New York

The first time I went to New York City, I went with a friend and although I’d always wanted to go, I had low expectations. I really didn’t see how it could be all it was cracked up to be and was pleased to be ticking it off my bucket list. 

I’ve never been more wrong about anything in my life! It is the greatest city on Earth, it wipes the floor with London which I have always said was the greatest, and is just like a magical TV or film set every day. 

My love affair with New York was cemented when having been in the city for no time at all, I bumped into one of my favourite actors from one of my favourite shows. From that moment on I was hooked. 

Whatever you want, and whenever you want it (after all it is the city that never sleeps) you can get it. Culture, food, walks in the park, concerts, museums, it has everything, and in abundance. 

My friend and I crammed a lot in on that first visit, and I have subsequently been back for two more visits but there is still so much more I could do if I went back. 

Manhattan itself is a very expensive place, and even if you get a great deal on flights and a hotel, the food and drink will definitely bump up your budget and your spend. Saying that, there are loads of free things you can do in the city and get the real New York City experience. Some of my favourite things are meeting celebrities after theatre shows (when I met Dule Hill I hadn’t even seen the show he was in so it was free), riding the Staten Island Ferry to get astonishing views of Lady Liberty, and of course, walking the Brooklyn Bridge to get those iconic views of Manhattan. You can also walk around Central Park, or indeed anywhere in the city and just take in the atmosphere and the experience. There are even free walking tours, where you just tip the guide if you feel it appropriate. I did a thrift store tour on a subsequent journey and got some great bargains. 

We didn’t want to do a movie or TV tour as they covered a lot of things we weren’t fussed about, but there were certain places we wanted to go and so we just googled the locations and made our own way there, usually on foot, but we did take the subway once or twice. For example the “Friends building” is on the corner of Grove and Bedford, and we also found Carrie’s steps from Sex and the City and the pub that inspired McClarens from How I Met Your Mother. We visited Marilyn’s grate, Bloomingdales and Macy’s and took pictures at the Washington Square Park and of course the 9/11 memorial. I visited the museum on a subsequent visit (it wasn’t open when I first went) and although the museum is not free, I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone. It really was a day which defines a generation and you will not be able to go and not be moved. 

One of my most memorable and perhaps unusual tours was a walking tour of Little Italy which involved several stops to eat pizza. The pizza tour was one of the most interesting, unusual and enjoyable tours I’ve ever done, and not just in New York. Check out Scott’s Pizza Tours if you are going – and I assure you that if you like pizza, you will LOVE the tour!