Taking my first bite of the Big Apple

Landing in New York
The United Airlines seat barely contained me, the seatbelt loosening as I jumped up and down trying to grab my first glimpse of the amazing city I had heard and seen so much about through pop culture such as HBO fave Sex and the City, nearly ever rom-com film ever made and songs by Frank Sinatra, Alicia Keys and Taylor Swift. The person next to me, a lovely lady from New Jersey, smiled and pointed out the window.

There, laid out before me was a golden city, glistening in the fading Summer sunshine. Buildings that stretched as high as they could reach; cars, like little ants, crawling along the wide vast streets; Central Park spanning an impressive length across the famous island… I could almost see the hope, opportunity and incredible desperation as a tangible asset in this city’s infrastructure.

New York at sunset

I rushed off the plane as quickly as the line of people would allow and after navigating the confusing layout and lack of signage of Newark Airport, made my way on to a bus headed for the Port Authority Terminal near Times Square. Looking around the bus, I tried to separate the tourists from the locals and eagerly peered at each person’s profile, wondering if they were feeling the same anticipation that I was. It didn’t look like it.

Bright lights and loud noises
After about half an hour of looking out the window, seeing nothing but industrial buildings, down trodden apartment blocks and bumper to bumper traffic, we hit downtown New York. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. Lights everywhere, billboards for broadway shows inundating every available surface, people bustling along busy streets, sirens wailing in a constant song of noise. I had made it. I had made it to the city that never sleeps.

Busy New York streets

I jumped off the bus with my suitcase and trundled along the street, searching for the subway station. Turning a corner, I accidentally ran over a tall man’s foot with my little suitcase wheels. I profusely apologised, at which point he laughed and offered to buy me dinner. ‘Wow’, I thought, ‘they sure move quickly in New York’. I thanked him, apologised again and went on my way, finally spotting the red line subway entrance.

My first subway ride
The subway. A whole other experience. It was hot, smelly and full of people coming and going. I jumped on the train and made my way uptown, anxiously watching the stops as they increased in number, 79th, 86th, 110th… And finally got to my stop, 145th. When I came out of the subway station I saw wide, vastly vacant roads, a McDonald’s on one corner, a small supermarket on another. I walked down the hill towards the river and found my home for the next few days.

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 12.41.34 pm
Map to my accommodation location

As it was about 10:30pm by the time I got into my accommodation, I was lucky enough to be able to go straight to sleep and hopefully wake up refreshed and ready to take on the city, minus the dreaded jet lag.

Good morning jet lag! 
The next morning I woke up at around 5:00am, disoriented by my new surroundings. I couldn’t sleep any longer, my excitement for new adventures devouring me so I got up and peered out my little bedroom window. There, before me, lay the George Washington Bridge in all its sunrise glory.

My bedroom window view

It was time to go discover this city. First stop, Columbus Circle. Again, I got to ride the subway and found my way downtown fairly easily. It seemed I was a natural. I met my friend, Ronnie and we ventured to a diner for breakfast. Yes, a real diner, complete with bottomless, filter brewed, good old American-style coffee (pronounced in New York as “cawffee”). I felt like I was in a sit-com, sitting across from my friend, sipping strong black coffee, talking about life.

Experiencing the city
After breakfast we took to the streets, spending the day walking around downtown and midtown New York, exploring the different sights that the city has to offer. My senses were overloaded. I found the city mesmerising, magical, mind-blowing. There was so much to see and so much to take in, most of the time I didn’t know where to look. Sure enough, by 4:00pm I felt overwhelmed and could barely keep my eyes open. Hello again jet lag, old friend. I tried to fight it, but was defeated, soon crawling back into bed for an afternoon nap.

After a few hours sleep, I re-emerged, ready to try again. I ventured out to 42nd Street, near Times Square, for dinner, enjoying a delicious Mexican meal of enchiladas, tacos and margaritas. Then some more walking after dinner and that was it, I was done, I was ready for bed. This city never ceased to tire me out.

