Bitting into the Big Apple – Part II

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” 
― Tom Wolfe

Just over a year ago, I was perpetually the person who would get excited over a book where the protagonist had just moved to New York, or a TV show based in the city or basically just anything to do with NEW YORK. I sometimes find it hard to believe that I have been living in the city for seven months now. Seven glorious months. Every time I walk out of the Roger Smith (the hotel I live and work at), I am lucky to be welcomed by the stunning sight of the Chrysler, by the bustling street with all the hustlers, with the Halal stand that we should not have such easy access to, and I could just go on. Just being hit by the vibe of the city on a daily basis is fulfilling.

I am always worried that I am not exploring enough or getting the full New York experience. But what I have come to realize is that being caught up in how overwhelming it can be, or how pressurizing it can be to check a ton off things off, I am missing out on sharing the things I actually have done and are worth a mention (and it was high time I got over my writer’s block and did something about it!)

So dear readers, here are a few of my favourite things about the city that has grown to become an emotion:

  1. Smogasburg

          As if the food trucks and endless restaurants were’t enough, New York also hosts one of the biggest open air food markets called Smogasburg. It gives individuals and groups a chance to showcase their culinary talents, experimenting with different food; and gives all of us the chance to keep eating more good food! Over the course of the weekend, it takes place in three different locations:

Friday’s – World Trade Center (11 am – 5 pm)

Saturday’s – Williamsburg , East River State Park (11 am – 6 pm)

Sunday’s – Prospect Park , breeze Hill ( 11 am – 6 pm)

Combining spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline with exotic food like fluffy pancakes and ramen pizza, I would choose Saturday’s for the complete Smogasburg experience.

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Smogasburg: For your mandatory instagram posts

2. Albertine 

    One of my fellow trainees, Marina (always with the best recommendations), had told me about a book store that I had to check out. Housed in the official landmark building – the Payne Whitney Mansion, Albertine only enhances the Upper East Side experience along with having close proximity to Central Park and the MET.

As if it weren’t enough that books transport you to a parallel universe, Albertine goes the extra mile of creating a conducive environment to ensure you enter that magical world.

 

I had a tough time concentrating on books because I got carried away by how beautiful the store was. The ceiling observed in the pictures above, was hand painted and is modeled after the ceiling of the music room in Villa Stuck in Munich. Albertine also happens to be the only bookstore in New York that offers French books. All you book worms out there, you know where to head in New York! 

3. Belvedere Castle 

Dear Mortals, 

 After months of  walking back and forth between Lexington and 5th and through the thick and thin of Central Park, battling the urge to capture cute dogs on their walk, bracing the cold and the hot, I finally made it, I have conquered my quest to make it to the top of the Belvedere. I am here now, watching over you as I see the city shining brighter than ever. 

Sincerely, 

Overly Obsessive New Yorker

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Considering how much I romanticize everything, it is safe to say I was set out to conquer my castle in New York City. True to its nature, this castle was not an easy one. After three attempts to try and get in, twice with an entourage, and once as a one man army, I failed, not because I wasn’t worthy of it, but because it was……..being reconstructed.

The day that I went to check out Albertine, the store was closed for lunch, so I had about an hour to kill. I was an explorer on a mission. True to my millennial explorer roots, I took out the only tool in my possession: Smart Phone with Google Maps. Once I had chosen the Explore nearby option, I had to read the name thrice to confirm that I it was indeed Belvadere Castle that I was looking at; ten minutes from where I was. But I was not going to be foolish this time, I looked up articles to make sure the castle was open (Thank you, Time Out, New York).

Oh, what a great feeling it was, to see the Belvedere, stand tall, showing off, nonchalant amongst the skyscrapers.

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The viewing deck at the top of the castle offers panoramic views of Central Park. It is a great spot for children and adults alike, and for romantics like me, it is just another way to live our imaginations.

A big thanks to my main girl Simran Mehta for the best recommendations, always!

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4. Governor’s Island

     If you ever catch yourself feeling bored in New York, you are not doing something right. If the city in itself wasn’t enough, Governor’s Island, formerly used for military installations during the American Revolutionary War, is  now open to the public to have a day filled with activities. From renting a surrey to relaxing on a hammock, Governor’s Island is the picnic spot you did not know you needed. Approximately 800 yards from Manhattan, the round trip costing $3 from Pier 11/ Wall Street Station is a 7 Minute ferry ride. I would recommend carrying some food and anything (Frisbee, Football, Board Games) you might enjoy with the company you are going with.

And like me, if you never get tired of the Manhattan skyline, this is yet another place that will give you abundance of those spectacular views!

 

Our totally epic ride!

 

 

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If riding the surrey wasn’t enough workout, taking this miniature hike is totally worth it!

5. NYPL + Bryant Park 

    If there is a place in New York that I will never get tired of going, it would be the Rose Main Reading Room (pictured below(R) )  at the New York Public Library (I know, of all things?!) It’s the space where I find my calm, gives me space for my writing and doodling and for those of you who may not know, Christopher Robin’s real toys that shot to popularity with Winnie The Pooh, have found a home at the NYPL (the excitement was very real guys!) When I walk out of the library I tend to walk to Bryant Park which is right next to it (and every cell inside me tries to control the urge to walk through the park to go to Whole Foods).

 

I feel Bryant Park deserves a lot more credit than it gets. Movie Nights in Bryant Park is a HELL YES! To make the experience more fancy, you have wine offered by Chandon (and comfy pillows that come with it: Stole a couple for my room..Sshh…) And excellent spot to catch the sunset and the insane colors that New York transforms into!

