What I Saw:
In Photographs: New York City
What I Was Listening To:
Where I Was:
There have been few places in my modest travel history that left me breathless. One of them was Boracay, when I was 11 years old, and it looked nothing like it looks today. Another was Bangkok, when I was 15. A little too long ago to still write about, but it was magic to me. And then Spain, on the first few days of my 26th year.
And, of course, New York.
I was a wide-eyed (still am) 22-year old, fresh graduate, who had the overwhelming undertaking of the rest of her life on her hands. I was excited, anxious, reluctant, and eager to walk the plank, all at the same time. I was idealistic, and naïve, and my notions of the world were more romantic than realistic. At the very heart of me, this still holds true. The natural optimist in me intends to keep it that way.
But, true enough, New York was my last romance before the real world hit me with a ton of bricks. The year that followed was a punch in the stomach and a knife through the heart. My idealism, naïveté, and romantic notions could have been so easily shaken, especially with how fragile these things tend to be. And they were for a while.
But I’ll always have New York. The city’s power is stronger than the heartbeat pounding in your ears. You can feel its electricity surge through the streets and into your veins. You can feel the city’s organic energy pulsing around you. It makes you feel alive. It makes you feel fear. It excites you. Whatever it makes you feel, it makes you feel something.
Like the beginning of a love affair. New York is for lovers. I would know; I am one. I found one in myself, in New York. I found one in New York. And I found one for myself, in New York.
What a cliché, to find romance in The Big Apple! But there it was: unexpected and electric.
And the theme ran through my entire stay there. In the first place, I went to New York because the Broadway run of The Little Mermaid was drawing its curtains, and I absolutely needed to see it. Mermaids are the folklore of my life for reasons that I cannot explain. It could be the hair; the singing; the wanderlust; the seduction of the sea; the search for what it means to be human; the quest for love.
On another day, I catered to my fancy of Sex & the City, and joined a Sex & The City On Location Tour. The series was a modern take on the classic pursuit of love; the tour was a playful cherry on top of a mountain of icing, sitting on top of a Magnolia Bakery cupcake (which is one of the stops on the tour, by the way.) But more on this later.
With its frenetic streets and bursting seams, New York City is the best place to get lost in, whether it is in the city itself, in yourself, or in someone else.
Where To Go and What To Do
- Central Park
Visit the John Lennon tribute. Pass by The Dakota, where John Lennon used to live, and was fatally shot by Mark David Chapman. Yoko Ono still lives there, and lights candles on his birthday.
Marvel at the Julliard students performing under the guise of buskers by the Fountain of Bethesda… or some half-naked weirdos giving the most passionate street performance of Thoth, right across it.
Share a first kiss on that bridge across the boat house. Stroll along Poet’s Walk, and let his palm recite poetry to yours.
- Bryant Park
6th Avenue at West 42nd Street, New York, NY
Having grown up in the city all my life, I am an absolute sucker for parks. Or any patch of greenery, for that matter. Bryant Park is much smaller than Central Park, which makes it ideal for midday breaks. I saw old men playing checkers or reading the papers; strung-out professionals leafing through paperback novels; pre-schoolers running into kits of pigeons. And then there were people like me, who were just all too happy to enjoy the afternoon sun peeking through the leaves.While you’re taking a stroll around Bryant Park would be the best time to listen to Rufus Wainwright’s “Peach Trees.” It is just so perfect.Next door is the New York Public Library, one of the most romantic locations in the city.
- The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY
Open 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Sunday – Saturday
General Admission for Adults: $25But be sure that you have the
patienceappreciation for modern art. Although there were some interesting exhibits, I distinctly remember seeing roses in glass cases, and a white-to-off-white gradient on a canvas, and that was supposedly art. Nothing I would pay $20 to see.
- The Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street), New York, NY
Open 10:00 AM – 5:45 PM
Sunday – Saturday, except Thursday
General Admission for Adults: $25Its architecture alone allows me to favor the Guggenheim over many others. Rightfully so, the museum showcases a Frank Lloyd Wright show, as the building’s architect.
Other than that, the Guggenheim’s stunning collection includes work by Cézanne, Monet, Picasso, Renoir, and Van Gogh.
