Sunday, June 15, 2014
New York City.
Let me start off by saying New York City is definitely not my favorite place. By the time I've been there a few days, I am ready to get out. There are too many people, everyone is too rushed, the buildings are too tall, the subway is too packed and too hectic, and I am too afraid to be by myself at night.
NYC is just too much for me.
Now if there was more appeal in New York City for me, then maybe all the Too's would not overwhelm me. But they do, because they are just not worth it to me.
That being said, I have had some wonderful experiences in NYC. Unlike other places I have visited though, I do not really care if I go back.
I will though. I always end up back in NYC for one reason or another. Not to mention that my boyfriend and I started dating after a trip to NYC, so I feel like we will have to go back time to time for reminiscing. We are both cheeses like that.
There are some things I absolutely love about NYC as well. Namely the food. The food there is fantastic and I always end up eating waaaaaaaaaay too much. But seriously. Om nom nom.
The last time I was in NYC, which I only got back from June 11th, I was there to get TEFL certified for teaching in South Korea. This may have contributed a large part to why I was so done with the city. To get to the building my training was in I had to commute every day from Harlem to Penn Station and back. I used the 2 express train, and man was it crowded.
If you're just visiting NYC, avoid rush hour at all costs. It is horrendous. People press up against you, and sometimes you have to shove your way on to the train. I hated it.
A few months before I was in NYC for fun, the trip after which I began dating the BF, and it was a lot more enjoyable. We rode in to the city from Brooklyn, and the train was never very crowded. Not to mention, I love Brooklyn. So many good places to eat and the atmosphere is much more laid back than Manhattan.
The first night we ate at this awesome Asian fusion place. The name was ASEA fusion. It was rather cheap, and the food was excellent. We also ate at a family style Italian restaurant called Carmine's, near Time's Square, which was yummy but pricey.
My favorite place we went was the Ninja restaurant. The food was pricey, but it was worth it for the experience. The whole place is ninja themed, and waiters dressed like ninjas and jumped out at you. Often the different dishes involved some theatrics, like fire or dried ice. We had an incredible time. If you have a larger group they will seat you in a little alcove all to yourselves. This gives you a lot more privacy, and you can be loud without bothering the other dinners. One of my proudest moments was when a waiter tried to stab me with their retractable prop knives and I parried it. Mad ninja skills here.
On that trip we visited the Museum of Natural History, which I loved because DINOSAURS. The Brooklyn bridge at night was amazing. Seeing the whole city lit up is so breathtaking. We also visited the Brooklyn Zoo, which was quite fun. No one else was there, since the weather was still cold, and we had the whole zoo to ourselves. We goofed around in the kids area for silly pictures. The zoo keeper lady chatted with us while we looked at the animals, and she was interesting and informative.
Though I was there for work not pleasure during this months trip, I still got to see a lot of sights. The weekend where I had off to go exploring reminded me why NYC is such an oft visited city. Those three days I had a blast, even if the rest of the trip I just wanted to go home.
The BF came up to visit Friday night using the Megabus, which was over an hour late to pick him up. This meant we only had time to eat dinner before we went back to Harlem that night. But we ate at the best place ever!
During the summer different restaurants form all over the city put stalls up on Broadway and 34th. The whole thing is called Broadway Bites by Urbanspoon. It is amazing. The food is much cheaper than it normally is, and you can try stuff from everywhere. Everything I ate was fantastic. The BF and I split different foods, the better to try more things.
We had empanadas, arepas, onigiri, teriyaki balls, and Thai iced tea. I loved this place so much that I went back twice more. I dragged the BF again the next night for MORE food. This time including Turkish pastries, dumplings, onigiri again (seriously, try the miso and garlic onigiri. I could eat it forever), and crepes. Then my last night I dragged my friend from the TEFL program, because this place needs to be experienced. We had artisan grilled cheese and spring rolls, and I had amazing guava black current juice.
Then my TEFL friend and I went on an adventure to Time's Square for Junior's cheesecake. So good. If you get one that says another cake name as well, be warned this does not mean it is that flavor. This means the cheesecake will be INSIDE that cake. I swear my piece was bigger than my head. Luckily we walked off all that food wandering down to Grand Central Station and then back to Time's Square to catch the train.
Over the weekend I also visited a bunch of sights. These included the Highline Park, Empire State Building, Little Italy, Chinatown, Wall-street, Battery Park, a Holocaust museum, and the 9/11 memorial. Most of these things TEFL friend and I found by sheer luck while wandering around NYC. Neither of us has any sense of direction. Getting lost and stumbling upon famous landmarks was half the fun though.
Though thirty dollars seems a bit expensive to me, visiting the Empire State Building was phenomenal. The views are even better than you would imagine. I am not great with heights and was a bit nervous the whole time.
Battery Park was gorgeous and the breeze from the water was refreshing on a hot day. You can see the Statue of Liberty from the walkway as well. This is also where we stumbled upon the Holocaust museum.
The 9/11 memorial was rough. It is beautiful and tastefully done. As someone who remembers 9/11, visiting the site was not easy. TEFL friend and I spoke quietly the whole time and respectfully soaked it all in. We stood silently at each tower and remembered. Not everyone was so respectful though. I saw lots of people smiling, talking loudly, and taking smiling selfies with the memorials. The behavior definitely rubbed me the wrong way. I went there to remember and pay my respect. When visiting a site like 9/11, visitors need to remember that real people's lives were destroyed there. It is not just a tourist site. TEFL friend and I decided not to go through the museum for a couple reasons. The wait was very long, many people in line were already acting disrespectfully and we did not think we could handle that when seeing the faces of those that died, neither of us wanted to see the gift shop, and most importantly we did not think we could emotionally handle the museum. The memorials were hard enough, neither of us felt up to the actual museum. Maybe another time I will brave it.
To cheer ourselves up we explored Chinatown and Little Italy. Both were fun and interesting places to wander through. We got drinks at a random store in Chinatown and TEFL friend liked her's. Mine on the other hand had so much ginger in it that I could feel it burning my throat and chest. I call it the Ginger Drink Incident.
This was all forgotten when we stopped in Little Italy to eat at a place called Benito One that we found on Yelp. I have never had Italian food that amazing before. The linguine and eggplant I ordered was ridiculously tasty, and they gave me so much eggplant. I nearly made myself sick, and yet I still couldn't eat it all.
So, though NYC is not my favorite city and I do not really plan on going back soon, I did end up having a blast the weekend I was there.
I suggest visiting NYC at least once, it is definitely worth the experience.
Perhaps only visit for a couple days though.
Have you visited NYC? What did you think? Do you harbor a deep hatred for the subway like I do?
Have you been to a memorial for a tragedy like 9/11? How did people behave? Am I the only one that thinks smiling, laughing, and selfies is not really appropriate?