New York, Concrete Jungle where your feet hurt, the nerves that you can’t feel, now you’re in New York… that is what I was singing to the tune of Jay Z and Alicia Key’s ‘Empire State of Mind’ because I oh so foolishly forgot to bring walking shoes #regrets. Accordingly, my first piece of advice is to not only bring heels while travelling—especially to New York City, a city where walking is a must.
Over the weekend of my brother’s birthday/ Easter, my family and I flew out to New York via Porter where we spent 4 days shopping, touring, eating, and a helluva lot of walking.
Keep scrolling for my adventures in the city that never sleeps.
6am flights are the worst… that being said, flying out of Porter is easy and never too much of a hassle – also their cookies are the best, and when paired with a coffee… mmm. Essentially, I really should not be complaining! Also, checkout the beautiful Toronto skyline from the aircraft, gotta love it.
When we arrived in Newark, the airport protocols all went by super quick and the cab ride into the city took an easy 20 – 30 minutes.
After we ditched our bags at the hotel, we headed out for breakfast at the closest recommended breaky restaurant called New York Lucheonette (♥♥♥), which, after trying other restaurants in the city, was very simple and plain in comparison.
Once our bellies were full we were ready to hit up 5th Avenue for some shopping. En route we made a pit stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, an absolutely immaculate building, with beautiful sculptures, paintings, and stain glass adorning the cathedral.
New York although acclaimed as a shopper’s paradise, I find is also mixed with a little bit of shopper’s hell: lines are brutally long for both the change rooms and cashiers, and there is a constant flow of shoppers bumping and rummaging through the racks. Yes – the clothing is amazing, the design of the stores are immaculate, but the staff in some of these places are clearly just looking to get their next sale and to clean up the consistent mess that customers leave in their wake. That being said, I did manage to find a beautiful lace number for an event later this summer that I am super excited about.
After shopping we headed back to the hotel, got unpacked, had a power nap, and took off for Little Italy and some dinner.
Now, if your family is anything like my family, then you must know the number of times we changed our minds on which restaurant to try. We eventually walked into a random Little Italy restaurant where we drank a couple glasses of much needed wine and continued our exploration through Little Italy.
All over New York, graffiti and art adorns the sides of buildings adding, in my opinion, character. My favourite piece was definitely this Audrey Hepburn work of art.
Now since we were all up in the wee hours of the morning, we retired to bed at old lady time.
It has been obvious for a long while that Starbucks has taken over North America’s coffee market. In NYC the takeover was extremely evident as each street was stocked with one of these coffee chains. Since I named my blog ‘A Caffeinated Life’ for a reason, it is only fitting that my morning always start off with a little caffeine kick – and with Starbs conveniently located right beside my hotel, every morning’s coffee run was there. My go-to Starbucks drink is a Caramel Macchiato.
After getting that morning boost, we hailed a cab and made our way over to the 9/11 Twin Tower memorial. The museum and tribute to this horrific event was outstandingly touching and paid the highest respect to those who were lost in this terrorist attack. The way the story was recounted throughout the exhibit by both audio and visual representation was extremely touching – I found it hard to not get choked up and emotional. Photos and videos showed the happenings around the city before and after, and the devastating alteration of the NYC skyline that would now and forever seem like it was missing something. Phones played audio recordings from passengers calling their loved ones so say goodbye – listening to this brought shivers up and down my spine – even thinking about this now still gives me goosebumps. From start to finish this exhibit was carefully thought through: from the preserved artifacts, to the visual timeline, to the audio portions, everything was carefully intermingled to create a heartfelt and informative homage.
If you are in NYC, I recommend checking this out – buy tickets online in advance to bypass the massive ticket counter line.
