Through the Streets of New York
New York City has always been this strange, distant land that only characters in movies and television shows existed for me. That’s what happens when you spend the first twenty years of your life on a secluded farm away from any real civilization. Even trips into the neighboring city of Portland were intimidating to me. But now I live in Portland, and I don’t see it as a big city any more. Going to New York didn’t seem like it was going to be a big deal, but once we arrived, I realized how truly gigantic it is. I think five Portland’s could fit into New York City alone, minus the additional boroughs outside Manhattan. We spent the majority of our time just in and around Manhattan while in New York. For those who do not know New York well, Manhattan is the largest of the boroughs, situated in the middle of it all. The first couple days of our trip we called the W New York home and the second half we used Air B&B.
We didn’t have a lot of time to plan for this trip since it was a little last minute, but we did have a list of places we wanted visit. First and foremost there were some of the tourism spots that I felt like I had to see at least once, but beyond that, the coffee shops and some restaurants were up there as well. Jade has been to New York, so a lot of it wasn’t new for her, but she had never experienced the city with me, and that is a whole other experience. Just walking through the streets and seeing all the massive, rows of buildings that never seem to end was enough to keep me walking around for days. There is so much that is different about New York than any other big city I have been to, but the sheer amount of people is what I noticed most. It doesn’t seem like so many people could fit into such a place, but somehow they do it. Stacked up to the sky, they manage to all fit in there.
The amazing amount of people aside, there is so much beauty in New York, and so much to eat! One of the top places on our treats list to was Chef David Chang‘s snack shop, Momofuku Milk Bar. We went to both the East Village location on the corner of 13th street and 2nd avenue and the Midtown Milk Bar between 5th and 6th avenues. The East Village location is basically a nook in the side of a much larger building, where you can order soft serve and snacks to go, not really any place to sit down and enjoy what you get save for a rickety bench outside. But man is the soft serve worth it! We got the classic cereal milk soft serve with crunchy candy coated cereal toppings, and a cornflake marshmallow cookie. Needless to say I was very happy with our purchases. The soft serve was so rich and delicious we had to save the cookie for later in our hotel room.
The Midtown Milk Bar we went to a couple days after that, but were mainly going back to try the notorious Crack Pie. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. We grabbed our slice of crack pie and got another cereal milk soft serve, and settled into the adjoining lobby of the Chambers Hotel attached to the Milk Bar. We were drenched from the downpour that day, so settling down in a comfy sitting area with a warm fire and a few treats is exactly what we needed. Not only did we get to visit those two Milk Bar locations, but we also checked out Chef Chang’s original restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar. The noodle bar is known for their ramen and buns, which is exactly what we ended up getting. I mean, when you visit a place like this, how can you not order the signature dishes? My ramen was phenomenal. Now I know ramen is a touchy subject. Everyone seems to have an opinion: if it’s traditional enough, adventurous enough, developed enough. All I can say is I ate a perfectly poached egg and pork with broth that was rich but not too salty or peppery and noodles that were the perfect consistency. I think I enjoyed the ramen more than the shrimp buns, but Jade was definitely more into the buns than the ramen. That’s why we’re a couple.
Another place that was high on Jade’s list to visit was Buvette, a french style gastrotheque in the West Village on Grove Street. We went there for brunch one morning and it was an ideal way to start the day. We started with some mini-croissants with house made preserve, and then had a tartine plate of toast, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and two of the biggest capers I have ever seen. All washed down with a rich cafe latte. We plan to live right across the street someday.
One of my favorite parts of our trip was reading in the New York Public Library. We wandered the halls and settled into one of the work rooms. We sat there for quite some time, reading and soaking in the beautiful peace and quiet.
We strolled through Central Park once during our trip, but really, I could see myself wandering through there at least twice a week if I lived there. Between the lakes and trails, and all of the different sites like John Lennon’s memorial and Strawberry Fields, to Alice in Wonderland… there is just so much to see and so little time. We devoured some macarons from Bouchon Bakery at The Shops at Columbus Circle and since it was right down the street, we had to pop into The Plaza to check out the Eloise Shop. Jade had never been and she has been an adorer of Eloise since she was a little girl. It made me so incredibly happy to see her look at all the knick-knacks and trinkets lining the walls. Though they didn’t have the tea cup she was searching for (they had sold the last one that very morning), I know that I have a perfect special gift to surprise her with in the future.
We stopped by The Met and got lost within its walls for hours. We didn’t get to visit the MoMA like we had planned since we had so little time, but going to the Met was enough to satisfy my museum fix for at least this trip. We were pretty hungry after the Met so we decided to revisit our love for Shake Shack. We’ve been to the Shake Shack at Covent Garden in London, so we knew we had to have it again while in New York. We don’t have Shake Shack on the west coast. It’s hard to describe what a really good hamburger and fries is supposed to be, but lets just say Shake Shack does it best.
Of course we had to eat some pizza. Our friends Stefan and Eva of TrotterMag told us to hit up Madison Square Eats and get Roberta’s Pizza. And when two people who create curated city guides tell you to go eat somewhere, you listen. We decided to just walk to Madison Square Park where the Pizza stand resides at the foot of the Flat Iron building. The weather looked like it might rain, but naturally being from the Northwest, I wasn’t afraid of no rain. Or at least I thought I wasn’t. Two blocks into our journey the drizzle from the sky turned into a full on down pour, and my mesh top Nike’s were completely soaked along with the rest of me. Not the wisest decision made on the trip. When we finally go to Roberta’s, I was chilled to the bone, but it made for the perfect opportunity to have two, warm, crispy slices of New York style pizza.
Our last day in New York was cut short since we had a flight, but we did get to visit one of the coffee shops high on our list and see the Brooklyn Bridge. We even walked about half way over the bridge when we realized if we didn’t get a move on we would likely miss our flight. Getting of the bridge and back into the subway was a cakewalk, but the subways overall really aren’t as scary or as complicated as some make them out to be. Granted most of the subways are dank, dilapidated rodent infested tubes of musty misery, but I’ve seen worse places. I can’t say I didn’t get turned around one or five times while trying to navigate the underbelly of the city, but I eventually started getting the hang of it. I’ve now ridden subways or a version thereof in New York, Los Angelas, Portland and London. The fact that the subway even exists under the city streets and provides such versatile transportation for so many boggles my mind. It truly is a man made masterpiece, even if it does smell a little foul. Once you emerge from each subway station and back onto the streets, it’s like you’ve gone through a time warp. Each part of Manhattan has its own unique vibe and brilliance, and it is worth any ride on a subway.
I know we’ll be going back to New York in the near future. We have big plans. There is so, so much more that is calling our names. We can’t keep away for long. If you have any recommendations of places to go or things to see on our next trip, we would love to hear them.