Normally, I write my blogs everyday while on holiday but this isn’t going to happen over an entire year. So on more likely a weekly basis, I’ll give you a recap of what we’ve been up to. We also have a new YouTube video channel which we hope to upload some blogs too.
We flew out to JFK airport on the 28th of August, after a pretty bang on start on our airport baggage allowance.
Initially the van was supposed to arrive on the 30th. As we have no experience with imports we have ended up in the situation where the van isn’t actually going to arrive until the 3rd of September. The company we shipped with have always been quite clear that the shipping date is approximate, but unfortunately we can’t book an approximate flight date to match. Being forced to commit to a date and time, I booked us an air B&B starting two days prior to the arrival date and finishing two days after. The idea was that we could sight see in New York without the van and then still have a bit of flexibility with collection. However a few days before we flew out, I received an email saying that the van was now due on the 3rd, leaving us somewhat homeless for a few days. At least we can enjoy New York car free, which is probably the easiest option in any major city. The van story will be continued later on in this post…
So in the meantime, this is what we got up to in NYC.
The first day we visited Prospect Park, an absolutely gorgeous day compared to our arrival in the rain the night before.
Note our little beers in proper brown paper bags.
After the park we went for a wander around, passing the botanical gardens and museum. We had a pretty relaxed day as we had been awake since 5am due to a bit of jet lag.
Day two we upped the touristy activities. We walked past the Flatiron building and Madison Park to visit the Empire State Building.
Incredibly expensive to visit, but it feels like a ‘once in a lifetime’ kind of activity. The views are amazing, and you can just make out the statue of liberty in the background.
From here, we decided to walk down to Central Park passing the Rockefeller building and Trump Tower on the way. As well as this church complete with NYC cabbie.
The park is a lot further than it looks and after quite a long walk in the heat, it’s nice to sit down for a bit.
Some turtles enjoying the sun.
We wanted to fly Steve (the drone) but it turns out, probably quite unsurprisingly, that New York is pretty much entirely a no-fly zone which means the drone can’t even take off. After relaxing in the park for a bit we catch the subway over to the ground zero monument.
I can still remember this event in the news in my primary school the day this happened, and its quite sad to be here in person and see the sight where so many people lost their lives. The flowers signify when the names of the people on the monuments birthday is, there’s also a significance to the flag but I’m didn’t fully catch what it is.
We pass this, a section of the Berlin wall on the way to sit by the river for a bit.
Having crammed quite a few touristy activities in we headed to Chinatown to try some of vegetarian Chinese, not having particularly high expectations being used to English Chinese food. Turns out, as I have been told, the US does Chinese much better than us. Not only is it really good. but it comes in proper American portion size and we’re both pretty much full after the starter and take the rest with us.
The third day in the city and we decided to visit the Statue of Liberty, gotta get that proper view of the New York skyline in…
We catch the boat from Battery Park, heading to Liberty Island.
A panoramic view from the island.
After having a walk around Liberty Island, we catch the ferry onto Ellis Island to look at the immigration museum there. After that, we head back to the mainland and decide to visit Brooklyn Bridge.
Catching the ferry up the river.
We had planned to head to Brooklyn Brewery, but got distracted by a street food festival we found on the way. I have now eaten a mac n cheese doughnut and it was amazing.
After some pretty amazing street food we head on to the Brewery for a flight of drinks before returning the room. We met up with the owner, Omar, who invited us out for drinks which turned into a rather late night out. The result is me waking up hungover on Sunday morning with nowhere to sleep that night.
This brings us back to the van story…
I now know that the port will hold the van free for 10 days, so if anyone stumbles across this and has no idea what they’re doing – book you flight after the shipment’s “arrival” date! This means that we had to leave our room on the 1st with no chance of accommodation until at least the 4th, after several wooly emails from the American customs side that said it might take 5-10 days from arrival. Our choices are therefore:
- See if the air B&B will put us up for an extended stay – £30 a night
- Book into alternative last minute hotel/air B&B in New York – £50+ a night
- Book a car and sleep in that – £40 a night
Option 1 is the easiest.. although we didn’t want too stay in the city too long as it’s pretty expensive. Unfortunately the room is booked straight after us, so that rules that option out pretty quickly.
Option 2 is kinda expensive and also very last minute to sort with an independent host. The rooms are also not in the best location for us to use our free subway passes. However we would have nice things like a shower and a bed, but we would be limited to the city centre. We would also be limited to shopping/eating locally which can be pricey for every meal.
Option 3 would let us see a lot more things as we could go anywhere, but it means sleeping in the back of a hire car. It’s also cheaper than a room, but it means literally no facilities.
In the end we go for the hire car, it takes around 2 hours to travel out to the airport in order to pick it up. We then go back to the air B&B for our bags, part of the reason we chose the car in the first place – our bags aren’t proper suitcases, just basically plastic bags, as there is no space to store them in the van so we are going to throw them away once the van is here. This means they’re very awkward to move around and are pretty heavy too, its also very hard to find anything you actually want, I can effortlessly locate my slippers and winter coat in this 25 degree heat, but finding my bikini is another story. This is starting to make me angry and I think I’m getting ill, or maybe I just can’t stay up till 6am anymore.
After getting the car, we go for a slice of pizza at Joe’s Place before heading out to Long Island. I wanted to visit this, but without a car it’s way to much hassle. We pick up a few basics from Walmart and then go on a hunt for a space to camp out in the imaginatively named Jeepy the Jeep.
This brings me to the current moment, sitting in Jeremy’s Ale House trying to max out the free WiFi as much as possible. Everything is on charge and everything is being uploaded or downloaded. We spent the day at Long Beach but the weather isn’t great and since around lunch time it’s been a thunderstorm off and on.
Still beach means free showers which after sleeping in a very muggy SUV was pretty amazing. Now due to the rubbish weather we have camped up in this bar. Another promising night in the back of the Jeep awaits, maybe if I have enough cheap pints I won’t notice? Roll on Ruby’s arrival… She is due in the port at 3.40am, so now we have to hope they process everything quickly and we can start out road trip properly.
A day later and here I am updating this post. I know the van didn’t arrive at 3.40am because when I was woken up by a mosquito at 4am I checked. This night was a bit less horrible as we adjusted the bed arrangements but still not great. We went back to our original spot to sleep which is in the drive of an abandoned house. We did try to sleep on a residential cul-de-sac but too many people were staring at us and we decided to leave.
At least waking up this morning it’s a much nice day. We head back to Walmart to get some sunscreen and some kind of beach mat and then try beach day take 2. We spend all day on the beach at Long Island which is nice, it again has free showers but these aren’t heated!
Now we’re in another bar, surprise surprise, while I update this. It’s clearly the end of the holiday season as this is the only place open. Our dinner tonight is DIY sandwiches made in the car, with bread bought from the liquor store next door. We have our eye on a camping spot down the round corner with a portaloo situation that would give you nightmares…
It has been confirmed that the van has arrived and we have paid for the necessary costs… unfortunately the US customs broker is redefining the term vague and we still don’t know when we will see Ruby, but hopefully within the next 24 hours.