My blog is about sharing experiences of New York City. In this category, I’m pleased to present talented people like Cara Jasmine Bradley. She’s a writer who loves to travel, she also loves to travel to write about her travels… And during one of her traveler experience, she met her lover… Does it make sense to you? Grab a cup of coffee or tea, because, after her small interview, I invite you to read Cara’s beautiful tale about New York City.
Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
My name is Cara Jasmine, I am a 25-year-old creative writer and travel enthusiast from Manchester, England. My two favourite things in the world are writing and travelling. My life pretty much revolves around doing at least one of the two as often as I can! From a daily dairy, to poetry and children’s fiction – I love to write anything and everything!
When did you start to travel?
When it comes to travelling, I have been blessed enough to see some truly remarkable places, from Lapland and Stockholm, to Santorini and Saint Petersburg.
At the age of 21, I travelled solo across Europe, visiting a variation of cities in Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, before securing a summer job on the stunning Spanish island of Ibiza. Living in a small fishing village surrounded by endless pine-tree woodland, I saw a very different side to the ‘party island,’ and was inspired to write many articles detailing Ibiza’s diversity and shy beauty.
How did you meet your fiancé?
Upon returning home to Manchester after my time travelling, I began working as a travel agent, and this was when I met Joshua, my fiancé. I actually took his job while he went travelling! Once he was back, I was invited out with my colleagues for a ‘welcome home’ meal for him, and the rest is history!
We share a passion for travel, and in just over two years, we have together explored 12 countries, 15 cities, and 5 islands! We are currently in the process of planning and saving for our wedding… But continuously seem to be distracted by the desire to tick another place off our combined travelling bucket lists!
And what is New York City for you?
While we love European cities, New York will always be special to us. Joshua proposed to me in New York in December 2017 during the surprise Christmas holiday of my dreams. He picked the location and the timing perfectly, and it was even snowing when he popped the question!
Your story sounds like a fairytale! As a matter of fact, this is the perfect moment to share your article about your experience in New York City!
Please note that the following section is under copyright.
My Fairytale of New York
I grew up in a small countryside village outside of Manchester. Every Christmas Eve, my family would religiously watch Home Alone 2. My Dad’s favourite genre of music was old school rap and R&B, and Jay-Z – in particular the sensually timeless chords of Hard Knock Life and Roc Boys – played an integral part in my childhood.
With these influences in mind, I was aware of my growing craving for a slice of the Big Apple from a very young age.
By the age of 22, I had travelled across Europe and spent a period of time living on a Spanish Island. I had been fortunate enough to see much of the world, although there was one desire that was yet to be satisfied…
My boyfriend booked us a trip of a lifetime to New York as a surprise, and in December 2017, my love affair was finally ignited in a tantalising burst of fireworks affront of my very eyes.
The city was a sparkling mirror-ball, reflecting all of my lifelong dreams in ways I could never have imagined. It wasn’t at all as it is portrayed in the glitzy and glamorous films… It was better. My heart beat in time to the constant traffic, the yellow taxis, the steady stream of pedestrians.
We stayed at The Towers at The Lotte Palace, which is one of the grandest hotels I have ever had the pleasure of residing in. The view from our room on the 44th floor cast me under its spell from the very first glance, and it continued to do so at any given hour of the day – from the velvet nightfall and the millions of twinkling city lights, to the bold morning sunrise, rinsing the city in opportunity.
Looking out of our window, my eyes simply couldn’t comprehend all that allay around me. The view was a pint of ice-cold water on a blistering hot day, and I wanted to drink in every last drop, and retain it forever. From the St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Rockefeller Centre, to the hub of Fifth Avenue, and the far off glint of the river – our room offered a first class outlook of the city.
Thinking back fondly to our stint in New York, it is near impossible to pinpoint my ultimate favourite moments. There wasn’t one element of the city that didn’t captivate me. In fact, instead of ticking things off my bucket list, I actually added to it!
