I asked if I could take his picture. He said ok! I love New York City.
The Big Apple
When you grow up with a landmark destination like New York City in your backyard, you either take it for granted or take it in manageable chunks. I started out with the mentality of the former. Easton, PA, home of Crayola Crayons and several other things you wouldn’t think it would be famous for, is my home town. And from there, New York City is a cool hour ish bus ride (depending on traffic). What that meant was Christmas in the City (Radio City Music Hall, the tree, the store windows decked, the ice skating in Rockefeller Center, the chestnuts roasting), easy access to Broadway musicals (I was raised on the classics like Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and many others), Pastrami on Rye and the sounds and the smells of city life without having to, well, live there.
When September 11th happened, I felt so grateful that no one I knew well was intimately affected (though some people one or two degrees removed from my friend circle were), but all my friends and family were internally affected and still mourned the losses that came with that devastating day. But as you may know, the city that never sleeps also never gives up, and since that day it has only closed ranks to become stronger and more alive than ever. And whenever I get the chance, I take a trip back, either to walk down memory lane or forge new paths. And what I am finding is that while I totally can still catch the wave of all things touristy (shopping, Broadway, Times Square, Statue of Liberty) I am also honing into parts of the city that I vibe with more. One of those parts is the Lower East Side.
The Lower East Side
The Lower East Side of Manhattan is about as different as you can imagine from the double-decker bus-filled streets of Times Square. Built on the foundation of immigration (Germans, Irish, Italians, Chinese and so many more) it is a melting pot of history, heartache, and up and coming culture. Flanked on its sides by China Town (the largest in our country), Little Italy and practically waterfront real estate overlooking the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge, it is my gateway to a fantastic day in the city. Or, in this case, 6 hours.
6 hours in New York City with only the iPhone
What would you do with 6 hours in Manhattan with your bf who has only been a few times? Well, I’ll tell you what I did today, on Thursday, for a real-time Travel with me Thursday. And beware, you won’t find many classic tourist stops on this route.
When I am exploring new or beloved places, I always turn to Google first to see what’s trending. We found a fantastic website NYCGO.com that broke the city into very manageable top 10 or 20 lists of things to check out. We read through the list for the Lower East Side https://www.nycgo.com/itineraries/see-your-city-lower-east-side, decided on about 6 things we wanted to try to do and plugged them in as stops on a google map. Itinerary loosely planned, now it was time to figure out the best way to get into the city from PA, spend some quality time sight seeing and eating, pack light (taking photos only with the iPhone) and still get the bf on a 6PM plane from Newark to LA. Challenge accepted.
After some research, we determined the fastest and most cost-effective thing to do that started and ended us in Newark was to drive to Newark Penn Station, pay to park, take the Amtrack line into NY Pennsylvania Station, walk or subway to the first stop on our agenda, and eventually find our way back in time for me to drive from the parking to the airport. Miraculously it worked without a flaw. Because most of the things we wanted to do were nearer to the World Trade Center, we contemplated the PATH metro line that goes direct from Newark to WTC, but ultimately didn’t go that route. Maybe next time.
To see the Big Apple and all it has to offer, do your research ahead and head over to Lonely Planet and research their guide books! I still love buying or downloading guide books because I feel like they have sooooo many options in just one place!
Feed the Foodie
Once we got into the city, our very first stop was breakfast. Of course. We chose Bagels. A quick google search showed us the best rated bagel near Penn Station was Best Bagel and Coffee (Yes, really) http://www.bestbagelandcoffee.com/. Bagels, you say? Why so cliche? Because (and I will fight you to the death on this) there are no better bagels than the ones you’ll find in NYC. I promise. Some people say it’s the water. Some say it’s the fact that bagels were born to this country via NYC. Some people don’t care why. (for more fascinating info on bagel history, click here http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2008/11/a_short_history_of_the_bagel.html
For me, excellent bagels are all about the ratio of dense chew to crusty outer later. I’ll take an Everything please. With smoked salmon, tomatoes, onions, capers, lettuce and cream cheese schmear. We split it because, I kid you not, this bagel sandwich weighed about 2 pounds. And since no breakfast is complete without coffee, I spied an interesting place across the street called Madman Espresso http://www.madmanespresso.com/ After perusing the menu, I ordered one of their signature drinks “The Sarabella”, flavored with honey and cinnamon, milk, iced. SOOOOO good.
Immigration and the Tenement Museum
The Foodie in me fed, we continued on, making our way on foot to the Flat Iron Building (which neither of us had ever actually seen), through an amazing Farmer’s Market that made me wish I had a reason to shop (the fruit and veggies this time of year in this part of the country are second to none) and from there to our first actual destination: the Tenement Museum https://www.tenement.org/ Now, don’t be fooled by the name. History buffs and tourists alike should make this a stop on a multi day NYC trip. It was a fantastic look into life in the 1870s-1930s during the height of immigration and beyond. Untouched, historically accurate tenement apartments, complete with authentic relics and furnishings, are just part of the story. There are multiple guided tours and I highly recommend taking one. We took the “Hard Times” tour and it was fab. Don’t miss the 38 minute video that also gives you an overview of the point and purpose, and history of, the museum.
If you’ve read my bio, you might know that one of my loves in new (and familiar) places is a rooftop bar where I can 1) catch a killer view 2) drink a craft cocktail or wine and 3) if possible, be outside. One of the discoveries thanks to our NYCgo itinerary was a bar on the rooftop of the Indigo Hotel called Mr. Purple and it hit alllll the high notes. https://www.mrpurplenyc.com/ Plus, it was heavily and perfectly air conditioned, so while there was an outside seating area (and a pool) we opted for the muccchh cooler inside bar.
le déjeuner is Served
Two drinks later, it was clear that we were ready for some lunch and quickly running out of time, so we opted to Lyft to the next to stop, the French Food Market in the World Trade Center called Le District. https://www.ledistrict.com/ Not even our recent trip to France could cure us of looking for French Food in the city. And this promised to be fast, variety-filled, and near to a Subway that would take us back to the train station. And it also did not disappoint. We had a variety of tasty treats, heavy on the seafood, a delicious baguette with butter, and a few choice cheeses. Then Macarons and some bite sized profiteroles for dessert. Très délicieux!
After that it was a quick Subway ride back to the train and a fast train ride back to the station. Mission accomplished.
- Photographs taken that were worth sharing: 72 (including two encounters with strange and interesting people)
- Miles walked: 7.3
- Hours: 6
- Stops: 5
- Forms of transportation taken: 4 (subway, train, car, feet)
- Alcoholic beverages consumed: 3
- Meals enjoyed: 2
- Tenements visited: 1
Alllll the photos here:
Newark Penn Station
Arriving in the City
Along the walk to the Flat Iron Building, to the Tenement Museum
More from Mr. Purple rooftop bar