November was a busy month here in New York. With Thanksgiving, a lot of sport, some boozy activities and some exploring, there wasn’t a dull moment. I’m now starting to understand why they call it the city that never sleeps because I can’t remember the last time I got more than six hours of sleep in one night.
Anyhow, I’ve already spent all of my November paycheck and it’s December 8th. December is going to be a very cheap month even though it’s Christmas and there’s so much to do in New York at Christmas. Well here’t to a very cheap January too!
A month of sport
I sampled a lot of sport in the month of November. From two ice hockey games, two American football games and even a spot of Irish sport thrown in too. From all of the American sport I’ve seen so far (baseball, ice hockey, American football and basketball) I have to say my favourite is ice hockey.
The ice hockey games I went to were at Madison Square Gardens and Barclay’s Center. Being honest, I really expected so much more from MSG. I don’t know if it was because our seats weren’t that high up, but it really didn’t feel big at all. I’m pretty sure the Odyssey in Belfast is much bigger.
Anyway, I saw the New York Rangers (yes, me chanting for Rangers is something I never imagined either) and the New York Islanders. The game is very fast paced and not stop-start like most other American sports. Definitely the best I’ve been to so far.
I was lucky enough to go to the annual Yale vs Harvard college football game during November. We took a bus, got dropped off in a field next to the Yale bowl and got very heavily involved in the American past-time of tailgating. A little too much involved. There was a huge climate change protest during the game so we didn’t actually catch much of the football before retiring to the bus and peaking way too soon at 4pm in the afternoon.
I then made up for not seeing much of the game by going to a New York Jets game at the MetLife Arena in New Jersey. We were at the highest point in the stadium, it was raining and very windy. If you know the part in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when they go to the Quidditch World Cup where Draco says to Malfoy, ‘you’ll be the first to know when it rains,’ well I can confirm that he was correct. I really do like American football but it just lasts so long.
The final bit of sport that I got to see was a Hurling Classic tournament at CitiField in the Bronx. Four teams from Ireland (Kilkenny, Limerick, Wexford and Tipperary) flew over to showcase the sport to Americans. The crowd was mainly made up of Irish people, American-Irish and anyone else who claimed to be even 1/16th Irish.
It was a little bit of home and the accents around us helped with that too. If I was feeling homesick, this definitely helped a lot.
The holiday of Thanksgiving is huge in America. I had two and a half days off work and made the most of the free time by spending the long weekend in the Hamptons with a large group of the interns.
We decided to skip the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade as we weren’t willing to stand in the crowds of people for hours on end in the cold and only be able to see some balloons. So we headed to an English pub for a Thanksgiving dinner instead.
Roast dinners are probably my favourite kind of meal. I could live on mash and gravy for the rest of my life. It’s safe to say that Americans aren’t really into their Sunday roasts so it’s been a long time since I’ve had my spuds and gravy. For a usually slow eater, I absolutely inhaled my dinner and went back for second helpings (maybe thirds) and washed it down with crumble and custard after. Heavenly.
Since we were all very much in the spirit of Thanksgiving and being thankful, I wrote a post about all that I’m thankful for at this point in my life.
Getting ready for Christmas
If you think Thanksgiving might be a big deal in New York, nothing quite prepares you for Christmas in the city. I’ve always dreamed of a December holiday in New York, going to Macy’s, seeing the Rockefeller tree, popping into the Plaza – all of it. But being able to live here for the entire Christmas period and do as many Christmas activities imaginable is just something else.
I won’t spoil things because I’ll be writing all about my Christmas experience in next month’s roundup but the first Christmas activity I got to do in the month of November was watch the launch of Sak’s Christmas lights display on 5th Avenue.
There was a crazy amount of people there as expected but we were in a prime spot to watch the light display itself. Idina Menzel sang two songs as the theme for this year’s windows is Frozen. Annoyingly, she didn’t sing Let It Go but one from the new Frozen 2 movie and one from her Christmas album.
The light show was amazing and definitely got all of us in the Christmas mood and excited for everything else that was coming. The light show still happens every evening at various times for five minutes or so. It’s also in the best location as you can stand opposite the store, watch the light display and turn 180 degrees and be faced with the Rockefeller tree.
Exploring more of the city
I branched out to a few new areas of the city that I was yet to come across in November. I made my way to Bushwick in Brooklyn, Little Italy and believe it or not, for the first time since moving here, I finally made it to Central Park.
Bushwick is a pretty cool, artsy place deep in Brooklyn. I found it very quiet for a Saturday morning but that could also be because I’m now so used to the busy streets of New York. There was wall art down every street and avenue. So many murals and of course, Instagram backdrops. The art is called the Bushwick Collective and definitely worth seeing.
My first trip to Little Italy was quite a spontaneous one as Netflix were holding an event there one Friday evening. It was for the launch of the new movie, The Irishman. It was all to do with the Italian Mafia and there were 11 participating restaurants and shops where you were able to go in and say ‘Jimmy sent me’ to receive free food.
There were actors on all of the streets, old-style cars, newspaper dispensers, news reporters, the works. It was very, very cool and I also had my first ever Cannoli.
I finally took a walk around Central Park by myself one Sunday morning. I was due a day to myself as we’re always surrounded by the other interns here and I used to be by myself a lot in Liverpool and London, so a day alone was needed.
I walked from 33rd Street, spotted a Mo Salah mural and saw the Empire Hotel in all its glory. I took a very long walk around Central Park, seeing Strawberry Fields (a little bit of Liverpool), the Boathouse, the spot where Blair and Chuck get married in Gossip Girl, the large lake, the Trump Hotel, fall-colored trees and so many squirrels.
Central Park is very much just like the movies and I want to spend so much more time there. Hopefully in the better weather when spring comes around.
A busy one
So yeah, November was pretty hectic. Throw in a few nights out, a boozy bingo, a boozy brunch and a lot of ‘Liverpool’s winning the league’ in there too and you’ve got a very not-so-quiet month.
Will things slow down? With Christmas coming up, I don’t think so. It will be my first Christmas ever spent away from home so it will be very different but an experience none the less.