Leaving from Berlin, again by train, we travelled to Prague in the Czech Republic, which was a much more pleasant train journey than from Gdansk to Berlin, but I guess you come to expect that from the German's, they're pretty damn good at that sort of thing. We weren't planning on making this into a thing, but after these train journeys and what not, we were super lazy when it came to finding our way to our accomodation via public transport so into a taxi we went!Read More
There is absolutely no way that I am leaving it until mid-September to go away on holiday, I have never ever looked forward to a holiday so much in my life, long awaited indeed.
Much like our trip to Italy last year, we started off by booking flights (we booked these at the start of the year which made the wait until September even worse!), and to try and make things a little cheaper, we decided to try work some route out using direct flights to and from Aberdeen.
Wizz Air started doing direct flights to Gdansk and Warsaw earlier this year, and I had visited friends in Poland last year, and Emma wasn't able to make it, so we figured that was a good enough place to start!Read More
Rather than making one really loooooong post about my time in New York City, day 4 and onwards of our trip can be found right here! If you have ended up here and not already read part one, then click here.
Day 4 -
I was really looking forward to what we had planned today, as we were going to check out the site of One World Trade Centre, as well as hopefully taking a wander across the Brooklyn Bridge.
But, like the past couple of days, the morning had to be started off with some pancakes!
After we had finished at breakfast, once again, trying to embrace the public transport system, we headed to Grand Central Terminal and caught a train to the nearest station to One World Trade Centre.
It was opening day for the New York Yankees against the Blue Jays, and the MTA New York City Transit sent a special “Nostalgia Special” non-stop from Grand Central-42 St to 161 St-Yankee Stadium. This was totally unexpected for us so it was cool to see the platform full of Yankees fans and then the train arriving.
As we all know, the World Trade Centres were an iconic part of the New York City skyline, and New York City itself, but are sadly no longer there, however, where they once stood is a very impressive memorial, and within metres is now the One World Trade Centre.
If you do anything with your time, or have a few hours to spare in NYC, then please check out the World Trade Centre Memorial and Museum, it's an absolute must do.
We spent a good few hours in the World Trade Centre museum, and I didn't use my camera here, just my iPhone, and in all honesty, I don't want to post too many pictures or spoil it for anyone as it really is just one of those things you need to check out in person.
You must remember that the World Trade Centre Museum is built underneath where the Twin Towers stood, and much of their foundations remain here, as well as staircases, and girders, etc.
So it is pretty damn eerie, and upsetting in some parts, but it's a must do, as for many, what happened on September 11th 2001 is firmly imprinted in our memories forever.
After spending a few hours at the museum, and making our way around all the exhibits, we headed out and wanted to go to the Brooklyn Bridge next, but first, we took a detour down Wall Street.
From here, I think we may have taken a few wrong turns as it turned out to be a bit of a detour to get to the Brooklyn Bridge but we eventually made it... after stopping at Dunkin' Donuts that is!
Once we managed to navigate our way onto the pedestrian walkway, we took a wander across the bridge, but we definitely underestimated just how long it was!
We left my mum and sister at one end, but I was desperate to get to the other side and try and take some pictures looking back onto Manhattan. The sun was just starting to set also!
The area just across the bridge is Dumbo, and I wish we had longer to check it out, and also stay and catch the sunset, but we just headed down to the riverfront to snap a few pics.
Next time I make it back to NYC, I'll be sure to spend some more time this side of the river for sure!
Anyway, back across the bridge we went.
As you might have realised by now, we planned very little in the evenings, and just left them as time to grab some food and chill, as by the time we were getting back to the hotel, it was 8pm or so anyway, and man, we were tired.
I'm sure we just grabbed something to eat from one of the Five Guys which was just a block or so away from our hotel, then my dad wanted to have a pint of Guinness at P.J. Clarke's on 3rd Avenue.
DAY 5 -
In a lot of my posts about travel, you'll notice I've got a bit of a thing for sightseeing buses, and I get that from my mum and dad, so it was inevitable that there'd be some of that in NYC... I'm just surprised it took until the 5th day before we got on one!
