Shortly after I arrived in JFK on a sleepless 8 hour KLM flight from Amsterdam, customs was unexpectedly cleared in 20 minutes and I was let loose. A quick gut decision ( a lifelong personality trait ) was made to take an airport train then hop on a subway to mid-town. All told an hour’s travel cost about $15 instead of a flat taxi rate of $52 plus tolls into Manhattan. And a buzz for taking the NYC subway for the first time. It was my first time visiting New York so I wanted to hit the iconic sights and the subway experience seemed like one I shouldn’t pass up. I almost felt like a wide-eyed student of 20 years again. Ok, a little poetic licence taken but taking subways hither and thither was fun and definitely way easier than I expected. So, then I landed here at…
Grand Central Station. What a beauty.
The purpose of my trip was to hook up with dear American friends and also to immerse myself in the city that never sleeps for three whole days. Later that evening, we barely had time for an Italian pre-theatre dinner before hitting the lights on Broadway. We saw Wicked–so good they should have named it twice! Wicked is showing at the Gershwin Theatre staffed with real NYC ‘show you to your seat’ dames and hours of super acting and singing. Note: don’t attend a Broadway show soon after you step off the plane from Europe as it’s likely you will fall asleep at some point, most probably 5am CET time/10pm NYC time. In a small theatre seat leaning on your friends to stay upright. But Glinda the Good was so worth it. Go if you feel an affinity with The Wizard of Oz and red stripey socks. In fact, it knocked my socks off. Beaming on Broadway. And I just love this pic of Noel and I.
Taking the Staten Island Ferry one evening to cross New York Harbour was quite exhilarating and memorable. The ferry was fun, free and filled with tourists taking a look at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ( board on the right side for best views ) while commuters with possibly the best view of the NYC skyline headed home. It takes about 25 minutes to cross one way, with multiple boarding levels and indoor seating. We plumped for the wind in your hair ride on the upper deck and leaned against the railings enjoying the relative peace. When we landed on Staten Island, a quick turn around had us embarking on the next available boat back to Lower Manhattan. Founded in 1905, the service of five boats runs round the clock, 24/7 and the ferry is a hugely impressive free transport option for New Yorkers and visitors alike. Highly recommended–everyone should make time for it.
View of Lower Manhattan from the Ferry
We spent half a day at MoMa, the Museum of Modern Art. It’s a must for art lovers. Paintings by Picasso, Pollock and Van Gogh ( The Starry Night is here ) are highlights while the beautiful building itself is a delight. Cutting edge contemporary film, photography and video exhibitions are integral. All that together with lunch on the MoMa terrace ensured an excellent afternoon of gazing and talking and eating–the perfect balance for our small group of friends. I loved the art of course and also the wow architecture, relaxed staff, the gorgeous gift shops and the cafe terrace on the fourth floor. Next year, the museum plans to expand by 30% to support live performance and dance. Go. You won’t be sorry.
Picasso’s Three Musicians
View from the terrace over the gardens. Modern and vintage juxtaposed.
Times Square–senses overload but is definitely worth checking out, even just one time. We walked through on the way back from the theatre and I liked the vibe. Hustle and bustle all round–you can’t go to NYC without ever seeing Times Square so you don’t wanna skip it. Then make up your own mind!
Central Park is 800+ acres so we hired bikes and rode the whole way around, people-watching and stopping off at the historic Loeb Boathouse for mimosas and a pretty good lunch. Burrata and figs, cedar plank salmon, seared scallops, cast-iron chicken and baby yams and so on is on offer. The cafe setting over-looking the lake ( rowboats can be rented ) is delightful: bustling and friendly with great service. Like everywhere in New York. Tipping of 20% takes getting used to coming from low/no tipping Netherlands but one gets accustomed! And they sure do earn their tips.
One evening after walking the Highline we took a cab to gorge on what it is possibly the Best Chinese Food in NYC @Hao Noodle and Tea. Decor, food and staff was impeccable. A lost phone left in a taxi interrupted the flow but only so we could marvel at the miracle of google tracking. The phone was located in the back seat, the kind taxi driver came back with it and drove us fully sated to our hotel! Result. The Highline is a fairly new elevated public park running high along a former train track in the west village. Such a cool use of public space with views and art to see as we mooched along. It’s quite a special place with a heart of inclusion, hope and tolerance at it’s core and we loved hanging out there for a couple of hours.
Hao Noodle in Greenwich Village
‘I lift my Lamp beside the Golden door’–A fantastic mural on the Highline
Sunday afternoon in Soho. My kinda place.
Balthazar’s French brasserie–casual & cosy spot in Soho. Best french onion soup outside of Paris and a wonderful wrap to the long weekend.
Impressive Empire State Building just around the corner from our mid-town hotel The Evelyn.
Hello hello down there. View from 86th floor
The plaque below from the 1930s commemorates the most skilled craftsmen who worked on The Empire State Building–included are some Irish names. I wonder how many were first generation Irishmen. The historical exhibition was low-key and interesting with information about the cost and dimensions back then ( shown in logbooks ) and photos of craftsmen, administrators and building contractors. I loved the detail available to read and the Art Deco building itself is wonderful. The views are superlative from the 86th floor open observatory and next time, I wouldn’t bother paying for an extra ticket for the enclosed 102nd deck.
Chelsea Market–the original home of the Oreo biscuit
Dramatic handmade head-dresses purchased from Chelsea Market. Lots of fun trying on gold pumpkins and feathery velvet concoctions. And eating pizza and bagels. I bought my son a cool silk screened t-shirt here from a small designer from Brooklyn. Great spot to eat and shop and people-watch of course. On the stool next to us, there was a fine story being spun by an older lady with elaborate make-up and hair that would have matched these head-dresses below. They came home with me of course. How could they not!
NYC was a wonderful place to meet friends who I first met by way of old Amsterdam. We had three full days, dinners and long lunches and still managed to see most of what was on our hastily put together list. Planning for this trip was lax ( busy mamas have too many irons in the fire ) and spontaneous days opened up each morning on Manhattan. Which worked extremely well! New York has got it all for a girls’ weekend or couples weekend. A family trip would be amazing too. Any excuse really to make it back to the city that never sleeps. Oh, and it’s true– jet lag really is tough coming back!