When we touched down in NY I could barely breathe. We'd had the worst flight of the whole trip, so much turbulence the plane had dropped about a metre and everyone had been flung up in their seats. I was also in the very place I've wanted to go for so, so long.
When we crossed one of the bridges and actually arrived on Manhattan, the tour manager put Empire State of Mind on. Throughout the whole trip she'd be playing songs on the coach that corresponded with each city - and I'd been waiting for this song.
All 24 of us were silent as we stared in awe at the buildings standing so tall and the taxis and people and apartment buildings - all exactly as I'd always imagined it to be. I got shivers when the song came on and tears in my eyes. I could not believe I was finally in New York City.
We stayed at the Beacon Hotel which was on the Upper West Side on 73rd and Broadway.
It was a good location, subway only metres away and an amazing fresh produce grocery store right across the road. We were all dying for some fresh fruit and vegies by this stage.
Bright and early the next morning we went on a full city tour, past the building John Lennon lived in and was also shot at, up alongside the Hudson river and into Harlem, then across and back down 5th Avenue past Tiffany's, Saks, FAO Schwartz, we then stopped at the Rockerfeller centre.
Next stop was Grand Central Terminal and then Ground Zero.
We tried to brave Century 21 but got overwhelmed by the pushiness and awful people shopping in there at the time. We lost one of the girls and decided to cut our losses and run, it was unbelievably stressful in there! Haha. On their shopping bags it says 'fashion worth fighting for'
The coach driver dropped us at the 10 floor Macy's after lunch - thats right - 10 floors!!!
I bought some super cheap MAC make up and a Michael Kors watch. Unfortunately the clothes werent very nice :( And the staff were rude rude rude. (I had yet to find out that this is the norm in NY unfortunately :((( )
That night we went to dinner at a lovely bar, then to Times Square to have a professional group photo taken. People were staring at us and one guy came over and wanted his photo with us!
"I love Aussies!!! Can you all point at me in the photo?" hahaha.
Then... Karaoke. Songs sang by our group included 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun', 'I Come From the Land Down Under', 'California Girls' (accidentally, the man who was running it called us up and we thought someone had put our names in to do it, but turned out another group of girls were supposed to do it! OOPS.) and 'Khe San'. Hahaha.
The bar staff also get in on the action, jumping up and singing on the bar etc. At one stage they both sang Empire State of Mind in a duet style and the whole bar was singing along at the top of their lungs. The memory gives me chills. It was seriously amazing.
The next day we were hungover and made a very cold trip over to Liberty Island. Unfortunately everywhere in the USA that is a tourist attraction now has airport style security (think x ray machines etc etc) so it takes FOREVER to get somewhere. I think we were in line for about an hour before we made it through.
After that we went to Century 21 again and prepared to seriously throw some elbows. I got a Nine West jacket/anorak/parka thing for $90 down from like $180 so I was pretty happy. Its a bitch to rummage through everything in there and I think if I had more time and patience I would have tried a bit harder.
The next day some of the girls and I went on a 'Shopping' tour lead by some stylist. Who...... was not great. We were the first group to get the opportunity to do this tour through Contiki so we gave honest feedback. Luckily the tour manager came too so she experienced how bad it was.
I hope they find another stylist to do that tour because its a great idea it just needs someone different. VERY different.
That night was the last night of the tour :((( so we went out to dinner at this place where they have HUGE cocktails but SHITE food (half a dry, pink chicken and soggy chips on a plate?). The cocktails kinda made up for it but :) and then onto the Empire State Building... where we waited an hour and a half in line... blahhhhhhhhh. Luckily we were all pretty 'happy' from the cocktails but it was so tedious. Then it was onto Joshua Tree bar for drinking and dancing.
J and I spent another 3 nights in NYC. We stayed at the Chelsea Inn and Hotel Chelsea. I dont recommend the Chelsea Inn unless you enjoy lugging your suitcases up 4 flights of stairs :S.
The Hotel Chelsea was nice, kinda creepy because of its history and just the general 'air' of the place but I would stay there again.
The best thing about the Chelsea Inn was there was this boutique, I think called 'LF'. They have Jeffrey Campbells and YES I did nearly die when I saw some in real life. And of course I had to have some! The rest of their clothes were awesome too and I regret not going back and buying more! Damn.
We walked through Central Park, went to Tiffany's, and walked all the way down 5th Ave back to Macys one day.
The next day we went to Soho. Which was awesome and I wish I'd spent more time there.
I specifically hunted down Bloomingdales so I could get my Marc Jacobs handbag, and then went to find DASH the Kardashians boutique. I was too scared to go in ( ??? :| god knows why hahaha) and J talked me into it. The clothing was nice but not great quality. I wanted to check out Kim's jewellery but the place was so busy I couldnt get near it.
On our last day we ventured back up towards Tiffanys to find the YSL store because I wanted an arty ring. Of course it was Easter Sunday and it wasnt open!!! Boo. Instead we watched all the crazy people in their easter outfits crowd 5th Ave in preparation for the Easter parade. We didnt get to see it because we had to head to the airport :( :( :(