Friday, 8 July 2016

My Guide to NYC



In June I was lucky enough to spend a week in the Big Apple with one of my best friends and truly, a better decision has never been made.

While I know from NYC locals that the city is not without its drawbacks (tourists being chief amongst them) I have to be honest and say that it has been a long time since a place has wowwed me in such a beautiful way.

My week there more than lived up to my expectations, so if you're planning a trip there sometime, this post is for you: the BHM guide to New York.

The Brooklyn Bridge

NYC QUICK TIPS


CHOOSE YOUR TIME OF YEAR
June in New York is hot; intensely so. Thankfully I was prepared for this to be the case, but if I were to book another trip I'd go for a cooler month (autumn being my preference).

GET A CURRENCY CARD
These are a pre-paid debit card that mean you're no longer stuck with wads of cash or faced with the embarrassment of your home bank blocking overseas transactions. Mine was from Caxton and made life so much easier.

BE A SAVVY AIRBNB-ER
I love Airbnb; when I lived abroad we stayed in them for a number of our trips and I've been a fan ever since. I prefer them to hotels because the locations and prices tend to be amazing; however, this trip we stayed in a hotel after Googling our chosen Airbnb's address and finding it was in a seriously rough area... Long story short: it pays to really do your research.

IT'S A SMALL BUT JAM-PACKED CITY
Compared with London, NYC felt surprisingly compact. Many of the landmarks and spots on my travel wishlist were within walking distance from one another, so it meant that I was able to tick off a few things on the same outing... But the subway is a help for longer treks.

The view from the Highline


WHERE WE STAYED


We went for the Chelsea Inn, a small hotel with an incredible central location that was offering deals as it was undergoing refurbishments. The hallways had yet to be re-done, but the rooms themselves were great. It was walking distance from Union Square (which had a fab market on Saturday and Wednesday) and the Empire State was visible from just down the block.



WHERE TO GO


I'm no longer much of a shopper, so my time was spent visiting as many of the landmarks and must-sees I had been eager to visit.

I visited some of the clich├ęd spots that you'll no doubt be familiar with already, so I won't go into masses of detail on these ones:
Central Park
The Flat Iron building
The Brooklyn Bridge
Central Park
Tiffany's on 5th Avenue
Times Square
Grand Central
American Museum of Natural History
All were beautiful, but here were some of my absolute favourite spots...

New York Public Library at Bryant Park
A huge and stunning space, this marble building made me seriously consider postgrad study for purely archaeological reasons. I wish I'd spent more time wandering around as it was pretty spectacular.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Another place I wish I'd had more time for! It was filled to the brim with great exhibitions and like many museums, the entry fee was a suggested donation. In particular I'd recommend seeing the Temple of Dendur (it features in the background of the paprikash scene in When Harry Met Sally).

Chelsea Market & The Highline
Great for foodies with an empty stomach, Chelsea Market is said to feature some of the best food in NYC. Eateries from all over the world rub shoulders with one another but even for those that are just wanting to have a nose around (like I was), it was a sight to see. Just nearby is the Highline, a former freight train track that has been turned into a little park above ground level. If you're a hipster, you're going to love it.

The Rockefeller Center
While many choose to go up the Empire State Building, I chose to go up to the Top of the Rock as I knew the views were amazing, with the added benefit of being to see the Empire State too. (The top photo of this post is one that I took from the observatory there.) It features three levels; the lowest is mostly indoors; the second is outside but with large transparent barriers to shield from the wind; the third is completely exposed (and for me, a bit scary... not the one for a windy day!) In the Rockefeller's basement are a variety of eateries if you are after some convenient lunch options and its plaza is recognisable from Elf and 30 Rock. I loved it.



WHERE TO EAT


It's hard to go hungry in the Big Apple - I can safely say there wasn't a single meal that left me disappointed or even remotely hungry during my stay! Again here are some of the places I ate, with a few honourable mentions detailed below...
La Petite Abeille
Juice Generation
Dig Inn

Tappo
A great recommendation from my bestie, this place offers thin crust pizzas that are at a great price and fab quality. Apparently this place is adored by NYC locals, so you know it must be fab.

