I was feeling like kind of a lame-o because it’s been about a year and a half since I’ve left the country (gasp!), but then I remembered the Dalai Lama’s quote, “Every year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” I realized that someplace new is any new place- not just out of the country! In 2013, I went to Miami for the first time and didn’t even think to blog about it. Now, I just got back from seeing New York City for the first time- in fact, I had never even been on the East Coast before (well, except Miami, but that doesn’t count)! I had quite the marvelous time in New York and figured that I would share it with you all today.
I arrived in the wee hours of Friday morning, having taken an overnight flight on which I did not sleep. Like the boss at public transportation that I am, I figured out how to take the subway (I also kept calling it the metro, whoops) without a GPS all the way to my friend Kelly’s place- the girl who so kindly let me stay with her. I ascended out of the station into Greenwich Village and gasped in awe and excitement at my surroundings: brick buildings taller than any that exist in Los Angeles lining the street all the way down the horizon as far as the eye can see, cute shopping, early morning commuters getting their coffees on their way to work, the crispness of the morning enlivening the city with excitement for the day. I felt like this was the New York that people fall in love with.
After meeting up with my friend at her place and taking a much needed, long nap, I explored the area around Union Square and Washington Square park. It was quite the sensory overload to take in so many people in the streets- especially since everyone was so fashionable. I was seriously considering taking photos of each person whom I thought was wearing a cute outfit and starting a fashion blog based on it.
Anyhow, once Kelly was done with work for the day, we set off to the Neue Museum- a small, modern art gallery near Central Park that is free on the first Friday of each month. However, everyone else in the city had the same idea as us, and the line was impossibly long. Instead, we decided to hit up a restaurant/bar called Lillie’s that someone had recommended to me. After googling it and having a drink there, I realized that we were at the wrong Lillie’s. We finally went to the right one afterward- it was an adorable, Victorian style establishment filled to the brim with people. I was falling asleep in my Mac ‘n’ Cheese, however, so we decided to call it a night early.
The next day, we had brunch at a cute hippie café- and also the skinniest café in existence- called Mud. It was packed, and maybe two people could stand comfortably side-by-side in it. However, the outside patio where we ate was cute and garden-esque.
Later that day, I had the highlight of my trip: I met up with my friend David! You may recall that I met David, a guy from New York, at my hostel in Barcelona when I was traveling in Europe. My gosh, this is my favorite story to tell. Okay, so Barcelona was the last place that I went to before I came home, and it was also David’s last stop on his backpacking trip around the continent. We just so happened to be leaving Europe on the same day. Conveniently, we decided to ride to the airport together. We then realized that we were on the same flight! The flight was Barcelona to New York and then to LAX, and we were on the first leg of the trip together. How weird is that?! Our flight also happened to be empty, so we were able to sit next to each other and bond. He told me to hit him up if I ever came to New York. So, I did!
David and his wonderful girlfriend, Alexa, actually live in Pennsylvania now, and they so kindly drove up two hours just to see Kelly and me! They took us to get food and drinks and drove us around the city. Later that night we all went to a biergarten. I just felt like life was so beautiful- I mean, how often do you meet someone in Barcelona, end up on the same flight home as them, and then see them in New York again a year and a half later?
The next day, Kelly and I made the trek over to Brooklyn for the Smorgasburg flea market! I feel like, lately, I hear perhaps more about Brooklyn in the media than Manhattan; on the one hand, I listen to 90s rappers such as Mos Def, Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z who discuss the gang banging and drug dealing happening on Brooklyn’s rough streets. However, in the indie world, Brooklyn has now seemingly become the hipster’s paradise in the last several years. Many claim that this resulted from starving artists being unable to afford living in Manhattan; others bemoan of gentrification (one of my favorite Urban Dictionary definitions is that of gentrification: “when a bunch of white people move to the ghetto and open up a bunch of cupcake shops“). Anyhow, I didn’t see much of Brooklyn, but from what I did see was that part of it wasn’t so nice and part of it was. I didn’t see that many record stores or organic, fair-trade coffee shops, but maybe I was in the wrong neighborhood. The flea market ended up being a bunch of food vendors patronized by well-dressed people with an amazing view of Manhattan:
That night, we saw a Broadway play! It was called Motown: The Musical, and it was wonderful. It told the story of Motown Records and was filled with music by Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder… it was awesome. Afterward, we had some New York pizza (I think in New York they just call it pizza) at a place called Joe’s that apparently is frequented by celebrities. We saw a photo on the wall of Lenny Kravitz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Bradley Cooper all eating there. Who knew the three of them were friends?
The next morning was my final day in the city! I went out for breakfast with my cousin Megan who lives in New York and whom I hadn’t seen in years. It was so wonderful to be able to reunite since we aren’t able to see each other often enough!
And finally, the last thing that I managed to squeeze in before my flight home was going to the Museum of Modern Art. My gosh, I could have spent days there, but I only had about an hour. I was able to see “The Starry freaking Night” by van Gogh as well as “The Persistence of Memory” by Dalí and some of Monet’s “Water Lilies”. I was starstruck.
Then I went home, and I was sad. I fell in love with New York and felt like there was so much that I wasn’t able to see. As David said, “A lot of people who travel here just end up moving here.” If the climate weren’t so awful I could totally live there; I just can’t handle winters that dip below 60 degrees, ya dig? Yet, I loved how there were seemingly endless things to do, places to see, and people to meet. New York always has something happening somewhere, and I think it’s impossible to get bored there. It felt like the most European city that I have visited thus far in America, what with its metro- I mean subway!-, arts, theater, cafés, well-dressed and interesting people, nightlife, and so on. Ugh.