New York…below Central Park

Ok, I know I went on about some of this stuff in another NYC post but that was like a year ago and some of it is STILL worth going on and on and on about!! So this is basically a post detailing our favourite haunts in New York and pretty much covers everything south of Central Park! In true us-ness (got to be a word, right?) this one’s mostly food. A girl’s gotta eat.

Firstly though, on a non-foodie note we went to see On the Town on Broadway. Some pretty cool songs but Jesus it was a long show. At least John didn’t fall asleep…unlike our trip to San Francisco’s Christmas Nutcracker performance. Nope, he shall never live that down. Pup.

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square at night

Helping you find your way

Helping you find your way

Broadway, baby!

Broadway, baby!

Pretty sunsets

Pretty sunsets

Chelsea/Meatpacking/SoHo/Little Italy

The Chelsea Market takes up an entire block of the Meatpacking District. There’s a really good Anthropologie store and a sister Artists & Fleas Market to the one in Brooklyn; there’s a lot of lovely delicate jewellery on sale here. Visiting the Chelsea Market is all about eating though. The Lobster Place is my favourite spot in the entire market. Crab clubs, lobster rolls, even whole steamed lobsters to chow down on – yes, please! It’s always packed full of people and always awesome. Lucy’s Whey has really tasty cheese toasties and lovely, friendly staff. Buon Italia has got lots of food options from Italy at really good prices. More so foodstuff for cooking yourself though so it’s really only good if you’re in an Airbnb. Chelsea Market Baskets sells artisan food, gifts and eh, baskets. A good perusing spot. Away from food again and Posman Books have a fantastic selection of New York themed books, cookbooks and beautiful cards too. I could spend HOURS in here! Once you eventually decide on a place to eat within the Market you could hop up to the High Line (if you visit New York and you don’t walk the elevated park that is the High Line then you’re missing out) and find a bench between the trees or overlooking the street to devour your haul but if you don’t fancy total strangers staring your food down then I suggest crossing the street to the 14th Street Park for your very own table for 2.

Chelsea Market entrance

Chelsea Market entrance

The prettiness!!

The prettiness!!

Up on the High Line

Up on the High Line

Empire State from the High Line

Empire State from the High Line

Street Art from the High Line

Street Art from the High Line

14th Street Park - free wifi!!

14th Street Park – free wifi!!

One of my favourite cafes in New York is Maman. It’s right across the road from the beautiful old Police Building (which is now a seriously luxurious apartment block – we’re talking Net-a-Porter delivery vans constantly arriving at the door). I just cannot explain the deliciousness of the hot chocolate at Maman, the prettiness of their coffee cups or the awesomeness of their bathroom. They’ve a lavender hot chocolate too. They can do no wrong. No wrong. They just opened in Toronto too.

Since our visit to Brazil I’ve developed a bit of an addiction to açai bowls. I’ve tried to recreate them with the frozen pulp from Whole Foods (crap) and the açai powder. My skill level isn’t there yet either. Liquiteria does them but they just taste like bananas and although they’ll make them without bananas they’re just not right. Whatevs! Two Hands does their own version; super pretty but again very banana-y. Damn it people!

Maman

Maman

Aw, they're a friendly bunch

Aw, they’re a friendly bunch at Maman

Old Police Building

Old Police Building – fantabulous apartments these days

Around the Police Building

Around the Police Building

Liquiteria's açai

Liquiteria’s açai

Two Hands

Two Hands

Gansevoort Market is a cool, industrial style market in the Meatpacking District, which is easily accessible from the southern end of the High Line. We had awesome pizza from Luzzo’s here. It’s not a huge market but there is plenty of choice so it’s definitely worth a look. Another market similar to this is Gotham West up in Hell’s Kitchen (near Times Square). It’s a down-with-the-cool-kids sort of spot. They have a Blue Bottle Coffee Bar; we’re talking coffee for serious coffee lovers. They even have their own book. Oooh, very fancy!! There’s also a Blue Bottle across from the Chelsea Market. Since we’re on coffee I guess I should mention Joe Coffee (various locations), which, according to the coffee connoisseur that is John has the best coffee in New York. So there you go!

