New York – Round II

After three days in sunny Florida we headed back to New York City. Aside from the weather, the cultural contrast was immediately apparent. New York is like any big city really – plenty of people from all different cultures, many different spoken languages, foods etc. Florida was probably a more concise representation of ‘America’ in it’s many typically American fast food eateries and lifestyle.

30th December

We arrived back at M’s apartment midday and headed to the MoMA where we were meeting Mandi. She had managed to get free tickets for us from a friend so we decided to spend the afternoon there perusing what we had missed the previous weeks. Quite a bit, we realised. The whole Picasso-Cubist era and the French impressionists such as Monet.. as well as the beautiful architecture and design sections. And of course, plenty of abstract art such as the white empty shoebox, and the four yoghurt lids. Highlights would have been Monet’s waterlilies, Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory (so tiny!) and taking creative photo’s of M looking ‘aggressive’ next to Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup work (she works in advertising for Progresso Soup!!).

That evening we went to a little bar in the West Village. It was so warm and cosy inside and it felt like being at someone’s house. Travis unknowingly ordered a girl’s drink, the apple cider. HAHA.

Love on the StreetDrama at MoMaLove heart chain
Broken crockery lightM looking aggressive next to Warhols Campbells SoupOutside the Comedy Cellar

New Year’s Eve

The following day Travis and I headed for towards the Upper East Side, and dropped by the UN building and then over to the MeT. It was NYE and the subways were extremely busy. We headed back in the early evening to Mandi’s apartment as we were meeting a bunch of Mandi’s New Yorker friends for dinner that night. Dinner was in Chelsea at a trendy, modern Thai restaurant where I had a green curry chicken and a glass of shiraz. The tables were long and had benches on either side which made it difficult to get in and out of your seat. Another surprise was my trip to the toilet, by which I came across a guy… unisex toilets, very Ally McBeal. After dinner, and after agreeing we would catch up with some of M’s friend’s later at a house party, we went to a bar in St Mark’s, near Sing Sing where we had entertained ourselves with Karaoke a week earlier. Had a blast there (how could one not, with 5 shots at $10!), meeting up with a few of Mandi’s other friends. Ended up staying there for the count down, then heading to another club for some dancing. It was a bit of a crazy night, but definitely memorable – that’s for sure. And we didn’t quite make it to the house party.

Grand Central Station's ceilingTravis and the Grand Central StationSonya and the Grand Central Station

New Year’s Day

The following day we had a lazy morning, before heading to Chinatown for some greasy dim sum to satisfy the uneasy stomachs. Tasty, but definitely not quite comparable to Perth standards (or maybe we’re biased?) On our way home we stopped by some Chinese grocery stores to pick up snacks for our quiet night in. We also stopped by Magnolia Bakery, only just across the road from M’s apartment, a place that is perennially busy with cupcake lovers. We bought the red velvet and a chocolate buttermilk cupcake as well a yummy gooey banana concoction that looked deadly. Given we had already chosen to splurge upon the point of no return we also bought a tub of Ben and Jerry’s – some exotic combination of flavours we couldn’t dream of finding in Perth.

2nd January

So thus, that indulgent night concluded the New York chapter of our trip. The following morning we packed our bags, took a walk along the Hudson River in West Village and had breakfast at a intimate little diner, where the quirky waiter mumbled to himself about world politics between orders.

Outside the beautiful brownstone apartment, we said our teary goodbyes, Mandi hailed us a cab and we were off on the next part of our American adventure.

New York, New York – Part I

Hello, New York

After a long twelve hour flight from our stopover city, Tokyo, Travis and I found ourselves on the steps of JFK airport. We were tired, smelly (as we hadn’t showered in over 24 hours) and disoriented but that didn’t dampen our excitement at all! There was fresh snow falling from the sky (little did I know at the time this was the calm before the snowstorm) and I was particularly excited, make that ecstatic, about seeing my oldest friend (as in the one I’ve known longest!) Mandi after her almost two year absence from our hometown.

We emerged from the airport and frantically put all the warm winter gear we could find. It was excruciatingly cold that night, and I certainly was not psychologically prepared for the cold weather seeing as though 24 hours earlier, I had been basking in the sun at our annual outdoor office Christmas party.  The taxi ride to Mandi’s apartment was slow. The taxi driver had advised as that it was in his (and our) best interests that he drove slowly so as to avoid a similar fate to two cars which had driven/slid off the road due to the ice.

