Monday, January 20, 2014

Holiday Photo Diary: New York City

New York City is AMAZING!

Of all the places we visited it's probably the one I'm most familiar with thanks to litany of TV shows, films and books set there, and yet (unsurprisingly) it was nothing like I expected. We arrived late-ish in the evening but considering this is the city that never sleeps we couldn't just bunker down in our room and rest could we? We were staying in the Bowery so we walked up Prince St and had pizza is the most stereotypical pizzaria imaginable. There were signed pictures of Italian-American actors on the walls, really amazing pizza and the most Newest, most Yorkiest owner I had ever seen. Across the street was a bakery so we bought some cupcakes and headed up to the roof of our hostel to get a look at the city. It was a pretty great welcome to the city.

We went to Central Park on our very first day. We actually ended up going back like three times all up. It's so damn big that any time we were in the area we'd stop in and see if there was anything new for us to discover (there always was). Even so, I think there's probably a good third of the park we didn't even get near. These pictures are a mix from all the trips so there's some from our first day pre-snow and then some post-snow. The park looks completely different under a blanket of snow, it's absolutely lovely either way, but I'm glad we got to see it both way. 

What else did we get to see? THESE GUYS!

We don't have squirrels here in Australia so I was pretty excited when I saw the first of these little guys up a tree. I think I probably gave us away as tourists right then and there though!

One of my favourite things in the park were the little plaques on the benches. We'd stop and read them as we walked along and the tributes to friends, family members and special dates were really touching. I'd love to have a memento like that to visit whenever I wanted. My favourite though were two benches next to one another. I nearly died when I moved on from the first one and saw the second.

We spent a little over a week in New York so we managed to chip off a fair chunk of the city's must-see spots. But even more important than the museums and bridges was the food. Oh man. This holiday was A+ for food in general but New York was very satisfying from start to finish. A few places I absolutely must recommend, The Bowery Diner (the greatest milkshake of my life and really amazing herb chicken too), Jacob's Pickles (a southern style restaurant I went to with Alley, Tom and Tom), the Shake Shack (one of Alley's recommendations pre-trip and I'm glad we went. Really tasty burgers) and the Mac Bar on Prince St for a gazillion varieties of Mac & Cheese. But seriously, I think you could spin around and walk into the first door and be guaranteed good food in New York. And such variety.  Also awesome? Starbucks. I never go to Starbucks in Australia because, and no offence Americans, our cafes make proper coffee. But since I couldn't trust what most shops were selling in America we started to frequent Starbucks and I only ordered off the holiday menu. I had my very first Pumpkin Spice and Gingerbread Lattes in New York. The gingerbread was by far my favourite, but I'm finally starting to gain an understanding of America's love of pumpkin as a sweet flavour. Also awesome? Pumpkin spice cupcakes *drools over keyboard*

What else did we do? We went to a lot of museums and galleries. like A LOT a lot. We visited the Natural History Museum for hours and hours of educational fun. The Jewish Museum for the Art Spiegelman exhibit, the New York Historical Society which was an accidental visit but had a brilliant art exhibit about the Armory show from 1913. We went to the legendary branch of the New York Public Library and gaped at the prettiness of it. We went to MOMA which luckily coincided with a Magritte exhibit they were hosting. I love Magritte so that was a very happy couple of hours. And my absolute favourite was the Cloisters. I had no real idea what to expect from the Cloisters but I had my heart set on going and I'm so glad I persisted. It was like stepping back in time. When we got out of the subway we had to walk through the park and it was silent. There were no sounds of traffic, no bustling crowds and buskers, just Tom and I walking down a snowy path with trees shading our way. And the's stunning. New York is full of gorgeous old and modern architecture, but the Cloisters were just magical. It's absolutely my top recommendation.

I mentioned the Broadway shows we saw in my earlier posts but I can't stress enough how much I loved the experience. I enjoy going to the theatre whatever the city, but there's something about the small yet grand New York theatres that's so much better than seeing the same show at QPAC. We also went to a UCB show, which was free (best price!) and HILARIOUS. Lutz from 30 Rock was one of the improv actors on that night, which made waiting in the snow for an hour even more worth it. Also great and free? An acrobatic troop that were busking in the Washington Square Park. The people in costume in Times Square were not my favourite (no I do not want a photo with a 40 year old man in Iron Man pyjamas) but this troop was excellent. 

We didn't walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or climb the Statue of Liberty or take in the view from the top of the Empire State Building, but I don't regret missing anything we missed. Rather than run from sight to sight we took our time and basked in the big crazy weirdness that is New York City. We'll be back for sure, and anything we missed we can visit next time or not at all. Travelling is more fun when you don't have absolutely every detail locked down, especially in a city as big and explorable as New York City. 


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