A Travellerspoint blog

New York

25 May to 14 June

This is our second trip to New York. Our first visit was in late 2009 and although we had 5 days in the Big Apple, we didn’t see too much mainly due to it being New Year’s Eve and the middle of winter. This time we wanted to see as much as possible so decided on a 3 week stay.
We were a little tardy with organizing accommodation and only settled on a place about 3 weeks prior to our visit. This reduced the options available and we ended up staying in the Southern part of Brooklyn. To say this was an eye opener would be an understatement. The area is truly multi-cultural with mainly Russians and Jews living in area along with a few Turks. It was a safe area, but the cultural difference in relation to grocery shopping (more specifically they were corner stores) and shops and cafes was very noticeable as very little signage was in English. Adds to the experience we kept telling ourselves.

Since we were only 5 train stops from Coney Island we visited a few times during our stay. Coney Island is a New York City neighborhood that features an amusement area that includes more than 50 rides and attractions. It is truly an American Icon with a boardwalk (all the way to Brighton Beach and beyond), the wide sandy beach with Life Guards every 100 metres and the amusement park that most visitors to New York probably wouldn’t consider as a sight to see. On a Friday night we headed to The Coney Island Circus Sideshow which is the last traditional continuous sideshow performing in a circus or amusement context and continues to offer a Sideshow School. Strange but still worth the entrance fee, this Sideshow/Freakshow is a little Houdini, Ringling Bros and Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not all rolled in to one. We witnessed nails hammered into nostrils, a sword swallower, a contortionist, a Puerto Rican laying between two nail beds while someone of considerable size stood on top of his chest, a fire swallower, the ‘princess’ with a 13 foot long, 70 pound albino Burmese python and of course, ‘Mental Floss’ (a drill bit drilled into a nostril). Insert oohs! Aahs! here. We also visited the Amusement park and bought some tickets for rides including The Wonder Wheel (built in 1920), Wild River, Coney Island Sound and Brooklyn Barge.

Coney Island

Coney Island

On a visit to Manhattan we purchased a 2 day pass for the Hop On and Off bus tour to allow us sufficient time to see all the destinations such as the Downtown Loop, Uptown and Harlem Loop and the Brooklyn Loop. We were lucky that this also included a 2 hour boat tour so got to see Lower Manhattan from the water, travel under the Brooklyn Bridge and get up close to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Times Square New York

Times Square New York


Stature of Liberty

Stature of Liberty


Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge


Brooklyn Bridge with One World Trade Centre in background

Brooklyn Bridge with One World Trade Centre in background

In fact, it was whilst on the Brooklyn Loop that we learnt about the Brooklyn Heights area. Since many young professionals and artists have found Manhattan too costly, they have moved across the river to Brooklyn for its cheaper and more expansive space. Neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope, which had fallen into disrepair over the years, were restored and reborn as funky enclaves. We were on the Brooklyn Loop on a Sunday and passed the Smorgasburg markets which showcase 100 + local and regional food vendors. Now knowing of its existence on a Sunday, we made sure to clear our calendar for the following Sunday. Prepare to drool because they have absolutely every possible food option you could think of. And with Manhattans’ skyline in the distance, one can only say that we have eaten in worse locations. Later we strolled along the Promenade for breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, some time at Jane’s Carousel and meandered through Prospect Park and past some of the most stunningly beautiful brownstones for a taste of history.

Smorgas burg

Smorgas burg


Brownstones in Brooklyn

Brownstones in Brooklyn


Brownstones in Brooklyn 2

Brownstones in Brooklyn 2

Of course what is a visit to New York without taking in a Broadway show? When we were here in 2009 Ronnie was keen to see Wicked but it wasn’t quite possible due to the time we had and the fact that there were 5 of us instead of 3. This time though, we ensured a show would be seen and as Wicked was still playing, there was really only one choice. Wicked is the untold story of the Witches of Oz. It is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, an alternative telling of the witches from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Wicked tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba and Glinda the Good, who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard's corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba's public fall from grace. Alyssa loved it, particular the bedroom makeover scene and Ronnie and I absolutely loved the whole thing. I too really liked the makeover scene because the actress who played Glinda the Good did such a great job and was extremely funny.

Wicked

Wicked

What is a trip to New York without a walk through Central Park? Central Park is the most famous park of NY and is known around the world. We spent an entire day here, wandering around the different gardens, letting Alyssa play in the many playgrounds and generally just taking in the relaxed atmosphere. There was plenty of nature to enjoy and people, artists and musicians to watch. We made sure to visit the Strawberry fields area and the memorial for John Lennon. Alyssa did an exercise circuit as part of her School work and Ronnie did some interval training with Alyssa. Now she can say she ran (shogged – shuffle/jog) in Central Park. We are sorry we missed this highlight 5 years ago, but made up for it this time.

Central Park 2

Central Park 2


Central Park

Central Park



In 1888, a small deli by the name of Iceland Brothers was established on Ludlow Street in New York’s Lower East Side by predictably the Iceland brothers. Upon the arrival of Willy Katz in 1903, the name of the store was officially changed to "Iceland & Katz". This same deli is still there and is well known from the film “When Harry Met Sally” (the orgasm scene). This is somewhat of a landmark deli and iconic restaurant. It has the old fashioned ticket system for payment and is renowned for its food and the size of the sandwiches. I had the Reuben, Ronnie had the Roast Beef and gravy and Alyssa a cheese burger. The sandwiches were so big that they could probably be shared between 2. We did our best to eat the whole thing though.

Katz Deli

Katz Deli


Katz Deli - Reuben Sandwich

Katz Deli - Reuben Sandwich



While we wandered around the streets of New York, whether we were in SOHO (South of Houston Street), Chelsea or the Lower East Side, we were always on the lookout for different things to experience rather than the run of the mill tourist traps. We saw Union Square Market; a farmer's market that provides wholesale opportunities for medium sized farms and one of our favourites: The Chelsea High Line.
The idea of turning the old railroad tracks into an elevated park is really genius. It's an awesome concept with great execution. The Highline provides a refreshing escape from the city while being intimately part of it and with great views. The High Line is a New York City public park built on a 1.45 mile-long, elevated freight rail structure on Manhattan’s West Side. It is managed by the non-profit organization Friends of the High Line under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. The park stretches from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues.

High Line

High Line


High Line 2

High Line 2


Chelsea Markets

Chelsea Markets

It has serene gathering spaces with secluded seating and communal picnic areas and highlights the rail track walk (3 linear walks located in different areas along the High Line) with the use of artifacts, benches and funky art. At the end of the park sits the Ganesvoort and Chelsea Markets. Chelsea Market is like an Aladdin’s cave…a block long and a block wide and just a short walk from the Hudson River in the area of Manhattan known as the Meatpacking District, Chelsea Market is well known as being a great indoor food hall. Not only does it have more than thirty-five vendors purveying everything from soup to nuts, wine to coffee, cheese to cheesecake but it also has funky pop us shops showing off the objects designed and made by local artists. This combined with the High Line will probably remain our highlight of New York.

Wall Street

Wall Street


FAO Schwarz

FAO Schwarz


Central Station

Central Station


Pumpkins at Union Square Market

Pumpkins at Union Square Market

Posted by V3USA 08:41

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Comments

Wow - what an amazing trip! The stories, photos and memories will last a lifetime! I am soooo jealous :). Alyssa is getting so tall!

by Lisa

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