Yes this title is an attempt to make a pun with the title of Sofia Coppola’s masterful movie ‘Lost in Translation‘, which you would all have watched, I am sure.
So we left Las Vegas with a somewhat sore feeling. After being forced to get a cab from the hotel to go to McCarran International Airport, when no other option was left to us, and waiting for several hours at the airport (where we felt more at ease than anywhere else in Vegas at that point), we eventually took off and escaped from the Nevada desert, happy as ever to leave the sounds of the slot machines behind us.
It was Monday the 23rd of July, and on that day I set foot in Los Angeles for the first time in my life.
Those Weird Hours In Between
We had almost 24 hours until our next plane, which would carry us in more than 10 hours, to Japan.
Things went smoothly, so we didn’t have to think about it. From the airport, we took the free shuttle to our hotel (what a change after Las Vegas!), checked in the huuuuge beautiful room we booked and we proceeded to chill out.
We didn’t even go out of the hotel to explore Los Angeles a bit, but honestly we weren’t in the mood to do so. Things are a little blurry but from what I can remember, we went to the hotel restaurant and ate very good food, and then I watched a movie my father had told me about on the flight that day, which I had wanted to see ever since it was released in 2004: ‘Flight Plan‘ with Jodie Foster, a thriller set on a plane which was interestingly written, but scared me about planes when I wasn’t even scared…
Preparing Yourself For A Whole Other World And An Inevitable Culture Shock
All I could think about was counting the hours separating me from leaving the US and FINALLY landing to Japan, and seeing it for myself, after so many years of wondering how it would be like.
For the record, I have been learning Japanese for almost 2 years now, and obviously learning about the culture as well, from many different sources (YouTube, books, TV shows, Netflix, documentaries, social media and so on). So I already knew a lot about Japan. In fact, in some ways even more than I knew about the US… That’s something I’ve already talked about, but what I knew from the US before our trip all came from 70s to 90s TV shows and movies. Nothing current.
I had the same level of excitement for Japan that I got for New York City, which is saying something because I had wanted to go to New York since before I could even have memories… I can’t even describe how happy I was.
That night I couldn’t sleep very well either, which was expected…
I knew well enough how much of a disorientation and culture shock we would feel when arriving in Japan, and what’s more, in Tokyo. I tried to explain it as much as I could to my father. I remember I told him about:
the fact that the weather there was extremely hot and humid (because it was summer), which neither of us had ever felt before;
the fact that nothing was his size there (my father’s really tall), especially in Tokyo and especially after staying in the US for 2 weeks, where everything is too big;
the fact that people smoke in restaurants, but aren’t allowed to smoke in streets except in very specific areas;
the fact that there is A LOT MORE PEOPLE everywhere, especially in Tokyo;
and of course the simple fact that we were going to leave one continent for another, and not any one of the continents: we were going to leave the America for Asia! Which would have been okay if either of us had ever been to Asia before, but we hadn’t. A huge culture shock was inevitable.
He listened alright. And as I talked about it, I tried my best to really think about it. But in the end, neither of us was truly prepared for what was coming.
Ever wondered where Sofia Coppola got her title from for her famous movie? Well I’ll just leave that quote here for you to think about…
“Poetry is what is lost in translation. It is also what is lost in interpretation.”
You see, I have social anxiety, always had, and it’s pretty bad, enough to be a real pain in my life. It manifests itself even more during holidays, because my confidence always reaches a low point.
So when I had to leave home for the World Tour I did this summer 2018 – which I talk to you about here – with my parents and then only my dad, I knew I would have to be stronger than usual, at least to survive on long-haul flights.
To give you a bit of a context, before that, I had never been on a long-haul flight. Now I shall say I’ve become an expert, as I’ve successfully survived through 7 (out of 9 flights in total) in only 1 month.
