As I mentioned in my last post, my trip to New York was AWESOME and I fell in love with solo travel! As promised, I’ve chronicled my trip and included pictures.
Wednesday – Friday
FOOD, FOOD, FOOD
The first three days of my trip I didn’t have much free time because I was working and attending a class during the day so I had to focus on what matters most: tasty food.
- Green Apple Gourmet – New York deli that has a little bit of everything. I got a salad but didn’t take a picture…so did it really happen?
- The Melt Shop – Grilled cheese heaven! I got the grilled chicken sandwich and tomato soup.
- 5 Napkin Burger – I got the original 5 Napkin Burger and sweet potato fries. The burger was juicy and HUGE, I definitely needed an extra napkin, but the fries were only OK.
- Nuchas Emapanadas – Food truck in Times Square with sweet and savory empanadas. I went here mainly because it was quick and close to the theater, but it was tasty!
- Becco – Delicious and popular Italian restaurant. It gets busy, so I definitely recommend getting a reservation so you’re not waiting a long time to eat. I got the pasta trio – an endless supply of three kinds of fresh pasta!
My hotel and the class were right in the theater district so on Thursday, I went to the TKTS counter to get discounted Broadway tickets. The line wasn’t too long and I decided to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical because I heard it was good, even though I knew nothing about it. To my surprise, I recognized a more of the songs that I thought I would, but since I didn’t know much about King’s personal life, there was still an element of suspense as the story unfolded. It was a very enjoyable first Broadway show!
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
On Friday evening, after checking into my Airbnb, I headed to the Met. I was super excited to see the Terracotta Warriors. I’ve missed seeing them twice – once when on vacation in China as a kid with my family and a few years ago when they came to the Smithsonian and my parents saw them, but I missed out again. I guess third time’s the charm because there was a special exhibit with the warriors the Met! After the Age of Empires exhibit, I browsed through a few other collections. Of course one visit was not enough to see everything in the Met’s extensive collection. Click on each of the pictures below for more info.
The evening was an excellent time to visit. It wasn’t crowded at all, and I didn’t need advanced tickets which cost $25 per adult online. You may not know this, but the ticket prices for the Met are actually suggested donations and you can contribute whatever you want if you “purchase” a ticket at the door. If you want to reserve tickets in advance though, you have to pay the full price. I donated $5 because I was not about to pay $25 per ticket, but also because I felt bad giving nothing, so I suppose their marketing worked on me.
After I got kicked out of the Met when it closed at 9PM I got dinner at Han Dynasty where my very helpful waiter overcame my analysis paralysis and helped me select a tasty dinner. I’ve heard New York is the city that never sleeps and now I can say that it’s true. The restaurant was still packed even at 10PM and I felt totally safe walking a few blocks back to the Airbnb since people were milling about, walking their dogs, chatting, or headed to dinner.
The best part of my Airbnb was the location: in the Upper West Side, a few blocks from Central Park, and close to the subway. I’m normally not a morning person, but for some reason the thought of running in Central Park was enough to wake me up without coffee. I hadn’t realize how enormous the park was if you don’t look up to see the skyscrapers, you could forget you’re in New York.
Battery Park / Financial District
After my run, I headed downtown to Battery Park, not to see the Statue of Liberty (I had already visited been as a kid), but to get a National Park passport stamp! For those of you who don’t know, I am obsessed with stamping! My parents first bought my sister and I these passports back when we were kids visiting the Grand Canyon and we’ve kept up stamping ever since. Basically I am a big nerd.
Castle Clinton was originally built as a fort to defend against the British, but later was used as a theater and immigration center. It has a rich history…AND HAS A STAMP! After getting my stamp and pursuing the small exhibit, I wandered around the park and explored the rest of the Financial District. I didn’t realize how many historical buildings were right next to each other; all you have to do is walk a few blocks and you’ll run into one.
The 9/11 Memorial is troubling and beautiful. Two black square stone structures are built on the foundations where the two towers once were. An eternal waterfall flows off the walls into a pool and the names of the victims are engraved on the stones. The memorial volunteers put a flower on each person’s name on their birthday and sends a picture to their families. Although the Memorial is sad, it is worth visiting.
Birthplace of Theodore Roosevelt
I passed by the Brooklyn Bridge, but didn’t have time to go across because I wanted to visit Teddy Roosevelt’s birthplace…to get my second national park stamp. (Don’t judge me). Most people I talked to didn’t know about this small museum that is a part of the National Park System. The museum is free and guided tours of the house are provided on the hour. You can actually stand inside the rooms and see the entire house. It’s quite fascinating. The downstairs has a small exhibit on Teddy Roosevelt’s life…and of course the national park stamp.
Chelsea Market / The High Line
After I went to Chelsea Market for a late lunch which is an indoor bazaar inside a brick building the size of a city block filled with restaurants. Unfortunately, you can’t eat everything, so I settled on a delicious lobster roll which I inhaled (I was hungry) and gelato , which I ate as I walked along the High Line.
By now my feet were very sore, but energized by gelato and the prospect of seeing another Broadway show, I made my way back to the TKTS counter at Times Square and got a ticket for Bandstand. I was able to squeeze dinner in at Ippudo Westside just in time to see the show. It was crowded, but they were able to squeeze in one person at their noodle bar and the food arrived quickly.
The show was in pre-production, which means it hasn’t officially debuted, but it was amazing sitting in the third row and being so close to the actors. Bandstand is set in the 40s and mixes big-band numbers and swing dancing with a more solemn message about the effects of WWII on soldiers and their families. After the show I stepped into Time Square to catch the subway back to my Airbnb. It was a wonderful way to end the evening!
Sunday was Easter and I had the opportunity to hear Tim Keller preach at Redeemer Presbyterian which was conveniently only few blocks from my Airbnb. I definitely felt like God had a hand in orchestrating this. The sermon was about why people, even Christians, doubt God, and how we are only able to love God because he first loved us as is demonstrated by Christ’s death and resurrection. It was definitely something to think about: Does my life really reflect what I believe?
American Museum of Natural History
After I went to the American Museum of Natural History. Like the Met, all ticket prices are actually suggested prices and since there was no line in the morning I breezed through and paid just $2 instead of $25. The most outstanding part of the museum is the many dioramas of stuffed animals which are quite beautiful, but kind of creepy. Gaston would have been in heaven.
My one regret is that I didn’t start with the museum’s extensive fossil collection which includes dinosaurs and prehistoric animals and is located on the fourth floor. Towards the end of my 3-hour visit my feet were starting to hurt and I was going a bit crazy so I didn’t spend too much time with the dinosaurs, but the timing was perfect because I was meeting friends for a late brunch at Southern Hospitality in Hell’s Kitchen. We didn’t know it at the time, but the restaurant is owned by Justin Timberlake. I had a crab cake and grits. The grits were surprisingly tasty and reminded me more of mashed potatoes than the soupy consistency I normally see.
We spent a couple of hours catching up and then it was time for me to go home. Farewell, New York!