10 Things to Do in New York City After Midnight

10 Things to Do in New York City After Midnight

    New York Fashion Week is coming to an end and I haven’t been able to make it this as my invite (as perhaps yours was too?) was somehow lost in the post. However to make up for this series of unfortunate events, I thought it would be nice to share my night time experience in the city which never sleeps and the pictures that I took on our 12 hour stop over in the city some months ago. Our plane arrived in from London at 11pm and we were to fly out to Punta Cana at 6am, and so we would have the whole night to see the lights, the action, hail a yellow cab and perhaps even have time for a trip up the Empire State Building. It was hard to find things to do for such an awkward itinerary and so I hope that this will help anyone who has a quick stop over in the city.

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1. GO UP THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

The Empire State Building is open every night until 1am and going up such an iconic building is such a special thing to do it must be at the top of your list! The views over the city are spectacular and the lobby is gigantic. I loved seeing all the lights and the beautiful skyline. A truly magical experience.

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2. WALK AROUND TIMES SQUARE

Although Times Square is really great when it is bustling and full of people (including the Naked Cowboy), a night time tour of the theater district is really fun and spectacular. There will be few people so a great opportunity to get uninterrupted views and the lights will look really impressive. I loved seeing the warm air rise from the sewers, the yellow taxis flash past and the NYPD cop cars which for me looked just like toys. It was so exciting driving there too, as I loved seeing the large avenues all lite up and glowing. If possible ask your driver to go via the Brooklyn Bridge for a really special journey.

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4. EAT OUT

 Veselka is an East Village favorite among locals, visitors, and celebrities alike. They serve dumplings, crepes, soup, and coffee at all hours and it seemned that the guests were happy to engage in conversations about everything from art, to punk history, to socialism. Even better, it has wi-fi so that you can send a few pics and make a few status updates to make your best friends jealous! Midnight dates are popular at French Roast’s uptown and downtown locations. This French bistro offers plenty of hearty menu selections, like quiches, sandwiches, salads, and soups, 24 hours a day. If you want Chinese in China town then head to  Wo Hop one of the few places still open passed midnight.

5. GO SHOPPING

Around Times Square there are lots of shops which are open passed midnight, where you can buy some great souvenirs and clothes. This city never sleeps and a great example of this is at Kate Spade,which may have closed its doors, but allows shoppers to order anything from their catalogue via its touchscreen window and have it delivered by a courier at all hours. Stuck out in the rain at 2 a.m.? Order a cute umbrella (and maybe receive it from a cute delivery boy!).

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6. SEE THE LIGHTS AT ROCKEFELLER CENTER

One of the things we really wanted to see was the giant Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center, you know the one that features in Home Alone! The whole area is fantastic and the large sky scrapers looked really impressive. Angles lit the path and US flags blew in the wind. The ice skating rink looked beautiful and was illuminated, although it was closed. Sadly the big tree was there but it was shrouded in darkness as the lights are on but not all night. The other decorations still made the whole square rather spectacular though, so it was worth the short ride from Times Square.

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7. THE CHRYSLER BUILDING

Looming high up ahead we saw the diamond glass tip of this imposing building shinning like a star. The view at night of this incredible architectural wonder really reminded me of a scene from Batman and could very easily have been Gotham City itself. Walking up to the enormous jet black door was such an experience and to think that it was built almost 100 years ago now!

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8. WAVE GOODBYE TO CENTRAL STATION

We walked away from the Rockefeller Center and towards the very famous train station. It was closed but we could see in and the entrance to the station was magnificent in itself.

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9. LISTEN TO JAZZ

Head to Fat Cat which is open until 5 a.m and which is a great place to grab a beer for $3, lounge on the sofas, rent ping pong paddles, or challenge someone to a Scrabble or snooker game.

10. GET YOUR HAIR AND NAILS DONE

Still have got some time spare before you have to head back to the airport? Head to Hair Party 24 Hours for a manicure and hair styling party with your girlfriends. Check out the karaoke room in back while waiting for your nails to dry. Services are discounted between 6 a.m. and noon.

