Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
"New York, the city that never sleeps", more like the city where I barely slept. A story on how I experienced the what people call "the greatest city on earth". This is probably going to be lowkey sarcastic so I've warned you.
28th of December 2018, after taking the train from Antwerp to Schiphol and flying for just under eight hours we touch down in JFK airport. You know how it goes, you just flew for multiple hours, it’s actually almost midnight in Belgium but it’s just after 3pm in New York and all you want to do is take a cab and hope they don’t charge you too much. Well that’s not what we did, if you want to get to manhattan for a cheaper price you should take the Airtrain to Howard beach but that’s just where the fun is getting started.
Remember when people who travelled abroad needed to go to the bank to get some cash to take with them? Yeah me neither, in a perfect world you can use your credit card to pay for anything at any time. I guess the Howard beach terminal is not a perfect world because if you want to get a metro card for a week you need to pay for it with cash, not even at the vending machine but if you want a metro card for just a week the only place that sells it is the sketchy shop right behind you. Now I don’t have cash so what now? Oh yeah there is an ATM right next to it as if they knew tourists would show up without cash. Honestly is it that hard to get a terminal? Anyways I took out some cash, it charged me 2.50$ extra and my bank charged me €5 for it but whatever just get me the hell out of this place.
Getting to Nostrand Av (Brooklyn) went quick and it was very easy to find our Airbnb. We didn’t want to get a place in Manhattan because everything seemed so expensive so that’s why we opted for Brooklyn. I would recommend other people to do the same if you’re like me and are visiting New York on a budget. If your airbnb is close to the A metro (which is the express metro to manhattan and JFK airport) you’re going to have no trouble going back and forth. After settling in all we did was grab some food at Morgan's Brooklyn BBQ, found a grocery store to buy ourselves some breakfast and we just went straight back to the airbnb, it was after all 3am in Belgium already.
The good, the bad and hellhole Times SquareOur first day in New York started with a view on the Brooklyn & Manhattan bridge where we just had to take one of the most “I’m an instagram influencer visiting New York” pictures. The junction of Washington St with Water St is the place to be for everyone who want’s to seem like they are at least somewhat relevant on the gram. I think there were over 20 people just in the middle of the street posing while their friend was smashing the shutter button on their iPhones. We honestly did the same thing so who am I to judge I’m just as bad as these people, I even write a post about it.
Walking over the Brooklyn bridge into sunny New York really was a great start of our day, you really get to take in the amazing skyline this way.
First stop on my agenda; The museum of natural history. I have to say, I was just here for the dinosaur in the great hall but we also took a tour around the museum. Afterwards we took a walk through central park to get to our lunch destination; Pizza Rolio. They serve pizza so thin you have to roll it! Going there at noon wasn't such a great idea now that I am looking back at this. Pizza Rolio can be found underneath the Plaza hotel and at lunchtime it's very crowded. One lady actually said "if you take this chair I will kill you" when we wanted to take a seat somewhere.
We continue downtown and make our way down 5th avenue, together with what feels like a million people shopping their new years eve outfit at the very last minute. Even I had to grab a last minute shirt because I forgot mine at home, stupid me now I have to spend even more.
Next stop on the list; Top of the rock, unfortunately this seemed to be a very popular next item on the list so we decided to come back some other day and head down to Times Square. Times square almost seems magical, we've seen it on tv, you know what it looks like (and if you don't you have probably been living under a rock). The truth is that it's far from glamorous, it's so crowded and there's people pushing you from every side as if you are in the middle of a moshpit at a festival.
Now it's time to get out of this busy mess, we hop onto the first subway we can find and make our way downtown to a place that is very close to our heart.
When I'm home there is a 99% chance that F.R.I.E.N.D.S is playing in the background, I don't even watch anymore I just have it on as background noise and watch it occasionally. Even though the last episode aired in 2004 which is just so long ago already I'm not the only person watching it anymore. We got to the appartement at 90 Bedford St which is the facade the makers used finding a lot of other fans of the series. Night falls and we head down to Domenique Ansel Bakery for some hot chocolate with a cookie that tasted like I was eating a whole pack of butter #notWorthIt. On the other end our dinner at Tacombi was very much worth it!
The day we waited
Let me tell you something I haven't mentioned before. We got a New York Pass before visiting. It cost us $175 per person and it promised us immediate access to museums and attractions, sounds good doesn't it? Well as with everything, if it seems too good to be true it probably is. A lot of places just see this as a voucher and not a valid entry ticket, so we had to stand in line to get our tickets together with people who didn't have a ticket yet or also had some kind of pass. So the 3rd day of our trip will go down into history as "the day we waited".
The day we waited started by us going to Top of the rock at 9 in the morning just to see the same huge line as yesterday. Did I mention I think New Yorker's are rude? I don't think so but here's why, this woman working here was so f*cking rude and almost screaming at people. Okay I get it, working here is probably not the best thing in the world and tourists are dumb but treat them like you treat any other human. Anyways we got in, got tickets for the next day and went over to The Empire State building.
Okay a four hour line was just too much so we went back uptown to hopefully get into the 9/11 memorial museum. Once again the universe had different plans for us in the form of a line. This is where the pass really started pissing me off, so I honestly would not recommend it to anyone visiting. After an hour of waiting in line to get our voucher exchanged for tickets for later that night we went to The MoMA. The MoMA has a very strong collection of modern art and was probably the museum I was looking forward to the most. We spent about an hour on the six floors this museum has to offer. They got a lot of great work ranging from "De Sterrennacht" by Van Gogh to some works by Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol.
