I didn’t like New York

P.C. The featured image above is a piece of digital artwork created by Deer Devil Designs, to whom all rights of the image belong.

Yep, you read that right. What? This is Frankly Fahmida, I don’t lie over here. So as much as I want to tell you New York was amazing and just like the movies – it just wasn’t.

I spent seven days in the city that doesn’t sleep and for the first time in my life, my little ass was ready to go back home before my trip was over.

For the longest time ever, New York has been on my bucket list. Having grown up watching a lot of shows and films based in New York (think ‘Home Alone’ and ‘Friends’), you can’t really blame a girl for having high expectations of New York. A past trip to the States, years back now, had also helped mould a preconceived idea of New York as being gorgeous and all Americans as being these super friendly and lovely people. Clearly I don’t watch the news enough (think Cheeto puff who runs the country).

Writing New York completely off would be harsh though. The city did have to it some merits. For instance, throughout my stay I relied on and used public transport and I’ve got to give it to them – New York does have a pretty easy to use, efficient transport system. I picked up a Metro Card (the equivalent of our Oyster card) which allowed me to use as many subways and buses as I wanted, for a week and all for a meagre $30.

The city was chilly but on Day 1 I was determined to make the most of being in a new country and by now you’ll already have picked up the fact that I love a good bit of art – so off to the MoMA I went. This is going to be an unpopular opinion but MoMA was wack. I know, I know – it’s home to Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ and pieces by Picasso and Monet, but other than a few pieces that really stood out, MoMA was a bit of a shambles really. It’s a fairly small museum (I think there were only three floors if I recall properly) and the art installation by Bruce Nauman that I had been looking forward to seeing and saving until last turned out to be not working, so that was a let down. In general, I think MoMA is 90% hype and from what I’ve gathered, people go to MoMA to say they went to MoMA and not because MoMA is actually great, if you know what I mean.

(If I remember properly, admission was $25, which isn’t too bad at all, although while reading my guide to New York later in the week, I learnt that admission to MoMA is actually free on Friday evenings between the hours of 4.00pm – 8.00pm. So for any budding travelers planning a trip to New York – there’s that!)

I took a few pictures of the pieces that I liked the most, though few they may be, there were at least a few that I liked. (I love a bit of Picasso, so most of these are by him. I’d say sorry but I’m blessing you so I’m not even sorry).

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(Always a sleepy gal – Picasso painted me ahead of my time here)

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I think because there was so little to see at the MoMA, it would be fair to say we spent an hour and a half there at best. After that, we decided it was time to head on over to the Empire State Building, just before sunset. It was really packed in there, and understandably so. Once I got to the top and took in the view and really began to comprehend the magnitude of New York, I thought to myself “my goodness!”. It was beautiful and very surreal at the same time. There were glistening buildings scattered throughout the city, and I was very much in awe. I’ve always low-key thought the view from the Heron Tower in London was something but the view atop the Empire State Building is like the view you get from the Heron Tower multiplied by a million.

Tickets for the Empire State Building cost $58, and I think that’s really rather reasonable for the gorgeous view that you get at the top.

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Later that night we popped into a Thai restaurant and in the spirit of being on holiday, I thought ‘let’s be adventurous Fahmida”. Bad idea. I ordered some random meal and ended up with anchovies on top of my chicken, sprinkled almost as though it was some type of garnish. I took one tiny bite (this was before I realized what the weird combination on my plate actually was) and decided that this was not for me 😓. I paid a lot for that meal too but meh – ya win some, ya lose some.

After (a failed) dinner, we took a walk to Times Square. Now Times Square is quite something. One could liken it to Piccadilly Circus but if you multiply Piccadilly Circus by approximately 8.5 billion. (I made that figure up but you get the gist of what I’m saying). When you stand in Times Square and crane your neck to look up at all the billboards and see the flurry of people EVERYWHERE, you understand why they say that this is the city that does not sleep. It’s like Piccadilly Square on steroids. There’s so much going on and there’s so much to take in. And Times Square was the only place in New York that I felt had really matched what I had seen in the movies – it lived up to expectations and outdid itself. I loved it.

For the duration of our stay, we stayed in an apartment in Brooklyn. And on my walk to a local hipster cafe the next morning, I saw some cool murals. The one below was not too far from where we were staying and I adored it. (At this point in the blog, you’re probably thinking, ‘oh my god, she’s talking about murals now’ – but I’m a sucker for some street art). It doesn’t matter if I’m in Shoreditch in London, or in the hipster bit of town abroad, once a sucker for street art, always a sucker for street art!

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Oh, and I loved this one too!

