New York City is often anthropomorphized in fiction and film probably because what makes it one of the world’s greatest cities is precisely its flawed characteristics, its contrasts of grime and glamour, its pulsating 24-hour energy, its vices, and its cultural and financial significance. I never tire of visiting New York City and decided to spend two days there after a brief and emotionally tumultuous visit to Washington, DC. Two days with my family in New York was the perfect antidote to my disappointing DC visit.
With only two days in New York, there is no way you can see or do everything, but here is what I did.
Perhaps my favorite thing to do in New York City is to wander. Actually I generally find studying a map and then striking out is the best way to explore any city. Modern technology on phones makes it easy to pinpoint where you are if you get lost, but part of the fun is getting a little lost. In Johannesburg it isn’t considered safe to wander on foot and I have found walking to be one of the luxuries I miss most. The freedom to walk the streets was liberating and I spent a morning walking through SoHo ducking into shops. SoHo is my favorite place to shop in NYC, as long as you aren’t expecting any independent or quirky spots, but every store from mass market chains to luxurious upscale designers are located there.
My other favorite place to wander is Central Park, the green anchor of a mainly concrete city. My mom and I spent several hours traversing the reservoir. Access was tightly controlled while we were there because of the NYC marathon, but nothing beats being bundled up on a crisp and insanely windy autumnal day wandering through the park.
I always try to visit a different museum when I am in New York City and this time we went to the Neue Gallerie to see an Egon Schiele exhibit. I like his manic, long-fingered, sallow faced portraits, but given the graphic nature of some of the pieces, my parents questioned my taste.
Eat and Drink
NoMad Hotel – Due to a rocking Halloween party the night before the restaurant opened late and to accommodate us for moving our reservation to a later time they sent out a complimentary breakfast bread basket with croissants, pecan buns, and homemade bread. I was there for their chicken sandwich – chicken, foie gras, and black truffles on brioche. I have been wanting to try their chicken for two that is only served at dinner since the restaurant opened, but had to settle for this unbelievable modification. With a side of french fries with rosemary and lemon, it was the perfect first meal in NYC.
Barbuto – I have written about this before, but I can’t seem to find brussels sprouts in South Africa. I ate my fill at Barbuto in a delicate salad starter. But to understand how serious this restaurant takes the simplicity of food, you have to try the olive oil and pepper pasta. The pasta were perfectly al dente and although the portion could have served three people, it was the perfect foil to the rich meal earlier in the day.
La Columbe, Tribeca – The espresso is strong, thick and served in a shot glass. No better way to be jolted awake in the morning. This place is popular and had we not gotten there when it opened, we would not have snagged a seat.
Mercer Kitchen – This is a place to come and be seen and is a fantastic spot to indulge in people watching, especially, if your table is at the foot of the stairs as ours was. My omelette could have used some seasoning. Note to the kitchen remember the salt.
Craft – When you brother knows someone in the kitchen and your instructions are to order light because the kitchen will be sending out dishes, you know you are in for a treat. I find that restaurants helmed by largely absent celebrity chefs can be hit or miss, but Craft continues to deliver. Food is rich but simple. My favorite dishes were the brussels sprouts, gnocchi’s piled high with white truffles, and pig trotters with a fried egg, but honestly everything was amazing. Service was a bit slow (the meal lasted 4.5 hours) but upbeat.
The best of New York comes out during the marathon. On the subway, a New Yorker with a young daughter congratulated an Irish runner who had just finished the race destroying all stereotypes that New Yorkers are pushy and rude. Everyone just oozes positivity during the marathon. Along the race, runners who had there names emblazoned on their shirts were energetically cheered for by groups of people who applauded every runner who went past. If you have the chance, go and cheer on all the people you don’t know. Since I hate running, I would never encourage someone to run.
Two days in New York City is never enough time to do everything. I left with a list of things that I didn’t get to, but New York City is one of those places I will go back to over and over again. It’s a city that once you fall in love with, you can’t shake.