New York is an amazing city, full of stunning and contrasting buildings, wonderful people, fabulous food and some of the finest and most famous art. On our trip we stayed and explored the island of Manhattan, the most famous part of New York – home of Sex and the City, Broadway and over 200 hundred skyscrapers including the Empire State building. We visited some of the top art galleries in the world: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Frick collection, The Guggenheim (built by one of my favourite architects Frank Lloyd Wright) and The Neue gallery. We also visited sites such as the Rockefeller centre, Ground Zero, Grand Central Station and Times Square. Our days were busy but there were a few minutes to keep a diary of our time there, snippets of which follow.
Day 1 – Thursday 12th February
On 12th February at 5am, 20 excited students and 3 slightly less excited members of staff arrived at school to start our journey to New York. After the coach trip to Heathrow, we boarded our flight and settled in for the next 7 hours - thank goodness for inflight entertainment! We arrived at midday US time which was evening for us, but the adrenaline kept us going. Our hotel was an hour from the airport and this was a good opportunity to catch a glimpse of the new scenery and have a rest before the exciting afternoon ahead.
After settling into our lovely hotel, we made our way to Bubba Gump’s Restaurant for a good American meal which was exactly what was needed to fuel us for our trip to the Empire State Building later that evening. The walk to 5th Avenue was the first time we experienced the cold properly - I have never been so freezing in all my life! The views from the Empire State were incredible and it honestly felt like a dream. You could see lights of all different colours for miles and miles and everywhere you turned there was something new to see. Despite the temperature, I would recommend it to everyone as it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Finally we went back to the hotel and had a much needed sleep!
Day 2 – Friday 13th February
We all woke up, had breakfast and got ready for a 9am meet to hear our brief of the day. Our tour guide, Jarad, came to collect us for a 3 hour walking tour around the city. We went to St. Patrick’s church, the New York public library and Grand Central Station, all of which were fascinating and the architecture was beautiful. The station, in particular, seemed so familiar after seeing it in so many movies and television programmes.
For lunch our guide took us to the most amazing local café which felt like a proper American diner. The food was great and the portions huge! After this our tour guide left us and we went to the Guggenheim Museum. We got a chance to see some amazing artworks and hear all about the building itself during our guided tour.
Next was the Frick Museum and a very different style of art (more traditional) but it was interesting to see the contrast between the two museums in one day. Afterwards we walked to the Stage Door Diner and had a well-deserved meal before heading back to the hotel for the night. Another amazing day in New York awaits.
Day 3 – Saturday 14th February
After a hearty New York style breakfast of waffles, muffins and doughnuts we were ready for exercise and walked to Ground Zero, the memorial site of the Twin Towers. Where the towers had stood there are now two deep square pits into which cascade thousands of streams of water. Engraved on the walls surrounding are the names of all who lost their lives to the terrorist attack and in a few names stood single white roses. We then explored Greenwich Village before heading to Central Park where I was fascinated by the friendly squirrel population! After lunch overlooking a frozen lake we headed to the Neue Gallery on Fifth Avenue. The Neue is a gallery of Austrian and German artists. On the top floor there was an Egon Schiele exhibition - Schiele was Gustav Klimt’s protégée and friend. His art is expressive, passionate and liberal, so liberal that some of his nude portraits landed him time in prison. On the first floor there were many artists work including Oppenheimer, Gerstl and my all-time favourite artist Gustav Klimt. I still can’t quite believe I’ve been privileged enough to see one of his most famous paintings, Adele Bloch-Bauer I. In the evening we went for dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, an energetic restaurant were the waiters perform and sing well known songs from musicals and movies including Les Miserables, Frozen and much more. Naturally this left us all in a jolly mood for the rest of the night, and we sang our way back to our hotel!
Day 4 – Sunday 15th February
Wrapping up warm was a necessity today more than any other day for the first thing on our agenda was a water taxi trip, and for those brave enough to sit outside many layers was a matter of survival! The tour gave us a wonderful view of the island of Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. After getting off the boat we had a little time to potter about the nearby shops before heading to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met is home to over 2 million pieces of art which are shown in over seventeen curatorial departments, so not only was there lots to see, there was a huge distance to cover to see it all. To start with we split into groups with a guide and concentrated on a few main pieces, discussing and sketching them. Then we had an hour or so for ourselves to look at whatever we wanted. I found myself in the European paintings section admiring a range of stunning art including Van Gogh, Picasso, Degas, Manet and Monet. Amazingly we all managed to find our way back to the rendezvous and we headed towards the Rockefeller centre. As daylight faded we admired the view and the spectacular sunset gazing out at New York and the Empire State Building. Then it was time for our last supper in America at the Hard Rock Café, Times Square. Here we gorged on yet more cheeseburgers and cookies whilst listening to some good old school rock music. After supper we walked back to our hotel to pack our bags for the following day and store up our sleep levels!
Day 5 – Monday 16th/Tuesday 17th February
Although this was our last day in New York, we still managed to pack a huge amount in. After piling all our suitcases into a store room for later we proceeded on a quick walk around the city, stopping at St Patrick’s Cathedral again before heading to the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). This gallery had a wide range of art varying from some of the Impressionists, notably Claude Monet’s water lilies, to pop art, modern sculpture and photography. Between looking at the art, sketching memorable pieces and admiring the architecture, a few of us found time for a pit stop at the Gallery’s restaurant for yummy cakes and coffee. After our trip to the MoMA we had time for a quick shopping trip that found most of the girls (and teachers!) exploiting the cheaper prices America has to offer. A bag laden group then made its way back to the hotel to cram our suitcases fuller with our purchases before loading them onto the coach and driving to JFK airport. Here we nervously made our way through customs and onto the plane saying goodbye to New York at 8pm American time arriving in London 7am UK time. By this time everyone was exhausted and I think we all power napped on the coach back to Bath.
The New York Art trip was one of the best and most exciting experiences of my life, and one that I’ll never forget. The teachers who came with us: Mr Preedy, Mrs Venables and Mr Duckworth were fantastic to travel to New York with, combining a wonderful knowledge of the art and city and being such fun to be around and I know that everyone on the trip is grateful for their guidance and company.