One of the key reasons I started this blog was to share my personal travel experiences. New York as a travel destination is nothing new. Like London, there are several layers to this city and the more time you spend here, more is revealed in front of you.
This post captures part of my trip to this fabulous city. When most people heard that we were going away for nine days, their first reaction was – what will you do for nine days, it’s too long!? Well, as we discovered, even after nine days we had barely skimmed the surface.
First things first: New York is an exciting but expensive city. If you think London is expensive, New York is a whole other level. Whilst the price tag looks deceptively low on most things, once you factor in a weaker Pound, add the Sales Tax and the 15% to 20% tip, it is not so cheap anymore. So carry a lot of dosh with you before you get across the pond.
I have written this post in the form of an itinerary which we followed during our trip, but you can of course mix and match according to your convenience. For more detailed New York Food and Drinks recommendations, you can read my other blog here.
We landed mid-afternoon on Friday and headed straight to our hotel – the fabulous Box House Hotel in Brooklyn. A former factory turned boutique hotel, the interior design is full of bright colours and quirky art pieces.
They don’t have an in-house restaurant but the resident bar Brooklyn Lantern does a limited food menu and has a good collection of domestic craft beers, matched by friendly service.
But if it’s food that you are after, nearby Manhattan Avenue has plenty of cafes, bars and family-run restaurants. We had our first meal of the trip at Ria Bella, which made some delicious and decent-sized thin crust pizzas and had friendly, welcoming service.
First morning in NYC and we were pretty excited to explore the city. But first, coffee! Our first cafe discovery was Champion Coffee, which came complete with minimalist Scandi vibes, great coffee and even better WiFi. We opted for a brunch of Egg Sandwich and Avocado Toast to power ourselves through the day.
Post brunch, we headed towards Williamsburg, a trendy area of Brooklyn that boasts amazing cafes, bars and restaurants. The highlight of that day was definitely Smorgasburg, America’s biggest open food market which is open on weekends only. Indeed, this should be on every foodie’s must-visit list to NYC. We tried some amazing food, including the epic Lobster Noodles from Lobsterdamus, my first Arrosticini from D’Abruzzo and Whole Grilled Squid from Yakisoba NYC. Most vendors take credit cards but it’s best to carry some cash with you.
After an epic foodie afternoon in Brooklyn, we crossed into Manhattan via Williamsburg Bridge to digest all of that grub. It was a strenuous but doable walk, made much easier with a few bar stops on the way.
Our final sight-seeing destination for the evening was the Flatiron Building, before ending the night with dinner at Eataly. Eataly is a sprawling Italian-themed high-end supermarket and dining destination and is a must for anyone visiting NYC. I believe it is also coming to London in 2020.
After a quick caffeine stop at Sweetleaf NYC, we took the subway to Grand Central Terminal. We spent a few hours in this landmark location, admiring the iconic high ceilings and the main concourse, which has been a famous backdrop in many Hollywood and Bollywood movies.
Lunch was at Russ and Daughters Cafe, followed by a stroll around another NYC landmark – Central Park. It is like an oasis within the city where people go to escape when the buzz gets too much to handle.
It also offers fabulous views of the New York city skyscrapers.
Today, we headed towards the Statue of Liberty. We had already booked our tickets to Liberty Island a day in advance to avoid queues. Bear in mind, these were just for access to the Island. Access tickets to the Crown and Pedestal tickets get sold out months in advance; something we didn’t know and therefore we recommend that you plan accordingly. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a misadventure as there was a fire on the island and everyone had to be evacuated, so we didn’t get to see much. Thankfully, we were safe and our tickets were refunded.
After lunch, we headed towards Rockefeller Centre in midtown Manhattan, a collective of retail, offices, restaurants and bars. Here we stopped for couple of rounds of cocktails before heading for a midnight stroll in Times Square.
Partway through the trip, we decided to head out of NYC to check out Washington DC. It is only 3.5 hours on an Amtrak train, leaving from Penn Station, and is a great day out to see some of the landmark buildings of America’s capital. This city is now becoming a foodie destination in itself. Lots of well-known NYC restaurants are opening up a branch here (we assume it’s due to cheaper rent) so perhaps next time we will make an exclusive trip to DC only.
For the rest of my NYC adventures, stay tuned for Part 2 of my blog…