New York – For me, this metropolis conjures up images of sleek skyscrapers, typical suit-donning businessmen and lawyers (think Harvey Specter from the TV series Suits), yellow cabs, the lush and eye-pleasingly symmetrical Central Park, an amalgamation of diverse food and cultures, and an overall air of sophistication.
I’d never been to America before – that changed this past August when I got to visit for the first time. And New York was the perfect city to start with. Like London, I knew that New York was a mammoth of a city to tackle, in terms of attractions and restaurants, and that I wouldn’t have a dull moment. There are lots to see, do and eat; it would take a lifetime to discover it all. Thus, these are simply some highlights and my favorite moments in New York City. You could say it’s just a bite of the Big Apple!
After a long flight from this part of the world, I was finally in the Big Apple! Excitement was building up despite jet-lag kicking in, and as we made our way that night from the airport to Manhattan, the well-recognized and strikingly illuminated postcard-perfect skyline appeared on the horizon – a first impression that set a fitting tone to our time in NYC.
Waking up to this incredible view of Central Park from our room at The Pierre became a highlight of the trip. It was surreal. I’d always wanted to see this glorious oasis within the concrete jungle, and I was indeed treated to a spectacular sight! It certainly was a memorable birthday celebration.
We strolled down Fifth Avenue, a shopaholic’s finest fantasy. Among high-end stores, posh hotels, residences, and offices, we found Apple in the Big Apple as we passed the famous and futuristic Apple store, which had a cool reflection of the Plaza Hotel. Also found on this stylish street are the Empire State Building, Flatiron, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and various museums.
We detected an odd metallic structure on Park Avenue (leaving it up to you to interpret what it looks like). Later found out to be Urs Fischer’s Big Clay #4, it was hard to miss as we made way to the gorgeous Grand Central, the city’s major rail station.
A spot that seems synonymous with New York is the sensory-overloaded Times Square. The lights, the sounds, the crowds – it was just as insane as I had imagined. While wandering in the Theater District, we hungrily and happily stumbled upon a Japanese restaurant called Haru. The Gramercy Park Roll was a tasty, tangy and spicy selection of crunchy tuna and jalapenos, yellowtail and salmon.
Another day called for another excellent meal, where we devoured the absolutely delicious Spicy Jalapeno burger with guacamole, Blackened Mahi tacos and Chili Cheese Dog at Bill’s Bar and Burger. All this, was washed down with some Cold Ass Beer. Seriously – that was the awesome name of the Pale Ale. It sure was fun to say, “Could I please get a Cold Ass Beer?”
Based on the recommendation of a local friend, with whom we met for lunch, Charlie Palmer Steak, too landed a spot on our foodie agenda.
Bryant Park is another lovely green space. It is also where the New York Public Library is located.
We paid the shiny yet intimidating Charging Bull of Wall Street a visit, and spotted the world’s largest stock exchange, as we walked by the New York Stock Exchange building.
Now a national memorial, Federal Hall is the historic site where George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States.
And suddenly, in a sea of skyscrapers, I almost got crushed – almost!
Well, can’t pass up a good photo opportunity, can I? This eye-catching red cube sculpture is public artwork by Isamu Noguchi, and is precariously positioned in front of the HSBC building.
Neighboring South Street Seaport was a contrast to the Financial District, as we saw several historic buildings there. From the port, you can watch ferries and water taxis drift past on the East River, and get great vistas of the Brooklyn Bridge (plus Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges beyond that).
Loopy Doopy is a cool rooftop bar atop the Conrad Hotel, well-known for its Prosecco with Popsicle concoctions. The strawberry-margarita and blueberry-nectarine flavors, apart from looking mighty pretty, were quite refreshing as well. Views over the Hudson River and New Jersey were lovely.
One more wonderful spot was The Press Lounge in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. The vantage point for admiring those skyscrapers was ideal, and was one of my favorite lookouts in NYC.
Drink in hand, I watched in amazement as buildings shimmered and glittered, in true golden hour fashion. Soon they transformed into fantastically lit concrete giants in the night sky.
We got a chance to check out the renowned and first ever St. Regis Hotel, to try the legendary Red Snapper, better known as Bloody Mary. It was at King Cole Bar, where this drink originated and remains the signature cocktail of St. Regis Hotels worldwide, with each property perfecting their unique versions. A yummy chocolate birthday cake made it even better!
And I think it would be illegal not to indulge in another of the city’s tasty treats – The New York Cheesecake. Based on a tip from the hotel’s concierge, Junior’s Cheesecake on Broadway was the place to go. Having eaten enough for that particular day (believe it or not, that does happen occasionally), we bought some to have the next day. The strawberry cheesecake tasted extra divine with that spectacular view in the background.
With countless and densely packed skyscrapers, Manhattan looked like a big compressed box of toys; a playground for architecture lovers.
And, a photographer’s dream..
As you may have guessed, there’s no way one post was going to be enough for the Big Apple, so watch out for the next bite – pictures and stories from the One World Trade Center, incredible city views, top museums, an MLS game at the Yankee stadium, and of course, more food coming up soon.
Have you been to New York? Did you love it? If you haven’t, what would you like to see or do there?