As our trip fell in line with the holiday season, of course we embraced all of the festivities the city had to offer. We witnessed the Dyker Heights neighbourhood in Brooklyn with its copious amounts of lights and decorations. We visited Santaland at Macy’s. We wandered around the Christmas markets outside Central Park. We thoroughly enjoyed an evening with the Rockettes at Radio City. We came out of the library and enjoyed an hour or so at Bryant Park’s Winter Village, watching the ice-skaters.
Amongst the merriment, we also crammed in as much traditional sight-seeing as we possibly could, all the while promising ourselves that we would one day return to conquer all that we didn’t have time for.
The memories that will always remain the most significant to me are the first few mornings of our trip, whereby a combination of jetlag and excitement woke us up at 4am. We made the most of our early morning rises by heading out to explore the city long before the sun came up. New York is a totally different place at that time: there are no queues, no dawdling tourists, and no overcrowded sidewalks.
On our second morning, we awoke to an enchanting snowfall beyond our window. We doused ourselves in layers and eagerly set out to relish what others could only dream of. Our footprints were some of the first to imprint the snow that morning.
The thousand lights of the Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree winked just for us as we padded our way around the deserted square, writing our names in the snow above the ice-rink. We stood under the Christmas Tree as the snow danced around us. We felt like the only two people in the world.
From hot-spots such as Grand Central Station and the Central Library, to the more hidden gems of Gantry Plaza State Park and Bryant Park, we walked the lengths of the city and devoured as much as we could before the crowds filtered in.
If you desire some much needed serenity far away from the relentless hustle and bustle of the city, then I would suggest heading straight for Central Park. We visited three times during our trip, and were lucky enough to experience its charm in the snow.
I am a big fan of inner-city parks, and Central Park is a prime example of my passion. I just adore watching the surroundings change before my eyes, as the noise of the city dissolves into pure tranquillity. Venture further into the park, leave the sky-scrapers behind, and enter a world that is defined by peace.
The park isn’t actually as busy as one might think. There are plenty of quite places for reflection, and many seemingly secret pathways to escape down.
There is some amazing wildlife to be seen in Central Park, including black squirrels, and the vicinity is a bird watcher’s paradise. Beautiful birds shyly fly around in striking blue and red colours, beholding complex patterns on their delicate wings.
And there are, of course, the majestic horse and carriages patrolling the outskirts of the park, portraying regal.
For a night time activity, I would highly advise heading to the Top of The Rocks for views that will totally blow your mind. There is just something so indescribably spectacular about a city draped in the black cape of the night coming alive with pin-prick lights on the horizon A good few minutes is needed to simply allow your eyes to adjust to the enticing disposition. It’s hard to know where to allow your eyes to focus first in all of the sudden splendour. See Liberty in the very distance, standing proud, watching over the city. Capture a glimpse of the array of bridges separating the different boroughs, from Queen’s, to Brooklyn. Take mental photos of the Chrysler Building opposite. Standing at the Top of The Rocks is a moment I will never forget, and was amongst some of the most breathtaking viewing platforms.
Of course, another place to gain a cracking observation of the city is from across the Brooklyn Bridge, where the whole Manhattan Skyline protrudes boldly above the Hudson River. This particular view is unrivalled in the dark.
Securing tickets for a Broadway production is another must do while in New York. We were blessed enough to grab tickets for The Lion King at the Minskoff Theatre. The production took my breath away, and was a well worthy tribute to the film. The costumes were, in a word, insane. So much so, in fact, that I was genuinely spellbound into thinking that actual rhinos, gazelles and elephants were parading down the aisles next to us.
The actors were superb, and had the most powerful voices that commanded the entire stage throughout. The story was told beautifully, with a few examples of modern humour thrown in. For two and a half hours, I was completely lost in the script, even though I have seen the film a thousand times before. It was moving, heart-warming, and joyous to watch.
Okay, so can we talk about food now? From classic bagels and filling pancakes, to elaborate pizzas and divine desserts – we sampled it all. Obviously, being a big fan of Home Alone 2, it was pretty much obligatory for us to visit the Plaza Hotel. It was within the Plaza Hotel’s food court that we discovered Pizza Rollio. Tried, ravenous, and unfamiliar with the city on our first night, Pizza Rollio was a complete saviour. Made from scratch right in front of you, the pizza here is to die for! Concocted from the thinnest dough and topped with adequate amounts of cheese, tomatoes and punchy basil, it is thin enough to pick up and roll (the clue is in the name!), and it is simply delectable.
