If you’re a nervous flyer like me, I’m talking to the point where you suspect everyone of being up to no good. You nearly have an argument with yourself and have to convince numero uno that in fact you are o.k. and are being ridiculous.
It seems important to establish your little bubble of calm to help with any anxiety once cloud-side. With this in mind, pack in your carry on Optrex Self Heating Eye Masks (a pack of 8 from Boots). For an anxious passenger, these are a Godsend. Optrex recommend leaving on for just ten minutes, essentially I presume this is for an every day routine at home.
In the sky, the lavender scent is particular welcoming (an unscented version is also available). This calming, fuss-free, self-heating eye mask is extremely soothing. The slight black out helps one to nod off for any much needed sleep. Paired with a relaxing playlist or podcast on you iPhone, the combination work well together to restore a little balance in the air. I kept this on for the whole flight, which certainly helped me to be less of a gibbering wreck!
Want to read more about my fear of flying? Then head here.
Once your feet are safely on American soil and you’ve dragged your luggage through the terminal, the easiest way to make your way (from JFK) to Manhattan is to take a licensed yellow cab. The taxi rank is clearly marked and is on the exit from the airport. Drivers currently charge a flat fee of $52.00 including toll charges. Realistically the journey will take anywhere between 1 and 1 1/2 hours, depending on the volume of traffic. Which is both hectic and constant.
Hop On – Hop Off
Once you have dropped off those heavy bags and checked in at your hotel, it’s time to view NYC for the first time. Depending on your arrival time (I always fly around 9.00 am and arrive around midday), the perfect way to spend a couple of hours is to take a trip on the Hop On Hop Off bus.
It winds round all of New York and costs around $35-50 per person, depending on the type of pass you pay for. Yes ok, it’s touristy, however getting on that bus is the perfect way to spend 2 or 3 hours to gain a snapshot of the city and work out your bearings. After the flight the fresh(ish) air is welcome, so be sure to sit top deck for the best views. Make sure you take something warm to wear. Especially in the Autumn/Winter as once darkness falls it can get bloody chilly!
On The Go
The easiest way I have found to get around New York is on foot (and of course the Subway). Not going to tell you to take sensible footwear. I mean you know the drill right? You walk miles a day. You ain’t needing no blisters! I’m talking 12 miles a day. It’s hard going so just don’t rely on flip flops! And judge distances. Once you get the hang of New York’s grid system, remember how massive these buildings are.
To give you an example, we spotted the new World Trade Centre which seemed a few minutes walk away. 1 and a half hours later we were still walking. Instead of a couple of blocks away from where we were, this was more like 15-20 blocks. Remember these buildings are massive. If they look big from where you are viewing, remember they have to get much bigger yet!
Out To Eat
Do not succumb to Tourist eateries. On this occasion I refer to The Hard Rock Cafe, Times Square. Yes, it’s an amazing place to go. The buzz, music and general vibe is happening you know? However the food is not great. An extensive menu promises all sorts. In reality the food seems to be heated up, a little bland and seriously overpriced. I mean c’mon y’all, you are literally eating at the busiest crossroads in the world, so expect prime prices. Not so great for the taste buds.
If you really insist on visiting, I do highly recommend their cocktails. Around $20 per person, fruity delicious and leaves you feeling like you could play that guitar hanging on the wall just as well as Jimi Hendrix could any day of the week. In short, avoid the food, stock up on cocktails instead.
I’m not quite sure how touristy Junior’s is considered, however for a grilled cheese and wedge of cheesecake, this is a great hangout to head to on a wet afternoon or at the weekend. A chilled out typical American Diner-ish place to go. Friendly staff, every single flavour of cheesecake you can imagine. Junior’s is certainly for the biscuit based lovers out there. Cheesecake you can only dream of. Seriously scrummy and at around $7 per slice. Just not enough time to sample every flavour. And don’t worry with all that walking around, you will be sure to burn the calories off.
Also plan a stop to Ellen’s Stardust Diner on 1650 Broadway. Singing wait staff trying to make it big on the stage. Super-size delicious breakfasts (American style pancakes, maple syrup, waffles, maple syrup, tater tots; small cubed potato bites, maple syrup – you get the drift), perfect to set you up for the day. Worth a visit for the entertainment alone. Expect to wait around half an hour to be seated. Read more here.
On a strict time schedule? Forget the views from the top of the Empire State. Of course the views are amazing, instead head to Top of The Rock at night (so you see the Empire State) for a twinkling view of the city.
In the day make your way to the top of the new One World Trade Centre, as well as being able to see the 9/11 memorial and museum (which stir every emotion possible), the panoramic views from the top literally take your breath away. Apparently you can see up to 70 miles away on a clear day and it takes just 47 seconds to hit the top – all 100+ floors! I was literally speechless as I gazed out of the glass and the views far and wide cemented by love for this great city even further.
If you’re heading to visit NYC anytime soon have an amazing time! I’d love to know if you have found any of this at all helpful, if so please drop a comment below or tweet me.
In the meantime if you need inspiration for your trip, read 10 Things You Must Do In New York!