Our first flight from Paris to New York was more than 8 hours long, which at the time seemed to go on forever. For me it rhymed with hell on earth (well actually hell in the air): 8 hours, stuck in a confined area, 10,000 feet up, in a uncomfortable seat, without any space nor air to breathe properly, surrounded by strangers mostly nervous and uncomfortable too… To be honest, it does sound like the beginning of a horror movie.
And of course, my anxiety levels were up to the roof for this first flight. But I managed to find things to keep me calm throughout all the 9 flights, and here are 5 of my most efficient tips, real tips that actually helped me survive this month of travel!
1. Bring Your Own Stuff
This is by far my most efficient tip. If you suffer from social anxiety like me, you would need to bring:
your own pillow and neck-pillow,
your own blanket,
your own comfortable socks,
your own headphones,
your own games, books, magazines or anything else that will keep you occupied as usual.
I cannot stress enough the ‘as usual‘ part as this is what makes this tip so efficient: you need to trick your brain into thinking you’re home, or in a place you know, in order to tackle anxiety and make the hours go faster and more smoothly.
Of course I know most of the stuff I’ve listed is provided by most companies, but trust me when I say you’re better off with your own, and not only because some companies actually re-use the same stuff already used by other passengers, sometimes without even washing it, presenting it to you in a closed plastic bag. Yes. And the same goes with the seats, the armrests, and headrests, which hardly get washed. But I’ll talk about hygiene in another tip: for now the point is to bring your own, washed, clean, stuff.
Pillow-tip: Also, if you’re wondering how to bring your own pillow without being too encumbered at the airport, just bring a folded pillowcase with you, which you can then load with clothes (thereby reducing the weight of your luggage at the same time). But really you can make it out of anything: my own pillow was made of my big Sostrene Grene black linen tote bag, filled with the stuff I wanted to have with me on the plane, wrapped up in my hoodie, which I then closed by tying the loops together!
2. Don’t Stress Over Your Seat Too Much
The number 1 tip some people give is to choose your seat carefully. I’d say okay, but following which criteria? There’s as much criteria as there are people, and I would say the best place on a plane really much depends on yourself, and your preferences!
If you know you will be most anxious about being in a confined area, like me, I’d suggest to get a window seat, to be able to see what’s going on outside! Definitely do not get a aisle seat, and on bigger planes that have rows like ones above, avoid sitting in the middle area D/E/G/H because you won’t be able to see anything and it will for sure make you anxious, especially during take-off and landing!
Avoiding the middle seats also goes if you don’t like being stuck between people: I would suggest avoiding the B, E, G, and K seats. Be aware that sometimes airplanes only have 3 seats in the middle, or none at all, depending on the type of flight: don’t go too fast on the website when you’re choosing your seats, as every plane has its own specifications!
If your main concern is space, then also get an aisle seat to be able to stretch your legs, or even better, a seat at the front row, right after a dividing wall: just know that those seats do have a retractable table in the armrests, but don’t necessarily have a screen. Their main plus is that there is nothing in front of them so you have a lot of space to stretch your legs!
If you’re most anxious about being able to go to the restrooms quite a lot (because you know you will be anxious, because you know you just pee a lot, or simply because you’re pregnant!), then definitely get a aisle seat, whether on C, D, H or J: this way you’ll be able to stand up and go without disturbing anyone! Obviously, if you can, get a seat that is closer to the restrooms. There usually are at the front and the end of the aircraft, and on big planes there are also restrooms in the middle, on each side.
If you would like to sleep without being disturbed, then get those seats in the middle, or window seats.
If you would like to incline your seat as much as possible without disturbing the person behind you, then get a seat in the last row before a dividing wall, at the end of the aircraft or just at the end of an area (first, economy, quiet area etc…) on big planes.
If your main concern is the noise, you should avoid seats directly behind reactors, and prefer seats right at the front or at the back of the plane: those areas are usually quieter. On some flights, there can be ‘quiet areas‘ which you have to pay a bit extra for, but they are worth it. This is like a in-between first class and economy class. They are closed by curtains and dividing walls, and usually empty.
