It has been a year since I first left the UK to go to New York, packing a tiny suitcase with me with five outfits, one bag, three pairs of shoes and a whole lotta dollar (well, not quite). My expectations of the city were very different to the reality. It was hard living there – especially in the humid heat. I stood out for the better and the worse with my posh British accent, got far too annoyed with tourists and found myself becoming far more direct and brash ‘New Yorker style’ towards the end of my stay (it didn’t last long – don’t worry).
I wrote a post about leaving last August and I wanted to re – post it to share. It defines my trip and my opinion and my experience of the city.
I’ve been waking up early a lot these last few days. The heat is so humid that I often wonder if I have been kidnapped, waking up in the wilderness of the jungle. Sometimes I think I really have. It’s just more concrete and less wilderness. There are similarities though. Looking around, there are beasts everywhere, both figuratively and literally. Rats, mice, humans – the most animalistic of them all. There is a fight for survival, the weak don’t stand a chance. Pushing your way around the subway crowds without smiling is a good method.
Unlike the real jungle, it is fairly easy to get out of here. There is nothing forcing you to stay, in fact most will say please go – there’s one less person to compete with in finding a place to stay, a subway seat, a table at a $20 bottomless brunch.
Yet there is something so beautifully gritty about this city. So repulsive but compelling, so crowded yet so peaceful. People come here from all over the world to settle. Seek refuge.
Why? Because it accepts everyone and everything. It might swallow you up some days, but it will spit you back out and allow you to see it’s unconventional beauty with a fresh eye. On these days, the days I hate New York and then suddenly see it again in new eyes, I realise how sad I will be when I have to leave.
A few weeks ago I went to visit my Dad who has moved to Yorkshire for a few months. Alice (pictured), my sister came from Newcastle where she is studying and we had a jolly old reunion. We went to Weatherby, a cute little town with lots of independent coffee shops, cobbled streets and the permanent smell of fish and chips. In true Northern style, there was an ice cream truck in the car park by the river – why let the minor fact of it being October stop people from enjoying such a treat.
If you end up going to York and have time to tour around, I do recommend going to Weatherby and stopping by at Filmore and Union where every type of healthy wealthy hip hop yet delicious treat awaits you. Think beetroot and orange smoothies to smashed avocado on toast to blondies with wheat grass and all at a fraction of the costs in the southern uncomfort (see what I did there – southern comfort – boom!)
Yesterday I moved from the luxurious Hotel Metro in Midtown Manhattan uptown to 25 street, West Harlem. Harlem has a bad reputation but is actually super nice and everyone is so friendly here. I can go for any kind of food I want at any time of the night and I am so near the subway which is a massive bonus. The not so massive bonus is the weather. It is so so rainy here, after it was so warm for my first few days. Its devastating, especially when you don’t have an umbrella!
I went to a food festival in Times Square with my friend who knows New York a hundred times better than I do. You could buy food vouchers and go and grab your favourite mini version of all the restaurants dishes, including Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood. Some dishes were a complete rip off, for 3 vouchers some stalls were giving out a shot of humous and one falafel. I mistook them for a sample at first. Awkward.
The culture of American food still fascinates me. I knew everything was bigger and better in the States, but I can’t say I knew just how much this was true. Even going to a supermarket you will find at least 20 varieties of water. As in the stuff that comes out the tap. Pictured above are pretzels. Normal looking right? Wrong. That guys job is to squeeze cheese sauce into the bottom of those cones. If you like cheese sauce then I guess thats your dream snack right there. For me, it just reminded me of yellow goo.