If you don't already know about City Sightseeing, then click the link and check those guys out. There's a direct link to their NYC page here, where you can check out all the sightseeing tours they offer. I can't recommend them highly enough, and you can hop on and hop off the majority of tours which is perfect.
I developed a bit of an obsession for Snapple while in NYC, and that pink lemonade flavour is the one, so I stocked up for the day. Sadly, the Snapple in the UK isn't nearly as cheap, it's a bit of a rip off to be fair, and the flavour selection ain't great.
The first tour that we went on with City Sightseeing was their Uptown Tour which visits Manhattan's northern region, and goes through Harlem also.
As you know, Central Park is huge and has a lot of crazy real estate around it, so the fact that these sightseeing buses go up either side of Central Park is great, definitely one of the best ways to check out how the rich and famous live, and also get a point of view which you wouldn't usually get if you were walking.
If I remember correctly, the tour was around 2 and a half hours long, but there's plenty of sights along the way, so here's some shots below -
The tour ends in Times Square where you're able to hop on one of the other available tours.
Trying to squeeze in as much as possible, we waited at one of the City Sightseeing bus stops just off Times Square and hopped on the Downtown Tour loop. We had already checked out most of Downtown over the previous couple of days, but once again wouldn't hurt anyone, right?
After all, sights such as the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre, One World Trade Centre, Flatiron Building and so on are pretty special, but I'll try avoid posting those pictures below as there's plenty above and in my previous post.
Day 6 -
Our last full day in NYC, and our tickets for the City Sightseeing tours were for 48 hours, so of course, after doing the Uptown and Downtown loops the previous day, we were going to do a couple more. Gotta get your moneys worth and that!
First up was the Bronx tour, as me and my dad wanted to see Yankee Stadium, and this seemed like an easy way to get to it.
However, to get to the Bronx tour, you needed to get to Grant's Tomb on 122nd Street, so we took the Uptown bus to get there.
The above picture is of Grant's Tomb, which is where the Bronx tour bus dropped us off. No shame, but most of us were absolutely bursting for the toilet, and there was a church across the road so we went there in hope of finding a toilet.
Thankfully there was one, but moving on from the toilet scenario, the Riverside Church is pretty spectacular.
I'm sure you'll agree, a pretty amazing spot, and one which we stumbled upon purely in sheer desperation for the toilet, I'll certainly take that.
In terms of pictures from my DSLR, that's pretty much where they ended, but I have some iPhone shots left over, so I'll be ending the post with those.
From the Riverside Church, we headed back by foot to the Natural History Museum because I've wanted to visit this since forever, and I still have NEVER been to the one in London.
I said we should walk from where we were to the museum, but I totally underestimated how far away it actually was. Apologies to my mum, dad and sisters, it was a distance, my bad! This meant we arrived quite late, and it was closing soon, but we started from the top, and rushed around as much as we could see, and grabbed a quick look at the HUGE blue whale there.
Whenever I make it back to NYC, I'll definitely be coming back to the Natural History Museum and spending many hours here, so much amazing stuff in this place, feels like we only managed to check out a tiny amount!
We literally couldn't walk any further, so we hopped on the subway and headed back to Grand Central Station and then the hotel. After we grabbed some food, I had some plans to meet up with a bunch of guys I know through sneakers. It still amazes me that something like sneakers has given me the chance to meet so many great people, whether it's in the UK, Europe, or the US.
After getting lost on my way, I eventually made it to Brother Jimmy's where we grabbed some food, lots of beer, and spent a few hours chatting about everything and anything. A big shout out to Lou, Dennis, Adrian, Marcos, Nicky, and Doe for making the effort, you guys are the shit!
The next day was our last, and we were flying back to London overnight, so we just done some last minute shopping, well, my dad and sisters did, I just got a long lie!
It was inevitable that our first trip to NYC would be filled with all the tourist things, but I can't wait to come back as there's still lots to check out. Need to visit all the stores I never got round to visiting, and also need to get to some sporting activities... Basketball, ice hockey, baseball NFL, need to experience it all!
Until next time New York City!