If you really want to get the best seats, go over to Seat Guru* after you’ve paid your plane tickets: this website allows you to know which seats are the best ones on your specific plane. Then go over to your registration site online, and simply book those magic seats!
I know you’re probably thinking ‘Well, you’ve entitled this ‘Do not stress over your seat’ but you’ve actually been saying the opposite!‘ and I would say you’re perfectly right, but here’s my conclusion (and my real tip):
All of what I’ve just said before doesn’t matter, because whatever seat you get on the plane, it will be uncomfortable, and there isn’t one seat or row that can be called ‘the best’. Why? Because the definition of good entirely depends on your preferences, which may even vary from one flight to another!
For example, if you know you’ll be tired on the plane because it is a night flight, then make sure you get a seat where you won’t be disturbed for the whole duration of the flight. But if your flight starts on early afternoon, make sure you get an aisle seat to be able to stretch your legs and go to the bathroom as you like!
Also, if you know your plane is going to be huge (Boeing 747 or Airbus A380) do not worry about anything I’ve said before, because those planes are so comfortable and spacious that you won’t even realize you’re on an aircraft.
So the best place you can get depends entirely on you! Just be aware of all the possibilities you have and you’ll be fine!
3. Bring Water And Food
A 10-hour flight is long, very long. Especially if you anxiously wait for food.
Usually you get 3 meals in a 10-hour flight. I don’t know the rule for sure but the company usually respects normal hours to eat.
For example, even if you cross on another time zone, flight attendants will bring you food when it lunch/dinner time in the place you’ve left. Same goes with breakfast and a small snack in the middle of the afternoon.
You could be thinking that’s more than enough to stay fulfilled, but it actually isn’t: even for me the portions were too small. To give you a bit of a background, I’m french, therefore not used to big portions as in America for example, and I don’t eat that much anyway. But the portions were so small I always had to purchase food at the airport, after the security check, to bring on the plane with me!
The same goes with water: you usually get 4 or 5 drinks during a 10-hour flight, and you can ask a glass of water each time, but this cannot be enough under any circumstances. You need to double the amount of water you would normally drink: so for every 8 hours, you should drink up to 2 L of water to stay hydrated! This is due to the air-recycling inside the cabin, which is creating an extremely dry environment (see more details below).
Water tips: bring your bottle with you. I would suggest bringing a 1,5 L bottle. To pass the security check, present it empty: the security won’t say anything to you even if you see signs everywhere telling you to get rid of your bottles! What they don’t want are fluids, because you can have explosives in them. So if you have an empty bottle, that doesn’t interest them! Then, you can refill your bottle in any bathroom, or with any source you find, especially for that purpose!
On the plane, you can actually ask the flight attendants to refill your bottle for you when they pass between seats offering drinks! Not a lot of people know this, so there actually always is enough water for everyone because they have extra.
4. Always Go To The Restrooms When You Have The Chance
This is a small but efficient tip.
Go to the bathroom right before boarding the plane, right after take-off, and more generally, don’t wait to go: at the second you start to get cramps, because if you wait, you’re likely to get stuck for a long time in a queue that never seems to end..
People usually tend to go all at once an hour or two after take-off, and the line can go on forever! Imagine all 300 passengers or more all sharing 4 or 6 bathrooms at the same time?! And usually, the toilet paper is lacking after 2 hours in the air. So make sure you go before all that frenzy!
5. Stay Focused On Your Well-Being
Who said spending long hours on airplanes should equal to landing in a poor physical condition? In fact, if you follow the basic recommendations, not one spot is likely to appear on your face, nor your nose is going to be runny or your throat sore. It all depends on how much effort you put in your well-being during the flight.
Firstly, be prepared, and bring your skincare and eye-care stuff: as long as you respect the size requirements for liquids, you can bring whatever you need/want:
whatever will help your skin stay hydrated and your eyes not feel sore and be red. Because of course, the biggest enemy inside the plane cabin is dehydration.
