An Ode To New York

by Vicki Notaro

Travelling is something I’m really passionate about, and writing travel features an avenue I definitely want to explore. A friend of mine (who is a far more prolific writer than I) told me that my blog is my shop window, so eh, happy window shopping!

My New York

I’ve visited NYC several times since 2006, both with my boyfriend Eoin and some of my best friends. The second I walked out of Penn Station and into the chaotic, hectic and somewhat undesirable (compared to other parts of the island) Midtown, I fell desperately in love with the city and that love has lasted and a weird calmness descends on me as soon as I land in the Empire state. I love it so very much – from the smells to the people, the landscape to the architecture, the sounds to the sights. It’s my perfect holiday destination.

The best trip I’ve ever taken to the Big Apple was definitely the most recent one. It was late January, it was snowy and it was wet, but it was still nothing short of magnificent. New York is the kind of place you have to have enough money to enjoy – I’ve been there at Christmas with a budget of €100 a day, and that ain’t fun. But for this trip it was my birthday, we had a nest egg and a plan, and I had the time of my life.

Where we stayed…

Eoin and I stayed in Hotel East Houston, which is in the part of the city where the numbered sideways-running streets turn into named. Not quite SoHo, not quite NoHo, just Ho (which is short for Houston). This meant everything from the aforementioned to NoLita and Chinatown, the Villages and the Meat-Packing District were all on our doorstep, as well as the Bowery and Lower Manhattan.

The view from the hotel’s roof terrace.

The rooms were small (this IS New York) but perfectly formed, included a breakfast buffet and the staff were absolutely lovely. However, the best thing about this place was definitely the location. Having stayed here, I would simply never stay above 14th St ever again. Over the years we’ve been at hotels and apartments everywhere, from the Upper West Side, Chelsea and Flatiron to Time Square and Central Park, but forevermore we shall be Downtown dwellers. Why? Because when you stay there, you feel like a New Yorker. This is where people live, these are the places you see in the movies, this is the real, honest-to-God NYC. We took the subway in a way we never have before, walked everywhere, stumbled upon amazing street art and came across gorgeous little shops and restaurants. Downtown has everything Uptown and Midtown have – big stores, movie theatres, sights and sounds, but it’s just infinitely cooler, calmer and more chic.

Snowy day time view

What we ate…

I had a list of places I’d heard were New York institutions, so we made it our business to eat out as much as possible. Here is a mouthwatering selection of dishes we tried…

Pineapple Upside Down Sundae at Serendipity 3

Pinkberry noms!

Pizza at Lombardi’s

Challah French toast at the Remedy Diner

And other restaurants we visited where I forgot to snap the food…

Katz’s Deli, famous for THAT scene in When Harry Met Sally

The Spotted Pig, recommended by GOOP. Eoin was not very impressed, and it was pretty expensive, but a cool British themed gastro-pub with VERY trendy staff.

Probably my favourite meal of the trip, my birthday burger, fries and cocktails at this awesome downtown haunt, Schillers.

Where we went…

We did everything this trip that we hadn’t done before, and some stuff we had. The Statue of Liberty…

Who’s yer one?

Ellis Island

I finally went to see Wicked

And Rock of Ages…

3pm matinee show on my birthday, and they served drinks all throughout the performance. Not just any drinks, but jello shots and vodka cocktails. Rock on!

Got a mani/pedi at the Bliss spa at the W…

Hung out with my er, Paisan (cough) in Little Italy…

Meandered around Bryant Park after dark…

People watched at Washington Square Park….

Visited my favourite 5th Avenue dog run…

and obvs made the obligatory trips to Time Square

This guy reminded me of my dad…

;

Still haven’t been up the Empire State though… which is ridiculous when I’ve been there SIX TIMES. And once on Valentine’s Day when I was just dying to recreate the final scene from Sleepless in Seattle…

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of…

;

So you might think I’m done with New York, but you’d be VERY wrong – I’m planning on going back this “Fall” to experience it with the gals and do some research and writing, as well as sampling the nightlife, something I haven’t done with Eoin. There’s so much still to explore and discover, from the larger boroughs to the Bronx Zoo, Queens and the Hamptons, to Manhattan itself. In fact, I bet I’ll still be visiting NYC regularly when I’m old and grey, cos it’s just my kind of town.

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