Place #18: New York City, New York

Have you been looking forward to this post? Because I’m thinking that I should have written it last week when it was all fresh in my head. But I spent this week trying (and mostly failing) to catch up on the sleep that I didn’t get while we were traveling to/from NYC. And so now we’re here. Technically some of the things that I’m going to tell you about are from week 17, but I figured you’d want to hear about the whole trip. Photos will be posted on Facebook and Instagram, so there won’t be any in this post.

Friday

Once we finally made it to NYC on Friday, we set out for downtown Manhattan. We got off the subway at Grand Central Station and spent a little bit of time exploring there. It was easy to see the similarities in layout between Grand Central Station and Union Station in Toronto, except for the fact that Union is covered scaffolding and half blocked off. We also popped by the whisper arch, which is an intersection of tunnels where sound travels from corner to corner really well. If you have a friend stand in the opposite corner and speak into the wall, it sounds like the walls are whispering to you. I was skeptical of how well it would work and the first time Emily and I tried, we couldn’t hear anything. But then we spoke a little louder (I took the ‘whisper’ aspect a little too seriously) and it really works. It’s a little spooky. And you look like an idiot such a tourist standing in a corner facing the wall.

On our way to find food, we stopped by the NBC Studios Store and walked through Times Square and a bit of Central Park. We got lunch at a place called Le Pain Quotidien. I had a very fancy and tasty breakfast sandwich and a giant chocolate chip cookie larger than my face (oversized food would go on to become bit of a theme over the weekend).

Then we went to the Frick Collection, which is a mansion that houses an art collection. The house was almost more impressive to me than the art (sorry, art). The house had a indoor garden room with a fountain and statues. But there were some paintings by Rembrandt which were so cool to see.

We stopped into St Peter’s Cathedral when walking around. It was stunning, as I think all cathedrals are. It reminded me of England. It’s also a huge cathedral. Then we got soft pretzels from a cart on the street, cause why not? (stop #2 on the oversized food tour).

We went to the MoMA on Friday evening because you can get in for free. Which is awesome! But everyone else in New York also thinks it’s awesome and so it’s very busy. But it was sweet to see so many pieces of work that I learned about in art class. I know I’ve said the same thing about museums before, but the MoMA definitely takes the prize for the most pieces of work I know in one place. My highlight was seeing Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. There was a huge crowd in front of it and nothing but one lone security guard standing between them and the painting. A very different situation from the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. I was surprised at how different it looks in real life. There is so much more colour when you see it in person! Other highlights include works by Mondrian, Picasso, Pollock, and Monet.

We finished the evening with some snacks from the dining concourse at Grand Central Station before heading home. I’m shocked at how not tired I was considering I had basically been up since 2am with a couple short naps thrown in there.

Saturday

We started our day off with some amazing bagels from a bakery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I got an everything bagel with sun-dried tomato and basil cream cheese. It was basically 50% bagel, 50% cream cheese. We ate them along the coastline looking onto Manhattan Island. We walked along the shore for a bit before catching a ferry to the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, on the Brooklyn side. Despite eating bagels not too long ago, we got lunch at Juliana’s, a very popular pizza place. The pizza was delicious.

Then we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and made our way to the 9/11 Memorial. I didn’t really know what to expect of the memorial, because I had never looked into it previously, but I thought it was nice. They place a rose on the victim’s names on their would-be birthdays, which I thought was touching. We also went into the Oculus building next door, which was most unexpected. It almost looks like fish skeleton, lots of white fins sticking out in rows. The inside is entirely hollow and open to 3 levels below ground. There are some shops along the edge. If I understand correctly, the building’s main purpose is to be a transit center for the subway and a future train line.

Our next stop was the apartment building used as the exterior shot of the ‘Friends’ apartment. I had to be standing at the right angle to recognize it, but it was cool to see a place from TV (although in New York that’s not such a novelty idea…). Then we went to the High Line which is an old elevated train tracks platform that’s been converted into a walking path and garden. That little segment of our trip finished with a stroll through Chelsea Market. It was much more of a put together shopping center than I had been envisioning from the term ‘market.’

Our dinner was a picnic dinner from a grocery store which we ate on a rock in Central Park. That was a lot of fun. Central Park is amazing and I wish Toronto had an equivalent. We strolled by Hotel Empire for Nicola’s Gossip Girl fangirling dreams and checked out the New York City Ballet buildings since they were right there.

Our last event of the evening was to walk through Times Square when it was all lit up and stop by M&Ms and Hershey stores. I bought things at both locations, and I have no regrets. (oversized food stop #3).

Sunday

We returned to Central Park again to eat breakfast by Bethesda Terrace and Fountain. After, we explored more of Central Park. I wanted to see Belvedere Castle (which is actually a folly) but it was being renovated and so unfortunately was covered with scaffolding. But we found Turtle Pond along the way, which quite appropriately has lots of turtles in it.

The rest of our morning mainly consisted of walking by some iconic buildings in NYC: the Met, the Guggenheim Museum, Flat Iron building, Empire State Building, and Washington Park.

After another bagel lunch (poppyseed bagel and sun-dried tomato and roasted garlic cream cheese) we hopped on the Staten Island Ferry. We weren’t actually interested in spending time on Staten Island specifically, but it’s free to ride and you get a pretty good view of the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty while on it. Also, it was nice to sit for a while after spending all weekend walking around.

After landing back in Manhattan, we spent a little bit of time walking around the tip of Manhattan and then worked our way back to the Airbnb to head to the airport. Thankfully our flight back went fine (I was upgraded to a comfort+ seat, which has more leg room!). We got back to Toronto around 2:30am and I was very tired at work later that day. But it was all worth it. I had a great time. And even though we didn’t have very long in NYC, we still got a lot done and I don’t feel that I missed any major New York City experiences (obviously speaking as a naive tourist). Traveling with friends: 10/10 would recommend.

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