Gansevoort Market

Gansevoort Market

Gansevoort Market

Across from Gansevoort Market

Up close

Up close

Back to NoLita and the Little Cupcake Bakeshop still reigns supreme as one of the cutest bakeries on the planet. Just look at it. Black and white tiles inside with red velvet and coconut cloud goodies. Adorable.

Little Cupcake Bakeshop

Little Cupcake Bakeshop

Harney & Sons Tea Blenders in SoHo. Oh the Paris tea. I don’t even need to say more.

The BEST street to wander in New York is Bleecker. It’s full of great boutiques (hello MAJE), a lot of beauty stores (MAC, Fresh! and Marc Jacobs Beauty) and lovely eateries such as the Magnolia Bakery (yes, that of Sex and the City fame). Need I say more? Get them and pop up to Washington Square Park to people watch. Perfection! Across the street from the Magnolia Bakery is Bookmarc NY, a small bookstore by Marc Jacobs. It’s small enough and sells mostly fashion books but they also have cute gifts and book bags. If you’re down around this area then you shouldn’t miss a trip to 64 Perry Street AKA Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment. Molly’s Cupcakes way down Bleecker street is a cute little spot to grab a hot chocolate and some sweeties. They have indoor swings! Right next to Molly’s is Winston Churchill Square – a cherry blossom filled haven in the city! Just across the street from here is the Porto Rico Importing Co. which is, it seems, a mecca for coffee and tea lovers. It’s been around since 1907 and is just a lovely store to wander around. Back up near Washington Square Park is probably one of the coolest old school pharmacies in the world – C.O. Bigelow is just special.

In Winston Churchill Square

In Winston Churchill Square

Porto Rico Importing Co.

Porto Rico Importing Co.

Flatiron District

Eataly in the Flatiron district is perfection. Their meat and cheese plates with a glass of vino or a craft beer makes for a splendid evening 🙂 A stroll in Madison Square Park after a feed here and you’re sorted. The Lego store is right next door and it has the most amazing creations of New York scenes. Some people have talent. Toby’s Estate coffee in the Club Monaco flagship store around here is pretty good for a coffee to go. There’s a well curated Strand Bookstore within Club Monaco too. The destination with a destination in a destination!! The main Strand Bookstore is at 12th Street and Broadway – if you’re in to books then it’s absolutely worth a visit here. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Shop does an amazing cheese and fig toastie. DEFINITELY worth some pennies!

A 'flat' side of the Flatiron!

A ‘flat’ side of the Flatiron!

The Flatiron's behind that!

The Flatiron’s behind that!

Lego creations

Lego creations

A glimpse inside Eataly

A glimpse inside Eataly

The Strand within Club Monaco

The Strand within Club Monaco

Greenwich Village

We were very well advised by our Airbnb hosts that Mamoun’s is THE spot to come for falafels. It’s tiny and the decor looks decades old but that just adds to the experience. It’s right next to the lovely Café Reggio which incidentally houses the coolest coffee machine on the planet. Oh and they served the first cappucino in the US. No biggie. Tea & Sympathy is a great (albeit teensy!) spot for British style afternoon tea, it’s actually run by Brits so you can’t go wrong with the scones here. They’ve got a store next door selling British goodies too.

East Village

We hadn’t spent any time in the East Village on previous trips to New York to be honest but we were keen to try out Jennifer’s Way – the cutest little bakery specialising in gluten-free goodies. Actor Jennifer Esposito owns it. HA and OWNS IT, go Jennifer!! You could pick up some goodies and enjoy them in Tompkins Square Park, just down the street. This park was a great find for us – there was a market around the edges, some cool music and lots of beautiful flowers. A little oasis in the city. Ninth Street Espresso is a block away from the park and although it has a few outpost  John liked this one best. A very chilled out spot to grab a coffee. Since we’re on food…the Clinton Street Baking Company. Sweet Jesus, just go there for brunch.

Jennifer's Way

Jennifer’s Way

East Village residents

East Village residents

Keeping the East Village nice and cosy

Keeping the East Village nice and cosy

Battery Park

Battery Park, waaay down the southern tip of Manhattan (Bowling Green subway stop) is a lovely place for a walk, it’s also where you get the free ferry to Staten Island or have a stare at the Statue of Liberty. You could walk from here up to the 9/11 memorial and the World Trade Center. We happened upon the Irish Hunger Memorial around here, it’s uncanny how like Ireland they managed to get a spot in the middle of Manhattan. I’d continue up to TriBeCa to the adorable Tiny’s bar then.

Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower

Irish Famine Stone

Irish Famine Stone

John's home county

John’s home county

Ireland's most important county

Ireland’s most important county

Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry

image image

Tiny's

Tiny’s

Here’s all of our favourite New York spots!

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Central Park, New York

Central Park has to be one of the nicest places to mooch around in New York. We spent quite a few afternoons stocking up on chocolate pretzels in Zabar’s (check out the Upper West Side post) and sitting in the shade of a tree watching baseball games and chatting. Bliss. Honestly, the people watching is beyond awesome. My favourite sport 🙂

In all its glory

In all its glory

Good mood tunes!

Good mood tunes!

A Central Park sky

A Central Park sky

Working your way through Central Park

We walked from the top (up near Harlem) down through the park (ending up by the Plaza Hotel and 5th Avenue) in a couple of hours one afternoon. We spent some time up by the Harlem Meer, a man-made lake way up north (Central Park North subway stop) where you can catch-and-release fish or chill out by the beautiful weeping willows. It’s definitely more serene than the lower half of Central Park. It’s almost like a ‘Locals Only Club’. The Conservatory Garden (created in 1898) is also up here (around E 106th street), which is supposed to be stunning in full bloom (case in point in this picture) but unfortunately there was zilch going on during our visit. Sucks to be us eh?!

Harlem Meer

Harlem Meer

Conservatory Garden

Conservatory Garden

If you keep strolling down through the park you’ll eventually come across the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (86th street), a behemoth of a watering hole. Jackie O used to jog around here and it was one of the last places she was seen alive before her death in 1994 so it’s really nice that the city honoured her with the name. The whole city jogs around the 2.5km track around the reservoir. Don’t make the mistake of walking the wrong way though – you’ll actually get run in to. Just after the reservoir lies the Arthur Ross Pinetum, emmm…an area filled with pine trees for you to enjoy!

A touch windy here...

A touch windy here…

I guess the next piece of Central Park you might recognise on your walk would be the Great Lawn, which is in fact, a 55 acre pretty great lawn. There’s so much to see around this area – it’s easily my favourite part of the park. On the east side of the Great Lawn lies the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Roof Garden Café and Martini Bar here has stunning views of the park and skyline. On the west side of the Great Lawn is the American Museum of Natural History (also see the Upper West Side post). On the corner right next to the Museum is the beautiful Beresford apartment building where Jerry Seinfeld and Diana Ross live/used to live. Just after the Great Lawn you’ll find the Delacorte Theater where they show Shakespeare in the Park FOR FREE every summer. How nice! Next there’s Belvedere Castle (79th street) built in 1869, an oh so adorable folly which has been in shed loads of movies. Get your Rapunzel on here 🙂 There are absolutely amazing views of the Great Lawn and Turtle Pond just below from the balconies at Belvedere Castle. The Shakespeare Garden is just under the castle, filled with flowers and plants good old William mentioned in his works. It’s adorable.

View from the Met

View from the Met

Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle

Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle

Belvedere Castle

Belvedere Castle

Some oh so interesting facts. But actually interesting.

Some oh so interesting facts. But actually interesting 🙂

Turtle Pond (last summer)

Turtle Pond (last summer)

Just by Shakespeare's Garden

By Shakespeare’s Garden

The Ramble is up next and it’s exactly that, a ramble around in lots of circles. It’s pretty rugged here and purposely unkempt. It’s supposed to be dangerous at night too so be warned should you decide to take a midnight stroll. At the bottom of the Ramble you’ll find Central Park Lake, where you can rent one of those oh so rosmantic row boats whilst waiting for your table in the Loeb Boat House. We had lunch here on our last trip and it was delicious, although there was a serious wait to get in – reserve if you can…Very close to here is the Alice in Wonderland statue (East 74th street) and the bronze statue of Hans Christian Anderson reading a book AND the lovely Conservatory Water where model sail-boating (pretty much in every film ever!) takes place. Phew!