- On Location Tours
Now, these On Location Tours have them for other TV shows, like FRIENDS (or at least there used to be one), Gossip Girl, and The Sopranos. But the Sex & The City tour was just so much fun, because I was such a fan. Please note though, that this was an R-rate tour, based on the content of the TV show alone. I’m not sure what else the itinerary holds now, but our first stop, at 10 AM, was a sex shop. And then we had Cosmopolitans at noon, after cupcakes.
- Times Square
- Wall Street – I had one celebrity siting: my favorite CNN anchor, Richard Quest!
- Ground Zero
Fortunately, there are set city tours that will include all these.The tours will know though where is the best view of Ground Zero, and which areas are accessible. Although, you don’t really need them when you go to Times Square or Broadway, because they’re there, and very hard to miss. Especially if you’re just walking around. I wasn’t even planning on making it to Times Square the first time I was there, I just wandered into it effortlessly.
- From Manhattan, get on a Staten Island Ferry, from where you can catch a perfect view of The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. On the way back from Staten Island, you get a breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline. It is a quick and winning cheap thrill!
- The Bowery Ballroom
My cousin’s husband, an audiophile like myself, incidentally had tickets to see The Breeders at The Bowery Ballroom. Possibly one of the best, most authentic places to witness the local NYC music scene.For those of you who aren’t familiar, The Breeders are an all-girl grunge band, by The Pixies’ bass player Kim Deal, and her twin sister Kelley. They are responsible for a certain wave of feminist music in the ’90s, and brought you the very catchy “Cannonball,” and a cover of The Beatles’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxvkI9MTQw4On my NYC playlist, I’ve included a cover that they did of Hedwig and The Angry Inch’s “Wicked Little Town.” Apart from my experience with The Breeders in New York, it really is just a beautiful song. I’ll explain more in the playlist post.
- Madison Square Garden
If you can catch a concert at Madison Square Garden, please do it. The biggest acts — I don’t care how mainstream or kitsch — play here, and they are always fun. In the two weeks that I was there, Taylor Swift was performing one night, and then Britney Spears was performing the next. Of course, I went to see Britney. You can argue all you want about how she can’t sing — of course, she was lip-synching, we all know she does that — but the production value of her shows are tops! As an Events Manager, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the magnitude of her show.
My adult self awed, and my 12 year-old self was so proud!
- If you can catch The US Open, do that too! Sure, I played tennis at an early point in my life, mostly because it is my dad’s favorite sport and he plays. So, I really went because of him. However, wow, I did not expect that the first tennis matches I’d ever see would be Roger Federer and Serena Williams. Not against each other, obviously, but, wow!
From Grand Central Station, just take a train to the Mets-Willets Point Station. Along the way, there will be signage to point you in the right direction, for your convenience. The train is the most efficient and cost-effective way to there. And to get around anywhere in New York, for that matter.
If you are planning to go, my suggestion is to go between August and September, towards the end of the summer, and the beginning of fall. Why?
- The weather is perfect; it is neither summer-hot, nor autumn-cold. Coming from the tropics, I don’t do well with the cold, so this was ideal for me. And you see the best of the summer greens, and the earliest shades of autumn.
- The season still having the remnants of summer, all the gorgeous men are out running in the streets. And there are so many of them. With their shirts off. Yes. Mm-hmm.
- The US Open, if you’re into that.
- Summer concert tours are still in swing.
- Less summer competition. It’s the tail-end of the season; the family tourists are already on their way out; school is about to start.
- End-of-season sales! Everything’s marked-down!
Where and What To Eat
- NYC street food! There are a million Sabrett and falafel stands to choose from!
- $1 pizzas. Every street corner’s got one.
- Mad For Chicken
Before there was Bon Chon, there was Mad For Chicken. And it is right smack in the middle of Koreatown. The coolest thing about it is, you go there for the chicken, but it looks like a bar. And they have a DJ! A little mafioso, but I like it!
- Momofuku Milk Bar
I could name a hundred reasons for you to pay Momofuku a visit. But for me, it’s just one thing, and three words: cereal ice cream. Mmmmmhmm.