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After breakfast, we made our way to a ferry which took us to Staten Island. Now we really wanted to go to the crown of the Statue of Liberty but sadly we were told that you had to have booked at least three months in advance. A ferry ride to Staten Island wasn’t at all bad though – you get a view of the island and get the view of the Statue of Liberty in the distance. Given the great number of people who had boarded the ferry, I found it impressive that this mode of transport was free and also that it operated 24/7.

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From Staten Island we went to the 9/11 Memorial. In the place of the two twin towers, there are now two memorial pools and etched into the surrounding plaque are engraved the names each of the victims of 9/11.

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We stopped by an Italian place for lunch and before sunset we were back downtown. I should mention that it was utterly freezing and that travelling to the States in New York in February probably wasn’t one of my wiser ideas.

When we got back to Manhattan, we took the subway to Grand Central Terminal. For those of my readers who know me personally, you’ll know that I am terrible when it comes to navigating and had it not been for my brothers and Google Maps, I would most likely have spent most of my time in New York lost.

Fortunately for myself, I made it to the station in one piece. And let me tell you, Grand Central Terminal is so lovely! It is spacious, the architecture is gorgeous and each corner is beautifully lit with chandeliers.

Here’s Grand Central Terminal, and here I am, with my lovely brother who has been emoji-d out because he doesn’t do pictures.

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(God I look like such a tourist in this picture, I simultaneously hate but love it)?

We spent the rest of our evening exploring China Town and Little Italy. It was like a whole new little world down there – my brother really likes bubble tea so he was out there living his best life trying all the flavours 😄.

I feel like if you want to get souvenirs like little fridge magnets and key-rings and not get ripped off at the airport, China Town is the place to go.

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Oh, and I saw more murals and got happy, didn’t I?

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That evening my brothers had won two tickets in the theatre lottery (you can put yourself up to win tickets for just $30), and New York was chillier than ever. I’ve watched ‘Wicked’ at the theatre twice now and wanted to go another evening to watch ‘The Lion King’, so whilst my brothers headed to Broadway, I found myself shopping again. And when I tired of that I found the loveliest bakery downtown that does the best rainbow cake! I also went to Sephora and lived my best life buying the new Fenty beauty lipstick shades, and bought some clothes at Macy’s. I love department stores, and Macy’s was like a House of Fraser abroad. My brothers met up with me later that night, thoroughly happy with their time at the theatre. We grabbed a bite to eat and headed home.

We didn’t really do anything notable that next day, just lots and lots of shopping. We went to New Jersey and dedicated the whole day to shopping.

On the Thursday we woke up early to go and see Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park and I returned to China Town because I liked it that much. We found the loveliest Turkish place ever for dinner and while I was enjoying my trip, I think it was on this fourth day in New York that I began to feel as though I had exhausted everything on my list, and was about ready to head home. It was snowing too and I hate the cold. I spent my evening at home watching TV (and I’ve come to conclusion American TV is the best because the programmes are so much better than rubbish British TV).

The next day, I had a lie in. I didn’t really want to go outside and put it off for a few hours and then caught a bus to Central Park. From there, I made my way to the The Metropolitan Museum of Art and oh my goodness, this museum was it! It was so big, had so many different pieces, had a section devoted to Asian art and had the most beautiful Japanese garden exhibition and had the loveliest exhibition on Islamic art. It was a huge museum with lots of different sections and it makes sense that they give you a three day pass because there is so much of the Met to cover. I’d give the museum alone a 9/10. I LOVED IT.

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I think I spent a good four or five hours at the Museum and it was there that I met a lovely New York local with whom I went to grab some pizza. The pizza place was urban and hipstery and a pretty cool spot. (The pizza’s all gone because it was yum – what can ya do?).

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(The drink isn’t mine, I switched seats to take this picture)

That night I visited Macy’s once again, did some more shopping, came home and did some packing.

I was very homesick by this point and had come to the conclusion that New York could be done in three days. For my last day, I was all ready to go home! I slept in and wasted most of the day and then headed out around 5.00pm to go buy a camera. I got distracted shopping and spent the next few hours downtown before heading back and saying ‘hasta luego’ to Brooklyn. We headed to the airport and that was that – our seven days in New York were over!

Since coming back, everyone has asked me how New York has been and I’m wondering whether I’ve been too harsh in ranking it a 2/10. Honestly, concrete jungles aren’t my type of thing – I like being immersed in a totally different culture. I felt as though each part of New York from Brooklyn to Manhattan to Queens had their own distinct community and the overall feel of New York as one whole city wasn’t there. I’m pretty sure New York in the summer has a completely different vibe to it and is perhaps much more pleasant but for future reference, I don’t think I’ll spend more than three days in any one place when on holiday.

New York has been crossed off the bucket-list. To New York I say: “Land of the great, ya weren’t so great”. Am I in a hurry to go back? Nope, nadaaa! I think my next holiday destination is going to have to be somewhere in the Middle East where I can immerse myself in a new culture.

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