Tag Archives: new york

New York – Day 4 and flying home

Our last day in NYC started without our more or less usual Starbucks breakfast, as we took the PATH train towards Christopher Street without spending any unnecessary time in Jersey. Upon our arrival in Manhattan, we walked into Greenwich Village, an area where houses are only a couple of stories high, and they are surrounded by quiet and green streets – something you might not expect to see in New York as un unprepared tourist (which we were not). We had breakfast here on one of the corners at Doma na rohu, “featuring the homiest foods and most delicious beer and wine of the old Austro-Hungarian empire”.


I had a really nice Bavarian breakfast with white sausages, pretzel and mustard accompanied by a glass of white beer. It was a great start for the day! Then walking around, we passed by, e.g., the house used in the TV series Friends.



We were lucky to have the trees on the streets, because it was very hot and sunny again. We continued through East Village, which was not so memorable (except for the clear presence of a large Ukrainian immigrant minority, and a cube-shaped statue which was mounted on one of its corners, and it was supposed to be possible to rotate it around, but it did not really work that way…). Also, while walking around, we were looking for a new bag to replace the one which broke on the day of our arrival, since we decided that was just garbage. Anyway, we crossed towards Lower East Side via Roosevelt Park, then turned in the direction of Chinatown and Little Italy. These were not my favourite places, but I have to admit they felt authentic. Chinatown is – surprise, surprise – full of Chinese immigrants, and everything is Chinese (TV channels, goods, written and spoken word).


Of course this means that an average European tourist will always have a nice view over the heads ;) Little Italy is packed with restaurants serving pizza and pasta, but we did not spend much time here, but headed up into SoHo and TriBeCa instead. This was more our style, with typical cast-iron facades and fancy boutiques.




We had lunch at the Pain Quotidien to feel Belgian a little bit. Their watermelon juice was really refreshing! As a dessert, Clio bought a small box of mini cupcakes at Baked by Melissa (hmmm, cupcakes!!!), then we bought the mentioned replacement bag (North Face Wayfinder, completeing my North Face bag collection :D) too. Before leaving Manhattan we still spent some time resting on a bench in Washington Square Park, listening to live jazz and looking at the squirrels, and some crazy man covered in pigeons… Then we walked back to the PATH train through Greenwich Village and took it to the other side of the river, where we spent at least an hour on the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, watching the Manhattan skyline turning golden yellow, sparkling in the light of the late afternoon Sun.



There were also some fisherman out, but the fish seemed to be on holiday. We had dinner – a nice burger with fries for me, seafood for Clio – at the same place as the day before. Back at the apartment we still did some packing before going to sleep.


The next morning started with rain, and not just some light drizzle, but some heavy showers, so going out for breakfast was not as easy as planned. At the end we did not manage to get pancakes :( as the place we had picked online was packed with people (with several families waiting to get seated), so we ended up in a French-styled bakery, which was ok. It seems we have no luck with walking on the streets of Jersey City with luggage, since now we had to struggle through heavy rain (with one umbrella for the two of us), but at least our new bag did its job (rolling) well. Then from the PATH station the journey to the airport went very smooth (PATH, subway, AirTrain to JFK), except for the unbearable heat in the subway tunnel (in contrast with the ice cold air-co inside the subway cars). Check-in was also uneventful (except for the French family who just realised next to us that they left their passports in the taxi…), then after going through security, we still had some nice wok for lunch, then spent our leftover cash on sweets :) The flight was again uneventful (watching movies instead of sleeping), leaving at sunset, and arriving right after sunrise in Brussels. We were home very quickly, but then struggled with the jet lag all weekend… I went cycling with my group on Sunday morning after two hours of sleep, which was pretty painful :D To sum it up, we were very happy with our holiday!

New York – Day 3

The weather on Tuesday morning was beautiful, finally the Sun was out, the sky was blue, but unluckily the temperature also climbed upwards quickly. By the time we arrived to Brooklyn where our day started, it was already too hot to stay in direct sunlight, so we tried to go from shade to shade. After a quick breakfast sandwich for Clio (which was quite nice) and a burrito for me (which was way too hot and heavy, so I barely touched it at the end…), we headed towards the Brooklyn Bridge. Walking down on Washington Street towards to waterfront you first get to see the metal structure of the Manhattan Bridge, which is already very impressive, and I get Clio’s point, who claims it is even the prettier of the two bridges.


From here we followed the walkway along the East River, until we got the perfect view of Brooklyn Bridge. Here we (I) spent some time taking pictures, then we crossed under the bridge and walked back up to the start of the pedestrian path which runs along the upper level of the bridge.



