‘I’ve won tickets to see Katherine Jenkins’ I said to my husband Steve. ‘That’s nice – Liverpool or Manchester?’ he said, barely glancing up from his newspaper. ‘Actually, it’s New York’. Now I had his full attention! This was to be the start of a big adventure thanks to Amazon UK.
A few weeks, a new pair of shoes and a few fashion purchases later, we were whisked away by taxi to Manchester Airport to join our United Airlines flight to the Big Apple.
After a really bumpy flight to Newark, we were glad to be on terra firma and to be met by a private cab to take us to our hotel, the Holiday Inn, SoHo. The hotel is a pretty basic business traveller hotel, but the bed was comfy, the Wi-Fi is free, and the location, right on the corner of Chinatown and Little Italy is great.
This wasn’t our first time in New York, so we decided to avoid the lines for the top of the Empire State Building and the Hop On Hop Off buses, and aimed to discover the city at a relaxed pace.
After dropping our bags we headed off for a recce of the area. Little Italy is awash with restaurants all vying for the title of ‘Best (insert noun of your choice) in New York’. Whether that noun be cannoli, pasta, pizza or lobster, the ‘chuckers in’ all maintain they are the greatest!
Wandering just across the block to Chinatown is like entering a different world where row upon row of unidentifiable foods are piled up on trestle tables on the street.
Just a couple of blocks north is Mulberry Street, which has a more American feel, with its Grey Dog bar, a few chi chi fashion shops, and the spit and sawdust Spring Lounge Bar, where insults from the barman come free with the (it has to be said, expensive) drinks.
We had dinner at De Genaro’s restaurant. Admittedly a tourist trap, but the location is ideal for people watching so we spent a couple of happy hours there, taking it all in.
Day two was focused on south of SoHo walking first through the financial district then on to Battery Park for a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. The highlight of the day was the very beautiful and moving National September 11 Memorial. The rushing water represents the acute sense of loss.
The revamped fashion store Century 21 was our last Downtown stop and of course I couldn’t leave without a bargain handbag! Dinner was an all American burger and fries (well, it would be rude not to!) in the Grey Dog bar on Mulberry. The food was excellent and it has a great atmosphere.
The prize was of course tickets to see mezzo soprano Katherine Jenkins sing at the intimate Subculture venue which is in the cellar of the Vanessa Redgrave theatre. What a fabulous concert. The audience was a mere 80 people and the venue feels more like a private club than a theatre, with its sit anywhere you like policy. Katherine’s set spanned the classical to the popular and included Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, the anthemic World In Union and my favourite, Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen.
On day three, we went north, taking in the gloriously tacky Times Square, Grand Central, the Flat Iron district and Macy’s. I couldn’t persuade Steve to step inside Tiffany! Later, back in Little Italy, we indulged in lobster tails and cannoli at the famous Ferrara Bakery. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it!
Our last day was spent shopping. I absolutely loved Kate’s Paperie – a wonderland for stationery fans. They have the most beautiful diaries, cards, notebooks and paper boxes. I could have spent a fortune but settle on a notebook to record my travels!
It was soon time for a flight home. Thank you Amazon for an amazing trip!