I could not resist revisiting my trip to New York by means of a blog post to document some of the things done and seen seen during our six days in the sleepless city.
The best thing about city trips if you ask me, is making lists of things to see and do, putting on comfortable shoes and setting off to satisfy a curious spirit. I love walking around, discovering the neighbourhoods, observing people, acquainting myself with the human and animal fauna.
We bought seven-day metro cards for 33 dollars each and made the best of combining public transport and walking. Grand Central, which was located only a few streets away from the hostel, was often our starting, transit, and ending point. We were impressed by the majestic architecture of the station and the main concourse’s blue, starlit ceiling which made us want to stop and look up every time we were in the building.
We arrived on a Saturday evening and the next morning, we went for a gospel mass. It had been on my bucket list for some years and it was a really special way of starting off the first day. It felt quite surreal to be there, experience the atmosphere and feel the energy in the vibrant hall. The night before we had had dinner in Astoria with a group of hospitable Greek-Americans. Those first twenty four something hours were already quite indicative of the variety of options available.
Chelsea, Greenwich and East village, SoHo, NoHo, Astoria and Harlem were some of the neighbourhoods we really liked. The contrast to the skyscraper dense midtown Manhattan is quite stark. Think townhouses, wide streets and less people. I went for yoga, we stopped for coffee, browsed some second hand stores, went for an average stand up comedy show, took an elevated promenade along the beautiful Highline, went out for dinner, got a bit lost in the guts of the metropolitan train network.
Ellie the dog in Chelsea
I am a Seinfeld fan and I love diners, so quite naturally I gravitated towards Tom’s restaurant. Touristic, but still worth a visit. I would normally have ordered a salad, but I decided to do the opposite and had an omelette that came with a heap of fries. We sat at the bar and chatted with the Greek guy who was serving us. He had been living in the US for over ten years, was originally from a small island of the Aegean and worked an average of 12 hours a day. That’s what America is made of I thought. Hard work, opportunity and imported work force.
Of course, visiting only one diner would not have been enough, so we repeated the experiment and went for a breakfast at the Comfort diner, 214 E 45th St, New York, NY 10017, USA, just a few streets away from the Vanderbilt YMCA in Midtown Manhattan. A nice interior and overall less crowded.
Walking over the Brooklyn bridge to Manhattan just before the fall of the evening was another magic thing. You need the right amount of light to be able to admire the view of the lit up Manhattan skyline and I believe our timing was quite perfect.
We also managed to watch a Broadway musical – “A Bronx tale”. Getting the tickets was actually uncomplicated, relatively inexpensive and involved no queuing as we purchased them directly at the theatre an hour or so before the show.
What about the food? Well, you can eat practically anywhere and anytime in New York. Midtown Manhattan is full of places open 24/7 where you can take away or eat in and choose from plentiful buffets. Overall, the food we had was really tasty and reasonably priced. We did not make that many restaurant visits, but I have some recommendations that I am listing here.
We had a scrumptious lunch at the Sri Sri Radha Govinda Mandir, 305 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Cheap, vegan and one lunch feeds two persons.
We had Greek food at Taverna Loukoumi and desert at Lefkos Pirgos. The food at Loukoumi tasted authentic, the personnel was efficient and customer-friendly, and the place was full to the brim.
45-07 Ditmars Blvd, Queens, NY 11105, USA
3302 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105, USA
South of Midtown:
Mexicue, 225 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010, USA. This place serves Mexican style food and we relished in big salads that were both tasty and very fresh.
If I were to visit NYC again, I would go for more yoga, and visit some of the many museums. On this first visit, we felt that it was worth spending our limited time outside getting a sense of the city and its pulse. We visited the Liberty and Ellis islands (Statue of Liberty Cruises, approximately 19 dollars) which was a nice experience, although the statue itself is better admired from afar. The material exposed at the Ellis island museum though, allows you to scratch on the surface of the American psyche and get a glimpse of how migration, destiny and dreams have come together to create a new common culture.