Back to World Trade Center to get into the 9/11 memorial museum. I'm not going to use a lot of words to describe this place because words won't do it. It's very special to be in this place, to see where the buildings stood and what happened. It's very quiet inside for a reason even though no staff is telling you to be silent. One thing I personally don't think is very respectful but is just very american is having a giftshop in this place. Selling magnets and postcards here feels wrong to me. What happened should be remembered but I don't think there should be a profit made here in the form of souvenirs.
3rd time's the charm
The last day of the year is a weird day, for some reason make a big deal out of it but it's just a day like any other. Especially for tourists who have limited time and want to get the most out of every day (or is that just us?). 3rd time's the charm because we finally got to the top of Rockefeller Center. In my opinion this is the better observation deck for two reasons. First of all, you get to see the Empire State building in all it's glory. Second of all, you get a great view of central park.
After this we ended up strolling around the city on this last day of 2018. Without it being intentional we walked into the flat iron building. We took the metro to Grand Central and gazed up at the roof and obviously I had to visit the Apple store here. We took the Metro to Roosvelt island and took the sky lift back. The sky lift is included in the Metro pass so you don't need to pay extra for this! After we got off it was pouring rain and we hit up The MET to find some shelter. The MET wasn't that high on my list but I'm glad we went because their egyptian collection is amazing. Apart from this they have a lot of european oriented wings and a little bit of modern art. We ended up spending about an hour here before going back to our Airbnb to get ready for our dinner reservation.
Celebrating New Years 'eve in New York City sounds magical doens't it? Well it involves a lot of planning and even more spending because for some reason everything becomes 3 times as expensive. We had dinner at Estela after a friend had recommended me this place. The food itself was perfect, the shrimp might have needed a little more cooking but that aside we were blown away. The service could have been better and I feel like the lady just didn't want to waiter on this evening (well who does?). Did I mention it hadn't stopped raining ever since we went to The MET? Well it had not stopped and there was no ending in sight. After dinner we hit up a party just until 11.30pm. Now you're in New York and the clock is about to strike midnight? What do you do? Yes we did what every tourist does and we went down to hellhole Times Square to see the balldrop in the pouring rain.
The day afterTo be honest, after the ball dropped we just went straight home because we got soaking wet. Maybe this was a good thing because we had reservations to go see Lady Liberty the next day! We grabbed a bagel for breakfast and went back to Manhattan which seemed to still be sleeping. Everything seemed extra quiet, I guess people were fighting their hangovers from the night before. But not us no we're here to do more sightseeing at 10 in the morning! No four hour line for us today! We go straight through the airportlike security, get on the boat and we're off! High winds are trying to throw my phone out of my hands but I managed to keep it tight while still taking pictures. The island lady liberty is on isn't all that special but you get a very good view of Manhattan.
After this the boat takes you to Ellis Island. All this has to offer is a museum on migration (a nice hot topic this time and day of course). We strolled around for a bit before taking the boat back to the city. To be honest we could feel the alcohol from last night wearing off. So what do you do when you feel lowkey hung over and didn't get enough sleep last night? Yeah you eat, exactly! We went uptown to Little Italy to stuff our faces with spaghetti. Little Italy is in the middle of SoHo, probably the area I have enjoyed the most of manhattan. It's right in between the crazyness of the financial district and midtown, this is probably the only area of Manhattan I could see myself live if I ever wanted to work here.
Right next to Little Italy is Chinatown, we took a look around and scored some cheap souvenirs. So if you come to New York on a budget this is a must becuase you'll totally overspend if you buy stuff on or around the touristy areas. We knew we would take it easy today so we headed for The high line to see what all the fuss was about. I get that the area is probably great in spring and summer because it's basically an elevated park in the middle of the city. It's a great place to hang and just get away from all the crazy crowedness the city has to offer.
Okay six hours of sleep really wasn't enough and we're in need of some place to just sit down and have a drink. We ended up at a coffee shop to recharge ourselves and we probably spent about an hour here because when we got out it was getting dark again already. After this we still went to the Chrysler building for it's beautiful architecture and lobby. The first day of the new year is also a weird day, you don't know what will be open and what will be closed. We wanted to have dinner at a place that then was closed which was a bust so we ended up overpaying for some ravioli and salmon.
The last oneYou're probably familiar with the routine, packing, doublechecking if you got everything packed, leaving your suitcase at the airbnb for just another brief moment in the city you're in. That's exactly what we did, we went back into the city for a couple hours just to soak it all up before flying home later that day. I was thinking about getting a new Apple watch the whole time and after trying it on a couple days before I was sold so we headed down to Grand Central to get myself a brand new Apple watch series 4. As you know I didn't come to New York by myself and my friend really wanted some airpods but they seemed to be in pretty high demand. The people at Grand Central sent us down to WTC because they had a couple airpods left before selling out completly again. So we headed back down there.
Lunch was right around the corner and we needed to be back at the airbnb by two to pick up our stuff. We went to Avocado Appetit, this place sells everything avocado. We saw this on our Facebook timeline (thanks for knowing me so well Mark xoxo) before we came to New York. The place itself is super cute and everyone working here was really nice.
And that was it, we headed back to our Airbnb to pick up our suitcases, went back to JFK and flew towards a three day jetlag. New York felt surreall, it's this place you read about, you see it and you always feel like you have to go there someday. When people ask me "how was New York?" I honestly don't know how to answer, it's loud, it's bright, it's exciting but I wouldn't want to live there. Maybe that's just me, but I still prefer San Francisco over this city.
Anyways you made it to the end of my blogpost about New York. If you spot any grammatical errors feel free to point them out to me since English isn't my first language.