After months of waiting and planning for my family trip to New York, we finally touched down at JFK and were launched straight into holiday mode! We flew through security (pardon the pun), although the alarms did start going off as my fingerprints were scanned (eek!) and quickly grabbed our bags, eager to dive into the Big Apple. Jumping into a classic yellow cab, we sped out of the airport and along the highways towards Manhattan, giving us our first taste of the crazy driving that I absolutely love. Definitely something I have brought back with me, I was almost dizzy from trying to predict the driver’s next move as he jumped into any available space and edged his way through the traffic. I have to say I really prefer the way Americans drive – I wouldn’t give up the gear stick for anything – but I like their efficiency. They just focus on getting there as quickly as possible and aren’t frowned upon for using their horns to tell people to move – I hate how British drivers are so afraid of using their horns to tell people when they do something wrong or dangerous – that’s what they are there for! Sorry, I digress…
I was sitting in the front seat next to the driver, and yes I tried to get in the wrong side of the car at the airport – whoops! After the long flight, I was glad he wasn’t a chatty driver as I was more than happy just to take in my first glimpses of the big city, especially when we went over the bridge and got our first amazing view of the New York skyline – just perfect despite the mist surrounding it. It always takes my breath away to see that sight again.
I was also enjoying the gorgeous old school soul CD that the driver had popped in, with his dreads and cool manner he sang along as we came over the bridge and through the city to our hotel, the Hotel St James, just off Times Square. As you may have read in a previous post, we were made so welcome by the lovely staff on reception who spotted mum’s birthday badge and instantly went out of their way to upgrade our rooms.
The hotel was lovely, clean and comfortable. It actually looks nothing like the pictures on the website – which don’t do it justice – and is really nice. A perfect base for anyone on holiday and looking to explore the city – you are seconds walk from the centre of Times Square and a five-minute walk from the subway station. You’re also just a short walk from the best shopping in the city, some of the amazing sights and Central Park. One of the best deli’s I have found in the city is right next door – really recommend the smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels – and it is surrounded by loads of great restaurants including an amazing grill restaurant opposite! The hotel staff were so kind and loaded us up with maps and information for our trip, after unpacking and having some birthday cake with my sister, we headed out into Times Square to see the bright lights!
I always feel so excited when I stand in Times Square – it just epitomises the ‘bright lights bigger city’ with all those flashing signs and adverts everywhere, the random people dressed up as Disney characters or drugs, people trying to sell you tickets everywhere and just the hustle and bustle of it all. There’s so many people in such a small area of New York, you can’t help but feel you are really in the thick of it all and I always have to take a second to breathe it all in. Wow. Yellow taxis racing through the centre of the square, wafts of burger and steak smells coming from the restaurants, huge queues outside Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe, and all different accents around me expressing their excitement.
I’m so pleased that each time I have been to New York with my family (Four times now – I’m so lucky!) we have found deals to stay in the streets close to Times Square – it really is the best part of the city because you are only a few minutes away from some of the most incredible parts. I always love to imagine what it would have been like there 50-100 years ago. I know that not everyone will agree because many others prefer to avoid areas like this – but I think it is hard to avoid tourist traps in New York without missing out on a great deal. I’m really looking forward to sharing everything else that we did during the week we spent there with you, I’ve got lots of photos!
What’s your favourite part of New York? Do you love or hate Times Square?