Our luck concerning food didn’t end there, as a jaunt to the well renowned Ellen’s Stardust Diner was on the cards for our second night! Located just off Times Square and Broadway, the vibe of the establishment is zany, poppy and uber-fun! A traditional American diner, this place offers a twist like no other. The waiting staff are actually professional singers from off-Broadway shows and various other performing backgrounds. Our waitress was a former Mariah Carey backing vocalist!
In-between serving, the waiting staff just leap onto the tables and belt out a song!
The whole evening was a dynamite experience that I highly doubt could be replicated anywhere else. The food was wonderful, and the entertainment was even better. Even if you think Ellen’s isn’t really ‘your thing,’ I can guarantee that you will be infected by the atmosphere, and will leave with a grin on your face and a spring in your step. Despite what you may usually be into, I would recommend the wondrously unique Ellen’s experience to anybody visiting New York.
Have you seen the New York Bagel advert? The one that showcases a typical New York woman flogging bagels quite efficiently, declaring that she’s ‘the woman who runs New York?’
Well we think we might have met her. A bagel breakfast was on my NYC Bucket List, so we did a bit of research to find the best bagels in the city. Ess-A Bagel in Midtown Manhattan got consistently good reviews, and as an added bonus, it was just a 10 minute walk from our hotel. It certainly lived up to its glowing reviews!
People – both locals and tourists alike – were queuing out of the door and onto the street throughout our whole visit. The half hour wait was definitely worth it!
I embraced my inner USA by ordering a peanut butter and ‘jelly’ cinnamon and raisin flavoured bagel, which tasted like angels dancing on my tongue.
The lady working behind the counter made the experience, by snapping the whole queue into order by yelling, “OKAY THIS HOW WE GON’ DO THIS: YOU ALL GET BACK IN LINE. YOU TAKE IT IN TURNS TO COME GET SERVED. SOME OF YA’LL GON’ GET ME – LUCKY YOU. COME ON, COME ON, I HAVEN’T GOT ALL DAY UP IN HERE!”
The cafe defined exactly what I expected of New York: fast paced, raw charm, and a gritty no-nonsense attitude.
The holiday was defined as the best ever the moment my boyfriend proposed to me. Even in my wildest fantasies, I could never have conjured up a more perfect set-up. Under the a sudden snow fall in the quaint courtyard of the Lotte Palace Hotel, shielded by the many skyscrapers above, the cobbles dwarfed by the grand Christmas tree behind, the St Patrick’s Cathedral creating the most mystical backdrop, the location and the timing of the most incredible moment of my life were beyond perfect. The last of my Christmas wishes was so generously granted as my boyfriend slid the most striking engagement ring onto my finger. The glistening diamonds of the ring were only rivalled by our glistening surroundings. The snow tumbled down around us in enthralling fashion. The lights of the Lotte Palace Christmas tree reflected onto the wet cobbles, their million droplets of stars multiplying my joy.
New York isn’t just a location, it’s a feeling. You listen the songs, delve into the lyrics, buy into the movies, assuming a tiresome cliché, but nothing can come close to describing the aura of the city.
Standing in the midst of that famous skyline, anything is possible. It’s a gift to be in its presence – a city striving on drive, ambition and power, and yet, the vibe performs so modestly and so inspiringly.
Every twist and turn surprised me ever so gloriously. No amount of research or Google images can possibly prepare you for how you will actually feel upon gaining your first glimpse of this truly magnificent city.
Arguably the best city this world has to offer, I have thought only of remarkable New York since our return, and it may come as no surprise that we are considering a reunion for our honeymoon.
Thank you so much Cara for such a pleasant reading and congratulations! You’ll have to tell us about your wedding plans and your honeymoon! And here’s the pic you all want to see now:
Text by Cara Jasmine Bradley.
Photos by Joshua Hugues.