Disclaimer: I went to London in between Berlin & New York but didn't get a chance to do touristy stuff whilst there, so I won't be publishing a post about it. Between meeting up with friends both in & out of London, my 32nd birthday, my cousin's wedding + pre & post-wedding shindigs, I barely had enough time during my 8-night stay to sit still!
I'll also add that this was my 3rd visit to New York, my 2nd in 2 years. (I know, how lucky am I?) Since I've done most of the touristy things there already, this post isn't for you if you're looking for any real tips about all the sights. However, if you're looking for places to shop, where to eat & how to get around, then this is the post for you. I will also let you in on a couple of touristy things I did whilst in NYC & add some extra tips that I remember from my previous visit...which means this post is gonna look different compared with my previous TNL Takes a Trip posts.
Where To Shop
- If you're both a nail polish fiend & a tightarse, then head on down to either Nail Maxim Supply (I think that's their new name) or D&D Nail Supply on Fort Hamilton Parkway in Brooklyn to score yourselves some $4US Essie's & $5US OPI's. Given that both brands are hella expensive in Australia, is it any wonder I went crazy stocking up?
- Still on the polish tip, Gideon's Drugs was another place I went to for polish, except this time it was Zoya polishes I was after. Granted, they were still at US retail prices, although I did score a small bargain on at least 1 of them.
- I also dig Ricky's NYC for general beauty supplies (as well as polish), but just be aware that they sell polish at your standard US prices (i.e. about $9US for Essie & around $10US for OPI). I scored my bottle of OPI's St Marks The Spot from a Ricky's store, which I was stoked about + they sell my beloved crystal nail files. There's plenty of Ricky's stores around, so don't panic.
|The arch at Washington Square Park|
- If fashion bargains are more your thing, then Nordstrom Rack is your joint. During my previous NYC visit, I scored 2 pairs of NYDI capris for about $30US, down from around $88US. I still wear both pairs to this day. I also picked up my Travalos from there, as well as a few other things.
- In terms of the big department stores, there’s Macys in Herald Square, Neiman Marcus & Bloomingdales around the Upper East Side (from memory) & Barney’s on Madison Avenue. I went to all of these, but unfortunately couldn’t find things that I either liked or wanted.
How To Get Around
Too easy with the subway! Here's a couple of tips:
- If you're staying in the East Village like I did (I stayed with my brother at his rental apartment) or you end up down that way, then be aware that the nearest subway is either at 8th St-NYU (servicing the N & R lines) or 1st Ave & 14th St (servicing the L line, which goes to Chelsea in the west & Greenpoint, Williamsburg & Brooklyn in the east). You can get the L up to 14th St-Union Square & change though.
- If you're going to be staying for a week, get a 7 day Metrocard. It costs about $31, but it does entitle you to unlimited travel. However, make sure you don't swipe your ticket again within 10 minutes of exiting a station; otherwise you'll have to wait to be allowed through the turnstiles. Been there, done that.
- Make sure you download a subway map app to your phone before leaving home as the subway can be tricky to navigate for first timers. Along with Google Maps, I also used an offline version of the Map of NYC Subway app to get around & found it pretty nifty.
What To Do
- Skip the Empire State Building & instead do Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. You still get the same all-around view of NYC – in fact, I’d argue that you get a better view – but IMO you will probably avail yourself somewhat of all the masses. I went up there during my previous visit to NYC on the morning of my 30th birthday & although it was fairly busy, it wasn’t overly crowded.
- Looking to get out of Manhattan for the day? Why not take the free ferry over to Staten Island! It's about a half-hour trip. If I'm honest, I can't tell you much about what to do on Staten Island as I purposely went there just so I could go to an ULTA store all the way down at Bricktown Center. It was worth the 1 1/2 hour bus ride though - I also went to Bed Bath & Beyond + Harmon Face Values whilst there. That said, on the ferry ride back to Manhattan, I did score some decent photos of the Statue of Liberty, along with the Manhattan skyline.
