Chrissa’s colleague Francesca was getting married in Malta so we used the wedding as an excuse to explore a new country. The first day we went on a vintage bus tour around the island and met everyone who would be at the wedding (around our age). The next morning we went for a quick dive before attending the lovely wedding and super fun reception and after party. On day three we drove up north to see Popeye Village, the film set for the 80’s movie and then took a ferry across to Comino Island to swim in the famous Blue Lagoon. On our last day we visited the Rotunda of Mosta, a Roman Catholic parish church in Mosta, Malta, dedicated to the Assumption of Mary. Then we took the ferry to Gozo Island and had a swim at Rahmla Bay before visiting Calypsos Cave with its stunning view. Then we made our way to where the world famous Azure Window used to be for another dive.
Day 1 - Manhattan Cruise And Top Of The Rock
On day one of our visit to New York City, myself, Chrissa, Alex and Julie got the chance to cruise around the Island of Manhattan with Circle Line Cruises who have hosted over 60 million passenger in the past 70 years! On our way to Pier 83 where the boat would depart we stopped at the Columbia University Campus where Alex and Julie are students, to have a look around.
After visiting a few of the buildings and the Library, we made our way Midtown and after a quick coffee break we reached Pier 83 and boarded the cruise boat. The Cruise would last two and a half hours and there was a tour guide, Dave, who would be telling us all about what we were seeing. The weather was freezing outside but thankfully the indoor seating was very comfortable and the visibility perfect. The first highlight was the Statue if Liberty but of course we could also see the entire downtown manhattan on the other direction. Brooklyn bridge was next, followed by Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridge. The boat would go on all around the island so we eventually saw all the bridges and most of the major NY buildings like the Empire State, the Chrysler, the Yankee Stadium, the United Nations an others, Id you are in New York definitely check out their Best of NYC Cruise: https://www.circleline42.com/cruises-and-schedules/best-of-nyc-cruise/
Our next destination was the Rockefeller Building and as it's called, the Top of the Rock, a viewing platform on the roof and top two floors. On our way there we passed through Times Square and then the famous Radio City Music Hall. We managed to catch an awesome sunset from the top that made the stunning view of New York even more epic. Even though the weather was freezing we stayed till after the sun was completely set and all the city lights were on so we could take some night shots. Day one of our trip was a complete success and it made us very excited of what's to come.
Day 2 - St. John Cathedral, Flat Iron and Brooklyn Bridge Park
We started our second day by getting bagels from a small shop called Absolute Bagels and eating them on a bench in Morningside Park before heading to the Cathedral of Saint John the Devine. The interior of the cathedral was quite beautiful and ornate however what really caught my eye were the various pieces of art and installations they had which will be in my vlog as I didn't take pictures of them. We then got on the subway and went to midtown because Chrissa needed to by some winter boots. We walked around Macy's for a while and then to a generic shoes store where she found the pair she wanted. The Flatiron was very close by so we went to take a few pictures of it before making our way to our actual destination, the High Line. The High Line is a 2.3km long New York City linear park built on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. We walked it up and down and then decided to go to the Brooklyn Bridge to catch the sunrise. There we met a fellow London Instagramer, Chris (@chrisjphotography) who was visiting NYC as well and we did some long exposure photography of the Manhattan skyline together. We ended our night with a very tasty Mexican meal at the Gran Eléctrica, a restaurant under the Brooklyn Bridge.
Day 3 - Guggenheim and Met Museums
Day three was all about visiting museums. Our first destination was the Solomon Guggenheim Museum which we had seen so many pictures of. Apart from its awesome architecture, this gallery has one of the coolest collections of modern and contemporary art, so we had to see it. On our way there, we crossed Central Park for the first time, and when we got outside the main entrance, as we were taking pictures of the facade, a man came up to us and asked us if we had already been inside. We replied"not yet" and after asking us where we were from, he offered us two free tickets that he had acquired through his company. We stood there baffled at his generosity and after we thanked him a dozen times he went his way and we went inside. We really enjoyed the museum's layout and collection of art. It had at least one piece of every major modern and contemporary artist. We started from the very top and worked our way down the ramp to the bottom.
When we were satisfied we moved on and walked a few block down 5th Avenue to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We had a couple of hours to explore before it would close for the day and since the museum is massive, we decided to walk around to get a feel for the art and spaces rather than spend time reading labels. We definitely have to come back on our next visit as we only just scratched the surface and it was an awesome museum with way too much to see in only a few hours. After it closed we went for a stroll around midtown and had a bite to eat before returning home.
Day 4 - BLIZZARD DAY
We woke up to Storm Stella, a blizzard we knew was coming for a couple of days but were hoping would just pass by. Unfortunately it was snowing heavily so we ended up staying in and catching up on some photo editing.
