Back in December I received wonderful news from one of my best friends from school, he was getting married to the love of his life, and in New York (His wife is from Long Island)! It was going to be a small wedding with just immediate family, with a party back in the UK at a later date, and I felt very privileged to be invited to attend along with another of our best friend Mark. Having never been to New York or the states before, we decided to arrive early and spend some time exploring NYC. You can see all the photos from my New York Travels here.
Now living in a ski resort I wasn’t concerned about the weather in NY, but I did pack all my thermals just in case. And having said that, it was -15°C when I arrived, and it was pretty darn cold with the wind! We found a place to stay on Airbnb in Astoria, Queens, around 20 minutes away from Time Square on the subway so it was quite convenient, and cost us around £280 each between 5 of us for 8 nights.
We went out for food whilst waiting for Mark’s late arrival, unfortunately Mike’s phone died, resulting in Mark left stranded outside the apartment in -15°C! We found him in a pub on the way back, where he got a free pint; Must have been the British accent, or sympathy when they saw that he was just wearing a suit in this weather…
Valentines day, -18°C, I was half dressed like I was ready to go snowboarding. For it still being Chinese New Year we went towards Chinatown as there was a parade, however we just missed it, and went to a place called Fat Cat, a Jazz bar with pool, ping pong, shuffleboard, boardgames and a great selection of beers, ales and ciders. It was a pretty cool place with a nice atmosphere, and I’ve never experienced anything similar in the UK, so was rather unique too. After a few drinks and games of pool and scrabble, we decided to go for Chinese food in celebration of Chinese New Year, and of course I ordered. Was nice to have a bit of home comforts, especially as there’s even a Chinese take away in Whistler. Leaving Mike and Brittany to some romantic time, we went and saw Deadpool; I’ll have to admit it was pretty good and worth a watch!
Still a cold day at -11°C, it was Brittany’s last free day before she had to go back to work,so we decided to do something together rather than sightseeing, which no doubt she’ll have done many times. So, we decided to do an Escape room together and at such short notice we ended up going to Komnata Quest, where we did the 7 sinful pleasures (chose by Brittany!), and involved us collecting dildo clues and tying Mike with bondage onto a rotating bed. Apparently we were the quickest team to solve that particular scenario, I don’t know what that says about us! We also played shuffleboard which I have never seen or heard of, but it was essentially like bowls or curling on a table.
New York is full of cool and funky places, we went to a place called Barcade, which was essentially a bar with a big selection of IPAs and ciders, and loads of old school arcade machines like Pac-man and Street fighter. The bars in NY I’ve been to have such a large selection of beers and IPAs compared to any bars/pubs I’ve been to in the UK. After a few beers and losing at Pac-man we decided to walk over Brooklyn Bridge, it was night time and snowing, and provided a beautiful view across the bridge where you can also see the Statue of Liberty.
A very grey and wet day followed, so we chose to do something indoors and visited the Natural History Museum, where you can spend all day there! To be fair a lot of things you will have seen before in other Natural History Museums, but it was still spectacular how big it was and how everything was displayed. Still learnt a lot and the highlight was definitely the Titanosaur, a 122 foot (38m) long 70 ton (63500kg) dinosaur that has only recently been discovered. It was so big that it couldn’t fit in the room with part of the head sticking out into the corridor! We also did what most tourists do… trying out American McDonalds! And… it was literally the same but with a coca cola freestyle machine….
A long day of toursity sightseeing followed, taking the Staten Island commuter ferry which is free, and getting to see the Statue of Liberty, it’s worth doing if you’re on a budget instead of paying for a tour boat.We then walked up Manhattan past the charging bull towards Wall Street, and onwards to 9/11 Memorial and the Freedom Tower. Moving on to Grand Central and into Central Park, before making our way back down through Time Square at night to meet up with Brittany and Mike, and his parents who just landed.
Finally a wonderful sunny clear skies day, we head towards the Rockafella, and saw amazing views of Manhattan, although we didn’t go up Empire State, I’d say Rockafella was worth it because you also got to see the Empire State, as well as a good view over Central park. With the infamous pizza scene in New York we had to check out the pizza at John’s of Time Square, firstly, the pizza’s are totally different to the pizza’s I’ve been brought up on! I can only assume they are more authentic and not like pizza we know topped with heaps of toppings!
A must do at broadway was to go see a show! And one I had never seen was Les Miserables. Me and Mark were both really up for this and we queued at the ticket centre for an hour, managing to get pretty decent seats in the stalls! As we had time to kill before the show we went for a drink at a bar, and I must say people are really friendly, people come in on their own and just sit next to you and start chatting! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Les Mis, and I must say Alfie Boe was a great Jean Valjean!
The following day we went to the Museum of the City of New York, thinking it’d have a lot about the history of New York which I was very intrigued about, it however had a range of topics and areas, such as a display about the New York Marathon and New York Fashion Week, but they did also have a great display from Jacob Riis, who was journalist and photographer who then became a social reformer in the 1890s, using his skills to highlight the issues of poverty and quality of life in the slums of Manhattan. There were displays of his photographs that he used to expose to the middle and upper class, asking for donations to alleviate the bad living conditions of the poor. The other part was a video they had playing in an auditorium about New York’s history, from when it was discovered and how it has transformed into the iconic City we all know today, an interesting fact, NY was first claimed by Henry Hudson, an Englishman sailing for the Dutch, and it was originally named New Amsterdam, part of the New Netherlands.
That evening was the stag do after the pre-wedding meal with both families plus me and
Mark. It was also the night before the wedding! We went to Mike’s favourite bar, and being the geeks we were in school, whilst playing 21 (where you start with 7 and 14 switched over, and whoever lands on 21 makes a new rule), we had rules like clap on all prime numbers, and change direction on all square numbers… Being in New York, we had to go to a rooftop bar, and went to one with an amazing view of the Empire State Building! After last call we decided to go back to Fat Cat, which was open till 4am, played some cards and pool, and proceeded to be there till close, in which Martin was falling asleep whilst trying to take a shot. For some reason we went to a liqueur store on the way home for more drinks, and it was 6 am by the time we got in…
Having promised to deliver the groom on time and after only 4 hours of sleep getting up to make breakfast, we toasted before we set off for Central Park, after I tied everyone’s ties! It couldn’t have been a nicer day, sunny and warm with clear skies, we definitely looked sharp in our suits travelling on the subway to central park! Arriving first to ladies pavilion overlooking The Lake with a wonderful view of Manhattan skyline behind. Brittany looked stunning in her dress, and you could see all the heads turning as she walked up to the pavilion. I have barely ever seen Mike so emotional until his vows, the ceremony was wonderful, small and intimate, and in a perfect setting. After a walk around the city we split up and were to meet up in the evening at the reception in Brooklyn.
The reception was held in a apartment found on airbnb and had a pool table, that also converted into a ping pong table. It was certainly a quirky apartment, and was a great setting for the small reception, filled with booze and good food. It was great to meet some of Brittany’s friends, and there was even a Team GB vs Team USA pool game, where me and Mark looked like snooker players in our waistcoats!
Mike, I am so happy for you and I wish you and Brittany a lifetime of happiness, it was a pleasure and privilege to be part of your special day.