4/02/2013

Big lights will inspire you - My guide to New York

Last September I took myself on a fancy holiday and went to New York for 10 days - all by myself. It was one of the best things I have done in my entire life and if I was a bit closer to being crazy rich, I would hop the next plane and go back immediately.

Since I came back, a lot of people have asked me for advice on accomodation, bars and sightseeing stuff for the world's best city. And because my little sister went to New York this week and I had to collect my best pieces of NYC wisdom for her anyway, I thought I'd take the opportunity and share it with you, too.


Hotel:
The Jane
113 Jane St
I stayed at The Jane, which is one of the prettiest hotels I have ever been to. It claims to be the hotel the survivors of the Titanic catastrophy were accomodated in, until they could return to their homes safely. A few years back, the whole hotel was refurbished and got a chic retro 1920s/nautical vibe. The basic rooms are small like ship cabins, but really cozy and downstairs you will not only find a beautiful bistro called Café Gitane, that makes you feel like you stepped into a Jean-Luc Godard movie, but also a night club. I never went there, but some of the receptionists told me that Kirsten Dunst was a regular. The Jane is located between West Village and Meatpacking District, which were both in my Top 5 neighbourhoods in New York. Also, you can walk from the hotel to the Empire State Building in less than 45 minutes.

Café Gitane

Food&Drink:

Since I walked between 20-35 kilometres every day, I was eating constantly. Which was fun, because Americans really know how to make super-unhealthy, super-delicious food! I had at least one burger every day and I loooved it.



Café Angelique
49 Grove St (West Village)
Best mini pancakes and smoothies in town! I had breakfast there nearly every morning.




The Meatball Shop
170 Bedford St (Williamsburg)
Meatballs. On EVERYTHING! Can't go wrong with that.

Five Guys Burgers
296 Bleecker St (West Village)
Basically, you'll find their stores all over New York. This one was just a few blocks from my hotel, so I usually went there. People will tell you where to find the allegedly "best burger" in New York all the time. This one was my personal favourite. Their fries are nothing special but their burgers, oh boy, they are - to use the technical term - awesome! You can order as many extras on them as you like without paying extra and while you wait, you can snack peanuts, which they have in huge barrels for you to feast on.



The Shake Shack
Madison Square Park (Midtown)
They have locations all over NYC too, but this one is the mother ship. I went to have burgers there two times and both times I had to wait in line for at least 45 minutes. Which is alright, since their burgers are really great. And their fries, too. Since I'm lactose intolerant, I couldn't try their milkshakes, but people next to me made sex noises whilst drinking them, so I reckon they are good as well.



Magnolia Bakery
401 Bleecker St
Personally, I think, it is way overrated, but it is a cute place to swing by and for everyone who is a fan of SATC, it is basically a must. But for european taste buds their cupcakes are ridiculously sweet. My teeth actually started hurting, because of the one cupcake I ate.



Café Bonsignour
35 Jane St (West Village)
I dropped in there one evening, when I had walked so much that my feet were actually bleeding and I just wanted to go straight back to my hotel, lie down and writhe in agony. Bonsignour was on my way, so I popped in to get myself some dinner, which incidentally made my night. Their sandwiches are amazing and the guys behind the counter are always very cute. Later I found out, that this was actually some kind of celebrity hotspot as well. But I didn't see anyone, although someone told me that Sigourney Weaver often buys dinner here.

McGee's
240 West 55th St
I have mentioned that I'm a huge TV show nerd, right? Well, this is the pub which is rumoured to be the model for McLaren's Pub from How I Met Your Mother. So, of course, I had to go there. It's a nice little pub on the Upper West Side, but they certainly milk the fact that they are the one, alleged, legen - wait for it - dary pub the show's creators regularly visited. They have good mini-burgers and it's certainly worth a visit, if you as much of a nerd like me, but it's not a must.

Wholefoods
10 Columbus Circle
This is actually a supermarket for organic food, but they have an amazing lunch buffet, where you can get yourself some takeout lunch, walk 10 minutes, and sit down somewhere in Central Park, because it is located on the southwest corner of the park. Brilliant!

Basically, it's impossible to go hungry in New York. There are places to eat all over the place, and new ones open up every dax. Just walk around with your eyes wide open, and I'm sure you will find great new stuff on the way.


Shopping:

Urban Outfitters
628 Broadway (between Bleecker and W Houston St)
You will find one on every other corner in Manhattan. My favourite was the one on Broadway because it was huge and you could find anything you ever dreamt of in there. There are others all around Manhattan that are really good, too.

