I can see it from across the river, the skyscrapers looming over the city. That famous skyline that transcends generations.
In a city of over 9 million people of over 20 different nationalities from all over the world. They have the biggest Middle Eastern population, Chinese population, and even Hispanic population. True enough to its history New York has served as an entry point to immigrants since the early 1600’s. And today, here I stand at the point of entry. Millions of others have gone before me, to experience the vast wonder that is New York City.
Once I cross the threshold that is Lincoln tunnel, I brace myself on how to comprehend the upcoming view. The looming building overshadowing most of the view, you feel that you have just entered a bubble of an alternate reality, and the world outside does not exist anymore.
How can I begin to describe New York City? Cosmopolitan, Trendy, Majestic, Grand, Traditional and Complicated. You have buildings that use classic designs from Art Deco to Neoclassical to Gothic, and to Beaux-art. It’s a place where food, art, and culture collide.
I love how even with the overabundance of buildings there are still several parks scattered all over the city. It’s a mix of greens, blues, and concrete. I’ve been to New York three times, and it never loses its appeal, it’s like your outspoken friend who’s always inviting you to all the coolest secret places. There are so many things to do and discover in New York. It’s one of the best places to get lost in and immerse yourself in the city.
New York is so tolerant of all these different cultures and all these different traditions. You can find any kind of cuisine from the city, perhaps this is one of the reasons its called home by so many immigrants. By day New York is very busy, you see business men in suits crossing the road headed to wall street, you see the dog walker in central park with 5 different breeds of dog, the socialite in her heels headed to Bloomingdale’s, the tour headed to Times Square, and your regular Joe ready for another day of work. It’s hard not to feel like part of the exhibit when every corner seems so picturesque.
New York by night, by contrast, is different depending on what neighborhood you’re in. They have a numerous number of bars where you can listen to your local indie artists or the famous singers in concert at the Madison Square Garden. Regardless of where you are in the city, the shimmering lights from across the countless looming buildings shine on you, and you stand in awe of the beauty of the night lights.
When you’re there, you feel this kind of accomplishment, you didn’t really do anything but it brings about this feeling of pride and wonder and you are just genuinely happy to be there. To breathe it the city, to taste it, and to feel it. Being in New York is a different experience altogether.
There are 5 ways to get around the city, by bus, by taxi, by uber, by subway, and by walking. For the bus, you need to check the schedules.
In my experience, the best way to get around the city is a combination of walking and the subway. There are many taxis available but it’s not affordable and remembers you would always need to tip. Another great way to get around is to use uber, that way you already know the amount the moment you get in the car.
New York is a walking city, you can walk everywhere and you’ll be surprised by what you see on the streets. New York is so vibrant and alive that being an outsider visiting, I find it fascinating to see all these things, you have street vendors, artists, and performers. Everything in the city is bipolar from the food cart on the corner street to the 3 star Michelin restaurant on 5th Avenue.
Now, if you want to just hit all the tourist spots, the most convenient way to get around would be to purchase a hop on and hop off the ticket, you can get down to all the tourist attractions you want to visit then just hop on the next bus to the next spot.
We use the Flexiroam X ultra-thin microchip, you just add a thin film strip to your SIM and enjoy data roaming in over 100 countries. Hassle free of not renting out any wifi devices in the airports and making cash deposits. You don’t have to change your SIM or subscribe to any local telco or have an open line phone when you are traveling. Easy, convenient and cheaper way to get data.
My family chose to stay in the Upper East Side, it’s near a lot of the restaurants and attractions we wanted to try, and it was close to Central Park. Another good option is to stay in Mid-Town where most of the attractions are. If you’re on a budget, however, you can find a place that is more affordable in Brooklyn, Queens, or Harlem area.
There are many choices for accommodations in the city. You can choose to get a bed in Airbnb that can cost you 10USD per night or opt for a hotel that could be as low as 60 USD to 300 USD per night. Click HERE to see the best deals and prices available.