I guess parallel to the Loeb Boathouse is the beautiful cast-iron Bow Bridge adorned with cast-iron urns (it’s closed for a couple of months now for some restoration). Just after Bow Bridge is the angel-topped Bethesda Fountain. On the west side of Bow Bridge is the Strawberry Fields, a 2.5 acre area of the park dedicated to John Lennon. He lived in the Dakota apartment block on 1 West 72nd street just outside the park, which was also sadly the location of his murder.

Loeb Boathouse

Loeb Boathouse

So romantic

So romantic

The Alice in Wonderland sculpture

The Alice in Wonderland sculpture

Bow Bridge

Bow Bridge

Bethesda Fountain

Bethesda Fountain

Continuing on down Central Park you’ll find Tavern on the Green, Sheep Meadow AKA sun-lounging central, the Central Park carousel and of course, Central Park Zoo and that beautiful area housing the Trump Skating Rink in the winter months. Oh and the gorgeous Gapstow Bridge is here too! God there’s just so many beautiful places in the park!!

Gapstow Bridge

Gapstow Bridge

Getting around NYC style

Getting around NYC style

All the people on the planet gather here!!

All the people on the planet gather here!!

Obsessed

Obsessed

Dreamy

Dreamy

Blending in with my outfit choice here

Blending in with my outfit choice here

Starting from the bottom of Central Park and in need of picnic food? East Side – You could pick up some trés fancy picnic items in the Plaza’s Food Hall and chill out for the day pretty much anywhere you fancy. West Side – I love the salads in Whole Foods – you get a take-away container and fill it with any salad item you could possibly imagine – it’s so filling and a fantastic picnic-pick-up-spot. There’s one near Columbus Circle so you could easily pick up your food for the day here, add a few magazines and you’re golden.

Roosevelt Island, New York

On one sunny afternoon we decided to hop on the Roosevelt Island Tramway (included in our monthly unlimited subway card) from 59th Street and 2nd Avenue for the 5 minute or so ride across to where all of New York seems to go to exercise. You can also hop on the F train but it was nice to get above the city. Roosevelt Island is a little sliver of an island on the East River between Manhattan and Queens. There wasn’t much to do or see there really but if you’re keen to get a little bit more space than Manhattan’s streets allow then it’s a nice place to mooch around.

The island has gone through a few name changes, just in case you’re in a pub quiz some evening – Minnehanonck and Hog Island (way back when), Blackwell’s Island, Welfare Island and Roosevelt Island more recently. Blackwell Island for the family that owned and farmed the land until 1828 – can you even imagine what it would be like if that was still a farm? That’d be one awesome weekend farmer’s market. It then became Welfare Island in 1921 (there were a number of hospitals and a prison there) and it was only renamed Roosevelt Island in 1971 after President Roosevelt.

If you wander down from the tramway you’ll eventually stumble upon Blackwell House, the island’s oldest landmark, built between 1796 and 1804. Although it was left to dilapidate, urban preservationist Giorgio Cavaglieri led the charge to renovate it and it looks fantastic now. It has the perfect porch for a rocking chair! The Chapel of the Good Shepherd, built in 1888, is a cute little church on the Main Street which you’re bound to spot too. There’s a Starbucks around here and honestly it was the only place we spotted to get anything. Best bring a picnic…

En route to Roosevelt Island

En route to Roosevelt Island

Crossing over...

Crossing over…

Blackwell House

Blackwell House

and from the other side

and from the other side

Chapel of the Good Shepherd

Chapel of the Good Shepherd

View back towards Manhattan's Upper East Side

View back towards Manhattan’s Upper East Side

Just a little reminder of where you are

Just a little reminder of where you are 😉

Queensboro Bridge Trolley Kiosk

Queensboro Bridge Trolley Kiosk

Flying high

Flying high

Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn Bridge

Taking a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the nicest things you can do with an afternoon. It takes less than half an hour to meander across the bridge although there are many (many) cyclists you’ll need to weave around. The views back towards Manhattan are stunning.

Brooklyn Bridge on the sunniest of days

Brooklyn Bridge on the sunniest of days

Looking back at the biggest of apples

Looking back at the biggest of apples

This love lock thing is catching on...