Dough
I went to Dough three times in seven days and I regret nothing. The most delicious doughnuts I've ever tried, they are know for the Dulce de Leche flavour and it was a dream. Gorgeous as a pick me up treat after a proper New York downpour.

Big Daddy's Gramercy Park (or any damn fine US diner)
I knew I wanted to have a diner experience during my stay and again, this was a recommendation that lived up to expectations. I'm aggressively passionate about breakfast and if you love the sound of chocolate chip cookie pancakes, this place is for you.



And there you have it... The By Her Mirror Guide to NYC. I had an amazing stay there and can't wait to head back for a few days at the end of my USA travels! If you've been and you have some recommendations, please share them in the comments!



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Monday, 4 July 2016

In The Garden



I knew I wanted to try and film a Simple Pleasures video for you before I left the UK, so here it finally is: a walk around the garden on a bright spring day. Enjoy!



I hope this finds you well and enjoying weather is nice as here in sunny West Virginia! Have a fabulous week...

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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Managing Homesickness



It feels only right to feature some of my favourite photos from my bedside table in today's post; I'm about 3000 miles from home and even though I'm someone who really loves travelling, this week saw a lot of headline-grabbing news occur in the UK and it's been tough to keep my chin up.

Homesickness affects us all at different times in our lives; it may be your first year at uni, your year abroad, your first time moving away from home for good, or any number of other instances.

I feel very lucky that for the amount of time I've been away from home my instances of feeling truly homesick have been relatively rare... But even I've had my moments of wishing I was back in my bubble.

If you're away at the moment, this one is for you; and as ever, if you guys have any tips I would love to hear about them in the comments.

Let's get to it.



RECOGNISE YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES IMPACT ON YOUR MOOD


Often homesickness is less a sign that home is where you should be and more an indication that you are struggling with something in your new surroundings. I had it worst when I was working in France, hating my job and noticing the loss of the social life I'd enjoyed in the UK.

Home itself was no rosier or brighter; it just appeared that way because my situation at the time felt so bleak. The solution is usually not to fixate on home but to try and resolve whatever has cropped up in your current setting.


NOT EVERY MOMENT IS AN INSTA MOMENT


Bad days do feel worse when you are away from your bubble... but bad days end and dwelling on them will not help. Not every day of your experience elsewhere will be as fantastic as you might hope, and putting pressure on each moment to be perfect often leaves us enjoying our travels far less.

Keep your chin up, and know that after this rocky patch things will most likely to get so much smoother. I try and leave my lofty expectations aside as much as I can and just appreciate the ride, for better and for worse.



COMMIT TO BEING PRESENT


Sound advice for anywhere you are: give yourself to the situation you are in. As human beings we like to find ways to check out of things that cause us pain; it could be by ringing home as much as you can, hiding in bed, or just letting rip and complaining about what you dislike.

It can be hard to open up and to get to know the people that are around you, but you will always get back what you put in. Be patient and don't be afraid to fake it till you make it, saying yes to going out even when you don't feel like it, as often these are the times that you'll enjoy most. I hugely recommend putting your phone away and ignoring the FOMO; seeing your loved ones having fun may feel productive, but it is truly anything but.

If one area refuses to be fixed (be it work, your new flat or your new friendships), find another way to enjoy wherever you are. I fell for photography in France and it was a great way to connect me to my new country; simple things like attending local classes, trying a new hobby and exploring your local area will help make up for any frustrations and upsets that are happening in other parts of your day.


KNOW THAT TIME WILL PASS


If you try everything and still feel homesick, know that time is a slippery thing and all too soon you'll find yourself headed home. My seven months in France flew by and at the end I found I enjoyed myself most in the last two weeks before my departure. I am now two years older and wiser and it has made being here in the US a much easier experience. The odd wobble is to be expected, but I know that in no time whatsoever I'll be leaving and missing it hugely.


I of course welcome any guidance you have on this subject - have you had any rough experiences of homesickness? Come let me know in the comments!


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