The view on Downtown Manhattan is great from here, and the suspension structure along with the stone arches of the bridge are truly spectacular, but we were very happy to finally arrive at the other end and sit down on a bench in the shade (and have a nice Belgian waffle with strawberries) of the City Hall Park. From here we walked down on Fulton Street to the South Street Seaport.


Since I did not have much breakfast I had a huge banana split here (it was 3 huge bowls of ice cream and two bananas, plus some crazy amount of whipped cream and various dense sauces) after we had a quick walk inside the building and the souvenir shops of Pier 17. Then we continued down to and then back up Wall Street.


We passed by the highly secured Stock Exchange, then arrived to Trinity Church. This is a really nice and pretty church surrounded by a small and quiet, green park/cemetery.



After a short rest, we turned southwards on Broadway, bought me a new pair of flashy fluo yellow Nikes, and walked down to the ferry towards Staten Island. We took the ferry just for the view, and it was worth it (especially given the fact that the ferry is a free service). On the way towards Staten Island we had a great spot sitting on the rear deck overlooking the skyline of Downtown Manhattan.


We made two observations from here: first, the enormous height of the new WTC tower is only clear from the distance (since from the street level, every skyscraper looks the same), second, the Statue of Liberty is way smaller than we imagined. It is kind of tiny :D After taking the first ferry back to Manhattan, we took the subway to the north to visit the High Line Park.


It is one of my favourite sights of New York, a preserved and transformed elevated railway track. Narrow but long, it crosses many blocks as it is heading northwards across Chelsea.



With its modern, green design, with each ingredient nicely put in place, it is a perfect place to stroll along, sit down here and there, and watch the city.


After walking through the park, we walked all the way up to the Rockefeller Center and went up to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck after less than 15 minutes of waiting in line. The view was very nice from the top, although the air could have been a bit more clear, but there is nothing we could have done about that.


As sunset was just upon us, and – as usual – we were already dead tired, we headed back to Jersey, and after a nice dinner (pasta and pizza) just outside the PATH station overlooking the main square, we went home and Zzzzz…

New York – Day 2

After a not so busy – but already quite paced – Sunday, our plans for Monday were much busier, so we left our apartment a bit earlier and after our usual short visit to the Starbucks, we hit the road in Manhattan at the Flatiron Building, the first real skyscraper.


Already from the LEGO I bought back in Denver it is probably not a surprise that I am bit of an architecture-lover, so when it comes to city trips with such amazing buildings, I am always having a lot of fun. This day was definitely satisfying from this point of view.


We walked around the small park here, passed by (and went into the gift shop) the Museum of Mathematics, then walked up towards the Empire State Building.


It is really huge, thus when you get too close to it the view is not so nice anymore. We did not go up to the observatory on the top here, since we did not want to spend hours queueing in line, but you will see that we still managed to get nice views of the city from high above on the next day. Our next stop was Bryant Park, a nice small green island of peace in the centre of Midtown, with open air movie screenings and free sports to play, and many small tables and chairs to sit down and enjoy a quick bite or drink.


We could already see some buildings of the Rockefeller Center from here, and of course at the end of the park, the backside of the New York Public Library. We walked inside this iconic building, visited a few reading rooms and sat at the entrance hall staring at the architectural beauty all around us.





From here we walked across to the Grand Central Terminal, another building with an amazing interior (and a well placed Apple Store). After spending some time taking pictures, we went outside again, walked around the Chrysler Building, and went for a quick lunch at a Five Guys Burgers and Fries.


The burgers were very good, and surprisingly, the fries were just as delicious. We did not rest much, before heading back across the Grand Central Terminal and continuing our journey towards the Uptown along 5th Avenue. As we arrived to the Rockefeller Center we first visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was hidden behind a massive amount of scaffolding, so we did not see much of its beauty… Then we had a look into the LEGO Store (:D) and walked around the buildings of the Rockefeller Center.


