Tales from the Big Apple…

'This holiday couldn't have come at a better time'

‘This holiday couldn’t have come at a better time’

I’m back! Sorry for my blogging absence. The past few weeks have been hectic to say the least, Thanksgiving, hand-ins, projects, more projects, internships, trips – so much so I got rather ill with a virus from stress and sleep deprivation- not the most fun of times!

But I’m up and running now and well, and as the semester comes to a close I’m getting a little teary to be leaving my New York home in around three weeks.

Two weeks ago I spent Thanksgiving in the city. The holiday is non-religious and is a family centred celebration with food, football watching, and more food. The reason for the holiday is to recognise the kind help the Native American’s gave to the English Pilgrims who came to the US, to grow crops and survive.

This holiday couldn’t have come at a better time, students around campus were needing the break to refuel before the sprint home to the end of the semester.

I spent the first half of my Thanksgiving at a friend’s (Danielle) house in Staten Island. This area just across the water from Manhattan is gorgeous. Although it was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy it was in good shape from what I saw.

The suburban area felt like home – more breathing space, more green areas, and less noise. Staten Island is not a place most visitors travel to when going to New York but I am glad to say I went because it has a lovely feel to it. The people are still proper New Yorkers but a life is a little less busy than the one they live in the city.

The houses look like something on Desperate Housewives where the streets run close and everyone is on their ‘lawns’. All had Thanksgiving decorations up which included scarecrows, giant blow-up turkeys and pilgrim hats. When I commented on the decorations my friend’s dad replied, “You should see how crazy people go at Christmas.”

The family I stayed with had brilliantly strong New York accents, and a sometimes I found it hard to understand but I had a wonderful short stay there, it was nice to be around a family – it made me miss mine that extra bit more.

Danielle, her friend and I caught the ferry into the city. As regular commuters normally the girls would sit inside but today I was making them bare the cold so I could get a few snaps, up close and personal with the lady herself – The Statue of Liberty. On the ferry you could get a magnificent clear view of the famous statue, which is only just visible from the edge of Lower Manhattan- and for free as the ferry does not charge!

'On the ferry you could get a magnificent clear view of the famous statue'

‘On the ferry you could get a magnificent clear view of the famous statue’

Once in the city we grabbed a cupcake from Crumbs- which make any cupcake under the sun (including giant ones as birthday cakes) and made our way to Broadway.

We had booked tickets to see Nice Work If You Can Get It, a 20s love story of a Playboy and bootlegger (an alcohol smuggler). The music, costumes, jazz hands were all fantastic and it was a true comical piece of work. I enjoyed the show greatly and it was a great experience however nothing us Brits can’t do on the West End!

After the show finished I met some other friends to pick up the keys to the apartment we were staying in for the rest of the week. It was on the classy Park Avenue right in the centre of the city- a prime spot for shopping, restaurants and sightseeing. Although the apartment was small, and pricey, the location was excellent and just where we needed to be to be near to the Black Friday sales, The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and eating places.

At 6am on Thanksgiving we woke up to grab the best kerbside spot to observe the parade of floats, singers, dancers, celebrities and performers which travelled many blocks around the city. For four hours we waited for the parade to start, chatting to locals and people around us and drinking hot chocolate to stay warm.

In the distance I could see a Macy’s float coming closer…This is what we had been waiting for and what is classed as the pinnacle of American Thanksgiving celebrations (an event some New Yorkers haven’t even been to).

'...the pinnacle of American Thanksgiving celebrations...'

‘…the pinnacle of American Thanksgiving celebrations…’

Float after float, huge turkeys, Kermit the Frog, Spongebob, Mickey Mouse. Marching band after marching band. Singers after singers. Celebrities after celebrities such as Whoopie Goldberg, Flo Rida, Carley Rey Jepsen, The Wanted, The US Olympic Gymnastic team – we saw it!

And to be honest it was all a bit much to take in. As we stood being drowned in confetti and happy Thanksgiving cheers we foreign exchange students were baffled at this large event we know nothing of the likes back home.  It was a wonderful parade full of colour music and celebration- over the top and exaggerated just to the right amount.

Later that night we made our way to our reserved table on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan. We waited around an hour for our table to be ready only to be told they had ran out of turkey – the MAIN ingredients to a Thanksgiving meal! We couldn’t believe our luck, so lapped up the cocktails and ordered the most expensive thing off the menu as we were demanding a discount. Although we never and still haven’t had a proper Thanksgiving meal it was a funny story to tell our American classmates and professors who were horrified at the news.

We spent the rest of the Thanksgiving holidays shopping at 1am hours on Black Friday sales and enjoying the city while we were staying in the centre.

As I now know my way around with no maps or asking for directions I felt like I had lived there all my life. It makes me sad that I will no longer be here in a months’ time. I have exactly 17 days left in a place which has challenged me, excited me, taken my breath away and as cheesy as it sounds have fallen in love with – I better make the most of them.

To look forward to: finishing exams, numerous days in the city shopping, my birthday on the 19th Dec, NBA Brooklyn Nets v. New York Nicks basketball game, The Plaza for afternoon tea, and more sightseeing.

I have so much to do and know I won’t be able to see everything but there’s a good chance I will be back for more!

Speak soon before I fly home,

Hayley Parr

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