As we approach Manhattan I recognised for the first time the beautiful Christmas-feeling that Mandi had described to me during our chats and emails.  The streets were covered with snow, Christmas lights lit the busy street and it was just so picturesque.  We found ourselves at Mandi’s apartment in the quaint West Village and after all our hugs and greetings it was quite late already.  Whilst comfortably warm inside we decided to brave the cold to grab some late night dinner (or brunch as Travis and my brains told us) at a diner nearby in the Meat packing district.   The two block walk felt like an adventure (given the novelty of snow and cold) and so we were then rewarded with our first American meal – some yummy American burgers, buffalo wings, disco fries and Oreo milkshakes!

Inside a New York dinerOreo ThickshakesStreets of New York

Day 1

We awoke leisurely on Sunday morning, had brunch (I had my first Bloody Mary) and made plans to take a walk through Central Park.  It was so pretty! The park was filled with white snow covered trees, children tobogganing off the slight hills, ice skating rinks, freshly created snowmen.  Not to mention the familiarity of scenes from numerous movies.  We visited a shopping mall near the subway picked up some hot coffee, some delicious macaroons (Bouchon Bakery) and headed back home.

That evening we met up with some of Mandi’s buddies at what I learnt was a speakeasy. Unlike their historical counterparts speakeasies nowadays are legal, sell alcohol legally and have only inherited the exciting underground atmosphere of the Prohibition times.  The speakeasy was located through a backdoor of a small corner-side deli. Upon entering the door we were escorted down two flights of stairs and through what looked like the restaurant’s kitchen.  The restaurant we went to (La Esquina) served Mexican cuisine. The decor was amazing.  Dark lighting, big wooden tables.. it felt like we were in a swanky dungeon of some sort (which happened to serve tequila with warm apple cider, on the house!).  Anyway, dinner was fun and our first introduction to the many crazy New York apartment living/hunting/house mate conversations to come…

New York streets after heavy snowChristmas trees for saleNew York street with heavy snow
Snowy Central ParkMandi and Travis in snowy Central ParkSonya in Central Park
Fun times in Central ParkCentral Park bridgeCentral Park ice rink
Inside Time Warner Center with view of Columbus CircleMacaroons at Bouchon BakeryTequila shots at La Esquina

Day 2

First day of Travis and my self-exploration of Manhattan.  Mandi was working and so we decided to use our newly acquired Metro card to wander around the city.  We ended up walking from 14th St (around where we were staying) uptown to Times Square.  Took us a while as we were consistently distracted by all the people, bustling streets, quirky shops and photo opportunities.  Incidentally, good foot wear is essential during the Winter season and my Perth-bought boots didn’t meet the standard requirements for general footpath walking (no grip).  As a result, I fell down smack bang in the middle of Times Square which was very, very embarrassing.  Lucky my coat was black.   After Times Square (stopping to eat some breakfast at Maxines – bagel, cream cheese and smoked salmon for me!) we headed to the Rockefella Center to enjoy the views of the city.  On our way, we passed Radio City Music Hall, some giant Christmas baubles and various other New York things. Might I add we also ensured we visited all the uniquely American stores such as American Eagle, Old Navy, Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, etc.

That evening we caught up with Mandi and walked around The West Village, passing through some interesting sites including the Carrie’s Sex in the City apartment, SJP’s real apartment, Washington Square and various other famous people’s apartments.  We had pizza at nice little Italian restaurant (the mozzarella cheese was yum!) and then sampled some very unique desserts at Momofuku (the milk bar). We had:

  • cereal milk icecream
  • compost cookie – pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, chocolate chips
  • crack pie – toasted oat crust, gooey butter filling

New York has everything!!

Travis strolling Times SquareTimes SquareView from top of Rockefeller Plaza
On Top of the RockSonya and the Rockefeller Christmas TreeMacy's Department Store
Washington Square ArchMozzarella cheeseSugar cookie softserve with cheddar popcorn topping from momofuku

Day 3

We dedicated this day to general site seeing once again (since M was working – her last day).  Took the subway downtown to Ground Zero site (not much there), walked down Broadway, past City Hall towards Wall St.  Visited Tiffany & Co on Wall St and walked all the way around to the Statten Island Ferry Terminal. We decided to skip the Statten Island Ferry and go to Liberty Island instead (so walked further on to the next port) to see the Statue upon which we realised the line was gigantum! It was cold but we decided to do it anyway. Twenty four dollars later we were waiting in the queue (which was at least 500 m long) eating our all-American hotdog (with sauerkraut and mustard) and freezing our fingers off.  We finally boarded the Ferry and took a pleasant boat ride over to Liberty Island. Usual touristy stuff, photos. Met a friendly Columbian guy who seemed to be travelling alone.