 

Now we just happened be  arrive right at the time of of the Arctic Freeze brrrrrr….so I wrapped up warm in a faux fur hat, a silk wool scarf and brown leather boots. If you go at night really make sure to really wear warm clothes, especially gloves. I made the mistake of removing mine and my fingers almost froze whilst I snapped away with the camera. Also I am heading back to NYC hopefully within this year, so please could you suggest any other must see places (whether day or night)?? Thanks xxx

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WEARING

Brown Faux Leather Boots – PRIMARK

Faux Leather Trousers – GUESS

Faux Fur Hat – ACCESSORIZE

Silk and Wool Scarf – PINGYAO VILLAGE CHINA

Black Wool Coat with Silk Lining – JOBIS

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My Top 8 Essential Apps for Amazing Instagram Pictures

My Top 8 Essential Apps for Amazing Instagram Pictures

When I started my blog I also started my Instagram Account @abigirlx, which enabled me to post and share with my followers my adventures, looks and shenanigans in a more visual and immediate way. I felt it was important to try to uphold the high standard set by other fashion bloggers and beauty belles and to try and share beautiful pictures. But how to do this when I am taking photos with my I-Phone in a darkened room? And then my when I switch to my front camera to take a selfie my face is there like…

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So here are some some of the Apps which I use to digitally enhance selfies, pics and make them more radiant and “Instagram” worthy, but they can be used for blogs too!

Number 1. Perfect 365 (Free)

Hands down the best App I have ever used. This is an absolute God send for any selfie and I can not recommend it enough! It is free, but if it was £10 I would still buy it and tell you all to do it too. This is a make-up and and photo digital enhancing App and is so easy to use it is unreal. You upload the picture and the App automatically scans your face and from your contours it pin points where your eyes are, your mouth, the edge of your face etc. (You can change these but it is pretty accurate). Then you can do pretty much anything to your face automatically. Choose the smile button and control how much you want your mouth to curve upwards, slim your face down, perfect skin and blemishes (automatically) without altering features, add color to your cheeks, change your lip stick shade, enhance your eye lashes and whitened your teeth. Trust me with this one you will have hours of fun 😉

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After Perfect 365

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Number 2. Magisto

If you are not a big fan of videos then you can skip this one. However although a bit complicated at first I have found this video editing app does is incredible. Choose different videos and pictures. Then pick a style, music (including your own track) and how long you want the combined presentation to be. Magisto then goes away and puts all the footage together (you don’t have to do anything) and when it is done, usually around 10 minutes, you will get a professional video montage just like magic. I love the way it adds an arty twist to videos and it means that I can upload a combination of smaller video snipets of different locations and moments in one post. Here is an example of the one it did with a few videos and pictures of mine of the Jean Paul Gautier exhibition in London!

Number 3. Delux FX ($0.99) & Number 4. After Light

Both these Apps are great if you want more filter choices and after leaks. Delux FX This does exactly what it says on the (paint) tin, it really does turn mediocre pictures into works of art. This App gives you a whole range of filters (77 to be exact) in addition to the ones which you already have on Instagram and and 55 overlays including light leaks and light and color enhancement ones. They have some great rainbow effects and just love the way my pictures look after using this App. After Light is great for light leaks and more vintage filters.

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Number 5. Camera Plus (£1.49)

This App is great for adding light to dark pictures or adding additional light without actually changing the brightness of it and fading the photos colour. I used this one when I went out with the girls and took a picture of our glowing drinks bottle and us behind it in the darkness. We didn’t come out, so I put the picture through After Light and all of a sudden the glow and the darkness was still there but now so were we! This App also has some great overlays where you can control the colour and the placing of the light leaks

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After Camera Plus

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Number 6. Insta Size (Free)

This was one of the first ones I downloaded after getting Instagram because I couldn’t work out how to fit the whole picture on the scren as it couldn’t be shrunk and kept getting cropped. This adds a white boarder around your photo so that the whole of it can be seen when you upload it.