NYC has a lot of different kinds of cuisine, available over the city. Don’t be afraid to try the corner cafe’s, the hot dog stalls, and the hole in the wall restaurants and delis. The diversity of NY is so vast that you can see men in suits eating in the food carts or the restaurant down the street. There is food available for every price range, so if you’re on a budget, there is still something available for you.
They are best known for their Banana Cream Pie, however, what I found most delicious was their dark chocolate fudge brownie. I also recommend their cupcakes, our very own Sonja from Cupcakes by Sonja used to work in Magnolia bakery and then eventually opened her own cupcake shop in Serendra in Bonifacio Global City.
Address: 200 Colombus Ave. NY ; 401 Bleeker St, NY ; Rockefeller Center, NY
Now I know we have a branch of Halal Guys in Manila but I really wanted to know what was the difference from the original cart in NYC. Once I got into 53rd street, I could already smell the strong fragrant odor of the Halal Guys food cart, this scent will really draw you in, I could also see the very long line and the number of customers eating by the sidewalk. Try their Gyro over rice, it’s around 8 USD, the flavors are stronger and more pronounced than the one in Manila. And their sauce is unlimited, you can help yourself to how much you want. This is worth lining up over, it’s filling, tasty, and affordable. Unfortunately, the Manila branch does not live up to expectations.
Address: W 53rd St. and 6th Ave, NY
The Plaza Hotel, one of the most celebrated hotels in America, is one place you should not miss. Originally built in 1907, this hotel has housed countless world leaders, Kings, and Hollywood stars. Their food hall on the lower floor features different kinds of fine food, from various cuisines from all over the world.
When you visit the Plaza Hotel Food Hall, make sure to try the Lobster Roll from Luke’s. You can taste the fresh lobster and the richness of the butter combined in perfect symphony. I had to stop myself from getting a second roll. Definitely one of my favorite things I’ve had in New York.
For dessert, head over to Lady M and try their handcrafted cakes and pastries. I tried their signature mille crepe cakes, similar to Paper moon crepe cakes here in Manila.
Address: The Plaza Hotel, 5th Avenue and Central Park, NY
One of the things I wanted to check off my list was Shake Shack. Which was really the best burger chain in America? In N Out? Five Guys? Or Shake Shack? For me, once I took my first bite of my Double Shack Burger it was clear, this was the winner. The rich meaty taste of the patty and their potato buns topped with cheese was an explosion of flavors in my mouth. Don’t leave New York without trying this.
Address: 691 8th Avenue, NY; Grand Central Terminal, NY; 200 Broadway, NY
Ever watch that movie with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale titled Serendipity? Aside from being a popular place because of those who loved the movie, they also serve delicious food and desserts. Try the Bleu Cheese Burger and their Frozen Hot Chocolate. Make sure to make reservations, as they always have a long queue.
Address: 225 East 60th Street, NY
The milk bar is by award-winning chef and owner Christina Tosi. They are famous for their crack pies, and compost cookies. You also need to try their cereal milk soft serve ice cream with cereal bits. It’s really really good!
Address: 251 East 13 St. NYC
Unfortunately, there were still some restaurants on my list that we weren’t able to try that is definitely worth checking out.
- Katz Deli – Katz Deli goes way back since 1888, try their pastrami and corned beef sandwiches. Find them at 205 E Houston St, New York, NY
- Gray’s Papaya– Try their famous hotdog sandwiches. Find them at 2090 Broadway, New York, NY
- Peter Luger Steakhouse – Peter Luger is synonymous to the steak in New York. Established in 1887, they still serve the best steak today. Make a reservation at +1 718-387-7400, and find them here 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY
- Dominique Ansel Bakery – Try the original Cronut and cookie shot glasses. Find them here 189 Spring St, New York, NY
- Smorgasburg – This is a weekend foodie market featured 100 vendors from all over NYC and across the region. They’re open on Saturdays at Williamsburg and Sundays at Prospect Park. Disclaimer: They are only open on weekends of April till October.