Why is it that the inside of an aircraft cabin is so dry? It is due to the cabin pressurization, which is a process in which conditioned air is pumped into the cabin of an aircraft or spacecraft, in order to create a safe and comfortable environment for passengers and crew flying at high altitudes. For aircraft, this air is usually bled off from the gas turbine engines at the compressor stage.
Be careful though as the pressure will make your creams literally escape from their container as soon as you open them!
Secondly, drink the water you’ve taken with you! Nothing replaces water to be really hydrated, so drink as much as you can, even if it means you’ll go to the bathroom a lot: the choice is yours to make.
I hope those tips were useful to you, please make sure to like this article or leave me a comment if you’ve learned something or if you know you’ll be using one of my tips on your next flight! I’d be delighted to hear from you 🙂
My story with New York City started some 20 years ago, which is about as far as my memory can get.
The City Of My Dreams And Tears
Growing up, every wall of our home was filled with pictures of New York, mostly beautiful, huge puzzles that my Mom had assembled and hung on our walls. And I remember dreaming about jumping inside the pictures, seeing in real life what seemed to be this perfect place, with colours and lights everywhere…
My parents actually went on their honeymoon in New York City, some 27 years ago. In that faraway time, the Twin Towers were still standing, and terrorist threats were only an possibility, not so vivid in the minds of all inhabitants of the world.
I actually remember where I was that day in 2001, even though I still was very young, and I also remember the minute of silence we did at school. Even then, my eyes teared up, although I didn’t have any idea of what was really going on, except the essential: that people, lots of people, were killed.
Five years later, as my mom and I were huge film-lovers, we went to see the movie United 93, true story about this plane filled with civilians, that ended up crashing in the countryside rather than on the Pentagon, which it was aiming at. I cried my eyes out. This was heartbreaking.
The 9/11 Memorial
So, when we went to the 9/11 Memorial… and of course, I cried again. All those names, written down on the sides. Those huge holes in the ground, where the towers once stood. All those trees planted in memory of those who have died. The new tower, symbolically surnamed the ‘Freedom Tower‘. All those people reflecting, families praying in front of the name of their loved one, flowers put inside the carved names of those whose birthday it was that day… This was all too much. But I needed to see it, be there. Experience it. And try to understand, as best as I could what the scar that that day had left on the world was like.
If you ever go to NYC, I urge you to experience it as well. If your memory of this horrific event is blurry, either because you were too young when it happened or just not even born, please, document yourself. Because I believe it is our history that shape us, and the collective memory we share that makes us humans.
The One World Observatory At The Freedom Tower
We took time to visit the One World Observatory, which was one third of the price of the Empire State Building and just as good, if not better, for the view of the City. The tower is very futuristic, and the explanations on its observation deck pretty good. We stayed at a presentation given about the City and its history, and it was great!
Conclusion: Until Next Time…
All in all, my time in New York City left me the feeling I imagined it would, but was truly unexpected as for its visual and some of its vibe. When we first got there, every minute I was thinking to myself ‘What the hell! this building is too big/short! this isn’t at the right place! this isn’t the right colour! this shouldn’t be here!…‘ What happened is that I had gotten a mental image from movies, TV shows and documentaries over the years, and that image was completely wrong. I just felt like everything was off, not as I imagined it, and it made me feel very sad for a few days…
But after a while, almost as if an adaptation had taken place, I just knew what everybody was looking for there: the energy of the place. Its incredible energy. One that can drive anybody, one that can touch anyone, and most of all one that can adopt any of us! Any colour, race, religion, politics, age, tastes… are accepted there.
New York truly is a haven, and although it might not be the case anymore in the future, due to the closing of frontiers, people who live there are the most eclectic I have ever seen in my life, coming from absolutely all horizons…
I definitely have a lot I still need to see and experience there, because in that sort of place, you’re never finished, and it still amazes you after decades of knowing it…
Hope I gave you enough insight, and transmitted you the will to visit New York City!
