It’s been waiting for you.

I’m kind of annoyed that it was a Taylor Swift song playing in my head on repeat while I strolled the streets of New York for the first time, but I guess it was just fitting. Years of admiring all of its glory, its character in film and television and I’d finally seen it for myself!

Despite being one of the cities on my bucket list (I mean, I was a fan of Gossip Girl back when it aired, haha what a shame to admit now), I’ve avoided going here on purpose as it meant flying (working) one of the world’s (!) longest flights. Flying our Los Angeles and San Francisco routes is dreadful as it is, clocking between twelve to fifteen hours – so the idea of breathing the same dry air with more than two hundred people for seventeen hours was a bit too much.

But here I was, eventually printed five days to the city that never sleeps. I took it, and I gotta admit I was excited – I hadn’t felt that feeling of going somewhere new in a long, long time.

And so, after surviving my first ultra long-haul flight, our one and a half days off in New York began. Our group took an Uber to The Vessel where we parted ways and set off to explore the city on our own. We took a few photos by the architectural beauty, but weren’t interested enough to go in and climb up (my acrophobia wouldn’t get me high enough anyway).

Madison Square Park, just across the Flatiron building

Instead we set foot on a 30-minute walk to what we decided we couldn’t not see on this trip. I would never walk for thirty minutes out in Manila (this girl does not enjoy sweating like a pig), but luckily you wouldn’t really feel the long walk when you’re surrounded by beautiful architecture and the weather’s good. Good would be arguable though, as it was about 3 degrees that winter day – although I’ve come to realize that preparedness is key when it comes to winter survival (I had on heattechs – love you forever Uniqlo; a scarf, a coat, ear muffs and gloves, so yes, I did come prepared).

That first stop, we decided (albeit spontaneously), was the Flatiron Building. It apparently wasn’t the first skyscraper or the first building of this shape, but somehow it became a quintessential symbol of New York. But just our luck… if we’re not being chased by the rain, we’re being met by construction work. Sigh. I couldn’t appreciate the building covered in scaffolding. And we walked three kilometers (in boots!) for that!

This lady was having fun feeding the pigeons, aw!

Still had to take photos, of course, but I’m definitely going back here when the construction’s done for a proper marvel at the cast-iron-shaped building.

After a bit of people-watching, we decided we’d grab a New York pizza (always listed as one of the things to do when in the city), and a quick Google search revealed Joe’s Pizza as one of the most famous ones around (photos of celebrities, mostly of Conan O’Brien, scattered around the place I suppose meant to confirm this).

We walked another kilometer towards the nearest Joe’s, and grabbed ourselves a slice for about $3. Gotta say it was one enjoyable piece of pie.

Next, we went off to see the Brooklyn Bridge (although, long story short, we didn’t). Had to take the subway this time around as the walk was even longer and it was getting even colder. It was a welcome commute, though, as the New York subway was an experience in itself. It reminded me of the London tube, albeit more … stinky and dirty, but we all know this about New York by now.

I quite enjoyed the cinematic vibe, actually.

We passed by DUMBO (meaning Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass – New Yorkers apparently love their acronyms) on the way there. It’s the cliché I’ve-been-to-New-York shot among flight attendants, a rite of passage of sorts, so why the hell not.

The street wasn’t blocked off so cars and trucks would constantly pass by, making it hard for people to stand in the middle and get a good photo, but you gotta be patient if you want the shot. I didn’t really get good any good ones from there (which is why I turned my photos black and white! Kinda fooled you there huh) – it was three o’clock in the afternoon and the sunlight casted harsh shadows (the lesson here: go in the morning!), so maybe I’ll come back next time, since it’s on the way to the Brooklyn Bridge anyway, which I have to see.

We started walking to the bridge after, but the boyfriend’s nose suddenly started bleeding and we had to stop at a random restaurant to take care of it. He was actually sick with a fever going here, but he thought he was getting better, so we proceeded to go downtown. Unfortunately, the weather seemed to have taken a toll on him and we ended up calling it a day here and returning to the hotel (a crazy $110 dollar Uber trip back, yikes!).

“You owe me another New York trip,” I joked to him once he was feeling better. (And I realized what a luxury it is to be able to just say that.)

I thought this would be our first and last visit to the city (because again: looooong work hours), but I guess I’ll have to go back and see it again (and again, and again, perhaps. It was quite the city! I loved it.). There’s still the Brooklyn Bridge, the Met, Central Park, the Grand Central terminal, and so many more sights to see. I feel like even when I’ve seen it all, I’d still want to go back. It felt like one of those places you can never fully explore and just be done with, like there’s always something new to discover. I look forward to getting to know it more! But until then, I’ll be here fondly looking back! Here’s a visual diary of that short but sweet day in NYC to cap this post. xx

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