1 Do a session of people watching at Pret a Manger or Maison Kaiser, while sipping on a Grande Cappuccino!
We watched a man unpack his ‘entire life’ while we were having our usual morning Cappuccino’s & Chocolate Chip Cookies (which are to die for btw). He set up his business there, with patience & dedication, for which we had great admiration. NYC has many Pret a Manger’s to pop into if you would like to quickly grab something to eat & use the restrooms. The friendly staff definitely makes the world’s difference to your morning mood! I loved watching people walk past the glass window dressed so beautifully, looking stylish & well-groomed. The morning vibe on the streets of Manhattan is relaxed and refreshing. Many people sit inside, drinking a coffee, and working on their laptop. It is just an amazing culture to experience! Oh, before I forget, for absolutely delicious treats you have to taste something sweet at Maison Kaiser (there are a few of them around Manhattan too)! Their pastries, tarts, and cakes are absolutely addictive!
2 Go inside the New York Public Library…it’s just like in the movies!
Shhh! People are actually studying and working in there for real! Just pretend to be an insignificant statue, or a potplant if you like, for a few minutes and absorb the intricate detail of the heavenly ceiling, the grand lights hanging from above, the arched windows, the smell of the wooden desks and the shiny bookshelves stacked with books that are probably older than you are. Then, snap back to reality and appreciate how incredible it is that the city maintains the entire building so beautifully that it can be used by people every day. When you realise you are no longer a statue, which will become very apparent once lots of other eager tourists bump into you, just remember to take a snapshot to look back on this captivating experience one day.
3 Put on your little black dress, red lipstick and go watch Pretty Woman: The Musical on Broadway
If you are like me, an absolute sucker for romantic comedies, do yourself a favour and watch Pretty Woman: The Broadway Musical. The acting was incredible and the overall experience was surreal. The seats are positioned closely together…so get yourself ready for a chat with your ‘neighbour’! Sitting next to me, was a young woman who had worked as an au-pair for a family in the States, while simultaneously exploring the rest of the USA. She made a spur of the moment decision to watch the Broadway show before returning to Australia the following day. Lucky us for her spontaneous decision, otherwise we would have never had a chance to learn of so many travel tips. I was just a little late for one of them… don’t be the silly ‘goody two shoes’, envious of another person’s water bottle like I was, abidingly throwing my H2O in the trash can as we walked into the Nederlander Theatre. You can buy refreshments there, however, it is quite expensive. On another note, to my surprise, they even incorporated a bit of Opera into the musical, which certainly was a significant moment in our evening. Why? Well, my husband really, and I mean really, dislikes the Opera! I imagine I must have probably looked like a frog, with my chin practically dropping on the floor, as I looked at my husband’s facial expression with utter amazement. He LOVED it! There was a smile! Oh, happy days! I think all the ‘boring’ ballet & musical productions that his parents dragged him to over the years had finally paid off. Thanks, mom & dad!
4 Go out for dinner at Marta’s & become hypnotized by their relaxing & romantic atmosphere
After a long day of sight-seeing in one of the greatest cities in the world, it is worth winding down in a hip & trendy restaurant loved by NYC locals, where you can have an intimate conversation catching up on all the awesome tourist attractions that you have explored so far. The lighting at Marta’s is stunning and sets the tone for the evening. Be sure to try their pizza! I would really suggest using an app called, Open Table, to find & book restaurants in NYC. You can easily adjust the settings to your needs & it definitely has the convenience factor going for it.
5 Stand on top of the world, literally, at the Empire State Building
And before you ask…YES! It certainly is worth it! My hubby & I bought ‘Skip the Line’ (VIP Express Pass) tickets and it was a wonderful experience. I think the entire outing took us around one and a half hours, that’s opposed to waiting in line and potentially becoming a half day activity, or so we were told. I just thought, goodness, we can’t come back to South Africa and endure yet another ‘dizzying’ experience every time we go out to watch a movie. Yes, I’m talking about that preview that begins at the bottom of the Empire State Building and eventually ends among the stars somewhere in space. So, we just had to see the real thing! And let me tell you, the preview isn’t far from the truth. That is one tall building!
6 What’s the next best thing to having a burger with the president? Have one at the Trump Grill, Trump Towers!
My hubby was so excited to see the Trump Towers and not on the TV show called, The Apprentice, but the actual building in NYC, now surrounded by the Secret Service since Trump became president. For the ladies, it is right next to Tiffany & Co, which recently opened the Blue Box Cafe if you would like to indulge in something sweet and perhaps something shiny. But, what do hubbies usually need when they come along for shopping? Food! Yup, as soon as I spot something pretty to potentially buy, my hubby, of course, must eat NOW! So, we ate at the Trump Grill and to my surprise, the food & service was really great! It was an amazing experience that I would certainly suggest! Kudos to my hubby!