P.S. Ideal date spot 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bitting into the Big Apple – Part I

“I Smile because New York City Happened to Me”

-Anonymous

In his Netflix special, Trevor Noah starts by saying “New York! New York! New York!” I often find tend to mimic this randomly on the street, either to myself or to the people next to me. Having completed quarter of a year in the city, it was inevitable that I do a post on all that the unstoppable city has to offer.

Meet you at 50th and Broadway! 

When you first step into the city, all those numbers and avenues can be slightly overwhelming. To those who are new to the city or are yet to visit, here is a breakdown of how the streets and avenues work:

The streets run East to West while the avenues run North to South. 

As you move northward, the street numbers start to ascend. To give you a better idea, 1st street starts at Greenwich Village and the city goes up to 220th Street which is Inwood Section.

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Avenues use a mix of numbers and names. For instance, the hotel I work at Roger Smith is located in 47th and Lexington. Confusing right?

Besides the avenues that are numbered, Lexington, Park and Madison Avenues, run between the 3rd and 5th Avenues.

Fifth Avenue is Manhattan’s central dividing line.  Streets running to its east are titled “east” (i.e. East 46th St), and to its west are titled “west” (i.e. West 46th Street).

Street address numbers begin at Fifth Avenue, and increase as they move outward (the higher the number, the farther to the east or west).

6th Ave. is also called Avenue of the Americas. There can also be other variations that one will notice across the city. For instance:

Broadway, one of Manhattan’s oldest thoroughfares (and the world’s longest) runs perpendicularly as it progresses north from the tip of Manhattan up into the Bronx.  As it criss-crosses the straight avenues, it creates large, open intersections (Union Square, Madison Square, Herald Square, Times Square, Columbus Circle, etc.) (For more information, check out: https://www.walksofnewyork.com/blog/manhattan-streetsmarts).

A to the Q to the R; 4, 5 , 6, maybe even 7? 

Subways, tubes, metros, across the world work differently. Some go by zones, some by color coded lines, some more complex than the others. When in New York, always pay attention to the numbers and letters even though the different lines are color coded.

To help you understand better, lines 4, 5 and 6 are all green lines, but they all take you to different destinations. Hence, it is very important to check the number or in some cases the alphabet of the subway you want to take.

The other important aspect of New York Subway is: Uptown or Downtown.

As you go towards lower street numbers, you will be taking the subway that goes Downtown, and vise versa for Uptown.

Simple right? (There’s always your best friend, Google Maps)

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Purchasing a Metro Card:

Unlike London where you can switch between the Oyster Card, or credit/debit cards and Contactless, New York Subway still requires a Metro Card. They can be bought at vending machines at most stations and can be refilled as and when needed. Any trip costs $2.75, whether it is one stop or 50. If you are taking the Path Trains to New Jersey, it is an additional $2.75 and $5 if you are taking the Air Train from Jamaica Center to JFK Airport.

As of a month ago, some stations have installed contactless and Apple Pay (and made my heart swell). However, you still need to carry the metro card to avoid having to purchase more.

As I used the Subway only over the weekends, I don’t have the special monthly passes or the unlimited ones. These too can be bought depending on your requirements.

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Once you get the hang of the subway, it is convenient to move around the city. However, no better way to explore New York than on foot!

Now that we have explored navigating through the city, here’s a list of my top picks on what to do in the city!

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Parks and Recreation 

The beauty of this city lies in the access to numerous parks. From Prospect Park in Brooklyn to Central Park in Manhattan, they all deserve the same kind of love. One of my favourite things to do is walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, head towards the famous photo spot in Dumbo (for all your instagram worthy pictures) and then head to Brooklyn Bridge Park for the most stunning views of the skyline.

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Bryant Park is another favorite for  relaxed afternoon of eating good food and catching up on reading.

One understands the hype around Central Park only after visiting. What I have come to realize is that never have I been to the same spot more than twice. Each time I go to Central Park, I end up at a new place, and it gives me the satisfaction of having witnessed another piece of New York. Don’t miss Bethesda fountain! I hope that soon enough, I can share some secret and specials spots at the park!

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And if there’s one park I have gone on almost every weekend is Washington Square Park. I ended up going very often to check out the famous N.Y. Dosas run by a Sri Lankan man for over twenty years. On two occasions I returned because the line would have lasted for nearly three hours. But thanks to that , I stumbled upon a Kathi roll place and satisfied my inner Desi with a Paneer Roll!

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Chasing the Skyline

Can one ever truly get enough of the those magnificent structures standing tall, owning the world?

  1. Brooklyn Barge or NYC Transmitter Park
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By far the best one I have seen! There is a reason why I am an aspiring Brooklyn Girl ❤

2. Pier C Park, Hoboken, New Jersey

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Manhattan clearly prefers a Hello from the other side!

3.Staten Island Ferry

 

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4. Brooklyn Bridge

 

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One can never get enough of this epic walk and spectacular views!

5. Rooftops!

 

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Find someone who knows someone, who knows someone with access to private rooftops 😉

 

 

 

6. Top of the Rock

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If like me, you would match rather see the Empire State than the view from the Empire State, I would recommend going to Top of the Rock, the viewing deck at the Rockefeller Center. The 360 degree views are unbeatable and don’t miss the sunset!

7. Penthouse at the Roger Smith Hotel 😉

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Salut! To the fabulous four months in New York! Leaving you with the view I am grateful to be able to witness each day!

Let me know in the comments below what you would like to see covered in Part II!