23 September 2022
God, I love New York city.
It’s a concrete jungle by all means, filled with people trotting past just getting on with their own day, focussing on what they need to do, hustling and bustling. But from the tall skyscrapers,to the way everything is so geographically condensed, to the fact that it’s literally laid out like a grid (my logical brain LOVES this), and the extremely well connected subway system that can get you literally ANYWHERE extremely quickly and feels safe even at 3am (might be safe from people but not the people sized rats). NYC has got to be one of my favourite places I’ve ever been to and feels like a bit of me.I don’t consider myself a California girl because the beachy lifestyle where people are fake nice isn’t my niche. There’s something just feels honest and authentic about the multitude of accents you hear in New York (special shout out to the Italian-American ones, my personal fav).
I had the fortune of going back to NYC earlier this year. I spent a whole week there (which honestly isn’t enough). If it’s your first time I would say you need at least two weeks to explore and immerse yourself in NYC’s energy and experience the wide range of things the city has to offer like Broadway and comedy clubs.
Oh, also, if you’re a girl and single? New York is the place for you. I found that the bargaining power in the dating phase stays with women. Like, I had options consisting of an orthopaedic surgeon who was 4 different ethnicities, a software engineer who looked like Jackson Avery from Grey’s Anatomy AND adventures with my chiselled army man mentioned below. Men just have to work a little harder to impress you. Even if you’re a tourist, I would recommend just being open to dating and meeting people that way while travelling. Most men in NYC tick a lot of boxes and you know a holiday whirlwind romance always hits especially differently.
My top picks for NYC? Well…
If you love a good museum, you’re literally spoiled for choice. A top tier museum to visit is the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). If you’re short on time however you NEED to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET, which you may know from the MET gala or the classic lunch spot for the popular kids of Constance Billard and St. Judes from Gossip Girl). The exhibitions here are phenomenal. In particular, they had one at the time of my trip for “A Lexicon of Fashion”, the intention of which was to illustrate fashion through its emotional rhetoric and categorise various outfits based on what emotional sentiments they may convey. My favourite was the dress designed for the word Magnetism, which was a sleek black dress with cut outs. As soon as I saw it, it invoked feelings of being magnetic and alluring. I think we walked like 40,000 steps on this day just venturing up from grand central through to 5th avenue all the way to the upper east side, and of course you have to get the classic picture outside the steps of the MET to live out the gossip girl dreams.
Classic Tourist Spots
You have to venture through Times Square. It’s literally made for tourists (you’ll realise most New Yorkers try to stay as far away from here as possible). It’s full of bright lights, busy streets, men trying to sell you shit on every corner (ok fake pradas!) and $1 pizza slices with so many flavours to pick from. Whilst in the area, you should also definitely go to grand central station (again, gossip girl vibes!!). It’s also not a classic first time NYC trip if you don’t visit the Rockefeller centre, walk along 5th avenue, or go up the Empire State Building for an incredible view of NYC. However, beware that it does smell quite bad. It’s insane how panoramic the views from the top of these buildings are, especially when you’re like me and are a sucker for a good neutral colour palette and crazy skyscraper views. For me, the NYC views are literally unmatched.
I had some friends who were living there at the time who recommended hitting up some speakeasies in East Village. The speakeasy vibe is so quintessentially New York (low key, laid back, hard to find and even harder to get into). The whole intent behind them is to replicate aspects of historical speakeasies which existed when there were secret bars during the US Prohibition. The Prohibition was when there was a nationwide constitutional ban on everything to do with the sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933. My recommendations of some spots to hit (mainly in East VIllage or SOHO) are the Barbershop , Blind Barber, Death & Company, Please Don’t tell, The Back Room, Employees Only and Attaboy. The vibes at the Barbershop were so weird, I think we went on a random Tuesday night and ended up doing tequila shots with a group of guys that were there visiting their friend who was working on the bar.
Shenanigans with locals
For me, travelling isn’t just about going to the main tourist spots though. It’s about meeting people that are local, understanding how they live, going where they recommend and even going with them, and ultimately just exploring the city in a very authentic way. I literally caught the subway pretty much everywhere and saw some very interesting characters. A man was preaching, another was freestyling.
I also met a guy…yeah I know, this is how most of these stories go… He lived in Brooklyn. He was an incredibly chiselled 6 foot chocolate man whose body looked like it had been hand carved by Michelangelo himself. He had actually previously been in the army and now was studying business. We met up a few times, once where we went to a comedy show and a bar his friend worked at. The bar had super laid back corporate vibes in the middle of Manhattan (it felt crazy because it was 2am but there were people who looked like they’d come straight from work?). I told him I wanted to see Brooklyn, and he said whilst everyone goes to Dumbo and Williamsburg, Brooklyn has a lot more culture than that. Being the respectful king he was, he offered to show us around. So my friends and I decided to walk the Brooklyn Bridge.
We had some drinks in Dumbo just to check off the basic tourist vibes, but he was working at a bar in Brooklyn which was nestled between Crown Heights and Prospect Heights (we in the burbs now…). He told us to come around for some drinks with him and his colleagues as they were winding up, which we did (also, they were extremely beautiful men, and the girl was gorgeous). This was a way different experience than just ticking off some tourist stops, because after what was a very fun and crazy night meeting new people and hearing about very real experiences of them growing up and living in New York, I felt a lot more grounded and connected to the place.
Mid morning the next day, we wandered through Prospect Park (designed by the same designer of Central Park) bordering the Brooklyn suburb of Prospect heights. He then had to head to the bar for another shift. I decided it was time to GTFO and find my friend (her live location was going off in Queens NOT Manhattan where our accommodation was so I know there was absolute debauchery) and try to figure out how to get home. Luckily the well connected subway system made what was a long journey relatively simple, and I decided to take my subway of shame home from the DEPTHS of Brooklyn confused as fuck in my clothes from the night before.
And finally… you haven’t done New York unless you’ve hit one of their rooftop bars.
With those skyscraper views, it’s an absolute waste if you don’t do an evening of bar hopping and try to catch the sunset. My absolute favourite was the Public Hotel’s rooftop in New York which turns into a club late at night. What’s even crazier though (and hot tip for when you’re looking for accommodation) is that most apartment buildings here have insane rooftops and residents/renters are allowed to take drinks onto the rooftops and just mingle.
All in all, I see no reason why you wouldn’t love New York City.