I had a little sabbatical in the Big Apple before working at Olive Loves Alfie….. lets call it a working holiday. My job was great but make no mistake it really wasn’t what pulled me Stateside. New York felt like a schizophrenic metropolis, infectious with opportunity and optimism and I was desperate to flow through its teeming veins. Electric with it’s challenge that “If you can make it here you can make it anywhere,” it begs for a passionate touche’ to prove you have the kahunas to take it on. Having come through the other end, 18 months in possibly the worlds most magnetic city, there will always be a little bit of my heart taken up by NYC and I hope it will always feel a little bit like home.
So with summer subsiding and the yearning for a dose of Americana multiplying I bit the bullet and booked the flight and with only 5 days to catch up, the to-do list must be very concise and very, very good. So here’s my top 5 recommendations for soaking up abit of NYC…..
THE STATEN ISLAND FERRY
This was the first thing I did when I arrived in Manhattan and remains my very favourite. Firstly it’s free which, when you have spent the last of your savings (read; overdraft) on a visa, feels practically like a gift from the gods. Then there is the view. It’s truly beautiful. As you pull away from the ferry port, wobbling away on the waves of the Hudson, the New York skyline is a bright reminder of what an incredible place you are in, filled with steel and glass and concrete and people all going about their lives creating this mecca of activity. If you need a slap with abit of perspective this is perfect. And I challenge anyone not to feel emboldened by the sight of Lady Liberty, a testament to the enduring spirit of New York. Get a hotdog, get a beer and enjoy the waves!
I felt a greater sense of achievement on the day I finally worked out the subway than the day I graduated University, scroll in hand. It’s definitely more complicated than the tube….. Express trains, local trains, trains that split off in different directions…. But persevere because it’s completely worth the reward. The busking talent is quite phenomenal, if you are lucky enough to catch the break dancers at Union Square give them at least 5 minutes and if possible a dollar or two. And then just people watch, because this is New York and the Subway is its arteries; All kinds of people flowing through the city in rattling steel train cars, going about their day. It’s quite mesmerising. Who are they? where have they come from? where are they going? Does the wrinkly old guy in the mismatched tweed suit and cravat realise he has just made my day with his ensemble?
This isn’t a pizza place it’s an institution. Joe’s has been around for over 35 years and has pictures on the wall of the owner with all sorts of American stars dropping in for a slice of mozzarella goodness, and i’m talking a-list, not a Big Brother contestant in sight. At $2.75 it isn’t the cheapest slice in the city nor is it probably the most delicious (that quest deserves its own blog). However the greatest thing about Joe’s is that it sits opposite the tree lined Father Demo Square, which intersects Bleeker and 6th Avenue……. Time for more people watching! My advice is to get a regular slice and cover it excessively with parmesan then stroll over to the square, grab a bench and watch the world go by. If you finish the slice and don’t have neon orange pizza oil streaming all over your hands you are being too polite, go get another one immediately and repeat the process.
The much more manageable little brother to The Brooklyn Bridge. My advice is to sideline the Big Brother, you will get halfway across feeling windblown, knackered and wishing you hadn’t started. So take it easy on yourself, the Williamsburg Bridge feels like half the walk, with equally impressive views and brilliant bars on each end like pots of liquid gold at the end of an impressively graffitied steel rainbow.
New York really knows how to do brunch!…. and personally I challenge anyone to find a better poached egg than that at Pastis. This is one time I don’t mind being surrounded by tourists. The biggest poached eggs I have ever seen sit atop finely sliced sharp smoked salmon, a fluffy English muffin and crispy home fries…. god bless Yukon gold potatoes! Coupled with the white tiled aesthetic of a chic French bistro this is the place to take your time over breakfast, read a book and sip leisurely on a coffee. But generally just brunch. Everyday brunch. If you are on holiday preferably brunch with a mimosa or two.