Category Archives: New York

Brooklyn Bridge

Today was 50 and sunny, and after spending a few hours deep in research mode Alexis and I decided to take our cameras out around the city. I haven’t been to the Brooklyn Bridge since I was a tourist (over 6 years ago I think?) and so we headed there just in time for a beautiful sunset. Work, pho, and some camera play: what a great way to spend the day. And who knew just how amazing the sunset looked behind the Statue of Liberty from here!




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My Reasons to Love New York: The Winter Edition

I’m from California, and I know all you Chicago folks are going to roll your eyes when I say this but it is COLD in New York!

I’ll be honest, I spent the first few days back in NYC mostly in my apartment “researching” (aka hibernating) and telling myself I was working off my reverse culture shock and readjusting to a somewhat normal routine once again. After a week passed, I realized that I was wasting time that many other people would love to have. I mean, I’m in New York!  Concrete jungle where dreams are made of and all that jazz, I need to channel my inner Alicia Keys and enjoy the moment! So I got on my cutest Japanese winter outfit (shorts with tights and boots of course, and any faux fur I could find), grabbed my boyfriend (my Canon Rebel) and braved the windchill. And you know what – even in what I consider to be the worst month of the year, this city is still pretty amazing.  Even if I just got back from being outdoors and I’m pretty sure my fingers are still numb while I type this. So to honor my fine city of current residence, here is my short and not at all exhaustive list of…

My Reasons to Love New York Even When It’s Ridiculously Cold Outside:

1) The Cozy Bar Scene

Nothing beats a bucket of beer at The Frying Pan on a cool summer afternoon, but when winter hits where do all the thirsty New Yorkers run to? One of the reasons I love New York in the winter is because of the fantastic bar scene. Choose your poison – a whiskey bar with a toasty fireplace to keep your blood warm, a restaurant/bar with some great live music that’s superb for people watching, or perhaps a rooftop bar with an amazing (but indoor) view of the city? When it comes to bar options in winter, the city is full of good spots. My current favorite is JIMMY, a sexy and modern rooftop bar atop The James Hotel in SoHo. The drinks are steep but on point, their fireplace is a great touch, and you can get a killer view from just about anywhere in the bar. And I do mean anywhere – the women’s bathroom has a floor to ceiling window. But don’t be shy, I’m pretty sure no one can see you.

View from JIMMY at The James. Photo not my own.

Another favorite spot of mine is Revel in the Meatpacking District. I can’t handle lines even when the weather is warm, and I sure don’t want to be standing outside on a cold January night! Revel is a great spot because even though its in Meatpacking its not ultra-pretentious or impossible to get into, and once inside there’s a great outdoor area with a retractable roof in the back. Don’t worry they close the roof in winter. Also, my friend and favorite resident DJ, Dj Japancakes, is there on most Saturday nights. The crowd can be hit or miss at times, but the music is hot and you’re only a stone’s throw away should you choose to venture out to one of the other spots in MPD. Beware of the door woman at the Jane Hotel!

Other honorable mentions:

The Spotted Pig, a fantastic West Village gastropub for people watching.

Lovers of Today, a hard to find but cozy spot in the East Village.

2) Madison Square Park, and everything in it.

In the summer, Madison Square Park was one of my favorite lawns to lay out at and do my weekly crosswords. And in the winter, its still a favorite spot because the bare trees with the clocktower look stunning. But aside from being a cute park to take a break at, what I really love about it is that its the home of Shake Shack! And the best part about Shake Shack in the winter: shorter lines! Note that I didn’t say short because c’mon, New Yorkers and tourists alike will do anything when they have a shake shack craving. But today’s line around 2pm was not bad at all. Never been to Shake Shack? Be bold and don’t skip their shakes – they’re pretty damn tasty and maybe even worth the frostbite your hands will get from holding it.

Second best reason to love Madison Square Park: turn around and you are facing Eataly, New York’s giant Italian marketplace. People seem to have mixed feelings about Eataly. Some people don’t like the set up of Birreria, their rooftop bar/restaurant. Others often complain about it being too crowded. It is a very busy spot, but I still brave the crowds when I go because I need to feed my addiction. My coffee addiction that is, not my love of all things Italian (although they do go hand in hand.) To me, Eataly’s coffee/espresso at Caffe Lavazza is some of the tastiest that I’ve tried in the city. When I drink it, it puts me right back in Italy having cappuccino and brioche with my friend in Milan and talking about what went wrong with Juventus. Don’t take my word on it though, try it for yourself! And grab a seat at one of their food tables, help yourself to some snacks and warm yourself up with a glass of wine. Buon appetito!

3) Food Trucks

While we’re on the subject of food, I thought I should bring up one of my year-round favorite reasons I love this city. The amazing selection of FOOD TRUCKS. One of the best things about food trucks in winter is that since they’re mobile, you don’t have to walk across town to get your Kimchi Taco Truck fix. Just check their calendar to see when they come to you. How great is that. Even though harsh weather conditions can sometime hurt the food trucks schedule, for the most part I feel that they try hard to make it out to their customers on a regular basis. If you are reluctant about trying it, as someone who will proudly admit that I follow about 10 different food trucks on Twitter, I can say say that food there is ridiculously delicious too. And if that still doesn’t tickle your fancy, let me just suggest an at-home delivery alternative: FreshDirect.