Back in April of this year, I went with my family to New York City, and for whatever reason, I never ever got round to writing a blog post about our trip, so 6 months later, here it is! I've spent the last week or so re-editing all the images from the trip, I wasn't massively impressed with a lot of them to be quite fair. There was a lot of haze and harsh sunlight in some of the shots, but I'm more happy with the images now I've had a chance to re-edit them. Really looking forward to going back to NYC though now that I have my new camera, forever wanting to shoot everything I done before with my D750.
Anyway, let's get to it!
The first part of our trip to New York City begins in Aberdeen.
The Journey -
Aberdeen airport is tiny, so we had to get a connecting flight via London Heathrow, but thankfully I had the breakfast of champions (sarcasm..) in the Aberdeen BA Lounge, consisting of a rowie, a bag of crisps, and apple juice. Can't beat that.
So my first ever time to the United States of America, and to say I was excited was an understatement, the whole trip was an absolute buzz, from getting on a B747 for the first time, to thinking the toilet was overflowing when apparently the toilet water is just really high in America? The tiniest of things were getting overly excited, and I hadn't even stepped foot out of JFK yet.
Big shout out to British Airways for the smoothest 7 hour flight ever, and the constant supply of as much orange juice as I wanted. You'd be surprised how many films you can watch and orange juice you can drink in 7 hours! Shame about the dirty windows...
DAY 1 -
Arriving at JFK at stepping out the main doors and seeing the yellow cabs was definitely a pretty cool moment! My whole knowledge of and thoughts about America are purely from years and years of American TV shows, and movies, so it was great to see it in the flesh.
We arrived in the evening, and got a Dial 7 car to our hotel which was the New York Marriott East Side on Lexington Ave at 49th Street. Really couldn't have asked for a better place to stay to be honest, right in the heart of Manhattan, ideal!
After we had unpacked and chilled out for a bit, as with every place we go (I get this from my folks), we went a wander to get our bearings, and by now it was quite late in the evening, our first taste of New York by night. The streets and avenues setup was really easy to grasp, but damn, walking a block can feel looooooong sometimes!
By this point we were absolutely starving, and had reached Times Square, so if I remember correctly, I think we just dived into one of the first places we found
down a street off the square which happened to be a TGI Fridays. Filling food and a lot of cola! No complaints from me.
Times Square was absolutely heaving, as expected I guess, but really cool to see all the lights, billboards and giant TVs, definitely blows London's Leicester Square out the park, that's for sure.
After a full day of travelling, it was time to hit the sack, and prepare ourselves for all the tourist shit tomorrow, and the next day, and the days after that! But I think I was more looking forward to eating pancakes for breakfast...
DAY 2 -
First full day in NYC, and it was going to be a long one, so I had to lace up my New Balance 991's for ultimate comfort.
We asked the reception where a good spot was to get some pancakes, and they recommended the Comfort Diner which was relatively close to the hotel.
PANCAKES FOR BREAKFAST @ The Comfort Diner!
They don't look like much, but man these pancakes were good... and you can tell everyone else had the same idea! You've gotta love that American style diner too!
We decided that the first "tourist" thing we would do was check out the Empire State Building, and this wasn't too far from where we grabbed some breakfast, so we walked a few blocks and then joined the inevitable queue.
Finally, after an hour in the queue outside, we reached the front door, but only to be greeted with more queues. You've gotta be pretty patient with these types of things, even in off-peak times.
It was very rammed at the top, and obviously everyone wants to get close to the barrier on each side, but with a little argy bargy, I made it to each of the sides. Big shout to my mum for holding my camera bag and swapping out my lenses when I needed them, haha.
There was a lot of haze that day, so some of the shots didn't turn out so good, but there's a bunch below.
After the Empire State Building, we needed to refuel, so went to one of the million Starbucks in NYC and done just that, and it's always a good place to grab wi-fi.
I have two sisters, so naturally, being in NYC, they wanted to go shopping, and with the Empire State Building being on 5th Avenue, shopping was next on the agenda!
Madison Square Garden
One World Trade Centre in the distance
Instore custom booth at New Balance NYC
Before I went away, I made up a list of all the stores in NYC that I wanted to check out, but sadly, I only managed to get to the New Balance Store where I picked up the New Balance 997CCF, pictured below.