We had a total of 6 days in New York City: from July 12 to 18. In the first three days we spent a lot of time walking, at an average of 20 km per day, under a heat of 33 to 37°C! So for the last three days, we took it easy:
FIFA World Cup
On Sunday morning (July 15), we woke up a bit later, and went to a nearby pub to watch the FIFA World Cup final match between France & Croatia. It was such a good experience, and even more as France won!!! Since then, every person we’ve met in NYC has congratulated us for that win as soon as they understood we were French haha! We got to Times Square just in time to see french supporters singing their joy and walking down the street screaming their joy!
Times Square Market: Cheap/Great Stuff
Sunday brought more closed streets in NYC creating more pedestrians areas, and street markets: there was a big one on Broadway, all the way from Central Park to Times Square. We wandered around, purchased cheap sunglasses & jewellery, and just enjoyed being there.
Chinatown: Not What It Once Was…
We headed towards Canal Street, directly by subway. Originally we wanted to see the morning street market on Canal Street on Sundays, but we arrived there too late. That wasn’t a problem as we were still able to visit Chinatown for a while. My parents were very disappointed as it had changed a lot since they last visited. There was a pagoda in particular that they remembered brighter and cleaner…
As for me, I didn’t imagine Chinatown like that, and in retrospect that was the Chinatown I least preferred in the whole trip!
Little Italy was right next to Chinatown, and was so small I barely noticed it. We walked through it for about 20 minutes, purchased ice creams… and that was it. Aside restaurants, we didn’t see anything interesting. I’m sure the place is great when you live in NYC and want to get Italian food, and specialised supermarkets.
Going to the Cloysters, in northern Manhattan, was an experience in itself as it was so far: it took us nearly 45 minutes by subway to get there. Once we got out of the subway, everything outside had changed: we had left the noise and the smell of Manhattan behind us, and were now wrapped up in silence only broken by forest sounds… which was very nice.
We went to visit the buildings of the Cloysters for about 30 minutes as they were closing early, at 5 pm.
The Met Cloisters, located on four acres overlooking the Hudson River in northern Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park, is the branch of the Museum dedicated to the art, architecture, and gardens of medieval Europe. Deriving its name from the medieval cloisters that form the core of the building, it presents a harmonious and evocative setting for more than 2,000 exceptional artworks and architectural elements from the medieval West.
We then took the bus to go back downtown: we enjoyed the long ride as it took us through Harlem, and all the way back to Central Park.
Carriage Ride in Central Park
On Monday we had the chance to get on a 20 minute carriage ride in Central Park! This was a bit pricyn especially for tourists like us but we take it upon ourselves! haha
The driver was extremely friendly and he told us all about the parts of Central Park we were visiting. He also congratulated us for winning the World Cup, and took lots of photos of us inside the carriage!
Tour Bus: City Sightseeing NYC
Yes… after almost a week of walking around on foot, we finally gave in and payed A LOT to go on a tour bus. We chose the red company (not sponsored) and it was actually great!
We sat on the upper deck, even though it was pouring rain at some point: we had raincoats that they gave us and a lot of courage that day! We laughed a lot because we were completely drenched in the end… good times!
This concludes (almost) all the activities we got around to do in New York City, but obviously I wouldn’t conclude like that without talking about the One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial; so stay tuned for the next article!
On the third day, we decided it was time to leave Manhattan for a while, and cross over the most famous (and most dreaded for pure New Yorkers) bridge of New York, the Brooklyn Bridge, which inevitably leads to Brooklyn.
Later in the week, we learned a bit about NYC and its actual size compared to Manhattan Island only. This was great information, so I’m gonna share it with you in this article.