New York is one of the most photographed cities in the world. It really depends on you what your interests are. I am a cinephile, and New York has been host to the greatest love stories told, we have You’ve got mail, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seatle, and Serendipity. It’s even home to some of the great TV show like How I met your mother, Friends, Gossip Girl and Felicity.
There are a lot of things you can go to in New York but these are some that I think you shouldn’t miss. It might be cliche to some of you to go to these spots but they’re also classic. I’ve divided them into the different areas of the city
- Upper East Side – Take a stroll down central park before heading to Serendipity for lunch. There are also many museums in this area like Guggenheim, Frick Museum, and the Jewish Musem.
- Upper West Side – Check out the Museum of Natural History before heading to the Lincoln Center and catch a show at the New York City Ballet.
- Mid Town – There are several sites to visit it Midtown. Go up to the Empire State Building roof deck, Take a train from Grand Central Terminal, say a prayer in St.Patrick’s Cathedral, take all the pictures of Times Square, and watch a musical.
- Chelsea – NYC’s gay hub, with the trendiest clubs and restaurants
- Financial District – Take a stroll on Wall Street, and take a picture with the golden bull.
- East Village – Check out St. Marks place, this neighborhood has a very diverse food/arts scene. Aside from vintage shops and hidden clubs, you can find the likes of Momofuku Noodle Bar and Eddie Huang’s BaoHaus in the area.
- Greenwich Village – If you’re a fan of friends head over to the Greenwich Village to check out their building. You can also visit the Washington Square Park.
- Tribeca – Check out the Brandy Library and the Mysterious Bookshop where you can find new, classic and even rare titles.
- Soho – One of New York’s prime shopping district, and art district. Visit the Film Forum, to watch classic and foreign films and art house features in this place.
- Williamsburg – Channel your inner Dan Humphrey and go to the Brooklyn Bridge, and check out Williamsburg where you can take a peek at the thriving art scene.
While there are countless things to do in New York, I listed down the top 10 things you should do while you’re in the city.
- Take a stroll in Central Park, then take a pause and people watch.
- Visit the museum: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art
- Get a ticket to watch Hamilton, Wicked or Lion King on Broadway.
- Visit Times Square and get a picture with the Naked Cowboy or Spiderman
- Go to the top of the Empire State building and see the New York skyline from their roof deck. Feel free to channel your inner Meg Ryan.
- Take the ferry to Staten Island and Ellis Island and see the Lady Liberty up close.
- Cross the Brooklyn Bridge into Williamsburg, and watch a free concert in Prospect Park(They have free concerts every saturday during summer time). Check out Sofar’s and check the gigs across the city.
- Visit Coney Island and ride the Cyclone while munching on Nathan’s hotdog.
- Watch the Yankees play in the Yankees Stadium or the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.
- Check the weather, dress the occasion.
- Be ready with extra cash, everything in New York is taxed 8.875%, on top of that you also leave a 15% tip especially when eating in restaurants.
- Be firm, don’t be afraid to say no to those pesky vendors on the side of the road.
- When visiting the museums, remember that you don’t need to pay the full entrance fee usually amounting to 15-30 USD and can opt to give a donation instead that can amount to 5 USD.
- Go to the restroom before leaving your hotel/AirBnb there are not a lot of free toilets around and would usually require you to buy an item, then be given a password you need to enter in a locked door to open the toilet.
- Download the offline version of NYC in Google Maps. It will make it much easier to get around, and it already shows you what bus/subway/street to take to your destination.
- Watch out for Wifi and charging stations. They have this for free all around the city.
- Keep your bag close to your body, while it’s a safe place, sometimes you can’t avoid pickpockets.
New York is for everybody. Whether you’re a historian, a geek, a foodie, an artist, a model, or a businessman, you will find something to do. The city will welcome you into its arm, drowns you in moonshine and sends you on your way. The fleeting feeling of New York is something I’ll always go back to. In this city for millions, I know it’s also a city for me.
As we always say. Explore and wander! and become a storyteller when you return home.
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