New York 2019
Our trip to New York started at an unmentionable hour in the morning. We loaded our bags onto the coach in the dark and rain before setting off for London’s Heathrow. Everyone was extremely excited and I admire anyone who was able to sleep. At Heathrow we checked in and went through security before being given some free time to get breakfast. My group of friends went and got pancakes! Our flight left at around 9 o’clock, the journey was okay despite a lot of confusion about seating. Entertaining yourself for an 8 hour flight was a lot easier than I thought it would be, with films and music provided on the plane. JFK airport was very busy and it took a long time to get through security.
Our first experiences of America were on the coach to the hotel. One of the most fascinating, yet morbid, things was a huge graveyard that spanned for miles, it was very different to anything we’d seen in the UK. We arrived at the hotel and were assigned our rooms.
After dinner we headed to the Rockefeller Centre. The New York Skyline at sunset was breath-taking. We could see the whole of Manhattan and it was exciting to see all of the places we were planning to visit throughout the week. Once it got too dark to see we headed back to Times Square for some late night exploring before walking back to the hotel, exhausted.
Our first full day in New York started with an early morning Subway to Battery where we waited to get on a cruise to Liberty and Ellis Island. It was fairly cold on the boat but the view was amazing. We took lots of photos around Liberty Island then got off at Ellis Island, where all people immigrating to America used to have to go through. The Ellis Island Museum was very interesting, it explored the story of immigrants coming to the US and had some lovely views of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
After the cruise, we headed to a Westfield’s shopping centre for lunch. The outside of the shopping centre was amazing in its self, with an interesting design, however most places inside were too expensive for travelling students.
The most moving part of our trip was the visit to the Ground Zero monument. We were only there for a short time but I think it had a powerful effect on everyone. From the memorial we walked to the Brooklyn Bridge. Most people didn’t make it all the way across but a group of us were determined to get all the way.
We were all tired after so much walking but we still managed to find enough energy to spend an evening at Fat Cats Jazz Club. We all fetched food from around the club and had a lovely evening playing pool and listening to live music before heading back to the hotel.
Tuesday started with our first Broadway workshop, taught by two Broadway professionals and we learned the song and dance routine to all that Jazz from Chicago. Watching our non-dramatic music friends attempt the routines was very funny, as was the staff avoiding the things they didn’t want to do by hiding behind the camera!
At Midday we walked the high line, a railway line running over New York that has been converted into a walkway for tourists. It was strange and interesting to have an unrestricted view down the streets and avenues. The square nature of the city was really clear from the high line. The whole straight block design feels very unusual when you’re used to the winding streets in England.
After the high line we headed to China town and little Italy for lunch. It was nice to eat a meal that wasn’t pure salt and grease, despite the high prices! After eating we had a little bit of time to explore China town and little Italy. We went to the Christmas shop where we were sorely tempted to by a Bach bauble as a music mascot but managed to resist. Going to Chinatown and seeing the different cultures with in New York was definitely special.
In the evening, we walked through Times Square to watch King Kong on Broadway. The theatre was amazing! It had beautiful chandeliers and it all felt very posh. The show was spectacular. The set, lighting and anamatronic gorilla were all so clever and it was very interesting to watch. The music was less convincing but it was still an enjoyable experience. After the show we were given some free time in Times Square where we watched a very entertaining street show before heading back to the hotel absolutely exhausted.
Our second Broadway workshop was an introduction to stage combat by a professional stunt man and fight choreographer. We learned how to (pretend to!) slap, wrestle, hair-pull, and the session ended with a choreographed mass brawl!
After lunch we headed to the Lincoln Centre where we were taken on a tour of three of the buildings: the ballet, the concert hall for the orchestra and the opera house. We were lucky enough to see rehearsals for both the opera and orchestra, which was incredibly inspiring.
After the tour, we headed to Central Park where we walked around, bought food from street sellers and took loads of pictures. Everyone was very tired by this point so most people took the subway back to the hotel. I was part of a small group who decided to stay in Central Park a little longer and then walk back down 5th Avenue. As a Fashion and Textiles student, it was really interesting to see all of the extravagant designs in the high end clothing stores on 5th Avenue. We really enjoyed the walk and stopping to buy some things along the way. We also went inside the cathedral. The building was absolutely beautiful and it had one of the biggest pipe organs I’ve ever seen. One of the things that really surprised us on 5th Avenue was the size and extravagance of the public library. We didn’t go inside but the outside looked more like some sort of grand museum than a library!
Almost as soon as we were back at the hotel it was time to go out again! We walked down to Ellen’s Stardust diner for dinner. This has to be one of the highlights of the trip; the waiters in the diner sing and dance on the tables and we really enjoyed singing along! The evening was only slightly spoiled by my friend injuring himself, however it did mean he got the whole New York experience by having to get a yellow cab back to the hotel.
After the meal, we were given the opportunity to ice skate at the Rockefeller centre. Only seven of us managed to find the energy to go. Skating under the fairy lights was quite magical, we were there late so there were very few others on the ice and it was the quietest New York had been all week. We skated for about an hour before walking back to the hotel.
Thursday morning was an early start for those of us going up the Empire State Building. Out of all the days, it had to be the one we were going up 86 floors that was cloudy! With little expectations due to weather, only six of us from performing arts went to the top but it was well worth it; we could pick out the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park and Rockefeller tower.
Later on in the morning we all met for the walk to Grand Central station – at almost 150 years old it’s still an incredibly impressive place and the whispering gallery was one of the strangest experiences ever. From there we split up to get lunch (would definitely recommend the Shake Shack) and make the most of our last afternoon in NYC.
By the time it got to Thursday we all knew our way to and around Times Square pretty well and with 5th Avenue only a couple of blocks away and Macy’s across the street, this afternoon became a massive shopping spree for everyone to spend their last dollars.
Unfortunately, it was finally time to go to the airport and leave New York. Though we stayed awake long enough to catch our last glimpses of the city through the coach window, it’s safe to say everyone fell asleep after that. Newark Airport, New Jersey, was certainly an experience for those us having to take two bags through security and wheeling a certain someone with an injured ankle through the airport, with the slight scare of having to get Taylor and his dodgy ankle cleared to fly home. At 22:35 we took off from New York and began the journey home.
It was a quick flight (or at least quicker than expected at 6 ½ hrs) back to London and an even quicker breakfast before setting off in the coach back to Leicester. Exhausted and spacey we got back to college at 13:30 and managed to catch up with those we left behind while it was lesson change before going home for a much needed, very, very long rest.