New York, New York

Last September I got to tick one of the boxes on my “to do” list and this was definitely one I was long dreaming about but not sure I’d ever be able to do. It started in January 2015 when one of my best friends said she wanted to go to New York City once she finished her degree and asked if I wanted to go with. Of course I was on board! As I was finishing my master’s at the same time, it seemed only fitting to do the trip of a lifetime with a childhood friend before life got messy. In April we bought the plane tickets and we were counting the days until September.

The first day shouldn’t even be considered since it was filled with airplanes and airports… Such a tiring trip but the excitement was back as soon as we were landing and saw the skyline… Very few things will ever be able to beat the sunset in New York. The aura it bathes the city in is precious, the golden light reflecting on the tallest buildings is absolutely magical. Getting out of the airport, the smells invading me were something I’ve never felt in my life.. The smell of rush, life; words can’t describe it. We were in New York!

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Of course our first day was off to an early rise cause no one could contain our crazinesses and excitement. We went straight to Times Square where our jaws dropped and we were absolutely amazed. It finally hit us we were in New York, it became real. The grins on our faces were surreal, kids on Christmas morning are not as happy as we were in that moment. Gigantic screens, loud music, lots of people filling the streets, cars honking, exactly as I’d picture it.

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Even though we had a pass for the subway, we just walked everywhere because there was something amazing to see in every corner.

We saw the Empire State Building first thing first, went to the M&M’s and Disney store, had a cheeky burger at shake shack, went to Dylan’s candy shop, Radio City Music Hall, the MoMA, Fifth Avenue, the Rockefeller Center… I don’t think I’ve ever walk as much, but it was so so worth it. I’m a firm believer one only gets truly involved and absorbed in a new place by getting a little lost and that was exactly what we did.

To close a first unforgettable day, we went to the observation deck at the Top of the Rock. The view was breathtaking, it felt surreal. We were already sold on the concrete jungle. Movies and pictures do not do it justice.

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Our next morning started at the amazingly beautiful Grand Central Station. Gigantic, gorgeous building, with a flow of people only matched by London’s Kings Cross.

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Little walk to Chrystal Building which I have to admit was a little disappointing, looks imposing from the outside but that’s pretty much it… A train ride and a walk till the astonishing MET followed. The Upper East Side is quite the neighborhood, to no surprise.

The famous stairs were, of course, stage to our own photoshoot and lunch, one cannot go to the MET and have it any other way. Beautiful pieces of art and an amazing rooftop garden with the skyline in perfect glory were perfection in our visit.

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As we are passionate for music and life shows and all that jazz, we knew watching a show on Broadway was a must for us so we went to see “The Phantom of the Opera” which was amazing! There are not enough words. The stage was magical, the songs are familiar as the movie is so true to the play and everything just flows. One of the best nights for sure.

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Having breakfast with Madison Square Garden right besides us and the Empire State Building as our view is something else… Lets be fair, we were easy to please so a cream cheese bagel and a coffee/fruit juice did the trick. How I miss those warmed up bagels!

We then walked till we got to the Mood and, as two fashion enthusiasts, we had to go in and get lost in all the fabric, buttons, ribbons…

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Fashion seemed to be our driving force on this day as the next place we went to was The Museum at FIT – Fashion Institute of Technology. I’m sensing a a pattern here…

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The exhibition at the time, Uniformity, was dedicated to the uniform and its evolution, paired with the twists some of the more fashion designers gave to it. Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Comme des Garçons, Jean Paul Gaultier, Moshino, Gucci…. you name it! It was a feast for the eyes.

We made a quick stop to see the Flatiron Building and though about going to a rooftop to have lunch but, lets face it, New York does not rime with student’s wallet, so we kind of fled the scene…

Our last stop of the day was the Empire State Building because we wanted to see the sunset and the gorgeous colors it gives the city once again, and we were not disappointed, in the slightest. It’s no wonder it’s such a popular tourist spot, the view is breathtaking. It makes you feel on top of the world while at the same time making you feel like a small particle in this fascinating planet.

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Our next day was a little… shopping oriented, let’s say. We took the morning to go to the New York Design Center (my friend is an architect with a special love for interior design) which had some of the most marvelous furniture pieces I’ve ever seen. We did choose our rooms decor, just waiting for them to be here. Any minute now!

The afternoon was spent at a shopping mall, taking advantage of the price differences and all the brands we can never get in Portugal.

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On the opposite side, our Saturday was quite busy! We started at the American Museum of Natural History which we did not visit, unfortunately. It was just too much to see and not enough time… Although I’ve been told it’s one of the best museums in New York, I’m guessing I have to come back then.

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We then had a little stroll through Central Park and saw about 1% of it, and I’m being very generous here.

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As we went through Central Park our goal was to reach the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Can you tell we’re very much into art?

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We took our time exploring a little, went inside whenever we could and sneaked a little with the bathroom excuse (thank you lovely lady at the MET Opera!) and we also dreamed about seeing a Ballet live, making plans as I write.

After a little lunch break (most of them were made on the go cause they were cheaper and we could continue to soak up the city), we went to the Chelsea Flea Market. Markets here and in New York are quite different, and that one was… interesting. It didn’t live up to the hype.

As a little treat to ourselves since it’s not everyday we’re in New York, we decided to go to a rooftop to have a drink. Best decision we made, the view was spectacular and the environment was lovely. It’s up there in the “best nights of my life” department. We went to “Top of the Strand” and the drinks were not cheap (15$ for a cocktail), but it was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities.

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This were our first 5 days and I can’t believe we did so much and saw so much and such a small amount of time. When we planned our trip, we though 10 days was more than enough and we’d have time to see every little thing. How wrong were we?

As the post is already gigantic, the next 4 days will be in a separate one.

Every time I see this pictures, I’m taken right back to those busy and noisy streets, the chaos that is a given in such a busy city that fueled me. Best part? I never felt more at home and safe. New York made me see outside my own little box, it opened my eyes to new possibilities and realities. It was one of the best things I ever did and I can’t wait to tell you the rest.

Love,

Ana

 

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Reflecting

2016 was a complete mess in the grand scheme of things, no doubt, but it was one hell of an amazing year for me.

My master’s was a highlight, no doubt. For all the new skills I’ve learned, all the challenges I faced, the people I met and doing something so out of my comfort zone, I’ll forever keep it near and dear.

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This year was also the one I travelled the most and the one that ticked main boxes regarding dream destinations. London was almost a monthly event and it turned into a home away from home; Madrid was an amazing surprise and the amount of museums and art pieces I got to see was insane (Picasso’s Guernica was sublime); Warsaw was a frozen surprise that took my breath away; Thailand was a a somehow unattainable dream of a paradise that I was thrilled to experience and finally, and in this case keeping the best for last, New York City. I sometimes have to pinch myself in order to believe I was actually there, sometimes I feel like a huge piece of me stayed behind and is just waiting for me to come back. It is the “City of Dreams”, every corner we turned, every street we crossed, was full of life and promise. My expectations were going through the roof and were completely exceeded. But more on that will come later…

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Every time I reflect on 2016, these are the things that pop up immediately, but it was such a full year all around! My lovely, sweet Grandma turned 90; my dad got his retirement; my boyfriend and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary; I made some awesome new friends, other bonds grew even stronger; Portugal run on renewable energy for four days straight and that made me super proud of my country, once again… The list goes on, this year seemed the longest yet while I still remember just how excited and eager to go back to England I was one year ago.

It also leaves a bitter sweet taste as once again the future is unclear and I have no certainty about what’s to come, I just know I’m ready for all the changes that are sure to happen.

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Love,

Ana