4) Ice Skating

Ok, full disclosure: I really hate ice skating. Like personally taking part in the activity. It’s just that I lack certain coordination skills, so me on blades is never a good idea. I’m that girl who is clinging to the wall, or the one who won’t let go of your hand. If I go down, you better believe you’re coming with me! That being said, even I can admit that ice skating is adorable. I mean, its got to be one of the top five winter date ideas right? I just saw some guy spitting game on his date just now, and you know what? It worked. Magical ice skates, I tell ya. Ice skating makes the city light up. Below is a picture of people skating in Bryant Park on a Friday afternoon. If I had to pick, I would choose Wollman Rink in Central Park, but between the Rockefeller Center Rink and the Standard Hotel Ice Rink in Meatpacking (just to name a few,) you definitely have your choice of options.

5) Central Park!

Central Park is breathtaking in the fall with all the leaves changing colors, but there is something so serene about seeing it blanketed in snow. With this weekend having the first real snow of the season, I decided to head into the park to capture some photos. Note: fingerless gloves are not enough to keep your hands warm when photographing outdoors, brr. Central Park is fantastic and I was thrilled to stumble upon a spot where about twenty-five kids (and even a few big kids my age) were sledding. Seeing them having such a great time outdoors right in the heart of the city was magical and it made me appreciate the change in seasons here. I love New York!

What are your reasons to love NYC in the winter?

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Meet, Plan, Go!

You know you’re back in New York when you get off a redeye and find yourself going non-stop until midnight. Oh NYC, this is why we are made for each other.

I must admit, I had mixed feelings about returning back to New York after all this time. Sure, it was only a few months, but those days were packed with such amazing and intense moments that I walked away from the experience with so many new ideas and insights about other cultures and even myself. Not working full-time during this period has really opened up my mind – I have embraced a whole new creative side of myself that I never saw when I was alone in my cubicle for hours on end each week. Walking into my studio was also rather odd; after living out of a backpack or suitcase, it took me a moment to accept that I’m back in a place where I can actually unpack and settle in. Who would have thought that being back in a completely comfortable environment again would feel so uncomfortable?

Well, part of the reason I love New York so much (reason #138!) is because of the vibrancy and diversity of its residents. A few days ago I stumbled upon an event at The Crooked Knife over by Union Square put on by Meet, Plan, Go. Meet, Plan, Go is a company that is excited about long term travel, and encourages everyone to take a career break and see the world. They provide information and resources to help you if you are considering taking a year off from your job to travel, and also host events so you can get plugged into a community of people who have traveled extensively or want to. When I saw that they were having a happy hour event the evening I was back into town, I knew I had to go. And I was impressed to see a decent turn out with quite a variety of people. Over the course of the five hours (yes, FIVE hours) that I was there, I met some very inspiring fellow travelers who were about to set off on their 1+ year travel adventures, along with one girl that had just come back from a year of working at odd jobs all over the world in return for accommodations. I also was more than happy to give out tips to people that were in the midst of planning their trips, including talking about the JET program and other teaching English opportunities in Asia, the best beach spots in India, and how to find a reliable person to sublet your pad to for a worry-free trip. It was a fantastic way to transition back into New York and cope with my reverse culture shock, and also great inspiration for my next big getaway. I was speaking with the one of the founders of the company, and one thing that truly resonated with me was how MPG wants more Americans to embrace travel career breaks as part of enhancing your career instead of seeing it as a scary or negative move. I wholeheartedly agree with that. Why is it that in other countries taking a “gap year” is acceptable (and often times the norm), but in the States it is met with so much hesitation? I hope that more people are able to step out of their comfort zone and see how impacting an experience like this can be for themselves, both personally and professionally. It’s surprising what you can gain when you give it all up for a little while.

Meet, Plan, Go flyer

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New York Tourism

I found this great article in my favorite magazine, New York Mag. It’s about tourism in New York, and I thought this part in particular was very interesting – curious to know if others feel that this is an accurate representation of the many different visitors as well:

“Among travelers from the top foreign markets, Australians are the most adventurous. They are the most likely to attend a sporting event, go dancing, shop, buy tickets to a concert or a play – anything, really. The French are the likeliest to attend an art gallery or a museum. The British, Irish and Arab Middle Easterners are the least interested in art. Brazilians are emphatically anti-guided tours. The Japanese are seriously into Harlem, crowding gospel brunches and church tours (it is an open secret among New York’s jazz community that our jazz clubs are, at this point, all but subsidized by older Japanese men). The Norwegians, Danes, Finns, and the Dutch are the wealthiest, with 18 percent of the arrivals earning more than $200,000. Indians are the thriftiest, in a sense – because they often stay with friends or relatives and avoid hotels, they spend only $88 a person a day. But they also tend to stay longer than other groups, spending $1,000 per trip. The “Russian oligarch” stereotype, statistically speaking, is fiction.”

“And Another Fifty Million People Just Got Off of the Plane” – New York Magazine

From my experience in Europe and Japan, I can agree with the part about Aussies – they are down for anything. I would add Italians to the list of liking art galleries and museums. As fror the line about Indians, well, I just spent a month crashing at my cousins’ place in India – true!

So visit NYC, and come say hi to me!

Photo taken from NY Mag article

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