On the way back we decided to walk up 6th Avenue. Stopped by a burger joint where I had the smallest burger I have ever seen (it was called a mini burger) so as not to disrupt my appetite.  Lucky for that because late that night M took us to dinner at Boka, a Korean restaurant in St Mark’s which specialises in fried chicken (Bon Chon chicken) – really delicious! We had a couple of dishes of that, some soju and after a satisfying night out, headed home.

Construction at the 911 memorial siteNew York Stock ExchangeWall Street
Travis and a bull statue on Wall StStatue of LibertyStatue of Liberty
New York skylineCastle Clinton National MonumentNew York Burger Co mini burger

Day 4

Christmas Eve. We started the day by taking the subway to Brooklyn. Since we were there, Mandi decided to introduce us to Brooklyn’s most famous Pizzeria, Grimaldi’s. It was so delicious! Definitely some of the best pizza I have ever tasted, the base was just so tasty. Highly recommended. We were lucky to arrive with only a 2 minute wait but when we left there was a 30 minute line!

After pizza we headed towards the Brooklyn Bridge to cross it.  This was fun but freezing!! Took lots of ‘creative’ photos. Upon reaching Manhattan Island we started walking towards Chinatown.  I could smell the Chinese food before I could see it! The streets were lined with markets selling I love NY shirts, designer perfumes (which look and are said to be genuine but at a fraction of the price), all sorts of jewellery, knock off handbags and other knick knacks.  We wandered around for a while and then explored some of the other cultural areas (Little Italy, Little Korea) around the area.  Before heading back to Mandi’s we checked out American Apparel & Top Shop.

That night we went to an All you can Eat Brazilian BBQ Cuisine. Churrascaria Plataforma. The restaurant was $60 per head and offered all sorts of BBQ meats and Brazilian side dishes, a buffet including fresh sushi and salad.  Needless to say I was extremely full afterwards!

Grimaldi's PizzeriaBrooklyn BridgeJumping in Brooklyn
Brooklyn BridgeBrooklyn BridgeNew York from Brooklyn Bridge

Day 5

We spent the morning planning to visit museums. Whilst we didn’t make it to the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), we somehow ended up at the Museum of Sex (nothing particularly interesting I thought), had lunch at a pizza bar, then Travis and I wandered to the New York Public Library, took some photos and walked up Fifth Ave and visited the Apple Store.

We had dinner at the famous Carnegie Deli where Travis had the shockingly huge corned beef sandwich and I had a tasty potato knish.

New York Public Library entranceNew York Public LibraryNew York Public Library halls
The Apple StoreTimes Square at nightMore of Times Square at night
Even more of Times Square at nightNew York Cheese CakeCarnegie Deli and the ridiculous corned beef sandwich
Best friendsSonya and Mandi at Times SquareSonya and Travis

Christmas Day

In the morning Mandi and I went to yum cha by ourselves while Travis slept in.

That evening, we made a scrumptious dinner (well M did most of the cooking whilst I played kitchen hand/table setter) at M’s apartment.. pork belly, stuffing, roast vegetables, roast duck (courtesy of a shop in Chinatown) and pecan pie for dessert.  A couple of visiting friends from Oz joined as did M’s work colleague.. it was a fun evening with lots of laughs.. much of it related to the horrid BeanBoozled jelly beans.  Braving the cold, we later decided to go to Sing Sing Karaoke bar in St Marks for a few tunes.

Asian posesChristmas funChristmas dinner

Boxing Day

Now looking back I really cannot recall exactly what we did Boxing Day. We went to the MoMA where we caught up with Amy and Kim (friends from Oz).  MoMA was amazing.. and huge. We barely managed to see half of the exhibitions so decided we would visit the museum again the following week.

Giant gray whale skeleton at MoMASonya and a PicassoTravis and a Salvador Dali

On the night of the 26th we left for Orlando for a short 3 day trip…hoping to escape the cold!