For lunch we walked from the financial district to Tribeca, about a 20-25 minute hike. Full disclosure, we only walked because we couldn’t catch a cab that would hold 5 adults. (FAIR WARNING, A RANT IS APPROACHING, SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU WISH TO BYPASS: Finding a taxi that is able to accommodate 5+ people is extremely unlikely in NYC. The Yellow Cab company only takes a maximum of 4 adults in ALL their vehicles INCLUDING their vans. They actually remove the back two seats in their larger vehicles so that they can only hold 4 passengers legally. Honestly, as a group of 5, it was one of the most aggravating on-going occurrences since getting two cabs for 1 extra person seems like an atrocious waste of money. Now, I assume – yes, yes I know I shouldn’t assume as it ‘makes an ass out of u and me’ but I’m going to anyway – that they do this because Yellow Cab monopolizes the taxi industry in New York and only being able to safely transport 4 people in one car requires groups of 5+ people to use additional vehicles, therefore garnering more profit, which is p-e-t-t-y. THIS IS WHY TAXIS ARE GETTING A BAD REP. Uber: 1, Taxi: 0. Rant over.).
Okay, okay, where was I? Hmm… lunch in Tribeca. At first we wanted to check out this wicked looking Burger joint called Black Tap, which serves up huge burgers and intricate milkshakes. Unfortunately the line was over an hour long so we kept roaming.
We eventually happened upon a nice Mediterranean place called Pera Soho (♥♥♥).
After lunch, we continued venturing around Tribeca. Once we were tuckered out from all the spending, we heading back to the hotel for a reboot.
My brother and I decided to catch the Raptors game and checked out two bars: Public House (went here last time I was in New York and it is always a good time) and Joshua Tree (a little fun bar ran by Australians). Unfortunately, since the Raptors don’t draw too much attention anywhere but in Toronto (yay to the Toronto sports bandwagon), the volume was not turned on in either location making it harder to enjoy the game. That being said, the beer was cold, the music was good, and who doesn’t love a little brother/sister bonding. Oh yes, and the Raps won – GO RAPTORS!!!
For dinner, we kept it easy and grabbed some street meat – in my books, street vendors are always a good idea.
We wandered out into Times Square, and as always, it was flooded with people. The bright lights, the buzz of traffic from the surrounding blocks, and the chatter of human interaction kept New York’s reputation as the city that never sleeps alive and well. As much as Times Square is undoubtedly a tourist spot, I love it. There’s something about all those big bright lights that really does inspire me (as Alicia Keys sings). As a writer, I find inspiration in all different types of scenes, from the absolute serenity found in a quiet spot near water, to the complete chaos within a city’s hotspot… The thing I admire about Times Square is the plethora of people all bumping about harmoniously and the absence of quarrel that many times accompanies these disordered situations. Peaceful chaos, there’s something charming about it.
Wake up. Drink coffee. Venture to Central Park. Day three happens to be Easter so the streets are packed. On 5th there is a huge Easter festival occurring with people dressed in over the top flowery outfits and top hats. Although difficult to maneuver through the excited crowd, watching the people pour out of the different churches and gather in the streets was entrancing.
For a park within such an immense city, Central Park is absolutely stunning. There were flowers blossoming and greenery was abundant. Whether going for a run or chilling out in the shade of a tree with a book, Central Park is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city streets.
After roaming the park we headed to Soho to do a little more damage to my wallet. We walked back to the Tribeca area where I tried a delicious almond croissant and chai latte at a local coffee shop called Ground Support Cafe (♥♥♥♥♥)!
For dinner, I had planned a little surprise reservation for the family (the restaurant came highly recommended from my coworker, Amanda – THANK YOU). Now the nerd in me really shines here because I took my family to this restaurant called Ninja (♥♥♥♥♥). If you are at all looking to nerd/geek out a bit, love eating while being entertained, and are looking for something a little different, GO HERE! I don’t want to ruin the surprises but essentially all the staff are dressed as Ninjas and perform tricks as you eat and drink. It’s quirky, thrilling, and a whole lot of fun! Oh, and bonus, the food (if you like sushi/ Japanese) is phenomenal – they also serve burgers and pasta, but specialize in asian cuisine.
We had a final big brunch at a midtown restaurant called The Smith (♥♥♥♥). It was DELICIOUS.
To cap off our trip, we enjoyed some baked goods and iced coffees from the renowned Magnolia Bakery (♥♥♥♥). Personally, I am a fan of cream cheese icing which they didn’t offer the day I went, so the cupcakes weren’t my top choice, but their mini pie and lemon squares were definitely top notch.
New York, New York… until next time!