For those who missed me, the reason I didn’t have a column last week was because I was on a much-needed holiday to New York City. With help from the immortal words of Sting, here’s my take on the city from a BritGiggles point of view!
“I don’t drink coffee, I take tea, my dear.”
Even though our hotel room didn’t have a kettle, we did have a coffee maker and it only took us two failed attempts on consecutive days to work out how to use it. Which I think ain’t bad. Once the morning caffeine fix was out of the way, I did alright with finding tea when out and about. I didn’t quite get used to being asked “What kind of tea?” – “Er, black tea with milk please?” was my hesitant answer (with audible question mark)… but I pretty much always got a decent cuppa.
The only time I was not happy with tea in NYC was when I ordered a High Tea cocktail in a Brooklyn bar! As there was no milk (obviously…that would have been weird), there was nothing sweet to combat the bitterness from the tea flavour. My American friend ended up asking the barman for sugar for me to stir in – and made me very embarrassed in the process!
One of these days I will write a whole post without mentioning tea. I promise.
“I like my toast done on one side.”
We didn’t predict such struggles finding suitable breakfasts in New York. Here, I just have a slice of toast, plain with just butter – or maybe Marmite if I’m feeling adventurous. Not having any facilities to make our own food, we headed out for breakfast each day and found most options to be giant meals based around eggs, or sweet pancakes with even sweeter maple syrup. Pancakes in Europe are usually thin, savoury affairs and rarely served as breakfast, so I wanted to try the famous breakfast buttermilk pancakes. I very much enjoyed my meal – but I didn’t so much enjoy the blood sugar crash that occurred an hour and a half later when my body started telling me that I was not starting my day in an appropriate manner! I’ll be sticking with the toast over here, and perhaps toasted bagels if (or when!) I go back to the USA.
“And you can hear it in my accent when I talk.”
As expected, lots of people commented on my accent. The weird thing was that, after a couple of days, my own voice started sounding strange to me. I’m a bit of a one to unintentionally mimic people’s accents (which I have been told means something bad about my character – eek!) and perhaps I was trying to override that by sounding extra English. Maybe this is why English actors on US TV sound a little fake – is it all the effort needed not to pick up the American twang?
“I’m an English girl in New York.”
Apart from the aforementioned very British embarrassment when my friend asked for sugar for my drink, I felt the stiff British reserve when I needed to look at the map. It’s quite a British thing not to want to fold out a map in public – I didn’t want the attention and embarrassment of making it so obvious I was a tourist.
My clothes were also a little bit out of place – despite writing a column last week about the differences in London and New York fashion, I hadn’t quite realised what a specific ‘look’ New Yorkers have. Especially in restaurants, everyone looked so put together and, well, sleek. I can only hope that I looked nice in my flowery dresses and ’40s-style hat with ribbon trim – but I certainly didn’t look like I belonged.
“See me walking down Fifth Avenue.”
Wow, it was good to be able to walk everywhere (almost) and find your way around so easily. The streets and avenue layout, and corresponding one-way systems, are so much easier than our winding roads and ambling layouts. I feel like I could navigate New York better after half a day than I could possibly expect to navigate London in my whole lifetime.
“A walking cane here at my side, I take it everywhere I walk.”
I certainly wished I had a walking cane after a few days of walking around! We braved the Subway the day we went to Brooklyn (and a few times after that) and found it surprisingly easy and not too busy. I think the London tube is a little bit cleaner, though (which says a lot!). If I went back to New York, I’d take a better pair of trainers to save my poor feet just a little.
“I’m an English girl in New York.”
Overall, the English girl in New York experience was a most excellent one. We did all the tourist stuff imaginable (yes, I even dragged my boyfriend to certain Friends and Sex and the City landmarks) and did some ‘real New Yorker’ stuff with my Brooklyn-based American friend. I’d certainly go back – in fact, I can’t wait!
Lovely photo from New York Skyline (because I have too many photos to sort through before deadline!)