New York, the city that doesn’t sleep, ironically when you come home jet lag makes sure you don’t either!
During my career in O2, through be brilliant! I have set foot on three continents. I’ve taken part in and viewed things people can only imagine (no John Lennon pun intended!) New York tops it all, so I will use this as my opportunity to thank O2 and be brilliant! for these wonderful opportunities and experiences
Our New York journey began in the early hours of Monday morning, we arrived at Heathrow, checked in and mustered our best pouts for the group photo smiling and looking forward to the unknown adventures ahead. The flight itself was quick, partly because I have a superpower of being able to fall asleep anywhere! We arrived at JFK and were greeted by our wonderful host Eddie, quick spoiler, Eddie was a highlight of the trip, his knowledge, wit and jokes about New York made the entire trip. After we witnessed New York’s famous traffic jams and some sights along the way, we stopped for lunch at the Highline then proceeded to our swanky Dream Downtown hotel (Only the best for us winners!) Inside we were greeted with a giant American flag which turned out to be beer tins and above the lobby was the glass bottomed swimming pool. After travelling all day we got changed and headed out for our all American evening, an event of bowling and American buffet, but I use the term bowling lightly it was mostly throwing and hoping something fell over!
Tuesday morning our New York adventure began by getting fuelled up on a proper American breakfast. After that we headed to the Rockefeller centre for our Top of the rock experience which gives you some of the best views of New York City. On one side you have the Empire State building and on the other views of Central Park, which was just breath-taking to view. Next stop on our tour was Central Park, a chance to walk through the Strawberry Fields, home to the iconic Imagine mosaic in memory of John Lennon and then to the Tavern on the Green for an incredible lunch and some vintage UK rain. That evening we got The Ride experience, a bus with sideways views of New York and an interactive journey on our way to Madison Square Gardens where we were about to be treated to see the Foo Fighters live in our exclusive hospitality box! I will try not to over exaggerate but Foo Fighters were absolutely incredible! However, going by the many videos taken, singing is definitely not of my talents and after several loud declarations of love for Dave Grohl I learnt I can be prone to accidental Tourette’s! For me personally, definitely one of the highlights of the whole trip!
Wednesday we got the VIP experience this time in Samsung’s 837 flagship store where we got to try out some amazing VR experiences from rollercoasters to surfing as well as meeting a real life astronaut, Mike Massimino, guest star on hit show the Big Bang Theory! From there we went to the world famous Katz Deli, home to some of the most delicious sandwiches in New York, and where Meg Ryan in Harry met Sally really enjoyed that sandwich! That afternoon I was suffering from Foofighteritis which led to me going on a foodie journey through New York while the rest of the group went exploring from the Empire State Building to 9/11 memorial & One World Trade Centre and even tackling the waters on The Beast, New York’s number one speedboat! After some R&R our evening adventure was a dining experience in DUMBO with scenic views looking out over the East river onto the Brooklyn Bridge, a picturesque view with food to match.
Thursday had arrived far too quickly and it was our last day, bags were “carefully packed” and we checked out of our rooms. We had breakfast in Bubbys for some amazing pancakes and coffee then a morning to ourselves for some last minute shopping and one final chance to see Times Square. Before we could leave, Samsung and Be Brilliant! had one final giant surprise for us, a private yacht to sail up the Hudson and get some unique views of New York! Standing on the boat felt like that scene in Wolf Of Wall street where Leonardo Di Caprio starts handing out dollar bills like fun coupons, it was a rock star experience and we were definitely living the high life! But what better way to end than viewing the Statue of Liberty herself, up close and personal. To me it seemed almost nostalgic , generations and generations before me had travelled from Ireland, England, Europe, all over the world and the Statue of Liberty would be the first thing they witnessed as they entered America. For me, it was going to be the last, a perfect ending to a perfect trip with memories to last a lifetimes and friendships just begun. Home was calling but I don’t think this is the end of my New York love story!
By Daniel Wilson