NYC is actually divided into 5 boroughs, Manhattan Island being by far the smallest one after Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. The biggest in size is Queens, but the biggest in population is actually Brooklyn: 2,640,711 people live there, which is by itself more than the whole population of Paris, France! In total, the city of New York gathers 8,622,698 people, which places it just under London.
The Crowne Plaza Hotel
That hotel is outstanding in every way: by its location on 5th Avenue, right at the corner of Central Park, by its magnificent architecture and by the fact it was featured in Home Alone 2 (which most of us my age saw a pretty fair amount of times – not gonna lie).
Who never wanted to see the inside of the Crowne Plaza, one of the most famous hotels of the world? Well I did, and my face was pretty much resembling that when we entered:
The inside was all luxurious, and the hotel really is an attraction in itself. We then took the subway to head downtown.
The One And Only Brooklyn Bridge
When we got there the sun was so bright I didn’t have enough of my hat and sunglasses: everything was reverberating way too much! But it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the sight: the Brooklyn Bridge was before my eyes!
All those metallic ropes really make a difference in its look, which is absolutely unmistakable. Surprisingly, we weren’t alone on the bridge (hmmm) and it took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to cross it, while obviously taking lots of pictures!
That’s like as good as it can get, really:
Time in Brooklyn
When we arrived on the other side, there was a lot to see: a hip-hop festival was being held under the bridge and the music resonated in the whole area which made the walk even more enjoyable. We headed towards the left side of the bridge (coming from Manhattan), at Fulton Park.
We ate at a restaurant called Cecconi’s, where we were seated with a direct view on the Manhattan Bridge. You know, it’s THAT bridge we see in movies, here in Once Upon A Time In America, of Sergio Leone:
We then walked the entire way to the right side of the Brooklyn Bridge: this was Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which goes from Pier 1 to Pier 6.
We saw some typical stuff along the way and took some very nice pictures, including the most beautiful picture I have so far (picture of this article), and this was taken on the right side of the BB, at the Old Pier 1.
As it was Saturday, we saw a lot of people barbecuing all along the Promenade, some of them celebrating birthdays, with children playing everywhere… this was very nice.
Right before Pier 6 we purchased an ice cream, and went to wait in line for the free Governor’s Island Ferry that was departing at about 4:30 pm: yes we took all that time to walk the distance from Pier 1 to Pier 6!
All in all, the time we spent in Brooklyn was a big surprise to me. I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much but I actually did. I guess what the girls said in Sex And The City about it when Miranda and Steve go and buy a house there is overrated, and although it may have been true in the 90’s, it sure isn’t today (expect for the fact that NYC taxis still won’t cross over to Brooklyn).
The view on the Manhattan skyline was absolutely amazing the whole way, the people were all nicely relaxed, it was almost empty therefore very calming, AND it smelled better than on the island of Manhattan.
You see the green island right in front of Manhattan skyline? Well, this is Governor’s Island! Not very far from Manhattan indeed. From Brooklyn it took us about 10 minutes to set foot on it.
The ferry ride was very short but long enough to help us breathe some nice fresh air from the ocean bay… and get some of the worst sunburns we’ve ever had! But don’t worry they later transformed themselves into a nice tan.
When we set foot on the island, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing: this island basically looked like a movie decor.
The buildings were all built from those beautiful red bricks that are so typical of America, at least in the movies and TV shows I’ve seen during my life! It made think about The Walking Dead in particular, which wasn’t… very pleasant… kept looking over my shoulder to see whether a zombie was coming after me!
We tried to rent a trolley out, but we had to wait for an hour to get one… so we decided it was better to go and explore the island on foot. We first sat on a bench to people watch for a while. We also went to see Castle Williams, which was very interesting.
Castle Williams is a circular fortification of red sandstone on the northwest point of Governors Island, part of a system of forts designed and constructed in the early 19th century to protect New York City from naval attack. It is a prominent landmark in New York Harbor. Together with Fort Jay (Fort Columbus), it is managed by the National Park Service as part of Governors Island National Monument.