- One thing I didn’t get to do and really wanted to do during my previous visit was walk New York's famous High Line, which I thankfully got to do this time, hoorah! Created from a "historic freight rail line" & stretching from Gansevoort St in the Meatpacking District all the way to West 34th St (between 10th & 12 Avenues), the High Line is well worth wandering through IMO, if only to see some more street art or to just sit around & check out the cityscapes below. I went on a rather hot & humid morning & thankfully found a few shady spots in which to take a breather.
- An unfortunate part of New York's history involves a day that the world changed forever: September 11. The names of those who were killed in the attacks (as well as any unborn children) are forever enshrined at the 9/11 Memorial & along with the recently opened Freedom Tower & the 9/11 Museum, there is a space for everyone to reflect on the horrors of that event (although it might not be to everyone's tastes or sensibilities). I happened to be in NYC on the 15th anniversary of that tragic day this time around & although I'd gone to the memorial at my last visit, seeing the light from the tower in the distance stirred some kind of feeling in me & I felt that I ought to re-visit the site, if only to pay some sort of respect to the fallen. Clearly a lot of other people felt the same as it was quite busy when I visited around dusk.
Where To Eat
- A trip to New York wouldn't be complete without eating at least 1 bagel. I personally am not a fan of the cream cheese varieties, but I do however enjoy eating them with some kind of nut butter for breakfast. The best one I found was Bagel Belly up on 3rd Ave & that bagel was enough to erase bad memories of the ones I ate from both Black Seed Bagels on 1st Ave in the East Village (that bagel was salty & the so-called almond butter was too chunky & strangely sugar-y) & my former fave 'wichcraft (total letdown this time).
- If you're in NYC during summer & it's stinking hot (which it tends to be), you're gonna need an ice-cream/gelato fix for some sort. If you're a fan of gelato, head to Mo's in Little Italy. My brother loves that place & I have to admit the gelato's pretty good. If you like your ice-cream, then I can't recommend Ample Hills Creamery enough. The dark chocolate ice-cream I had down at their premises in the Meatpacking District was fucking deeeeeeelicious & I'm upset now that I didn't photograph it (if you do visit their website, be prepared to wipe the drool from your keyboard/screen). I did however photograph the ice-cream I had at my 2nd fave, Van Leeuwen's (see left.)
- I went to Café Orlon in the East Village one morning for breakfast & had the biggest & fluffiest banana pancakes I've ever eaten (see below). Such a shame that they were so fluffy as any maple syrup I drizzled on them was soaked up within 5 seconds.
- My biggest foodie experience in NYC was at Smorgasburg over in...you guessed it...Williamsburg. For those not in the know, Smorgasburg is this big street food market held every Saturday & when I say they've got just about every cuisine covered, you better believe it! From Filipino spring rolls to American BBQ to Chinese pancakes to ice-cream sandwiches to lobster po' boys to Mexican to...well, everything! I had a Berliner doner salad from a Turkish German stall & it was pretty good.
|The Berliner doner salad. Tasted better than it looks.|
Be warned though: it is outdoors with very little shelter from the elements, so on a hot & humid day it gets stifling down there. If you're gonna go during the summer, my tip would be to BYO shade & deck chairs, sit by the water & admire the view back into Manhattan.
They also have a bar area but very little in the way of seating or tables, so you'll either have to make sure you nab a bar table early...and remember to have ID on you as you will be asked for it before entering.
Smorgasburg is very popular with students, 20 & 30-somethings alike; but even if you're young at heart you'll enjoy it. Just keep it a secret though will you? The natives might hate me if word spreads too far. 😉
As I mentioned above, this was my 3rd trip to New York City; but it'll be my last for a while methinks. I felt that I stayed just a bit too long this time & therefore ran out of things to keep me occupied (although wandering the streets is kinda fun I admit). I also felt myself becoming a tiny bit like your average New Yorker whilst there - jaded. I'd rather go back to London before I do New York again....
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Have you been to New York before? Is it on your travel bucket list?