A Weekend in New York City
It's finally time for me to take a shift away from my European adventures and mix things up with tale from my weekend in none other than NYC. I have never been more inundated with crowds of people than when I first set foot in New York City. The chaotic hustle and bustle, the noises, the lights, the scents wafting over from street vendor's carts... It truly put me into a state of sensory overload. With a population literally busting at the seams, and such a quirky range of residents, New York City guarantees you will NEVER be bored.
On my first day in New York, I targeted the Northern side of Manhattan and shortlisted a few 'must-do's' to make the most of my time. First on the list was the iconic Times Square which really was a marketing paradise. Everything is grand, bright and busy and attempting to get a photo amongst the crowds truly aged me about 10 years. While you're in Times Square be sure to stop by M&M's World to satisfy your inner child. And if, like me, you have a deeply engrained belief that blue M&M's are undisputedly tastier than the other flavours, you can customise your own bag to take home.
New York's skyline is iconic. A bird's eye view is a must to appreciate the concrete jungle and it's population of towering skyscrapers, whilst also being the only true means of appreciating the grandeur and sheer size of Central Park. The Empire State Building offers a phenomenal view of the city from it's observation deck, however there's one very iconic feature missing from the skyline- The Empire State Building. In order to really capture the 'full picture' of the city visit Top of The Rock, a 360 degree viewpoint on the 70th floor of the Rockefeller Centre. Tickets were approximately $40 USD which admittedly was a bit steep. On the flip side once you’ve reached the sky deck your time is unlimited, meaning you can take your time, appreciate the view and ensure you get some priceless pictures.
Once you've seen it from above you really MUST see what all the hype is about and visit Central Park. I'd never really 'got' Central Park- I thought it would be overrated and underwhelming. I didn't realise the park was manmade, and as a result the sounds and chaos of the city just slip away as soon as you enter the park. It really is an oasis from the city life... and absolutely ENORMOUS. I didn't quite appreciate it's size until I attempted to walk the entire length of the park, ending in me succumbing to an afternoon nap on a grassy knoll somewhere around the half way point (FYI- a surprisingly comfortable nap). Every turn exposed something new; from baseball games, to children's playgrounds, to artists… strolling through Central Park really became a fond memory and a surprising highlight of my trip.
All that walking is going to make you hungry. My boyfriend and I were hoping to see as much of the city as possible, so we booked dinner close to Harlem at funky restobar, Clay. The venue was sleek and modern with incredible food, perhaps only outdone by the masterfully crafted cocktails (Happy hour is 5.30-7pm, Monday-Friday). The overall atmosphere was also fantastic for a Friday afternoon, so if you have a chance swing by!
Now, the rest of this post is going to be plagued by should-haves and would-haves. Despite having plans to explore the other side of Manhattan the following day (even waking up early which is very much not like me) we were sidetracked by brunch. As bizarre as that sounds, we arrived at the stunning Café Medi in the lower East side of Manhattan, which serves the most scrumptious Mediterranean-fusion dishes and is decked out with intricate mosaic-tiled walls. What we didn't realise is that Café Medi also offers bottomless mimosas and bellinis for $21 per person on Saturdays. This tempting offer shifted our well thought out plans of see the two bridges, Chinatown and Soho instead toward somewhat of a day-time bar crawl. Not my finest moment but hey, we had fun and that's all that matters, right? I can highly recommend Bonnie Vee for some top-tier drinks, cosy/retro environment and super friendly staff. They even have a Photo Booth to capture your memories. Another huge positive is that the bar is conveniently located next door to CATA- an amazing Spanish tapas restaurant with reasonably priced dishes that don't compromise on taste (the little neck clams were to die for!).
A weekend truly seems all too fleeting to really capture everything New York has to offer. The iconic city has something around every corner and so much to discover, but strangely you can do so without stepping away from the crowds (not really an easy feat in a city of 8.5 million people). Maybe that's part of what makes New York so special: it's clutter and it's chaos and every person inside it makes you feel like you can do or be whoever or whatever you want- even if it's just for the weekend.