During the Civil War, the casemates of Castle Williams were used to house newly recruited Union troops, to serve as a barracks for the garrison’s troops, and to imprison Confederate enlisted men and deserters from the Union Army. After 1865, it became a low-security military prison that was also used as quarters for recruits and transient troops. In 1895, Castle Williams was designated one of the U.S. Army’s ten military prisons.
We then caught the 5:30 pm ferry back to Manhattan, which again, was a very short but extremely enjoyable ride under the evening sun (where we got even more sunburnt).
Tacuba: A Guacamole Paradise
Back from Brooklyn we went to eat at Tacuba’s, a Mexican restaurant on 9th Av. between 53rd and 54th. The food was very nice, especially the homemade guacamole – very spicy, but the best one I’ve ever tasted. And I also had enchiladas for the first time!
Times Square At Night
After the restaurant my father and I headed towards Times Square again, because I wanted to see it at night, and as you can see it was VERY crowded that night; but then again, when’s it not that crowded, I wonder.
Next time I go to NYC, I’d like to spend more time in Brooklyn, because that day I really understood New York isn’t all about Manhattan. Not anymore.
Who said Fridays 13th bring bad luck? In fact, in most cultures and religions, they bring just the opposite, and in fact, this 13th of July 2018 brought great luck for me: I visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the most famous park of all time, Central Park.
The Metropolitan Museum Of Art
The famous “MET”, short for Metropolitan Museum of Art, was just as I imagined it: huge, incredible and filled with great energy.
We walked there from Park Lane, which took us approximately 45 minutes, taking into account that we had a pretty slow pace because it was quite hot (35°C) and my parents cannot walk very fast. When we arrived there it was already about 11:30 am so we took some time to rest on the stairs while eating fries.
Inside, we only did three areas of the museum: the Egyptian wing, the Roman wing & the Medieval wing.
By far, the Egyptian wing was the best (at least by my standards anyway): I thought it was magical.
We spent hours exploring those wings, ate a bit at the Patrie Café (the Museum restaurant), and then headed to the MET store, which was huge (and it had some weird stuff, for instance one room filled with dozens of crosses hanging from the ceiling…?).
Central Park: The Most Famous Park In The World
Right after leaving the MET, we finally entered into Central Park. It was about 5:30 pm on a Friday, and people were so chill and relaxed… It made me wonder about actually living here, and be able to come to the park every now and then just to relax.
From behind the MET (around 86th St.) we walked all the way down to Park Lane, inside Central Park. And just like the MET, the Park was very much like I imagined it: huge, very green, and I finally understood the deep meaning behind its surname of ‘Lung Of The City’. It just had a vibe I had never felt anywhere before… completely surreal.
We saw families, people walking their pets, people cycling, running, roller skating, reading, playing football, baseball, basketball… I mean, everybody was just enjoying their time.
In fact, it concluded a great day of reflection, about the City, its residents, its visitors, its history. And I think I got a glimpse at how New Yorkers find their peace and their pace.
I’ve officially set foot in New York City. And I still cannot believe it! I never thought this day would come so soon, but it has, and I honestly think it was one of the best days of my life: July 12th, 2018.
This day has burnt its place in my memory as the day I actually fulfilled my number one dream: being in New York City.
Here I should say we actually arrived at 10 pm the day before, and from the cab I had been able to catch my first glance ever at the city, by night, and this sight too is burnt into my mind. The whole island of Manhattan was glowing, and the most famous buildings of the world were illuminated like it was Christmas… I couldn’t refrain myself from shedding some tears. You cannot understand what it felt like unless you’ve been to NYC: it’s one thing to see the city all over movies, TV shows, news and so on, but it is another to actually see it in person. This was incredible.
For our first day, we started BIG* and hit some of the biggest landmarks:
This was the first place I actually experienced in New York and it was all I ever wished for: screens everywhere, some of them HUGE, colourful, loud, and making me feel like I was at the heart of the entire world. We just sat there on the red steps, watching all around us, always discovering something we hadn’t seen the first time we glanced.
