New York - Take Two.
Our trip to New York seems like ages ago now and I appreciate that with Christmas in just a few short sleeps, this will seem like a fairly unseasonal post! I promised myself I'd share some pictures and our favourite things before December 25th, so here we go. Just in the nick of time!
Our trip this time felt very different to our last one (back in January 2015 - which you can read about here.) For a start we didn't stay in Manhattan but instead, in the apartment of some very kind friends over the water in Brooklyn. While they went upstate for a holiday we were able to pretend that NYC was home for a few days. It was so much more relaxing than staying in a hotel and we got to enjoy some child free chill out. Despite all the highlights you'll read below, one of the standout memories was simply sitting in our pyjamas in their lounge most mornings, eating bagels and drinking coffee from the corner shop a block away. I'll tell you, if nothing else the $2 combo saved us a fortunate on swanky brunches out!
Thankfully we got to catch up with our kind hosts (who I originally met through Instagram!!) on our last night, to thank them in person. Aside from lending us a whole apartment, their little tips and insights gave us such a special trip. Some of the those are mentioned below and other things listed are thanks to Sam's extensive research before we went. I've tried to keep it simple but, if you're planning a trip, and want to get in touch about anything we did then please feel free to drop me a line.
I hope you enjoy reading.
Take the subway! - I probably mentioned this in my last NY post but it's really so simple. We each bought a $30 7 day pass at the airport and this covered all our transport while we were there. I'm sure that because the yellow cab is such an icon of New York that some people think it's 'how' you should travel, but they're super expensive and the usual city traffic makes it slow to get around too. For me the best form of transport though is on foot. So....
Walk as much as you can. - This is probably our favourite thing to do in the city (apart from eat and drink obviously) and is the best way to get a feel for it. So next tip...
Take an empty extra suitcase. - It just makes life easier! We had no intention of doing much shopping but forgot that we WOULD want to buy food to bring home. Oh Trader Joes! We also inevitably bought a few clothes and ended up having to weigh our cases to double check our baggage allowance.
Places we ate:
- Julianas - Brookyln - best pizza in the city We went here last time and couldn't resists stopping in for a quick lunch. The history behind this small restaurant and it's owner Patsy Grimaldi (founder of the famous 'Grimaldis' is brilliant.
- Decoy - Greenwich Village. Recommended by our hosts as having the best whole duck in New York. It was definitely on the pricier end of the meals out but was hands down the best Peking duck I've ever eaten.
- La Esquina - Soho. Authentic Mexican food. The front of the restaurant looks like a narrow Mexican café/diner. However through a door, down steep stairs and through the kitchen, lay a tequila and Mexican brasserie. The tables were crammed, the music was loud and the food was INCREDIBLE.
- Fette Sau - Brooklyn. Barbeque, Beer and Bourbon and the perfect way to get to know new friends (from Manchester) that we met at the Brooklyn Brewery Sunday afternoon tour.
- Ivan Ramen- East Village. Sam watched a Netflix 'Chef's table about this ramen restaurant months before we went and it was top of his list for a lunch visit. You can't book a table here so we headed over early doors to be one of the first in line for a table. Ivan Orkin is such an interesting person, I'd definitely recommend a watch of the documentary if you haven't seen it. It'll have you wanting to book a flight just to go eat ramen!
- DeKalb Food Hall - Brooklyn. I could have eaten here every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was also recommended by our hosts and was only about 5 minutes walk from their apartment. Tucked away in an unassuming building, this underground food market had food stalls from everything from paella and tacos, to ice cream and barbque food. IT. WAS. AMAZING. The fact that it also had a Trader Joes and Target (two staple shop stops for a US visit) also helped!
- Chelsea Market. A favourite place for us last time. We didn't stay as long this time as we knew EXACTLY where we were headed - the fish chowder stall. I'll say no more.
Where we drank:
- The Dead Rabbit - Wall Street. Voted as the best bar in the world for the last two years. We stopped in here on our last day after a late afternoon stroll in the Park. The cocktails were STRONG and the eaves dropping opportunities from locals popping in from work provided good entertainment. Last time we went in on an evening and enjoyed a live Irish band. Next time we'll venture up to the second floor to 'The Palor' for cocktails and sliders.
- Brooklyn Brewery Tour. We're both big fans of this lager, so when we found out that they did free tours at the weekend we couldn't resist. The tour was really good, laid back and only about half an hour or so. We finished it with a few pints in the beer hall where , met new friends and began a funny and unexpected night out. I love it when that happens!
- Top of The Standard for sunset cocktails. The view from the top floor of the Standard Hotel in the Meat Packing District was amazing. We'd booked a table for this just after sunset -rooky error that we didn't book it just a little earlier. The sky was ablaze though and the views looking down the city skyline were like something from a classic New York film.
Where we went:
- Around and around and around on foot. Strolling through West Village and the residential streets in Brooklyn has got to be one of my favourite things. Some of the houses were stunning, most of them dressed up for Halloween and it all felt so much quieter than the bustle of 5th avenue. Give me cobbled streets and red brick any day of the week!
- The Highline. We opted not to walk this on our last trip (a very cold January) but am so glad we did it this time as it was absolutely STUNNING. This elevated park runs along the line of an old railway and gives glimpses into buildings and views down the streets it runs along, whilst being the most peaceful place to stop and take a breath. I would really recommend this for anyone visiting and will definitely go back - next time with a coffee or lunch so we can spend hours sitting and people watch.
- Central Park. I LOVE this park. It's so enormous that despite wandering around it for hours both times we've visited, we've barely covered it. This time we stopped along the way and just lay on park benches in the sunshine. Narrowly avoiding a snooze we picked ourselves up and enjoyed a few drinks in the bar beside the rowing lake. Another great spot for people watching!
- Brooklyn Flea Market. We stumbled across this by accident on the Sunday morning we were there. Tucked in, right underneath the Brooklyn bridge the market was bustling with interesting vintage stalls with everything from woven baskets to linen, homeware, cd's and sunglasses. Sam was clock watching to get to the Brewery Tour when we found this gem so time was limited. Next time! (and I'll remember to pack the extra suitcase.)
- Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour. We made this tour by the skin of our teeth after Sam sweet talked a security guard at the ENDLESS queue to get aboard the Statue of Liberty ferry. We stupidly hadn't anticipated that we'd need to go through 'airport style security' to go, so totally had to queue jump to make our boat to get us to the island on time. It was WELL worth the minor panic though as the crossing gave us a great view of the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline. The tour itself was the 'alternative' / sign a waiver form type of tour and we had strict instructions not to take off our hard hats for the duration. Our guide (an enthusiastic 21 year old actress) took us around the old hospital buildings that were used whilst Ellis Island was the central Immigration Centre. The stories and history about that time were so fascinating and we got to walk through the dilapidated old hospital buildings - hence the hard hats. Thankfully our guide left the ghost stories til last!
It's safe to say that New York has captured out hearts. We absolutely love it! It's our 10 year wedding anniversary next year and a return trip is most definitely on the cards. If you've been, I'd love to hear your top tips and favourite places to eat and drink!