Nikki in New York: Day One

Let’s spot the stars from the Empire State Building…

6.45am – Heathrow Airport

This is not a socially acceptable time to be awake. Not at the weekend.

Then again, this isn’t a normal Sunday. Today I’m catching a flight to New York City!

Phone says 4pm (watch says 11am) – 30,000 feet up, somewhere over the Atlantic

As I didn’t get much sleep last night, I thought I’d start snoozing mid-flight. No such luck.

I’ve watched three movies and two episodes, I cried a bucket of tears over Me Before You and I’ve resorted to playing Battleships and Hangman against the TV. I won.

Eight hour flights are BORING. Remind me to avoid long-haul trips for a while.

Wait, I have to fly back. Bollocks.

Phone and watch now agree it’s 2pm (7pm UK time) – a taxi somewhere in Queens

I’m officially in New York! I can’t believe it!

Queens is borderline hideous, but I’m Snapchatting it anyway, because when else can I Snapchat from Queens?

The only skyscrapers I can see are in the distance – the magical Manhattan isn’t far away!

2.30pm (7.30pm UK time) – Firmly ensconced under many layers of bed sheet

I’ve arrived at The Gregory – its decor is a unique mix of early 20th century socialite and modern day hipster. I like it.

The staff wear waistcoats and the lobby is rustic and wooden, adorned with vast bookcases, sewing machines and mannequins (we’re in the Garment District, after all). Up in the room, the bathroom is all modern and monochrome, and the bed is deliciously cloud-like – it’s not just white and fluffy, it’s also sky high! I’m no shortie, but I have to jump to get in.

There was a Gregory-branded white waffle-print dressing gown in the closet. I am now wearing it.

6pm (11pm UK time) – A diner called Andrew’s Coffee Shop. But it’s not a coffee shop. It’s a diner

Ventured out to see the city. Macy’s is just across the road!

It was all decked out with festive fanciness and Christmas cheer. After admiring the beautiful window displays, I couldn’t resist popping in. It was even grander inside, adorned with woodland wonderland critters and bauble-and-fairylight-covered trees. On the first floor I spied a Believe Meter (it’s important to know these sorts of stats) and a table for children to write and post letters to Santa.

On my way out of Macy’s, I was accosted by Storm Troopers. They picked me up, took selfies and asked for money. I can’t help but think this is a fairly standard welcome to New York.

I needed a spot of dinner and rather than faff with Google Maps or the subway system, I followed my feet/nose to Andrew’s. An All-American diner was a perfect initiation to the culinary delights of the city and I’m munching my way through my first ever meatball sub.

I’m facing one teeny dilemma though: when I thought about my first night here, I was adamant I’d go to the top of the Empire State Building and see that oh-so-famous view of the city from the sky – all twinkling lights in pitch-black darkness. But I’m so, so tired. Maybe I’ll do it another night.

7pm (12am UK time) – the observation deck of the Empire State Building

I’m at the very spot Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks laid eyes on each other in Sleepless in Seattle. This is hallowed ground if you follow rom-coms as religiously as I do.

Being tired is a thing of the past. The breath-taking views and ice-cold air totally woke me up.

I’m 86 floors high, towering above all the other buildings – which are mostly black and studded with golden lights. The grid system seems to be glowing I can see the top of the Chrysler building, the shimmering East River, the Queensboro Bridge and two buildings topped with a colour-changing spike – the architectural equivalent of a unicorn.

Admittedly, I’m a bit sleep-deprived and disorientated, but I cannot believe how amazing this view is. I’m actually here.

8pm (1am UK time) – a queue in Starbucks, next to the Empire State Building

Seeing the Empire State Building this evening was the best idea – not only was it a stunning introduction to the city, it was an almost empty attraction. No queues. No crowds. (That’s a tip there, for anyone thinking of visiting.)

I’m just a few minutes walk from my hotel, but I couldn’t walk past Starbucks without popping in and sampling a real USA hot chocolate now, could I? I need to see if it tastes the same.

8.15pm (1.15am UK time) – back in bed again

Nope. Tastes different. That’s weird.

Let’s see what tomorrow holds…

Go to day two

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