Thursday, October 13, 2011

New York has other things besides food. HUH?

You'd be forgiven for thinking that my New York holiday was all about the food...and mostly you'd be right. But in between all the chowing down we did a bit of sightseeing, you know to work up an appetite.

I thought I'd do a short, non-food related blog post (shock horror) in case any of my 12 readers are interested in what else NYC has to offer.

One the first two days of our trip we boarded the embarrassingly touristy, but seriously great for lazy people like moi, big red bus and toured the sights of The Big Apple from the comfort of our seat on the top of the double-decker bus.  I really love these Hop-On Hop-Off buses as you get to see an entire city in a short space of time. It let's you get your bearings and for me always highlights areas I want to go back and explore further (or really it helps me identify the areas where good eats are)!

Top deck is best - just don't stand up or you'll loose your head on a traffic light. Ouch
Because I LOVE bus tours and because I LOVE food the Slice of Brooklyn Tour was right up my alley.  I mean how could anyone pass up a tour of Brooklyn stopping at some famous Pizza restaurants (oh and you see some areas of Brooklyn that have featured in famous movies - but seriously who cares, where's my pizza)?  We also had a quick stopover at Coney Island - wish I hadn't had so much pizza as I would've jumped on the roller-coaster. Weeeee.

Hello Brooklyn, how you doin'?
Best part of this tour, jumping the LONG queue at Grimaldi's
Grimaldi's - packed to the rafters after being open for 5 minutes
That's no normal ferris wheel folks - look closely and you'll see the carriages "drop". Eep
I don't know about you but the thought of lining up for over 4 hours to hop on a boat to go and see the Statue of Liberty is my idea of hell! Pure Hell!  Especially when you can jump on the FREE Staten Island Ferry which goes right past this green goddess...and at the ferry terminal on Staten Island is a newsagent with a Starbucks outlet that has a damn fine Red Velvet Cupcake. 

All aboard...
Ta da...there she is!

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is something that I REALLY wanted to do on my last trip but just didn't get around to it. I made sure we had time on this visit and I'm so glad we did this as it is an AMAZING thing to do (and it's free too). The views from the bridge are spectacular and the walk is quite short so it didn't interfere to much with my hectic eating schedule.

Look I think it's pretty obvious that I have a slight addiction to tours. In my defense though the 3 hour Circle Line cruise around Manhattan is a MUST do! There is nothing quite like seeing the island from the water - the buildings look massive, and the perspective you get of the skyline is really something else.  The tour of the island also takes you right up to the tippy top of Manhattan - somewhere most tourists really don't venture.

On my last visit to NYC I spotted this weird little residential island in the East River called Roosevelt Island.  So what I hear you say. Well, you can access the island by cable car - all for the measly sum of $2.25 of your MetCard.  I'm SO there!  Roosevelt Island used to house a Small Pox Hospital, Mental Asylum, various other hospitals and so on, but nowadays it seems like a nice little place to live. I seriously fell in love with this place. And if you're not into a cable car commute to work there is a subway station on the island AND a bridge connecting it to Queens. When can I move in?

View of Roosevelt Island from my beloved cable car
Something else that is REALLY worth doing is visiting the Highline Park in the Meatpacking District. This park sits atop an old elevated railway track and you catch some magnificent views of the area as you meander along (with the crowds). We bought some goodies along with us (from Magnolia Bakery and the market at Grand Central Station) and found a spot to have a picnic and watch the world go by.

View for The Highland - you can see the tippy top of the Empire State Building
Join the crowds and shuffle along The Highland - excellent fun!
Of course a trip to New York isn't complete without a visit to that other famous park - Central Park. I think you could spend days wandering along the meandering paths in this huge green expanse, but we whizzed through in about 2 hours - making sure we saw The Boathouse where Carrie and Mr Big fell into The Pond. Central Park is beautiful and if I was ever lucky enough to live in New York I'd want an apartment right near the park (after I win the lottery that is)...or on Roosevelt Island - I can't decide.

