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Visiting NYC (or NOO YAWK as the locals call it) had been my dream for a long time. When I started university my girls were aged 3 & 6. When I finished they were 11 and 15. Yep it took me 8 years because I worked full time and studied ‘in my spare time’.

I decided to take the girls to NYC as a graduation present for myself, and a thank-you to them for putting up with 8 years of hard sacrifices and a grumpy, tired mother.

We headed over at the end of November 2010 and stayed at the Beacon Hotel in Upper West Side for 9 nights. This came highly recommended by quite a few people I know who have stayed there and I loved it also. It is located in Upper West Side and is close to Central Park, 8 minutes from the American Museum of Natural History, the Lincoln Centre and minutes away from the subway.

This hotel is perfect for first timers because there is a grocer store across the road (Fairway Grocer), which is fully stocked with absolutely everything you would need including bagels. There is a diner downstairs called Viand Cafe and a Starbucks on the opposite corner.

Even though it was freezing cold we walked pretty much everywhere. All the travel books cautioned visitors not to look like tourists (?) and to not look upwards and look like a tourist (!). But we had New Yorkers stopping all the time to tell us the history of the building we were looking at and to have a chat. They love Australians!

There’s the New York you see in the movies, the city is a veritable film set. Everywhere you look will give you a sense of déjà vu and you will be constantly wondering where you’ve seen it before.

TIP Do yourself a favour and do one of the film set tours – they are good value and you get to see a lot of NYC while you are doing it.

TIP whilst NYC does have 24,000 eating places, there are not a lot in 5th Avenue. Be prepared if you are intending to shop up a storm and need sustenance. If you get ‘hangry’ like me, be prepared!

TIP New York is a B-I-G place. There is a lot happening at once and it’s loud, VERY loud. All.The.Time. Make a point of stopping, closing your eyes and just listening. Feel the beat of the city under your feet; listen to the taxi horns; smell the city and feel the breeze of ‘beyonceness’ on your skin.

TIP use the recording function on your mobile and tape the sound of NYC. Use it as a ring tone when you get home. People will hate you for it!

TIP Yes Carrie Bradshaw makes hailing a cab look absolutely effortless BUT there is a skill to it. I really needed a cab to get my type 1 diabetic daughter some food, and after trying without success a cab finally stopped. Another new yorker decided to take it off me just like you see on the movies. I wasn’t having it. I bundled the kids in the cab and told him off. The moral of the story is: New Yorkers are friendly but also aggressive, be prepared.

We loved NYC and all cried when we left. I connected to this place and really just ‘got it’. I swore I would go back on my own.

And true to my word… May 2017 I am going back, sans kids. First time travelling on my own since I was in my early 20s (don’t tell anyone but I am bloody terrified).

Anyone got any solo travelling tips for me? I need all the help I can get!


  • Judi Lord says:

    Hi Gaby, loved reading your NY blog, I have been to NY twice, second time on my own which I absolutely loved. Macys, Bloomingdales, and of course Tiffanys on 5th Ave are some of my best memories.

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