7 Take an early morning jog through Central Park or just chill on a park bench
If you are one of those people who can actually fit running shoes into your suitcase, unlike myself, who admittedly must sit on top of my suitcase to close the zip, then you are definitely passionate enough to enjoy a morning jog in the park. If you think like I do, that exercise shouldn’t be a part of your vacation, then go CHILL on that bench! Central Park is beautiful! NYC doesn’t feel like the other big cities that I have been to before. Wherever you look, you will find yourself faced by a building or concrete of some sort. The buildings are gigantic and just never-ending. Normally, in other cities, the buildings are shorter and you are able to get a sense of direction, but in NYC it can feel like the buildings are closing in on you & that the only way out is the blue sky above you. Feeling a bit claustrophobic? Don’t worry, that’s what Central Park is for. Once you are inside the park there is a sense of calmness, it is evergreen & the centuries-old trees scattered around the park are SO tall that you completely forget about the concrete jungle outside. It is a great escape, honestly, it is an indescribable feeling of joy.
8 Go bargain hunting for designer brands at Saks Off 5th
Saks 5th Avenue is an amazing store with beautiful products, innovative window displays & all the designer labels that you can think of. However, the beautiful items come along with beautiful price tags too. If you want to be adventurous & get a kick out of finding a great bargain, then make an effort to go to Saks Off 5th. It is close to the original store, however, the presentation of stock differs greatly and you will have to ‘dig in’ to find your size. BUT once you find the perfect Michael Kors trainers or Valentino handbag at a great price, it will all have been worth the effort! There is a men’s section too, but if your man isn’t into it, don’t sweat it. There is more than enough seating for him to get comfortable on in the ladies shoe section!
9 Stack up on cosmetics at the Cosmetic Market store, where you will find great deals on essential beauty products!
They sell almost everything, from designer perfume sets to endless make-up brands, some of which, I saw for the very first time. I felt like a cosmetic virgin in that store! Can you hear the song playing in your head from the movie, Bridget Jones’ Diaries, in the scene where they sang, “Hoo. Like a virgin. Touched for the very first time.”? Originally Madonna’s song of course. No? Well… Perhaps, all the cosmetics just felt like ‘Girl Heaven’ to me & as a result, my imagination surpassed the shred of logical thinking that I had left. I even discovered Emoticon band-aids in this store. How cool is that?
10 Stay inside the Manhattan area and try out The Gregory Hotel!
Staying in Manhattan is a great privilege! If you are located centrally, then you will be able to walk almost everywhere that you need to go. So, no need to worry about transport when you can depend on your own two legs! The vibe on the streets & the beautifully potted flowers around the city makes walking an outing by itself. I would suggest The Gregory Hotel because it is great value for cost & it is centrally located (close to Bryant Park, Central Station, Herald’s Square, Times Square & Broadway). Better yet, the hotel has a magnificent view of the Empire State Building. The staff are incredibly welcoming, friendly & make an effort to provide guests with awesome tips to ensure that their time in NYC is nothing but SPECTACULAR! Who are we kidding? A really comfortable, plush & soft bed after an entire day of walking & traveling can sure feel like a ‘little bit of heaven’!
11 Go shopping at Macy’s in Herald Square, the never-ending store that I got lost in, twice!
Central air conditioning is the first thought that came to mind when we stumbled upon Herald Square. Yup, I know what you’re thinking, but the weather that day was so humid & hot that breathing was a chore! August weather in NYC is not something that I would suggest. This store literally has everything. If you can’t find something, it certainly isn’t because they don’t have it! The store is massive and the stock endless! It was quite an experience. I lost my husband twice while browsing & it took us a good 30min each time to find each other again even though we had cell phones to communicate. Tax in the USA is a whole other story, but the gist of it is that it is usually not included in the sales price. Just outside Macy’s front door, there is a large area of shade underneath beautiful, tall trees where you can have a seat at brightly coloured-painted tables & chairs for free. You can grab a coffee or take-away somewhere and have a lovely lunch in the square.
12 Never been to Venice? No problem, just go window shopping at Lalique, Madison Avenue
I still remember from when I was a little girl, my granny had a glass bottle of Lalique perfume on her dresser table. It was decorated with gold, different coloured gems & I tiny crown on the top if my memory serves me right. I remember thinking, “Wow, this bottle is fit for a queen”! When I spotted their shop by accident in NYC, I just had to take a photo to send to my gran. The glass products in the store are astoundingly beautiful & if you have an eye for detail, you will definitely appreciate the craftsmanship. So, there’s definitely no need to hurry up & take a ride on a Venetian Gondola just yet…
13 If you think gardening isn’t an art, then think again! Go check out the mind-blowing gardens at the Rockefeller Center!
This is where fairy-tale garden’s come from! Just as you could once have dived so deep into your imagination as a child, where anything and I mean any shape or size could be possible, so it all rushes back to you as you stand on that promenade in utter AMAZEMENT! This is definitely a ‘photo spot’ or heck, even a ‘selfie spot’! All the shops & restaurants in the area are an experience by itself, mostly because of their magical & innovative window displays. Don’t miss the Kate Spade shop, it is feminine, pink and just FUN!
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