New York is not a place for shy Kiwis. It’s buzzing, but not in a modern European way. Bound in bureaucracy and a turbulent history, it’s not technology, architecture, or green spaces that make this city great – although some of that’s pretty cool too. It’s the people. From the concrete crevasses of Wall Street to Ellis Island’s Museum of Immigration, bountiful characters colour the streets. Be ready to let yourself out in this land of the free.
After two long-haul flights from Auckland, with a short layover in Honolulu, I dragged my my suitcase through The Local‘s cafe roller door around 7am Good Friday morning. Checking into a hostel in Queens got me quickly acquainted with that familiar Fran Fine accent, and that’s when it hit me that I was in New York.
Still smelling like a sweaty armpit but stoked to be in the big apple, I polished off the first of many coffees and croissants with a new hostel friend, and scooted straight back out the door.
First stop, Grand Central Station, where super-sized flags, an aqua blue ceiling, and warm brass fixtures set the mood. I get the impression not much has changed here since trains were first introduced. Everything is a movie.
After fumbling with paper Metro cards and tripping over turnstiles, I managed to hunt down The Butcher’s Daughter – a popular plant-based cafe chain famous in the life-style bloggers world. Sitting pavement side of this busy Little Italy street didn’t bother me, or my Kiwi neighbours.
Boarding the Ellis Island Ferry, and passing the Statue of Liberty, landed me at the Museum of Immigration, where I was greeted by a particularly enthusiastic Park Ranger demonstrating Trachoma examinations.
“THE BEST MUSICAL OF THIS CENTURY” made big promises, but struggled to deliver. Unless you’re into South Park style humour, I would recommend The Lion King, Aladdin, Mamma Mia, or really anything over The Book of Morman.
Upon entering the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the other hand, it’s easy to see why this attraction features as a must-do in most city guides. Grand balustraded staircases are belittled beneath convex marble cloisters, while dimly lit corridors keep you wondering for hours.
The dramatically juxtaposed panels in this art deco jig-saw emitted a strong sense of 1920’s New York, and made it my favourite installation. According to the Security Guard it was rescued from an office building just before demolishment.
Oh, there’s also an entire Egyptian Temple…
A quick trip up to the 5th floor roof-top terrace for photos over Central Park and it was time to find some more food.
At Chelsea Market I settled on Mokbar and didn’t look back. These vegetarian Bibimboppers are the best.
Just around the corner I squeezed in one last must-do for this trip – strolling along the Highline, how cute.