The Boathouse - no Big or Carrie today, just loads of dudes making their ladies row the boat...WTF?
Probably my favourite area in Manhattan was NoLiTa (aka North of Little Italy).  To me the area felt a bit like Surry Hills - leafy streets, great little boutiques and cafes...and best of all it was the home of the great Tacombi cafe we went to. This is the area that really captured the essence of New York to me, quirky, arty, up & coming...each area is different ofcourse - Chinatown, Lower East Side, SoHo, Greenwich Village, Upper East and West Sides all have a different vibe, but NoLiTa really did it for me. Love!

When I wasn't being chauffeured around by private bus or boat I joined the throngs of locals and hopped on the Subway - it's probably the quickest way to get from Point A to Point B in NYC, though the buses aren't too bad really (at least the drivers stop and let you in unlike our lovely Sydney bus-drivers). We just bought a MetCard for the public transport and you can top it up at any ticket machine when you're getting low.

Mind the gap peeps.
Of course a trip to New York wouldn't be complete without seeing a Broadway Show. We bought our tickets online prior to leaving Australia as I couldn't be bothered wasting precious hours lining up at the cheap tickets booth in Times Square just to see what cheap theater tickets we could get. We ended up seeing a really GREAT show "How to succeed in business without really trying" staring Mr Harry Potter himself. And of course dinner and a show wouldn't be complete without the dinner part. We lucked upon a GREAT little Japanese joint called Kodama Sushi right opposite our theater (I knew I'd not be able to write an entire post without sneaking into something about food - I tried, I really did).

It's Harry Potter...with an American accent.
Let the show begin (we're in the 2nd back row - fancy).

And last by but no means least we visited the site of the World Trade Center. I lost two friends in the Bali bombings years ago, so being at a place where over 3000 people lost their lives to terrorism also is very moving. The area is still a huge building site, but very moving none-the-less. American flags don the half-built Freedom Tower and throngs of builders buzz around the site protected by machine gun wielding military people and police. The whole area is sombre, yet a hive of activity at the same time. Although the reflection pool memorials are now finished you cannot go into the WTC site to see them unless you've made a booking - you need to pay a fee to see the pools and I believe it is booked out about 4 months in advance. We did head up to the second floor of the Winter Garden where we could peak at the pools, and also to the church that served as a base for workers and families during the months after the attacks is worth a visit.

Looking over the memorial pools from The Winter Garden.
Photos of lost loved ones at the church - heart wrenching to see, but these people aren't forgotten which is nice
And for anyone heading to NYC and wondering what area to stay in, we bedded down in an area called Murray Hill - just south of East Midtown.  It was a GREAT area, quite residential, so loads of cafes, restaurants, little clothes shops, street food vendors...and it's right near The Empire State Building and Grand Central Station.  What more could you want, besides a Shake Shack Cheeseburger and a Compost Cookie?

Grand Central has a food court you know!

So there you have it - a post not really about food.  Now, what's for dinner.


  1. GOD i looooove this city! I'd be back there in a heart beat. I can't wait to read your food post!!

  2. Looks amazing! I would love to go to NYC! One day...

  3. Loads of great memories for me!

    Visiting Liberty and Ellis Island is really cool, but you have to get there early to avoid the queues in summer.

    I wish I'd known about The Highland before I went as I'd have love to have been while I lived there.

    Glad you liked Murray Hill as that was my old suburb and you can see my desk in that photo of the MetLife building!

  4. i have never been to NYC so it is awesome to see your shots, i'd love to visit oneday and walk that bridge it seems. i love tours too. i saw an arial shot of central park on a movie, was shocked at how big it was.

  5. What a holiday, but you still managed to squeeze some sushi on this post :) It's a pity you couldn't get to the WTC site, it would have been quite an experience.

  6. reading your NYC posts made me realise that i really miss NY and want to go back!!!! great post! love the photos!

  7. You can't beat one of those red buses to show you all the important sites in one go.

    Looks like and awesome holiday :)

  8. so i gotta ask, what was the pricing of the food like ? more in reference to the previous post.

  9. Naww, I love a day tour but I'm a geeky tourist like that. I can't wait to visit NY!

  10. Ahh the memories, I <3 NYC. Looking forward to more posts heading our way.

  11. Looks like you had a fun trip! No shortage of cool things to do in NYC!

  12. great shots & welcome back :)

  13. OH WOW!! love your pics! I've never been to NYC.. but now I'm really determined to go in the near future! Looks like you had a fun time! :)

  14. No one in NYC calls a MetroCard a "MetCard."


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