New Balance 997CCF
New Balance NYC was our last stop in terms of shopping for this day, and as it is in the Flatiron District, what do you go and see next? The Flatiron Building!
We walked through Madison Square Park which is in front of the Flatiron Building, where the above pictures where taken, and there were loads of squirrels which were all extremely tame. If only we had some nuts to give them!
As we had done the Empire State Building during the day, our plan was to check out Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Centre in the evening, so we could see New York by night, but we had to go sort out tickets as you have to book for a certain time in the evening, so we made our way back up 5th Avenue.
The Rockefeller Centre itself is a pretty impressive complex, and as it was Easter time, there was a giant Easter bunny made of flowers.
The world famous ice rink was also still up at the Rockefeller Centre.
It was an absolute nightmare to try and get tickets for the Top of the Rock, but after getting lost a few times, and asking a couple of people, we eventually found the ticket office and sorted out tickets for an evening slot.
St. Patrick's Cathedral in on 5th Avenue opposite the Rockefeller Centre and is a really breathtaking building, especially when it's in the middle of Manhattan and has all the giant buildings surrounding it.
As above, the same can be said for St. Bartholomew's Church which is on Park Avenue, and as you can see from the image below, it is almost totally dwarfed by all the huge buildings.
I honestly can't remember what we done next, I know we went back to the hotel to rest for a bit, but after that and before we went to Top of the Rock, I have no idea. It was 6 months ago, my bad!
Anyway, let's jump straight to Top of the Rock. We headed back to the Rockefeller Centre in the evening, and this was a much quicker and less stressful process than the Empire State Building.
Empire State Building and One World Trade Centre
Empire State Building and One World Trade Centre
After experiencing Top of the Rock, we headed back to the hotel to get an early night as the travelling and busy day had caught up with us!
Day 3 -
Honestly, if I could start every day with pancakes for breakfast then trust me, I would!
Another pairs of the 9xx series for today, in the form of the New Balance 990HSN x hanon shop, one of my favourite pairs and again super comfy.
We're always ones for embracing the local public transport system, and on this day we wanted to pay a visit to the Statue of Liberty, and the best way seemed to be to get the underground from Grand Central Station to Battery Park.
Sadly though, the underground is shocking... certainly in comparison to London's underground, big up the Oyster cards.
At least it gave us a reason to check out the amazing Grand Central Terminal.
We sent my mum and one of my sisters to go and join the queue, while the rest of us went to get the tickets. Again, a bit unorganised, but what can you do? Doesn't help either when you ask a bunch of people and they all tell you different things...
At least there's a pretty neat view of the One World Trade Centre while you're queuing.
We got on the Miss Ellis Island boat which would first take us to the Statue of Liberty, and then we would have the opportunity to check out Liberty Island.
Straight to the upper deck to grab some seats, but damn, that short boat ride to Liberty Island was windy!
Some of the views leaving the dock, and then approaching Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty.
We spent some time on Liberty Island checking out the Statue of Liberty and of course, taking in the pretty awesome views that you get of New York City. Sadly, we never had the opportunity to go up the Statue of Liberty to the crown as you have to book it well in advance. Here's some views of NYC and some close ups of Lady Liberty to make up for it!
Once you're done on Liberty Island, you head back to where you got off one of the boats, and hop back on a boat to take you to Ellis Island, where you are free to have a look in the National Museum of Immigration, a really cool place for sure.
Combining a little bit of jet lag, with long days filled with walking and queueing, some of us were pretty drained, so another chilled night was on the cards but the Lindie family are big fans of the Fast and Furious franchise, and the 7th film had released while we were in NYC, so we figured we'd find somewhere to watch it.
Maybe a strange thing to do when you're on holiday, but a good way to pass some time and chill out in the evening for sure!
We found a cool little spot to watch it at Cinema 1, 2 & 3, which had reclining seats and all.
And that was it for day 3 in NYC!
This post is already pretty lengthy, so I'm going to continue this post on a part 2, rather than making this one even longer. Be sure to check the second post here.
