New York City travel diary

February 19, 2019

It’s been over a month since I returned from my first vacay of 2019. I spent five magical days in one of my favourite cities in the world, New York City. After a two-year hiatus from the states it felt so good to be back on the isle of Manhattan. My cousin and I met up there for some sister-cousin quality time to kick off the year, and despite how frigid it was, we made the most of my first-time winter visit to the city.

We’d both already been to NYC multiple times, so we didn’t need to catch all the typical tourist sites. This was going to be a visit less about planning and more about living in the moment. We chose a few experiences to focus our money and time on (Fallon, Broadway, Knicks), and then otherwise we planned to just walk, eat, and drink our way around the city, checking out the nightlife, and trying our best to live like a local.

First things first I’ve gotta say, shout out to the Sheraton Tribeca for an amazing stay. The location was perfect (I’m talking less than a 5 minute walk to multiple subway lines), we were never in short supply of towels, plus we had the Club Lounge which meant free breakfast, happy hour every day – all the wine and snacks! – and a full supply of coffee, snacks and munchies to keep us fueled all day (or night) long. If you book your hotel directly on their website, you’ll generally find a better deal than on Expedia, etc. The tides have turned and hotels are taking their direct booking power back!

Also, a little tip we learned along the way: If you fly into LaGuardia, expect that you will be delayed. But don’t worry, there’s a Shake Shack in the Terminal now so at least you’ll be cranky and delayed with a happy tummy.

Thursday: After a slight flight delay – and my cousin’s flight cancellation out of Montreal – I arrived in NYC later than planned, and solo. We had tickets to the Jimmy Fallon taping that afternoon and – well, if you know me this shouldn’t come as a surprise – come hell or high water I was determined not to miss it. So of course it was a mad dash from LGA into the city to check in at the hotel, change and freshen up, and make my way to the studios at 30 Rock. Needless to say, this turned into the most expensive free taping I’ve ever attended. But to see Jimmy Fallon in person? Priceless. After the taping, my cousin and I finally reunited and hit the town for, of course, margs and tacos.

Friday: What a day! It’s hard to sum day 2 up into a paragraph because from morning to, uhh, 2am this was a perfect series of events and recos for anyone heading to NYC.

#1: NYC’s best cup of coffee. We had the most delicious lattes at Joe Coffee Company in Cadillac House. If you’re ever in NYC, check them out on Hudson St. Even if cars aren’t your thing (they aren’t mine), the space is a fresh, bright, insta-worthy spot with pop-up art installations, and they make a mean cup of joe. Plus, cute baristas.

#2: Baby’s (that’s me, I’m baby) first ramen at mŏkbar Chelsea Market. I’d never been to Chelsea Market, and checking out all the vendors was a great way to spend a chilly afternoon before ducking over to the High Line. I left empty handed despite wanting to buy EVERYTHING, though not without a belly full of to diiiie for chicken ramen and veggie dumplings from mŏkbar. With so many options ranging from tacos to bagels to mediterranean fare, we narrowed down our craving to noodles. This was a counter-top, low-fuss meal, and A+ taste and experience.

#3: The brand new Starbucks Reserve Roastery is now open across the street from Chelsea Market. If you’re a coffee nerd, whether you love Starbucks or not, this place is worth checking out. Multiple levels, so much food, coffee, and visual stimulation, photos don’t do it justice.

#4: Seeing Network at the Belasco Theatre. First of all, this is the first play I’ve been to – my show-going is usually reserved for musicals, but I thought, “What is more New York than seeing Bryan Cranston and Tony Goldwyn on Broadway?! Nothing.” So, the decision was made. This was an incredibly well-executed, well-acted production with interesting surprises along the way, and while the story is 40 years old, it couldn’t be more relevant right now. Everyone should see it. Go.

#5: To end our night, we made our way from Broadway to Tribeca for margaritas at Anejo followed up by manhattans and dancing at the tucked away, Ward III. This was a very unplanned night out, and while the Anejo date night vibes weren’t serving what we wanted, Ward III was. We had zero expectations but immediately fell in love with the dimly lit bar. The space was washed aglow only by the reflection of the lowkey disco ball lording over a tiny dance floor blasting Motown and rap. We sat at the bar and were treated like literal kweeeeens by our new friends the bartenders. We sipped manhattans, had a few too many free Proseccos, and made a ton of friends who loved talking about our Canadian-ness with us.

Saturday: As a result of the night before, this was a bit more of an, um, lazy day. So let’s fast forward to our night, which was one I’m glad I rallied for. On our Friday adventures, a subtle “rum bar” sign caught our eye on Thompson St. Cuba, an authentic Cuban restaurant and rum bar, has live salsa music on Fridays and Saturdays, so of course that’s where we had to start our night. After a delicious meal of empanadas, paella, and plaintain, we ended up at Red Lion, a basic but jam packed live music/sports pub on Bleecker St. A blues-rock band commanded the stage for the night, and the room was piled with all-Americans out for just another Saturday night. The night ended with $1 pizza slices in our hotel bed. Another success.

Sunday: We started our day off in search of a coffee as good as Joe’s (we didn’t find it) and fearless girl. I won’t tell you how many circles we walked in before we found her,  but working in advertising, this was one of my few “must-sees” on this trip so I was happy we found her. Then, we made our way to Madison Square Garden to watch the Knicks lose to the 76ers in a fairly uninspired game. The upside? Catching a sweet, sweet glimpse of Pete Davidson courtside. Oh, and being within the famed walls of MSG. From there, we may our way to Central Park because, well, when in New York. Our night ended in the East Village with dinner at Boulton & Watt before catching a show of hilarious stand-up comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. By this point, we were exhausted so being in bed by 9pm was a very welcome end to the night.

Monday: Our last day was the sunniest, but also maybe the coldest. So why not hit up the waterfront, right? Makes total sense! We heard the Seaport District had been renovated, plus we didn’t get a chance to visit Brooklyn, so after a quick stop in Glossier (of course we had to) we made our way south to the East River to wave what’s up to Dumbo. We slowed things down today, aimlessly wandering along the water, discovering a rooftop skating rink with a cozy spot to grab a bite, and otherwise sitting in the sun, staring at the water taxis going by, talking about when we can come back next. We were feeling the last day blues, but we headed back Tribeca’s way and found a tucked away spot with delicious matzo ball soup, so we were feeling like real New Yorkers now. Bubby’s was the perfect hideaway to kill our last few hours before leaving.

NYC, thanks for yet another magical weekend. Until next time.

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