Here we made a mental note that the next day we have to come back before sunset and go up to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. The next stop (with already aching backs and legs) was Times Square with all the neon lights and crowds of tourists…


The smell of pee and sweat mixing on a warm summer day in the concrete and glass forest. For Clio, we also walked around inside the Disney Store. Then we still had a look at a few shops along or very near the 5th Avenue (Nike, FAO Schwarz – a massive toy store), before heading to Columbus Circle where we got some sushi for dinner from the Whole Foods Market which we ate while resting on a bench in Central Park. Since we were both dead tired at this point, we went home and probably fell asleep practically immediately :)

New York – Arrival and Day 1

Saturday the 17th of August was again a day of travel. Taxi to the airport, the usual check-in hassle with taking even the shoes off and going through full-body scanners, then hours of flying without free movies (but series on my new Nexus 7). We arrived to the Big Apple (more precisely, to JFK International Airport) on the afternoon, from where we had to make it to our Airbnb apartment in Jersey City. This was not too difficult in theory, but in practice, it took quite some time, and a misfortunate event made it also quite miserable. So we first took the AirTrain at JFK airport (and bought a 7 day subway pass, a MetroCard) to subway line A to the WTC. This went well (although took surprisingly long on the subway), but the problems started at the WTC, where we – first of all – could not find the PATH train station. While walking to the wrong direction with our luggage, one wheel of our new large bag broke (thanks to the horrible temporary sidewalk surface near the WTC site), which made it very difficult to roll it afterwards (and trying to fix it I immediately cut my finger to make things even “better”). This – on top of being already quite tired from the travel – was a bit too much for me and I got quite annoyed very quickly. Just a few hours before this I was still so happy about the new bag while we were rolling it across the smooth airport floors with almost zero effort, so seeing it break down so quickly – at the worst possible moment – was a huge disappointment. Somehow we managed to find our way back to the PATH station, buy a pass for the PATH train (since the MetroCard is not valid here), and catch a train towards Jersey. Then we got off at Groove Street and still had to walk a half mile to our apartment. Unluckily that half mile with a broken bag weighting more than 20 kilograms took us much more than expected, so when we arrived to the apartment we were feeling quite down… The area in Jersey felt OK, and the apartment was also very homey, but we were so tired and annoyed, that it took us quite some time till we started to appreciate it. Then after we managed to freshen up a bit (thanks to the tiny tiny shower), we went to a nearby pizzeria which had very good reviews (Rustique Pizza). It was a really nice small place with indeed quite good pizza, which came on its own side table! Originally I was not sure if a small pizza would be enough, but after we ordered I saw a big one being placed next to the table behind us, and I immediately knew that I made the right choice sticking to the normal size one. Clio did not even manage finishing half of her plate, so we had some leftovers which I planned to eat (but then did not really manage…) on one of the coming days… On top of everything, Clio’s MacBook died (did not manage to find the HD anymore), so we had to make an appointment to the Apple Store for the next day to have it checked… So as you can see, our stay in New York got a bit of a troubled start, but luckily things got much better soon. (And I also started taking pictures.)

Sunday was our first full day in NYC, which we started with a breakfast in the nearby Starbucks (coffee and croissant for Clio, breakfast sandwich with eggs and chicken plus some orange juice for me), then took the PATH train and the subway to the corner of the southwestern corner of Central Park.


The weather was quite grey all day long, with a few drops of rain here and there, thus the light were far from optimal from a photographer’s point of view, so I went for a full black and white processing of the pictures taken this day. We first walked around the southern half of the park, looking at the huge boulders left there after the last ice age, crossing the famous bridges, some nice small trails, and staring at the skyline along the border of the green area.


The size of the park is quite impressive, you could easily spend a full day out there, especially with a frisbee or a pick-nick basket. Also, being a Sunday, the park was closed for motor vehicles, so the roads going along the inside of the perimeter served as a huge outdoor velodrome for the local cyclists, runners, and horse carriages. Originally we also wanted to rent bikes, but at the end we were happy we decided not to, since all the nice walkways were for pedestrians only.


Around noon we headed back to the southeastern corner to visit one of the most famous Apple Stores of the world, the huge glass cube on the 5th Avenue.


It took around an hour to have Clio’s computer checked and repaired by one of the hipsters behind the Genius Bar, but it was ok, since I got to spend some time looking at some gadgets (when I managed to move through the crowds inside).


After the repair was done, we crossed the park towards the American Museum of Natural History. We spent almost three hours inside, as it is indeed a very nice exhibition.


I especially enjoyed the meteorites and dinosaurs, while Clio liked the sea creatures (and maybe the minerals) the best.


Also the museum building itself is beautiful, especially the entrance hall. Unluckily the Rose Center for Earth & Space was closed for renovation, although that was the part I was looking forward maybe the most. After the museum we had a late lunch/early dinner at a nearby place, then walked down to the Hudson river Greenway, which is a long and narrow stretch of green along the river.


At the end of the day we walked inwards Manhattan again to see the modern buildings and spaces of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.


As it was already getting dark, we headed back “home” from here, and probably went to sleep early and tired, as we always did after a full day of sightseeing.