Anthropologie
85 5th Ave
It's a bt like UO, but more "grown-up", which was something I didn't fancy that much, because apparently "grown-up" means either looking like Joan from Mad Men or having lots of frills and lace on every dress. But they do have amazing (!) kitchen supplies and stuff for your home and I bought my favourite coffee cup there. I could have bought everything in that store, but I was flying home and a coat hanger in my luggage might have been a slight problem...

Victoria's Secret
565 Broadway (corner of Prince St)
They simply have the best undies. And it looks like a Moulin Rouge themed brothel in there!

The NBC Universal Store
30 Rockefeller Plaza
For a TV show nerd like me, this was paradise! Memorabilia and merchandise from every TV show NBC has ever hosted. 

Bloomingdale's
1000 3rd Ave
I have rarely felt so underdressed whilst shopping. New Yorkers love "Bloomie's", but I didn't really get it. It is quite nice to walk around a lot of designer handbags, but when you can't afford any of them, the fun is a bit limited. I ended up buying my Cambridge Satchel there, which was extra cool, because I got to walk around with a Bloomingdale's bag the whole day.



Bookmarc
400 Bleecker St
This is a store by Marc Jacobs (the fashion designer), where you can buy books, art prints, accesories and other small stuff. I bought two Marc Jacobs necklaces and a hardcase for my phone there. It is all unbelievably aesthetic in there, and everything is quite affordable.

Williamsburg Flea Market
East River State Park, Brooklyn, every Sunday 10am-5pm
Best flea market I have been to in the past years. Again, I was quite dispappointed that airlines won't let you take big pieces on furniture on the plane with you, otherwise I would have gone nuts!


Sightseeing & Other Stuff:



Since I was all by myself and could go about seeing the city whichever way I wanted, I decided to walk it. I walked between six and ten hours every day, I had blood-filled blisters on my feet and lost about four pounds in ten days, but I saw a lot! I don't like the typical tourist things, like the cruises on Hudson River and the tours to the Statue of Liberty, but I bought myself the NYC Pass, which is a great deal with which you can visit many tourist attractions for a much cheaper price. But I didn't go and see everything, because I prefer to soak up the "feeling" of a city I visit, rather than take sightseeing tours. But anyways, here are a few of my favourites.

Central Park
I don't know if this counts, but the park was one of my favourite spots in this city. It is the closest you can get to real nature here, and there are tons of places you want to sit down and have a picknick. On the West side of the park, you can find Strawberry Fields, the memorial for John Lennon, where people still put flowers and candles on the ground.




Staten Island Ferry
4 South St.
Don't pay for a special cruise around Manhattan or to the Statue of Liberty, take the Staten Island Ferry instead. It leaves every 30 minutes, it's for free and it takes you on the Hudson River, around Manhattan and past the Statue as well. Also, the beer on the ferry is supercheap, so a lot of New Yorkers take the ferry to Staten Island and back before they actually go out, because it is cheap booze with a view.



Top of the Rock
30 Rockefeller Plaza
Sure, you probably want to stand on top of the Empire State Building, but when you actually stand there, it is really weird to see the New York skyline without the Empire State Building in it. The better alternative is to go on top of the Rockefeller Center. You have an awesome view, including the Empire State Building...

The American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
I'm not really a Museum lover. So my visit to the MoMa was a thoroughly underwhelming experience. BUT, even if you hate museums, you have to absolutely go to this one! First of all, they have dinosaur skeletons. Second of all, Night at the Museum was shot here, and you can't help but being a bit scared that Ben Stiller might jump out at you any moment. And third of all, they have a planetarium that takes your breath away!



Williamsburg
It's Hipster Heaven. Tons of Vintage Clothing Shops, Vintage Furniture Shops, Vintage Record Shops and handsome boys in skinny jeans. But apart from all that, it is also a very pretty part of town.



The Friends House
Grove St. & Bedford St.
Standing in front of this house was a quasi-religious experience for me. Nothing else needs to be said about this.



The High Line
This was once a Central railroad, now it is a park. An elevated park. With a stunning view. Go see it, you won't regret it for one second!




Moonsheen Tattoo
184 W 4th St.
If you want to "get some ink" while you're in New York, I can only recommend this place. It is ranked to be one of the best tattoo shops in NYC, and I can only confirm its awesomeness. I walked in there without an appointment, and left about an hour later with a great new tattoo and a lovely cigarette chat with Evan, the guy who tattooed me. You will find much cheaper tattoo shops in New York, but I consider tattoos one of those things in life, where you should choose quality over saving a few bucks...

drinking a beer to calm my nerves, about 10 minutes after I got it.


ManiPedi
You have to get yourself a cheap Manicure and Pedicure while you're in New York. Everybody does it, you feel like a pampered princess, and you will never ever have prettier feet again! There's a shop at every corner!



So enjoy your visit to New York City! It is the best city in the world!









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