Following our trip to Pompeii via Naples, we headed back to Rome late in the evening, and had an "early night", if you can call midnight early? Ultimately we were heading to Florence, or Firenze (I'm down with the Italian language now), but we knew Pisa was relatively close, so we decided to catch a train to Pisa first, and stay there for a night. The train system in Italy, Trenitalia, is pretty great - super efficient, quick, reasonably priced, and easy to get tickets. The UK need to take a leaf out these guys book. So if you're looking to travel within Italy, I definitely recommend using them, we never experienced any bad journeys or issues with them.
We had made sure we'd screens hotted directions from the train station to our hotel this time around, so arriving in Pisa, we headed to the Grand Hotel Duomo, definitely one of the nicest hotels we stayed in, probably due to the fact that the rooftop bar had an amazing view of the Leaning Tower, Cathedral and Baptistry.
View from the roof top bar of Grand Duomo Hotel.
As with every new place you go, or maybe it's just us, you've got to go explore so that's what we did. We knew Pisa wasn't as big as Rome, but on the way to the hotel from the train station, we had walked over a nice bridge at the river and spotted some areas we wanted to check out. And of course, we had to go check out the Leaning Tower.
We only had a couple hours wandering planned, as we arrived late afternoon, and we had booked to go up the Leaning Tower of Pisa for sunset, hoping to get some nice sky and some even better views.
Around the area where the Leaning Tower of Pisa is, known as , there are a number of things that you can visit, with the main ones being the tower itself, the cathedral, the monumental cemetery, and the baptistry. Most of them you need to pay to visit, but the cathedral is free to visit as far as I'm aware, but it was on our ticket for the Leaning Tower, so this was our first stop.
The cathedral is spectacular with it's grey marble and white stone, and building commenced in 1064. The interior of the cathedral is even better, and even houses Galileo's Lamp, which you can see in some of the pictures below.
Our time was shortly approaching to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so we made our way round to the entrance as you have to be there around 15 minutes before or so. It is 18e to climb to the top of the tower, and please, if you want to do this, book it via the official site, the link can be found here, and not via some third party who will charge you a lot more.
The site can be quite hard to navigate in all honesty, even once you switch to the English language option, but have a little patience and you will get there. It is necessary to do this a little in advance as they have time slots and only let a specific number of people up at a time. The climb itself only takes about 20 minutes, and is relatively easy, but is well worth doing.
We were most surprised about how 'boring' the interior of the tower is actually, but the view makes up for it, so we'll let that slide.
As it was bang smack in the middle of sunset, and we knew we had that rooftop bar at the hotel with spectacular views, we made the mad dash back down the tower, and across the road to our hotel so we could catch the tail end of the sunset.
An amazing sunset, I'm sure you'll agree!
The street you can see in the above image which leads all the way to the Piazza dei Miracoli, and goes past the front of our hotel, has countless places to eat, and is probably one of the busiest places in Pisa, if not the busiest, so make sure you check it out and grab some food.
A wander down to the river at night to grab a couple of shots only resulted in one sadly.
We were heading off the next afternoon to Florence, so we had planned to visit the Baptistry, and the Monumental Cemetery in the morning. I think we maybe paid 5e each to visit both things from the ticket office which is near the Leaning Tower.
We visited the Baptistry first, but to be honest, it's a little underwhelming inside, I think we spent all of 10 minutes in there, and that was just climbing one level up to get a good view of the Cathedral.
The Piazza dei Miracoli is quite a wide walled area, and just to the right of the Baptistry if you're looking at it from the front, you can head over the grass and check out some of the wall remains. Through one of the closed off gates is a graveyard, but I think you may be able to get to this if you exit out the walled area.
The next place we checked out was the Monumental Cemetery, or Camposanto Monumentale, and is a walled cemetery which is believed to be the most beautiful cemetery in the world. The cemetery was completed in the 15th century, after being started in the 13th century, and it is extremely impressive.
There is an amazing fresco named The Triumph of Death, and you really most spend some time admiring it.
Sadly our time was up in Pisa, so we grabbed our cases and headed to the train station to catch the train to Florence! I fully recommend checking out Pisa if you're ever near, beautiful place.