Number 7. Followers (Free)

This lets you see who has just followed you, who is following you and who has unfollowed you. This means that if people follow you so that you follow them back and then a few days later they unfollow you, then you know about it and it means you can unfollow them too! Mouhahha

Number 8. Get Likes (Free)

This is something which makes your pictures look more popular and could potentially get you on the popular page. You can buy likes through this app,but it also has a free version of getting likes. The App lets your log in and like other people’s pictures and for every 2 likes you give through this App, someone will give you one back for free. You can add your likes up and then claim them all at once or spread them over a few photos. You can choose how many and when you receive them.

So if you didn’t know about them already I hope these Apps help you create lovely pictures and to help grow your following that you deserve! 🙂

Abi xxx

Chinese Nuts and Birds’ Nests

Chinese Nuts and Birds’ Nests

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Now if you want to be hardcore, you can’t just party and then miss the whole next day. As it was getting dark by the time we woke up, we set off for the Olympic park. We thought it would be the one thing that would be more spectacular at night than in the day time. We got directions and set off. The bus was rammed with people and it was here, in the middle of rush hour when the sexual deviance occurred.

The bus was full and yet still more people came in. Another stop, no one got out but in poured the crowd. Now in London I have experienced my fair share of personal space invasion during rush hour on the Jubilee line, with the carriage resembling more a discotheque with rough looking people and smelly breakfast breath than any sort of public transport. It is always awkward being pressed up against a total random stranger, so it was pretty mortifying when I got wedged up against a poor Chinese man so tightly that neither of us could move. Now he was tiny, but somehow he had angled himself upwards and had got stuck there. Our pelvises were locked in an antler embrace and with every movement of the bus his nuts pushed further into my stomach. Now, one always wonders in these types of situations whether or not the other person is in fact wedged and not just a total pervert. Indeed how much was this man actually enjoying having his balls rubbed in this way? I know I couldn’t move away, I did at least show him that I was trying to. Did he? Not really… which come to think of it makes it all the more suspicious. A few people got out. I managed to prize myself away. We disembarked. I looked at Shirwa who had moved up inside the bus. Something similar had obviously also happened to him. He mumbled in a distant voice something about a grandma. We walked in silence, not making eye contact and fought the instinctive need to sit in a corner and rock.

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Putting that memory in a little box and burying it deep inside of our psyche, we walked towards the park. The scale of the park was huge. The National Aquatics Center shone like a bio-luminescent jelly-fish. First acidic blue then candy pink. The moon was out, large and bright.

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We walked around this newly build wonder. Flanked by posh hotels and sky scrappers, this part of the city was world’s apart from our Hutong and the Forbidden City. We arrived in front of the Bird’s Nest stadium. I have never marveled at a structure of this kind before. This one was different, so artistic, so creative. Huge, gigantic concrete struts crisscrossed all the way around it. The orange lights pulsated away. It really did feel like the nest, but not of a bird, instead the the nest of a majestic phoenix.

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We took some wonderful photos. Women were flying large kites of paper and colorful toys were thrown up great distances into the air. The moon shone bright and full. We looked around, took pictures. There were lots of young people. The whole place was jovial. We walked along the wall which lists the winners of the different medal and the modern sculpture of the torch. At night this was truly magnificent. Red and orange hue spiraled from the city in the distance.

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On our way back we took a final glance back at the Nest and at the Moon. Kites fluttered in the wind. This had been a great few days, or nights or hours. It seemed as though the 24 madness which had engulfed the city had gone.

Suddenly behind us, two kites intertwined and fell crashing down to the ground. Apparently a kite seller had stolen the customer from another kite seller and as we walked off into the distance two women wrestled each other to the ground, each with fists full of hair. OK, so perhaps the full moon madness which we had experienced last night wasn’t quite over yet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climbing the Great Wall of China

Climbing the Great Wall of China

Now I have had a few laughs at the expense of the Lonely Planet “recommended hostel” and traditional Hutong, but now it is time to give this lovely little guest house some credit for probably the most amazing trip of my life.

