When planning our Costa Rica trip, it was decided that to make the most of our lovely 30 hour commute, we may as well stop in the US for a few days. It was a toss-up between San Francisco and New York City, and the latter ultimately won. We’ve both been to New York previously, but never together.
We arrived at Newark Airport in New Jersey and ensured we had our scarves and coats on before leaving the airport. We left 35°C temperatures in Costa Rica and were now facing temperatures as low as freezing. I’m glad we remembered our gloves.
Our first full day in chilly NYC was spent downtown. Our first stop was Battery Park, where we were provided with a minute view of Lady Liberty. We then headed towards the 9/11 memorials, which we had both only seen during construction. We felt a profound solace being there. We marvelled over the beautiful buildings of the financial district.
We had been outside for 20 minutes and were already frozen, so we headed to Starbucks for a coffee and bagel, in true New York fashion (so I hear). There, we defrosted and enjoyed ridiculous concoctions of coffee and sugar. Not coping well with the weather (it was only 3°C, but we’re big babies who are accustomed to warmer winters), we decided to spend the morning shopping in a toasty department store.
We intentionally sought out a fire station that was used as the Ghostbusters Headquarters. This was a pretty awesome moment in my life.
We walked a whole lot, but also used the subway a few times. There are many adventures to be had and many characters to be met on the subway.
We went back to our hotel in Hell’s Kitchen and proceeded to collapse onto our bed for a while. Later, we admired the phenomenal view of the NYC skyline from our hotel window.
We headed out again after dark to see Times Square all lit up. We had fun trying to get our faces up onto a big screen.
The following day began with a deep admiration of the exterior of the New York Public Library. I’ll be honest – this was another Ghostbusters excursion. The interior of the library was immense in size and rather elaborate. Sadly though, the famous reading room was closed off. We walked through the neighbouring Bryant Park, which was a very appealing park that we imagined would be a lovely place to spend a warm spring afternoon.
The Flatiron building was our next attraction, which is possibly one of the more strangely shaped buildings I’ve seen. Whilst in the district, we did some food shopping, notably stopping by Momufuku Milk Bar which I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time, but also to Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s, mainly to browse but also to find and claim several jars of Cookie Butter and White Chocolate Peanut Butter (all of which were cruelly confiscated by airport security on our departure!)
That night we had our first dive bar experience at Rudy’s Bar & Grill. We trialled the house beer which was surprisingly delightful. Although hideously cold, we sat outside anyway under the heavenly heater which emanated sufficient warmth and soothed the chill in our bones.
The next day’s mission was Brooklyn. Brooklyn is lovely. It’s just like Manhattan, but quieter and tidier. I could probably live there. We conquered the Brooklyn Bridge and arrived back in Manhattan after noon. We got lost under the bridge around the seedy docks, but getting lost is all part of the charm of travel. This way, we were able to encounter a picturesque view of the bridge with Brooklyn in the distant background.
Our next objective was to climb to the Top of the Rock, that is, the top of the Rockefeller Center for an apparently excellent view of the city. However, on arrival, we were advised that the viewing deck was booked out until 9pm. We decided to move on, and ended up inside the marvellously elaborate Grand Central Terminal. We spent some time people-watching. We then headed to the nearby Rockefeller ice-skating rink, where we admired what we estimated was a probable ex-Olympian figure skater showing the city her moves, twirling around and around and around. Very inspiring.
In New York City you walk for a few blocks and there’s an attraction; walk a couple more, and another attraction. Exiting the general Rockefeller area, you can see my favourite building, the Chrysler, looming it all its art-deco loveliness. Nearby is the Radio City Music Hall, and delightedly, due to the fact that the last season of Mad Men was about to air, there was a Mad Men promotional dedication across the road, just in front of the Time-Life building (where Mad Men is actually set). This included a set of faux street signs for Mad Men Av and Don Draper Way and the main attraction, a Don Draper silhouetted park bench á la the opening credits of Mad Men. We posed, and then later realised that one week earlier, Jon Hamm sat in the exact same spot as me. My jeans remain unwashed to this day.
That night we had a delightful Mexican dinner at Taqueria Tehuitzingo. We were very impressed. The same type of Mexican food in Australia is ridiculously difficult to come by, and also expensive, and here we found this lovely affordable restaurant, right near our hotel.
On our last full day in New York City (sadly), we commenced with a walk along the High Line, an old elevated train track which is now a park and pedestrian walkway which spans over 2km on top of the west side of the city. The walk provided us with unique views of the west side of town.
We ended up in West Village and enjoyed what may have been our final 99 cent pizza slice. We caught the train up north to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Unfortunately, we didn’t have sufficient time to see the entire museum, but we did manage to see all the specific artworks we were interested in. At closing time, we took a quick stroll through Central Park and took the train home to rest for a brief moment.
That night, we headed out to Graffiti Food & Wine Bar with Alex’s old boss and his partner, who live in NYC. We had a really great night, hanging out with real New Yorkers, in a very fancy, intimate restaurant, enjoying our lychee martinis. It was the perfect way to end our brief stopover in New York City.