The famous screens were even BIGGER than I had imagined. But this feeling actually goes for everything in New York…
When I saw this dude, acting as the Statue of Liberty, I thought to myself that I was not mistaken: I really was in New York. Wasn’t dreaming.
Around the corner of a building we just arrived on Bryant Park, a huge green spot lost between the buildings.
There was a big stage inside the square, with chairs before it: we were invited to watch an off-Broadway repetition of the Chicago musical, brought to us by professional singers and dancers, which was absolutely amazing! ‘All That Jazz‘ was in my head for the rest of the day after that, and I love that song!
The New York Public Library & The Rose Reading Room
Right next to Bryant park is the New York Public Library, which is absolutely beautiful & looks very special giving its location, at the heart of Manhattan. It looks like a European building from the outside, but actually on the inside too: look!
There was a lot to see, but we sticked to the main attraction: the Rose Reading Room.
It was extremely quiet therefore very peaceful… until the fire alarm went off and we were told to leave the building. But I managed to take a few pictures before we were rushed outside!
The Empire State Building
We felt like we needed to go up a bit so we went to the second highest building of New York City: The Empire State Building.
It was right there on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, that I finally realised I was in New York, my number one dream come true, a dream I’ve had for as long as I could remember. We perfectly captured that moment. It was the most magical instant of my life.
On the Empire State you can go up to the 86th floor, but even higher to the 102nd floor! We went so high that the yellow cabs looked like ants, and we couldn’t even see people walking by!
It was the priciest attraction so far (189$ for 3 people), but I’d say it was well worth it.
Madison Square Park & The Flat Iron Building
After a quick lunch at Wendy’s we went for a walk and ended up in Madison Square Park. We spent some time people watching on a bench, right next to the cute grey squirrels. It was really interesting to see all kinds of people walking around, getting ready to go back to work, finishing their drinks as they went by.
As we left, we saw the famous Shake Shack restaurant with its outside seating area, covered by beautiful lights above it. We also took time to listen to a bit of street jazz while taking a good look at The Flat Iron Building.
Journey To The South
We took the first bus line we saw that was going South to the ferries after we took a Metro Card at a metro station, just to make it easier for us to get around for the next 7 days.
Staten Island Ferry: Wonderful & Free
Oh my gosh, I loved that ferry. I loved everything about it, especially its beautiful bright orange colour. That ferry has also the benefit to be completely & amazingly FREE which made the ride even more enjoyable.
I took some amazing pictures on our way there and on our way back, and also tanned a lot due to water reflection. And of course, the star of the show was the Statue of Liberty, which I was seeing for the first time. The first lady of New York looked so great I couldn’t take me eyes off of her…
But then on the way back, I couldn’t take my eyes off Manhattan skyline: I was in freaking amazing incredible New York City and I just cannot believe how lucky I am to have been there!
When we set foot on Manhattan Island again, we took a quick walk through Battery Park, impregnating us with that magical view.
Upstate: Oyster Bar
The sea made us hungry & it was time to eat anyway so we went next to Chinatown to look for Upstate, an oyster bar that Lonely Planet (not sponsored… although I’m not against it :P) recommended in their guide.
When we got there there was a bit of waiting so we went to have a drink nearby first: we took three mojitos that were so strong we were happier in an instant drinking them!
Upstate was great, barely lit to allow us to see the street and its animation, and the food was amazing – for american food anyway.
We also saw the Times Square M&M’s Store, and I saw the famous Carnegie Hall on my way back to the hotel (on foot, because I’ve heard you don’t take a cab for less than 10 blocks here). I could never have dreamed of a better first day in this wonderful city, THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS.
Take care & have a good one,
Lilly, aka The French Hat
*No reference intended to SATC for you fans out there 😛