New York! New York!
I’ll start by saying I’m probably one in a million that didn’t have any interest in visiting America in my life, although culturally I’m so in tune with the American lifestyle and media. However I won’t say I wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to go, so we were so lucky to have gotten the opportunity to visit Tom’s family in New York last November.
Now I’ll say, I absolutely loved it. It didn’t meet my expectations of what the general media makes America out to be, it was a lot more down to earth and a place I felt so comfortable in. Surprisingly, (in contrast to what I have heard from Americans themselves), New Yorkers are super friendly, super helpful people and literally offered directions on every avenue corner before we could even open our mouths to ask, gifted recommendations for the best local restaurants and pointed us towards accessible routes with no hesitation.
We felt right at home when Tom’s aunt picked us up from the airport with Freya and drove us to her wonderful home in the neighbourhood of Connecticut, which felt like a getaway cottage in the woods. I have never been in a place so leafy, with the tallest trees, unless I was on holiday in the mountains/forests of South Africa. And this is their home! We also got a super special surprise custom built ramp for Tom with photos and a welcome message built by his uncle. I wish we could have brought it home with us it was so special, but at least we will always have it there for our next visit (yes, I now hope to visit again).
We decided as it was my first time in New York that we’d do the typical tourist things and visit the sights.
The one thing I wanted to see in New York was the 911 memorial so we headed there first, and it was probably the most moving sight I have ever seen. The depths of the spot where the twin towers once stood, to the memorial filled with all the names that lost their lives and walking through the museum living that day was something out of this world. You could feel the trauma and shock of the country in the most exceptionally curated museum of 9/11.
We also visited Times Square, Grand Central (I honestly had a completely different view of this before, although it may be because we entered from under the famous stairs, so different to all the movies I have seen haha!), the High Line and the Statue of Liberty.
And then what’s New York without a trip to Central Park, and it was just gorgeous, a beautiful park with arches and hills surrounded by high rise buildings and an ice rink right in the middle, where else in the world do you have all these elements in one single place? I really got what all the hype’s about when we visited Central Park, we walked for a good hour or two and only covered a tiny part of the park and it was the perfect escape from the busy city.
We walked up (down?) fifth avenue and stumbled on a Remembrance Day parade which we totally didn’t know about but it was so amazing to see and definitely gave us a taste of how supportive the Americans are of their service troops. Almost at the park we stopped at The Plaza Hotel for lunch (a basement lunch that is, I mean who are we haha) and then explored the park!
We were so lucky to explore New York, take in a new culture and spend such valuable time with our family, something that we will cherish forever and never forget our time in the Big Apple!