Day 5 - MoMA, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Grand Central, World Trade Centre Mall
The blizzard was gone by morning and most of the sidewalks and road where clear when we stepped outside. Our first destination was the Museum of Modern Art. We spent our morning seeing the art there and then went to St. Patrick's Cathedral which was just a few blocks away. Next we wanted to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum and see the sunset from the One World Observatory however on our way there we made a quick stop at the Grand Central Terminal and then at the World Trade Centre Mall. Our pitstops took a little longer than expected so we decided to postpone our visit to Memorial and the Observatory and go the the Metropolitan Opera. We had found cheap tickets that afternoon for Romeo and Juliet in French so we thought, why not? The Opera building was stunning and so were the sets and costumes. The whole production was very cool however I felt it dragged on for a little too long but I guess all Operas do.
Day 6 - 9/11 Memorial Museum, One World Observatory, American Natural History Museum
We didn't manage to see the 9/11 Memorial Museum and the Observatory the previous day so we made it our first destination for the morning. We first had breakfast and one of the best coffees I've ever had at this awesome little cafe called Voyager Espresso inside the Fulton Street Subway station and then walked to the Museum. Seeing the place where the twin towers used to stand was quite emotional even though we aren't Americans. The room with all the final moments of the plane passengers and the people in the buildings in the moments before they hit was especially saddening. After paying our respects to all the victims, we visited the new observatory up the top of One World Trade Centre. We got to see New York from another angle yet again. After about an hour we left to go meet Alex at the American Natural History Museum. It was really cool seeing the "Night at the Museum" building up close. As with the Met, the museum was way to large to see in only a couple of hours. We visited as many exhibits as we could before they closed for the day and then met up with Julie and we all went for a Peruvian dinner downtown. We ended the night by having drinks at an original Speak-easy prohibition-style bar that served everything in porcelain cups and you had to know how to access it or else it was hidden.
Day 7 - Empire State Building and Carnagie Hall
For day seven Chrissa and I only had one thing on the agenda, the Empire State Building. Julie had to fly to Ohio for her sisters bachelorette and Alex had to study so it was just the two of us. We caught the subway to Tribeca where we had brunch and took some pictures of the new Herzog & de Meuron residential skyscraper that looks like blocks stack on top of each other. We walked the Highline once more to reach the ESB and as it was St. Patrick's day there were dozens of people in the streets dressed in green, drinking and causing trouble. We thought about going to the parade but decided not too as it would be way too much hustle so we went straight to the top of the skyscraper. Seeing the view from our third high-rise observatory we can conclude that the Rockefeller had the best view as it looked directly at the Empire State and the rest of Manhattan and also Central Park. It was still quite nice from up here though. I guess it is a must if it is your first visit to the city as it is an iconic building. Alex had gotten us free tickets through his University to attend an orchestra playing at the Carnegie Hall so that is where we went next. We got really hungry at that point so as we had some time before the show started we decided to find a place to eat. Chrissa found a Burger Joint on Foursquare that was around the corner but we couldn't find it when we arrived there. It turned out to be a small room hidden within a luxury hotel, one of the most random things we've experienced as it was completely out of place. There was a queue all the way to the lobby so at least we knew it was good. Carnegie Hall was impressive, and so was the performance.
Day 8 - Whilliamsburg & Brooklyn Bridge
Chrissa has a friend, Raphael, who lives and works in NYC so we arranged to have brunch with him at a Southeast Asian Fusion restaurant. The food was very interesting however it was too spicy for a first meal of the day in my opinion. After that Raphael had to go and Chrissa and walked across the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn and headed south towards the Brooklyn Bridge where we would walk back across. As soon as we crossed the bridge, we ran into Alline (@beatrici) another London instagramer visiting New York and just happened to be walking the same street we were. We caught up with her for a short while and continued on our way. We walked for a couple of hours and started craving Brooklyn Pizza. However Williamsburg is a mostly Jewish community and since it was Saturday everything was shut for Sabbath. At this point I also had to pee quite desperately so we walked into the first pizza shop we found. Fortunately the pizza was exactly what we were looking for. The weather wasn't great as there were gusts and drizzle throughout the day. We pushed on nonetheless till we reached and crossed the Brooklyn Bridge where the rain and wind became unbearable. We accessed the first subway station we saw as soon as we came off the bridge and went home to warm up and rest.
Day 9 - Harlem & Flight Back
Our flight back to London was in the evening so we had a few hours during the day to see Harlem which was nearby. Alex showed us some of his favourite streets and then we had brunch at this awesome Bistro that had a wonderful atmosphere, jazz music and tasty food. On our way back home we stopped at the City College of New York and also the Riverbank State Park so I could fly my drone a bit. We picked up our luggage from the house, said our goodbyes with Alex and took the subway to JFK.
Despite the one-day Blizzard and the one rainy day towards the end, the rest of the time was very nice and we saw most of what we wanted to see. We experience some of the culture New York has to offer, we ate amazing food, most of the time, and we walked until our feet could walk no more. New York is definitely a city we need to come back to, as it has so much more to offer and in 9 days even though we did a lot, there are plenty more things to experience. A massive thank you to Alex and Julie for letting us stay with them and making this trip possible! <3