If I could live anywhere I’m pretty sure it’d be New York. Such an awesome city. We stayed just over a month and based ourselves in Harlem in an apartment we rented on AirBnB. Honestly, I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about staying in Harlem because of its reputation but we were pleasantly surprised – the locals up here (we stayed on west 126th street) are really friendly and there are plenty of cafes to sit in and relax. I’m not saying there weren’t any psychos roaming the streets – there were plenty but you know, it didn’t seem as dangerous as one might be led to believe.
We got ourselves a monthly unlimited subway card for $116.50 as we knew we’d be using the subway a lot (I think John worked out if you’re going to use it something like 4 times a day then it’s worth getting the unlimited card. It’s also nice not to be fumbling with change and queuing for ticket machines with oh so patient New Yorkers on your heels!) I’m going to concentrate on the Upper West Side (UWS) in this post.
We hadn’t wandered around this area on previous trips so we decided to do it some justice this time and absolutely fell in love with it. Perhaps because of the food up here…
Ok, so I found a great article on Buzzfeed pinpointing all the hot spots from my absolute favourite movie of all time, You’ve Got Mail so we got right on this on our first afternoon in NYC…and pretty much every afternoon after that… I think I could pretty much retitle this post as ‘Our You’ve Got Mail Days’…
We found ourselves in Zabar’s on numerous occasions – I have a slight addiction to their chocolate pretzels and John’s a fan of their chocolate croissants and in-house coffee blends. I think it’s best that it’s across the pond as I’m positive I’d be the size of a house if we lived anywhere near here. They have a pretty good homewares section upstairs, a good spot to pick up a useful souvenir like a tea-towel, mug or canvas shopping bag. Oh and Zabar’s sell Kerrygold butter therefore cementing its position as the best store in the US!
Obviously we checked out the atmospheric Cafe Lalo complete with twinkliest of lights outside. It’s open until 2am and is one of the most perfect places for a date or a catch up with a friend. Pretty tight squeeze into the tables when it’s busy though, it’s definitely not as airy as portrayed in the film. We ended up here a few times – it’s just so damn gorgeous. I had the most random concoction one evening – steamed eggs with strawberries (huh?), mixed nuts, raisins and cinnamon. Totally worked. You can check our their menu here. Their desserts are absolutely delicious.
The 91st Street Garden, where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan meet at the end of You’ve Got Mail and she says “I wanted it to be you”. Such emotion! Such a pretty garden! It wasn’t quite as beautiful as in the film but you can tell a lot of hard work goes into it – I’m sure it’ll be lovely by mid-summer. This isn’t a bad spot to catch a sunset…although it’s anything but peaceful – there’s a highway underneath you. It’s still New York 🙂
We visited the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (89th Street and Riverside Park) , a commemoration of the American Civil War. It’s exceptionally quiet up here, a nice spot for an evening wander.
Gray’s Papaya (just at the exit of the 1/2/3 72nd street stop) is a great place to pick a New York favourite, the ubiquitous hot dog – and their fresh juices are amazing! We were routed here on numerous occasions by John since he has a bit of a thing for their chilli dogs.
The triangular shaped Verdi Square (Broadway and 72nd) is a really nice place to sit and people watch. There’s even an artificial owl (check him out in the second picture below) up in a tree; designed to keep the pigeons away however that’s not working, they pretty much sit on top of him! The statue is Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi.
We did a lot of our food shopping at Trader Joe’s just across from here. It’s possibly the most manic supermarket I’ve ever been in – some evenings there was a queue outside the door plus a queue round the entire shop to pay for your goods. I’m pretty sure I’d go insane if I had to do my shopping here all the time. They’ve got beautiful flowers though. Worth queuing for! There’s a pretty good Urban Outfitters just across from here too. I hadn’t noticed before but URBO seems to have completely taken over NY – it’s like the Starbucks of the clothing industry.
The Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) (2220 Broadway) AKA shoe mecca is a danger to anyone in possession of a credit card. It’s a humongous store with rows and rows of oh so fabulous shoes from every designer imaginable (although they’ve a healthy sprinkling of Betsey Johnson and Birkenstock) and all the sizes are stocked up underneath them so you can go about your own business and nobody bothers you. It’s heaven. The one on the UWS isn’t the greatest but if the shoe fits… There’s one in Union Square (and one next to Macy’s too) and I must have tried on about 40 pairs of (please be mine) shoes one afternoon. Again, heaven. Down a few more blocks there’s a Century 21 (1972 Broadway) which is way less crowded than the one by the Freedom Tower. Oh the Burberry trenches!
The American Museum of Natural History (81st Street) is definitely worth a wander around. I’d been wanted to visit the museum for aons so was delighted when we got to visit. There are exhibitions within the museum which you have to pay extra to visit so it’s worth taking a look at the website before you go to see if any tickle your fancy. We decided to add on a space show, Dark Universe, which is on in the Hayden Planetarium adjoining the museum. Neil deGrasse Tyson narrates the show on dark energy and dark matter. You’d need days to do this place any justice. We managed a few hours and then needed a caffeine hit so have left some areas for another visit. The Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs has an amazing fossil collection, including a T-Rex with 6 inch teeth! It brought us back to South America when we saw actual dinosaur footprints in Sucre, Bolivia. Pretty cool. The blue whale in the Hall of Ocean Life is spectacular – and at 94 feet long absolutely monstrous!