This love lock thing is catching on…

Not such a shabby view

Not such a shabby view

DUMBO

DUMBO or Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass is one of Brooklyn’s nicest areas and it’s basically at the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge. We love pottering around the cobbled streets here or sitting by the water with a coffee in hand. We took a little trip in to West Elm Brooklyn Market and picked up some home goodies and coffees for our walkabout in the area. If you love the food in Shake Shack and you can’t be bothered to wait 6 months in the line in the one in Times Square then it’s worth stopping into the Shake Shack here. Great views. And shakes. I keep meaning to visit the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory here too but we haven’t made it yet. Next time for sure! Jane’s Carousel, created in 1922 has now found a home in the Brooklyn Bridge Park ($2 per ride) and is just stunning. I read in the NY Times that it took artist Jane Walentas 20 years to restore the 48 wooden horses (complete with gold leaf) that make up the carousel. It’s beautiful. Artist Tom Fruin created the stained glass house or Kolonihavehus in the picture below from a thousand pieces of plexiglas. Delighted we got to see that.

Bit overexposed I know but still kinda cool

Bit overexposed I know but still kinda cool…Empire State in view (just!)

Jane's Carousel

Jane’s Carousel

Just taking in the view

Just taking in the view

Manhattan Bridge

Manhattan Bridge

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

That light

That light

So pretty

So pretty

Ooh!

Ooh!

Greenpoint

We decided to take a trip out to Greenpoint one afternoon…mainly because it’s where Girls is set but also because it’s yet another NY area we hadn’t yet mozied around. We also wanted to check out Cafe Grumpy but that was a huge mistake. Grumpy by name and apparently staff grumpy by nature. Well, one staff member anyway. But still. There honestly wasn’t much to Greenpoint, we walked around for a couple of hours and kind of found ourselves walking towards Williamsburg so we just kept on going. There are definitely a few cute cafes and some good photo opps around here but there’s not much to do otherwise. Up and coming I’d say.

Well here we are

Well here we are!

Love these

Love these

Wandering the streets

Wandering the streets

Quite a cool church

Quite a cool church

Greenpoint's streets

Greenpoint’s streets

They're a proud bunch

They’re a proud bunch

Café Grumpy

Café Grumpy

Pretty awesome view

Pretty awesome view

Williamsburg

We headed out to Williamsburg a number of times. It’s a fantastic area to potter around, particularly at the weekends when it’s heaving. The Artists & Fleas Market is a great spot to stop off en route to the foodathon that is Smorgasburg. There are lots of stalls here selling art, jewellery, clothes and music. I know every time I talk about New York I drone on and on about Smorgasburg (Exhibit A) but all the food here is perfection. End of. Actually no, not end of – we had donuts (which we had to queue for aaages to get but so worth it) at the Dough stand. I went with Chocolate Salted Caramel (amazing) and the Hibiscus ones looked as tasty as they did pretty. I can also recommend the lobster rolls from Red Hook Lobster Pound and John’s a fan of the meatballs from Rock the Kasbah. We didn’t get a chance to try the chips/fries from Home Frite but judging by the queue this is the place for all your potato needs. There are a number of Smorgasburg’s now open; they just opened one in Coney Island which I’m sure would make for the perfect weekend date spot.

Obviously, the coffee scene in Australia is fantastic and New York seems to be catching up. We did have Toby’s Estate in Australia (the one in Chippendale in Sydney has recently been revamped) and there’s one in Williamsburg which seems to be where the cool kids hang. The queues are insane all the time and the chances of getting a seat inside are slim to none but it’s a lovely location and John thought the coffee there was some of the best he had in New York.

I went off Starbucks for years but I’m pretty partial to their chai lattes lately. I know they’re nothing like a real chai latte but they’re just so christmassy and since I love Christmas I’d have a cinnamon-ny drink every day of the year if I could. Anyway, there’s a Starbucks Reserve in Williamsburg which does tasting classes too. It’s huge and you could sit in here for a year and I don’t think a single person would bother you. I think Starbucks is growing on me again…

Artists and Fleas Market

Artists and Fleas Market

The view from Smorgasburg

The view from Smorgasburg

Lobster roll with butter sauce - yes!!

Lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound with butter and lemon – yes!!

Cute restaurant signage

Cute restaurant signage

That's one picturesque flag

That’s one picturesque flag

Much love for Williamsburg

Much love for Williamsburg

Upper West Side, New York

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.

Jacob's Restaurant, Harlem

Jacob’s Restaurant, Harlem (not UWS, I know!)

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!

Zabar's baby!

Zabar’s baby!

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.

Café Lalo - oh so pretty

Café Lalo – oh so pretty 😍

Inside Café Lalo

Inside Café Lalo

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 🙂

The 91st Street Garden

The 91st Street Garden

It's a cat!

A cat!

A lot of work goes in to this space

A lot of work goes in to this space

Catching a sunset

Catching a sunset

Another UWS sunset

Another UWS sunset

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.

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument

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.

Gray's Papaya!

Gray’s Papaya!

Decisions, decisions!

Decisions, decisions!

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.

72nd and Broadway

72nd and Broadway

Verdi Square

Verdi Square

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!

Subway stop

Subway stop

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Tyrannosaurus Rex

I think John preferred them alive in the Galapagos!

I think John preferred them alive in the Galapagos!

It's a party!

It’s a party!

Cheetah

A pretty startled looking Cheetah

Elephant City

Elephant City

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle – the backgrounds here are amazing

Lions!

Lions!

Gigantic Jack Rabbit!

Jack Rabbit – these guys are gigantic

Alaska Brown Bears

Alaska Brown Bears

Massive Blue Whale

Mahoosive Blue Whale

That's one old tree

That’s one old tree

Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York

First things first – you have got to listen to this song before taking a trip to Coney Island!

We took the subway to Coney Island (D, F, N, Q lines all go here) which probably took about an hour from Manhattan. A little bit of a trip I suppose but definitely worth it. The first thing we did was head to the famous boardwalk to have a little wander around. It was exceptionally windy but therefore quiet – it actually felt quite special visiting a deserted Coney Island. I’m sure that changes in June…

Private subway carriage!

Private subway carriage!

Subway art

Subway art

We've arrived!

We’ve arrived!

Coney Island's famous boardwalk

Coney Island’s famous boardwalk

Now that's a beach!

Now that’s a beach!

Just a hop, skip or jump on to the sand

Just a hop, skip or jump on to the sand

We stopped off in Nathan’s Famous for a bite to eat after a windswept trip along the boardwalk. There are a couple of Nathan’s franchises around the area but the original, opened in 1916, is just across from the subway station. John had the mother of all hot dogs and I went with a lobster roll – typical New York fare! Next, decided a visit to William’s Candy Shop was an absolute necessity – the selection of candy apples here is amazing and they’re absolutely delicious…do not pass on this place!! The staff could probably use a lesson in customer service mind…

An original for an original 😊

An original for an original 😊

So tasty

So tasty

Yes please!

Yes please!

The Brooklyn Beach Shop on the boardwalk is a pretty nice spot to pick up some cool (albeit overpriced) souvenirs or even cute workout gear. They sell homewares from Fishs Eddythe most awesome store for home-goods on the planet. I think a nice Brooklyn dish-towel is a nicer souvenir than a fridge magnet – it has an actual use!

The New York Aquarium is on the boardwalk too, although currently undergoing what looks like significant construction. The entrance fee is $10.75 (if you buy online) which honestly seems like a pretty good deal – the cheapest you can get in to Sydney’s Aquarium (which is not amazing by any stretch of the imagination) is $28. Robbery.

Unfortunately Luna Park was closed so we didn’t get to go on any of the rides but we’ll definitely pop out on our next visit to New York. Tea-cup time!! All in all I’d definitely recommend a little side trip to Coney Island if you’re taking a break in New York. The vibe on a warm and sunny weekend would be awesome.

Good store

Love the stuff in this store

Beachside baby

Beachside baby!

Aquarium artwork

Aquarium artwork

Seriously

Seriously

Ooh Luna Park!

Ooh Luna Park!

The plan!

The plan!

Let me in!

Let me in!

Aw, teacups!

Aw, teacups!

Serious name!

Serious name!