We're back! I'm happy to report that jet-lag hasn't even tried to bother me, which is a wise move on its behalf..
This was my third time in New York, second time in Boston, and first dip into New Jersey. After you've been somewhere for a month, you start to feel like you know it pretty well. This is not the case with NY. For such a small island, they've really packed in more than most cities. It would probably require a lifetime to discover all that is hiding within NY's nooks and crannies, but it'd be a marvellous adventure!
Here's a very brief rundown of some of the things that we got to experience on the NY leg of #yolotour2k14.
Places to eat:
- Xi’An Famous Foods – Cheap and tasty, and for when you’re missing your mum’s cooking/Box Hill (note: last part is only relevant to Asians). These are the type of noodles that you can taste the chewiness in. Do it.
- The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory – What an unassuming little gem! Ice cream is ice cream, but this is ice cream.
- Grimaldi’s – Pizza the size of all members of your family’s faces put together.
- Buvette – A little French restaurant that was so good that I ATE CHEESE THERE (if you know me, that’s a big deal).
- The Meatball Shop – Custom meatball dishes and ice-cream/cookie sandwiches. Enough said.
- Westville – Mexican hot chocolate. Oh, my goodness.
- La Maison du Croque Monsieur – It’s not grilled cheese; it’s an experience.
- Shake Shack - SHAKE. SHACK.
- City Bakery – GINORMOUS marshmallows. We got lucky and got to experience their Hot Chocolate Festival. It was like drinking melted chocolate.
- Wholefoods – Their ready-to-go meals are ridiculously good. With a choice of 80,000 different salads and 37 different cuisines, you’ll definitely find something that you like. If you don’t, you probably don’t like food.
- Gaonnuri – A penthouse Korean restaurant that doesn’t make your clothes and hair smell like KBBQ.
- Quality Italian – Handsdown the greatest steak I have ever eaten.
- Gray’s Papaya – “For when you’re hungry, when you’re broke, or when you’re in a hurry.” MIDNIGHT HOT DOGS AND JUICE.
- Smorgasburg (at the Brooklyn Flea Market) – Foodie paradise. I ate a ramen burger and salted caramel smores. Not together. Who do you think I am?
(A not-very-comprehensive list of) Places to shop:
- American Apparel – As you can tell, I made a few too many stops at American Apparel for some guilt-free-yet-wallet-guzzling shopping. However, it must be said that this store is my ideal. I am always on the lookout for pieces that make me look like an 80s aerobics instructor and a Scandinavian grandpa all at once, therefore American Apparel is a dream.
- Uniqlo – This shop is like the IKEA or MUJI of clothes. That basically sums it up. Ethical threads run throughout the shop, and incredible quality ties them all up together. Uniqlo already have a pop-up store in Melbourne, but they’re about to unleash their greatness at full capacity in a few months. More information later.
- Buffalo Exchange – “Didn’t you mention that in your SF post?” Yes, I did. It is the very same, except this time it had a NY flair. We picked up plenty of secondhand designer threads for less than the price of a meal.
- Paper Source – I love stationery, so this place was HEAVEN. What really topped it off was that they sold octopus tentacles for your fingers. I’m engaged to marry this store in the spring.
- The Strand Bookstore – My personalised Wonderland would have shelves upon shelves of books about everything, and then all the time in the world to read them. The Strand Bookstore is the closest thing I have encountered to Wonderland. Old, new, rare, bizarre, dusty, delicious, angry, sarcastic, sensitive, hilarious, itchy, impatient, morbidly obese – all the books are here.
- Brooklyn Flea Market – Be prepared to dig through everything. There are mountains of clothes, jewellery, furniture, books, bottle-caps, cameras, and basically anything you can think of littering the BFM level of the warehouse. You don’t have to go there already knowing what you want to buy because no doubt you’ll find everything that you want to buy without even having to try.
Things to do/see:
- Book of Mormon – Officially my favourite musical ever. Ever. Desperately wanted to see it again. Plus, we had Ben Platt (Benji from Pitch Perfect) as our Elder Cunningham. Brilliant.
- Central Park – When Central Park is covered in snow, it looks like you've entered Narnia.
- American Museum of Natural History – Be sure to set aside a whole day for this museum – it is well worth it. I learnt about all my favourite things here, and even learnt how much I would weigh in space! V cool. The planetarium is also a must.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Again, set aside a day to explore this ridiculously beautiful place. Bonus: Heaps of sculptures and works look like characters from The Mighty Boosh. Incredible.
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – Responsible for introducing me to my new creative obsession, Kandinsky.
- Houston St mural wall – This is the mural wall that was featured in this post. Apparently the mural changes quite frequently, so it’s always worth going past to see the new creative dream being displayed on there.
- Top of the Rock (at Rockefeller Center) – I would say that this is better than the top of the Empire State Building. Part of the reason is that if you’re up there to take photos, the iconic Empire State Building will actually be in your photos.
- Hillsong NYC and Connect Groups – If you’re looking for a church to attend whilst you’re in NY, look no further than Hillsong NYC. My sister and I have made some incredible friends there even after only being around for a month. The worship and teaching are out of this world, and the community is even better. Make sure you plug into a Connect Group too (they’re all over the city). Highlight of our trip.
Tips & tricks:
- Wi-Fi – When you’re travelling overseas, you become a real pro at scouting wi-fi. Here are our top picks: Starbucks, Barnes & Nobel (there are Starbucks’ in each of the stores), and Macy’s.
- NBC – We were fortunate enough to go to the test shows for Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers whilst we were in NY. Here’s how we got standby tickets: Go to the NBC shop (at Rockefeller Center) in the morning for a bit of a shop. There is usually a producer milling about, and in our case, they came up to us and offered tickets. However, if they don’t, you could probably just ask someone working ‘how’ you get tickets, and maybe they can give some to you.
- NYC Pass – If you’re doing NY for the first time, or you plan on seeing a lot of the main attractions, get your hands on a NYC Pass. You have the option of a 3-day pass or a 7-day pass amongst other deals. That will give you 3 or 7 consecutive days to smash out as many sights as you can. You’ll be exhausted, but the value is well worth it.
- Wholefoods toilet – Life tip: Don’t chuck out your Wholefoods receipts straight away; at the bottom of the docket is the door code for toilet access.
- Sephora samples – I’m indecisive and I love free stuff, therefore this little discovery was an absolute gem! If you’re unsure about what you want to buy, you can ask for samples to take home. This works for basically anything – lip colours, skincare, foundations, and EVEN fragrances amongst a million other things. Super handy.
- NY Skyride – This is less of a tip and more of an ‘Avoid’ - UNLESS you love Kevin Bacon. Otherwise, this isn’t as awesome as its supposed to be (luckily we got free admission with our NYC Passes). The one redeeming quality is that we were introduced to this incredible song:
As for Boston and New Jersey, we only spent a small amount of time in each of these places – in fact, NJ was just for dinner one night, but it was wonderful catching up with old friends. Boston was awesome for seeing high school mates, making new buddies, hanging around Berklee College of Music being in awe of everyone and pretending that I actually ended up accepting my offer, shooting for K I N G D O M . and eating cannolis. The only negative was the snow/ice being so slippery that we all almost impaled ourselves on fences and gates more than we’d care to admit.
Now, go buy yourself tickets to America post haste and have the best adventure!
P.S. NY sounds pretty good too, so to experience NY through your earholes, click here.