NEW YORK, September 2012

NEW YORK, NEW YORK….AT LONG LAST
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I had dreamed of going to New York since I was a child. I don’t know why but I always felt magically drawn to the city, like there was an invisible connection there just reeling me in.My fear of flying had actually stopped me from traveling for a number of years. I’d had enough. I became brave and booked a 4 day trip to New York at the start of September in 2012. So off I went…all on my own. “Wow you’re so brave” everyone would say to me. I was glad of the freedom and peace.
Luckily my flatmate worked for Virgin so I was able to get into the Virgin Clubhouse in Heathrow. I met a banker at the bar and we drank cocktails and ate curry until my flight was called. I then sat in economy slowly sobering up over the 8 hour flight and experienced a mini hangover. That said, I was that drunk that I didn’t even notice the plane taking off. Result.I didn’t stay in a hotel in NYC. Instead, I rented a room in a trendy apartment in Upper West Side overlooking Central Park. I stayed there with a lovely couple who made me fresh orange for breakfast and told me tales of the hundreds of travelers that have stayed with them over the years. It was a fascinating collection of stories.Now this trip was planned down to the last detail. After all, I was on my own and wanted to make sure that friends and family back home knew my whereabouts.

Day 1 was the most action-packed – I embarked on a 5 hour bus and walking tour of New York. I thought this was a good introduction to the city and I got to see all the places I wanted to – 9/11 Memorial, Empire State Building, Times Square and a complimentary ferry trip.

The Empire State

The Empire State

Then that evening came the highlight of my trip! I slithered into a little Irish pub just off Times Square and sunk about 4 glasses of wine (I know but I’m a scouser) where I got talking to a strange but interesting American guy called Ricky. He was drunk, I was drunk but I’m sorry, I had plans and needed to leave.

I then made my way over to Union Square and met fellow travelers for a jazz tour of Harlem. What a treat. Our tour guide took us around 3 amazing jazz bars; one with a 12 piece brass band, one classy cocktail jazz bar and a backstreet jazz bar with some of the best musicians and singers I’ve ever seen. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t pay that much attention during the last bar but I was severely jet lagged and the wine had knocked me out. A cracking night that will live with me for a long time.

12 piece jazz band in Harlem

12 piece jazz band in Harlem

On day 2, with a sore head, I took a ferry over to the Statue of Liberty. I knew it was coming into view, and I was excited to see one of the most famous sights in the world, but when I actually gazed at the Statue of Liberty for the first time I was just blown away. It was one of those moments that I’ll never get to live again….even if I tried to re-invent it. I then ate pizza, had a Slush Puppie, bought a t-shirt and made my way back to the city.

My next adventure: although the Empire State Building looked appealing, I’d read many reviews that the Rockefeller Center brought better views of NYC from the sky. So I bit the bullet and went to the top of the Rockefeller Center in a lift that went up as fast as a lightening bolt. As soon as I got up there I felt dizzy and like I was walking on a boat and sliding from side to side. I wasn’t sure if that was the height or the fact that I was still struggling with jet-leg. Needless to say, I took this amazing photo and then got out of there as quick as I possibly could.

View of Manhattan from top of the Rockefeller Center

View of Manhattan from top of the Rockefeller Center

I then took a ‘stroll’ (AKA the longest walk in human history) to the New York Library for a look around. It’s just a library. Nothing too special. But it felt kind of good to be walking around one of the most famous libraries in the world. Grand Central was equally mesmerizing – indeed a grand piece of architecture with busy commuters flooding in and out of archways. I was jealous that this wasn’t my home station back in London.

On my last day, I took a lovely stroll through Central Park. I got lost which was a welcome outcome. I wish I’d have had the time to explore it more and regret not getting lost in it earlier in my trip. If you get a chance, take the time to walk around this beautiful park. It’s well worth the effort.

I’m writing this blog entry about 18 months after this trip and I still remember it as clear as day. It was, without a doubt, my favourite holiday of all time – despite being on my own. I met some incredibly interesting people and the four days will be forever imprinted in my mind.

View of lower Manhattan from the Staten Island ferry

View of lower Manhattan from the Staten Island ferry

I’m still being drawn back there. The connection I have with the city is as strong as ever.

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About thebluebeyond

FEAR OF THE SKIES Up until 2013 I didn't really travel that much. Why? Because I had a deep rooted fear of planes, heights and flight. When I was 11 years old I experienced a crash landing in Spain and it stayed with me until my adult years. But this changed. I've always had a burning desire to travel and I wasn't going to let a fear of flying metal deter me. So after a ridiculous five year period of ZERO holidays, I decided to take the plunge (bad word choice?) and, in the Fall of 2012, I braved a solo trip to New York. Thanks to copious amounts of alcohol in the Virgin Clubhouse, I was able to get there and back without hyperventilating. BEYOND THE BLUE Then in 2013 I somehow found myself to be a Private Secretary to a Government Minister who had to travel the world for an important international project. I was the lucky gal who got to accompany him. Within the space of 9 months I had visited Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, South Korea, Japan, USA, Canada, Czech Republic and Switzerland. I saw some fascinating sights, travelled business class (on occasion) and met many British Ambassadors, International Ministers and yokels. All of this opened my eyes to a wonderful, diverse and mind-blowing planet and I wanted to see more. Much more. ME.ME.ME. Ok, so I'm British, my partner calls me 'English' and my London friends called me 'Scouse'. I was born in 1980 in a small town called Wallasey just south of Liverpool. I have been living in London for over 5 years now and have to say that I have found my home for life. I'm a Civil Servant by day but also a bit of a rockstar by night. I write and produce songs for myself and other artists and, if not travelling, you'll find me in my studio recording some tracks. Oh, and by the way you can check out my stuff here: www.soundcloud.com/aubreywhitfield I like my traditionally British pastimes - Coronation Street, Manchester tarts (the cake variety), Wimbledon and booze. I HATE tea. I also like a lot of non-British things such as Indian food, Thai food and Chinese food. Well, non-British grub really. BLOG VIRGIN This is my first time writing a travel blog and I hope you enjoy my adventures as much as I do. There is a big world out there and I'm looking forward to exploring it. Please join me.
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