I last visited New York two years ago, as the final stop of a three month global adventure that started in Borneo, rambled through Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, trundled up the coast of California, and finally wound up in midtown Manhattan.
At the time I wrote that New York didn’t really get a fair shakedown from me, as it represented the end of three months of freedom and a gateway back to London and work and real life. So when Chris and I made a plan to visit his brother, who moved to the city last year, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to see the city again and really enjoy it properly.
Rather than playing guidebook bingo and attempting to tick off as many museums, galleries, and landmarks as possible, we took a gentler approach to our holiday. Lazy mornings pottering around the Lower East Side in search of breakfast (on a weekday morning I recommend Clinton Street Bakery) followed by a slow amble around the neighbourhood poking our noses into independent bookshops, vintage stores, and markets.
I did take one trip into Midtown Manhattan to visit Mood Fabrics, the Disneyland of fashion, design, and dressmaking. I allowed myself a blissful hour lost among their shelves lusting after end-of-roll designer suiting and gorgeous printed silks. In the end I came away with three lengths of fabric, each crying out to be a particular garment. I’ve made a few sketches, and I’m looking forward to sitting down to some good old fashioned pattern drafting.
As well as lazy mooching and fabric lust, we also took the subway up to the Bronx for a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. We ate hotdogs and popcorn in the sunshine, cheered for the Yankees, and soaked up the unique atmosphere of one of the most iconic venues in modern baseball.
On the way home we meandered along the High Line, an old elevated railway through the Meatpacking district now converted into a tree-lined walkway that offers incredible views of the city. Eventually we wound up on a rooftop bar somewhere watching the sun go down over the Hudson River, before heading home for pizza and Last Week Tonight. And to put the preggo to bed, that was a busy day!
Actually, speaking of pregnancy and travelling, this holiday brought me face to face with my new physical limitations. This holiday coincided with a big bump growth spurt, leaving me very achy and tired. Just in case I can help any fellow pregnant travellers out there, here are some of the things I found really helpful. While I wrote them with New York in mind, I think most of them are fairly universally applicable for use pregnant ladies!
Get an aisle seat on the plane. I flew at 26 weeks, and found the pressure on my pelvis throughout quite uncomfortable, particularly during takeoff. Being able to stand up, stretch, and go for a walk, made a big difference. Also bring your own bottle of water, and if you are flying on a fairly budget airline as we were, bring a supply of snacks to supplement the airline “food”.
Starbucks is your friend. No, not for the desperately sub par coffee, but for the abundance of restrooms. New York is infamous for a lack of public bathrooms, which can be a bit of a problem when your unborn child is using your bladder like a bouncy house. Thankfully Starbucks shops are everywhere, and the vast majority have restrooms that you can easily sneak into, even if you have no intention of buying anything.
Be up front about your physical limitations. New York is a walking city. Everything is “a couple of blocks” in one direction or another, and most of the time walking anywhere is only marginally slower than a cab. This would have been fine for me, except that this trip apparently coincided with an enormous growth spurt for the small. Suddenly I found myself dealing with lower back and pelvic pain on a daily basis. The solution is moving slowly, sitting down often, and not being afraid to demand an Uber ride rather than doing battle with the subway. When you’re in a group of energetic non-pregnant people this can be really tough, and I’m the worst for stoically soldiering on. Luckily Chris is a total champ and stepped in on a couple of occasions to order the cab when he could see that I was flagging! Which brings me to my next point…
Have a plan for resting. I found I needed at least an hour each afternoon to lie down, work out any aches and pains, snooze, and regroup for the evening. Working out when I would get my nap time became a critical part of each day!
Above all, my main tip would be to be gentle with yourself and have a wonderful holiday!