photos of that, as I felt uncomfortable taking photos where so many people died. But some people were really disrespectful and joking around and taking selfies. It was a really moving place, and different from when I visited 7 years ago.
Seeing as we were so close, we headed over to the Brooklyn Bridge to walk over it. I have done it before, but again, I would never get bored of it, as the views are stunning. We watched some street performers first - I bet this guy does yoga!
It's about a 20-30 minute walk across the bridge and then obviously the same back again, but we didn't have that much time, so we just walked to the first arch and back, which was a struggle enough at times with the amount of people there were, but it was worth it for the views.
This might go down as one of my favourite selfies, and you know how hard that decision is, as I take a lot of them ;)
I was so busy looking forward whilst crossing the bridge, that when I finally turned round I was greeted with this view.
Claire is the perfect travelling partner, as she is just as silly as me. As you can see :)
It had been a loooooong day, but it wasn't over yet. We went back to hotel to shower and change and then it was a night out in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn, as we had heard that was the place to be and where all the good bars were. We found a really good bar called Trophy Bar that had a nice patio with pretty fairy lights and they did damn good veggie burgers with sweet potato fries. Sweet potato fries are everywhere here and I am not complaining. Well, maybe a little bit. I wish they were baked and no fried.
We had a few drinks, but we didn't go crazy as we were up early the next day for the second day of our hop-on-hop-off tour. We got on at Times Square and went down towards the Statue of Liberty where we were boarding the Circle Line tour, which is included in the 48 hours ticket, which is what I think makes it such good value.
The tour is 2 hours long and stops off at around 4 stops where you can hop on and hop off, or you can just stay on it and do the whole loop, which is what we did.
It takes you as close to the Statue of Liberty as is legally possible in a boat, and you get a really good view. I have only seen it from the Staten Island ferry, so it was nice to see it up close. But I am always surprised at how small it is
I hope some of you managed to catch my live Periscope (I am hungryhealthyhappy on Periscope if you are not following me already) or the New York skyline when I was on the boat. I have been given a Tep Wirless device for my whole U.S trip, so I am never without the internet and that means that I can take you all on the trip with me!
Hotel wifi is crazy expensive in the U.S, so having my Tep Wireless is so helpful, as I still have to work every day I am out here, and I can keep in contact with Dave every day and I can share all my photos with you all. As I write this, I am on a bus from Nashville to Memphis and I can blog all about it thanks to the Tep Wireless device. I just love it!
If you want some of the best views you can get of the New York skyline, then head out on a boat, get some fresh air and enjoy the view!
I really need to get better at using the panoramic setting on my phone. I mean, look at the one below; I think it's pretty certain that the water doesn't go uphill. Fail.
Speaking of great views, in my opinion the best view is at the Top of the Rock, up the Rockefeller centre. Most people go up the Empire State Building because it is so iconic - I understand that, as I have done it too. But when you are up the Empire State, you can't see the Empire State. Instead, go to the Top of the Rock for an amazing view. I have only been up at night before, so it was nice to see it during the day too.
It wasn't even that busy up there, so it wasn't too hard to take photos. I imagine it gets a lot busier at sunset and I bet the views are even better then. Maybe that is something to do next time I am here.
You guessed it, it was food time again. At the Rockefeller Centre there is a Magnolia Bakery and the line out the door proves just how popular it is. We went in with the aim of getting a really good cupcake, but everything looked so amazing it make the decision almost impossible. But I went with the flourless chocolate tart, as I am trying to avoid gluten as much as possible, but not obsessing over it at the same time.
It was time for another night out in New York and we wanted to go back to the Chelsea/Greenwich village area to see how different it was in the evening, as I have only every been in the day. Can I just say how much I love the NYC subway system. It's so much easier to navigate than the tubes in London and we never had any problems with it.
We went to a bar called Elmo. Partly because of the name, but also because we heard the food and atmosphere was great and it lived up to our expectations.
I went with the Mahi Mahi tacos, but I wasn't expecting there to be 3 and I definitely wasn't expecting them to be that huge, but I should have known I guess. They each had a different salsa on them, and the pineapple salsa went really well with the fish.
We then headed to a bar in Union Square called The Headless Horseman and despite the prices, it was a really good bar. A young crowd, mostly NYU students and just a good atmosphere. The drinks prices got a bit too much for us though, so we headed back toward Times Square and went to Jimmy's which I guess had become our local.
It was our final full day in New York City and there was something pretty huge (literally) that we hadn't done - been to Central Park. We entered the park at Columbus Circle and walked to Strawberry Fields to see the John Lennon memorial.
This dog looks like it is having a pretty good time in the park too. But, it was a nice day, perhaps it should have been having a walk.
Now this has to be one of the best things we did in New York - hiring a boat in Central Park and rowing round the lake. It was actually pretty hilarious at times, as neither of us are very good at rowing, or navigating and neither were many other people in the lake, so there was lots of bumping in to each other.
The views on the lake were beautiful though, but it was very hot and the reflection off the water didn't really help that too much.
Perhaps the strangest thing that we saw in New York was an astronaut rowing a boat on the lake. I have no idea why, but then why does there need to be a why? He seemed to be enjoying himself, but he must have been so hot!
Rowing is strenuous work!
We couldn't go the whole New York trip without having a slice of pizza and after a 3 hour walk and boat rowing around the park, we deserved it. This slice of pizza was literally bigger than my head. I do have a small head, but even so. That's just crazy! I went for a slice of the Greek pizza, as obviously it had feta and it had been at least 4 days since my last feta fix. Plus, it has spinach on it, so it is practically a health food.
Then of course it was followed by some frozen yoghurt, which had strawberries on it, so it can also be classed as a health food ;) Just kidding - it was a little treat for the day. Oh, and peanut butter on frozen yoghurt? Why have I never had that before?
We went for a final wander around and to do some shopping. Just window shopping for me, as I still have another 5 weeks and I don't want to carry stuff around, so I will pick up my NYC souvenirs when I am back there at the end of this trip.
We had to go to Macy's, even just for a look inside. We took some photos and left again, as it was really busy and shopping isn't my favourite thing in the world. Apart from food shopping, I love food shopping! I can't wait to go to Whole Foods and literally spend a whole day there.
By 4pm that day, we had walked over 27,000 steps, which I think it pretty good going. I want to aim for 20,000 a day this whole trip, and we are doing pretty close. Apart from the days we are travelling, I think it is achievable.
Sadly it was then our last night in New York and having a fairly early start the next day, we didn't want a massive night out, but some entertainment was on the cards.
We didn't go to a Broadway show, as just not enough time and they are crazy expensive, so we did the next best thing and went to Ellen Stardust. If you haven't heard of it before, it's a restaurant where the servers get up on the tables and sing musical songs.
These singers are insanely good and many end up leaving their jobs to star on the stage on Broadway. One woman, who sung the song from Wicked actually made Claire and I cry, she was that good. I don't think I have ever cried in a restaurant before.
The food was also really good too. As you can see, I had another burger. Burgers are usually the best/healthiest veggie/fish option on the menu, so I went with the salmon burger and left lots of the fries again.
Just before we got our transfer to the airport, we went to our favourite breakfast place to grab a smoked salmon bagel. Look how huge this is, and it was only $7 too.
And so ended our NYC adventure. Although I was sad to leave, I was excited to move on to Nashville and knowing I will be back in NYC is a few weeks definitely helps.
Let’s stay in touch!
**This post is sponsored by Helly Hansen. All opinions are my own**