People couldn’t believe that Sohani and I had never been to NYC. Everyone we encountered said “it is my favourite city in the world”, "there is no other city like it” and ”you would love it!" So finally, after a long, gruelling flight with my children and in-laws, Sohani and I set off on a trip of a lifetime – a city that we fell in love with instantly, a city so unique but familiar at the same time!
We landed at 8pm and after a quick shower we headed to the bar for a glass of red (ok a bottle of red) and a quick bite to eat, before walking around the corner to Times Square. WOW WOW, it was exactly what we imagined, bright lights, chaos, loud music, big buildings, queues of people lining the streets, smells of street food, yellow taxis, police at every corner, shops alive, tourists everywhere!
As I do, I quickly fell into a morning ritual. In New York it was to wake up early, walk the streets whilst it was relatively quiet and absorb the surroundings. I picked up coffee, hot chocolate, croissants and bagels at my favourite little espresso bar and brought it back to the hotel before my family woke up. I have to admit it was a struggle to find a good breakfast in NYC and we ended up dining twice at a French Café, of all places, called Petrossian. The food was outstanding and consistent. I over indulged there having caviar and champagne with homemade smoked salmon- a definite highlight!
Talking about food, we tried a variety of establishments from upscale restaurants to the farmers markets and food trucks. Cherche Midi and Dante were our favourite food places, but we also loved the Halal guys food trucks (especially at 3am in the morning!) we ate fresh oysters at Chelsea Markets, searched for the best coffee and found it at Ganesvoort markets, a must is a martini in Noho and for the atmosphere and wine Eataly is fantastic. We loved the fried chicken in Harlem, but preferred the little backstreet bistro in Brooklyn. We had drinks with friends at Balthazar, listened to the best Blues music at Terra Blue and even danced the night away at Teo nightclub downtown- one of the trendiest nightspots in NYC. So many places to try and just not enough time!!
We were lucky to experience New Year’s Eve in New York, a tick off my bucket list. The build-up and preparation for this one night is incredible. Apparently over 1 million people flock the streets of Time Square for the celebration. We dined in a great restaurant around the corner from Times Square called Rue 57, the food was great and the atmosphere even better, they had entertainment and live music until all hours of the morning.
Over 11 days we were typical tourists that squeezed so much in to one day, from cycling with my son in Central Park and Rollerblading at the Rockefeller Centre to taking in the view from the Empire State Building to riding the subway to Brooklyn. We people watched at Grand Central Station, appreciated the architecture of the NY buildings in the Flatiron District, took in a show on Broadway, walked the high line, saw the Harlem Globetrotters play in Madison Square Garden and of course paid our respects to the many people that lost their lives at the world trade centre.
The shopping was addictive, everywhere we went there were 60-80% off sales, and you can imagine my wife and daughter went a bit crazy!! Let’s just say we went with 2 suitcases and came back with 4! From Soho to 5th Ave, Bergdorf Goodman to Barneys to the finest antique and vintage stores to Madison Ave, we walked and shopped, walked and shopped.
One of my favourite afternoons was strolling with Sohani through the neighbourhoods of NYC, I wanted to see how the locals live, from West village and Greenwich village to Bowery and East Village. I loved the tree lined streets and the houses, beautiful cafes, little cheese stores, fresh bagels stands and parks.
The high light for me were the people, they walked with purpose, they owned their city, they dressed with individuality and flair and were proud of their country. I have to admit that I am a city boy at heart and I found New York beautifully overwhelming, chaotic and alive. This city definitely has a heartbeat but more than that, it has soul!
New York you didn’t disappoint and to all our friends and family you were all right, it will go down as being one of our favourite cities in the world. We loved it and will be back.