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Built over two thousand years ago, the Great Wall of China is vast and stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west and along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi). While some portions north of Beijing are near tourist centers and have been preserved and even extensively renovated, in many locations the Wall is in disrepair. We were offered three different tours and we chose the one to Mutianyu, a part of the wall which is less touristy and more fun than Badaling but not as far away as Jinshanling.

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Mutianyu is called the Garden Great Wall and is 98 km away from downtown Beijing. We bundled into a little white truck and set off away from the busy city and into the countryside. The trip itself was quite fun. However, like everything so far in China it was also slightly scary. I was sat in a beaten up old van without a safety belt on a recently added half person  chair.

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We travelled at a mighty speed. Little mopeds ladened with sticks and produce whizzed past us in all directions.  Some even carried not just two, but three passengers. Oxen ploughed the fields and everything around this area seemed very lush.

It was really hot, so we did well bringing my newly-bought parasol, some water and hiking boots/trainers.We were really lucky, just a few days before a woman who was in my dorm told me how she had gone to the Wall on a rainy day and had failed to see the mountains due to the fog.🙊 So I would recommend looking at the weather forecast and trying to go on a sunny day as this is the one place where the views do matter!Novices… I don’t know…

Our tour, which was actually really good value, included a cable car up to the wall. It would have been possible to hike up onto the wall, but this would have taken an extra 45 minutes through trees without a view. We travelled up the mountain side in the same pod used by President Clinton on his trip to China in 1998. Did I lick the seat I hear you ask? This, unfortunately you will never get to know. 😉

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The cable cars took us high enough up the Wall to get the most incredible scenic views. We were on top of the mountain range and could see other peaks in the distance. It snaked up behind us and then down, down, presumably towards the sea. The verges were green, the sky very blue. Absolutely incredible.

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The wall was steep. I forced Shirwa onwards passed our nearest watch tower. We had to walk a little bit, otherwise how could we justify buying the “I Climbed the Great Wall” t-shirts at the end. We snaked downwards and got some amazing shots through the open fortifications. This experience was truly magnificent. It was so quite and peaceful, there were very few tourists. The man made fortifications hugged the hills. We were embraced by nature, the turrets flanked on either side by steep drops, standing precarious but strong at the same time. It felt like all was woven into the fabric of the earth, the dangerous elegance of man’s contribution to the world.

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A great thing about Mutuanyu is the fun slide ride back down to the bottom. I went quite slowly and hoped not to get kicked in the back by some nutter- like all those years ago in the playground back at school. The thought of falling off the metal and just rolling endlessly down the mountain side… Shudder…

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Once off the wall, we walked through the throng of traders who gathered at the bottom to sell their memorabilia to us, the tourists. A green hat with a red star, strange fruits, bags. We walked through, browsing. The further away from the Wall we went, the lower the prices and the louder the cries from above and behind us. I ended up buying my lovely t-shirt for around 5Y, which was a steel compared to the 20Y charged at the top, but a real tip off compared to the 1Y which I could have got right, right at the bottom. So for another lesson, NEVER EVER buy your souvenirs from the first stop, shop or trader that you meet. Wait until the end, when you think your last chance has gone, when you almost at the car park, it is there where you will get incredible offers. I sound like I am being razz, perhaps I am, but there is nothing worse knowing that what you bought 5 minutes ago for 50Y you could have for 1Y and for better quality.

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Before leaving, we had a really lovely buffet meal, which came included in the tour price. The food was incredible and it was great being surprised with different plates of food without having to battle through an alien menu. We got to meet some Chinese tourists and we all had a really relaxing time after our arduous walk on the most spectacular Wonder of the World!

So, after all, thank you Hutong Hostel and thank you Lonely Plant for the recommendation 😉