Mexican indulgence

KJ heart NYC?
What a day! My first full day in New York City. The city was big, loud, overwhelming, crazy, tiring and I was beyond exhausted. But the question remained, after my first 24 hours, how was my first bite of the Big Apple? Well, the city challenged me, it tired me out, it was daunting and overwhelming, my senses constantly overloaded and overly aware, making sure I wasn’t hit by a taxi, or missing my footing in a pothole. But in all honesty… I was falling in love. This city was truly starting to steal my heart.

Stay tuned for my next blog post that will look at some of my favourite sights and experiences from my first week in New York.


18 thoughts on “Taking my first bite of the Big Apple

  1. Kim says:

    What a fantastic blog kristal!
    You make me want to book a ticket to the Big Apple. I loved the way you have written this, it almost feels as if we are there with you.
    Just a quick question, where were you staying? In a hotel?
    Look forward to your next blog.
    – Kim 🙂


    • Kristal says:

      Thanks Kim! I’m glad you liked it… New York is definitely worth a visit!
      For accommodation, I was actually a little adventurous and stayed in an Airbnb apartment for the first week I was there. It was cool as I got to stay in an apartment on the river and the lady I stayed with was very friendly and helpful! Then at the end of my trip I stayed in a hotel in Chinatown and then a hotel near Bryant Park. It was great to get a variety of experiences and helped in seeing more parts of New York!


      • Kim says:

        Wow, you’re very brave. Thanks for the suggestion, i’ll definitely look into that if I ever go to New York.
        Look forward to reading your posts.

        – Kim

        ps: i miss our lululemon chats 😉


      • Kristal says:

        I was a bit apprehensive at first but it turned out to be quite fun (and half the price of a hotel). Thanks for the feedback! (And yes I miss our lululemon chats too :P)


  2. pets4apartment says:

    Great looking Blog, and your topic is on one of my favourite places NY.

    The jet lag is the only downfall on holidaying in New York. Such a buzzing place. And for a change of pace away from the crowded streets, a visit to the enormous Central Park is refreshing. The view from the rooftop of the MET overlooking Central Park is like being in a Woody Allen movie. Amazing.

    Look forward to your next post on NY.


    • Kristal says:

      Many thanks for the comment. Yes New York has so much to offer from the busy, crazy streets in the centre of town to the quiet peace and tranquility of the Park. I found it incredible to be in the middle of Central Park and almost feel like I was in a forest millions of miles away from the concrete jungle of New York. Truly amazing!


    • Kristal says:

      Thanks for the comment! Unfortunately I missed sunset from Top of the Rock (which a friend insisted I do) but best experience was definitely seeing the sun setting as I flew over New York for the first time. My next post talks about my favourite things about New York.


  3. hawaiitheislandsofcontrasts says:

    I’ve never been to New York and I’ve always wanted to go there and this blog, just gives me even more reason to go. Visit Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Gardens and catch a baseball game at Yankees Stadium, some of the many places and things I’d like to do, the day I finally get to New York.

    I’m a big Seinfeld fan too and I hear they do a tour based on some of the places that form episodes on the show.


    • Kristal says:

      Yes, there is definitely lots to see! And as a Seinfeld fan you would love Tom’s Restaurant near Columbia University on the red line… the diner that became known for its Seinfeld reference. I went there for breakfast, the food was great, the coffee was never-ending, the staff were friendly and I kind of felt like I was on a TV show as I ate breakfast.

      There are also lots of tours you can do… or like me make up your own tours! It’s lots of fun spotting places you recognise from films and shows.


  4. Bounsai (Student Blog Site) says:

    Been there in 2008 but always want to go back, my brother lives there. I just want to take my wife with me this time. Personally I like visiting New York but I do not think I like living there. I prefer nature than tall buildings.Your post is really well read.


  5. Lyns. says:

    I can just feel your excitement jumping out through your words! What a fantastic insight into NY day one! Can’t wait to read more about your adventures!


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