After spending the majority of my time in downtown Toronto for the past few years, I innately feel like the city life chose me. I’ve found an appeal for eventfulness and buzzing city energy. I want to go somewhere after our final undergrad exams, I told a friend. Here’s a short glimpse to some of our NYC trip.
15 hours after my last exam, the nth period of sleepless nights, condensed stress, and the new found appreciation for caffeine, it was boarding time. Looking forward to new experiences in the next several days, I squealed with excitement on the inside. A diverse environment with hidden gems, local quirks, enchanting outdoor spaces, infamous attractions is what I came for and what I encountered.
I sat in the bustling shuttle ride with other out-of-state American visitors from Chicago, Phoenix and Dallas. I loved the southern twang some of them spoke with. First stop was Grand Central where I met Avalon in the bigger-than-life Apple Store. You should not be amazed, Helen. It is 2015. We grabbed lunch in the food court before heading out.
As an occasional voyeur on CoachSurfing (never surfed, never hosted) for the past year, I found out about the weekly NYC meet up. So that’s how we spent out first night out, at Solas mingling with locals and other travelers.
Our bare travel plan was more than enough. There were way too many things and too little time. Both a plus and minus of NYC. We kept room for flexibility each day while defining some key spots we wanted to see in different neighbourhoods.
Stopping at a local cafe for a morning cup of joe and ready for another day. It was chilly for April and I forgot my beanie at home. This random men’s hat from ForeverXXI saved me from catching a cold for the next few days.
1. I heart the hundreds of smoothie/juice joints. Literally, almost every street in Manhattan has some sort of healthy beverage shop. Love. At. First. Sight.Malcolm from Liquiteria even gave us a free smoothie after we chatted. Thank you, you made our day!
2. I heart Central Park. Be ready with a map if you don’t know your way around! Oh what I would give to have another day to explore the urban oasis.
Our visit at the end of April was perfect timing for the blossoming trees!Soak up the sun with a bit of morning yoga. Why not 🙂
3. I heart the High Line Park. Located on the west end. It is a must-see! Plan ahead and spend the morning or afternoon walking through. It’s hard to see the beautiful greenery in the evening, but it would be perfect for a romantic stroll or some good quality time with yourself.
We stopped by an Italian restaurant that we spotted while suspended above the city streets.
4. I heart Little Italy. It was a cozy borough filled with restaurants and little shops. You might also meet authentic Italian tourists who want to take pictures together. (Hugs are still welcomed)
5. You already knew it. I heart Times Square. From how she is portrayed on videos and on TV, I was led to believe it was a massive space. Though it is not much bigger than Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto. Although it’s small, there is so much to see on the surrounding streets. Super-sized retail stores – the Disney store, a 4-floored Forever XXI, flashing billboards, Broadway shows and more await you.
6. I heart Bryant Park. There is never a shortage of beautiful public spaces in NYC when you are traveling by foot. Take a seat and rest your feet. Some seating areas even have outlets to charge your devices.
7. I heart Kinokuniya Bookstore. Also conveniently located beside Bryant Park. It has an assortment of Japanese and English material. Head downstairs for the Japanese books, magazines and stationary that will keep you browsing for hours.
8. I heart Chelsea Market at 15th Ave and 10th Ave. Also conveniently nearby the High Line. There are so many different things to see and eat here. Sweet or savoury, packaged snacks or sit-down-meals, local or imported, you will find whatever your heart desires.
9. I heart NYC’s ABC Restaurant Grading System. Av and I both felt shamelessly nerdy for loving this food inspection score method. Even though it does not mean a perfect evaluation in all cases, who doesn’t like seeing a huge A on the door?
10. I heart mobile Green Carts. Actually I’m not sure if the stands I saw around Manhattan were designated Green Carts and I didn’t get much info from the vendor I spoke with. Regardless, the initiative that gives the public greater accessibility to fresh fruits and vegetables brings a smile to my face. Public health nutrition is a huge interest of mine. If you want to know more about the Green Cart initiative Gotham Gazette’s article will give you some solid background info.
11. I heart the funky graffiti and posters scattered around the city. And this beautiful creature that came back from the past.This time around I wanted to the see city in its bare glory more than anything. For the people, the culture and the atmosphere rather than the iconic tourist sites such as the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Centre, Empire State Building and so on. I would definitely love to see those sites another time when there is more time.
I can see why people fall in love with this city. Also, everyone was more than willing to help us when we were lost and needed directions. This was partly surprising. Possibly due to notorious stereotypes of New Yorkers. People were open to conversation and we were among the thousands of daily tourists so we definitely didn’t feel like black sheep.
With much more to see, catch you next time NYC.