In the week since I returned from New York City I have frequently been asked “what was the best part of your trip?” Or, “what’s your favourite thing about New York?” And each time I am momentarily struck dumb as I ponder and search for an answer and invariably fail to find one. It is impossible to narrow NYC down to a single favourite thing: it is all of your favourite things gathered together into an enormous, exciting, gleaming package.
Before I’d even arrived in New York for the second time I knew that I would be back for a third. I can’t get enough of the place, everything about it is so incredibly intoxicating. I keep asking myself if I should see more of the world, or even just more of the great cities in the United States, but then I don’t think I could prise myself away from New York. The only question in my mind is not if I should go again, but when. My thinking had been leaning towards a slightly later time of year, when I could experience the city in a different light with warmer temperatures. But then I landed on the 7th and found myself in an early blossoming of spring. I didn’t dislike the heat, but it was definitely uncomfortable at times and made me rethink whether I would really want to come back here during the late spring/summer months. The barmaid at Rattle N Hum recommended that if I enjoyed the MLS at Yankee Stadium then I should really return to see the place during baseball season, so that would require a May visit (right?) and I’m also quite attracted to the Governors Ball music festival, which usually takes place early June, so at the moment I’m leaning towards late May/early June 2017.
So what did I learn from my second trip to New York City?
My favourite bar was by far Alewife. Great beers, great food, great service. Honourable mentions to Rattle N Hum and Peculier Pub, where the barmaid took great care of me.
The best beer I found was either the Hoppy Ending at Alewife or the Ithica Flower Power at Peculier Pub. I dare say those beers can be found at many other craft beer bars. Nugget Nectar was another I enjoyed.
Best wings were found at Alewife (are you sensing a theme here?) Their buffalo wings had just the right amount of kick and were superior to the overly sticky wings at the Old Town Bar.
You HAVE to eat a bagel from Ess-a-Bagel AT LEAST once!
It’s tempting to think (as I did last year) that the admittedly fantastic view from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is the be all and end all when it comes to views of the Manhattan skyline. But the views from Jersey City and Gantry Plaza State Park are every bit as good – if not better. If you have time, try both (or all three) for different perspectives of the city. Brooklyn gives you awesome shots of Lower Manhattan; Jersey City gives you a teasing glimpse of Midtown and great views downtown; Gantry Plaza offers phenomenal pictures of Midtown.
I’ve found myself becoming incredibly irritated by slow walkers since returning home to my wee seaside town. I always have been, but it’s really noticeable now. People move QUICKLY in NYC!
Free Tours By Foot are a fantastic company and their “pay what you think it’s worth” policy makes for some great tours. Next time I would probably hope to take some of their tours of the neighbourhoods I have yet to see, such as Harlem and the Bronx. There’s a cool looking tour of Bushwick street art I’d like to take too.
The subway is a phenomenal feat of engineering (and the 7 day Metrocard is the greatest bargain in the city. Second is the $1 slice of pizza) and then you take a moment to look around some of the stations and there are wonderful pieces of art which thousands of people zoom past, completely oblivious, every single day.
But just walking with no set plan or purpose is still the best way to explore New York.
Peter Lugar’s is great, but Keens is on a different planet. I can’t stop thinking about that meat.
Carrying a small bottle of hand sanitiser in your satchel – the type which dries almost instantly – is invaluable.
The best resources I used for this trip:
Trip Advisor – just reading trip reports and other people’s itineraries gave me so much information and some great ideas.
Bowery Boys podcasts – these are fantastic. I became immersed in the history of New York so much more on this visit than I had the first time around. Search their archives and there’s bound to be a podcast on just about every item on your itinerary.
Google Maps – place a star on ANYTHING that interests you on a map and save it so you can pull it up whenever you want when you’re in the city. You’ll never be stuck for somewhere to eat or drink or for a sight you might want to see but maybe didn’t put on your itinerary. A huge time saver too.
NYC Subway app – self-explanatory. Very quick and easy to use.
ohmyrockness – as a huge music fan and gig-goer, this is a comprehensive site for upcoming gigs in the city.