10 Days in New York City, My Favorite City on Earth
My first trip to the east coast was when I was 4 months old. Since then, my mom and I would go back and forth from California to New Jersey as often as we could, usually twice a year if we could manage it.
I grew up feeling like I was meant to be in New York City. We would always make a point to take the train in for the day or spend the night in the city going to all the museums, restaurants, and parks we could reasonably fit into a short trip. I remember the first time I was allowed to go shopping in Soho by myself so vividly it's as if it was yesterday.
When I would go back-to-school clothes shopping I always looked at trendier items thinking, 'when I move to New York, I'll dress like that.' It was always in the back of my mind that I would call New York home.
I was lucky enough to go to university there and did indeed call it my home. I spent all my free time taking the D train to Chinatown then walking uptown until I reached the Park. I know Manhattan like it's an old friend, and I was so excited to introduce it to my boyfriend last October.
In Korea, there is a holiday called Chuseok which you can think of as Thanksgiving. The whole country gets time off, and since it is tied to the lunar calendar, the number of days varies. In 2017, we had nearly 10 days of freedom.
We took a short flight to Shanghai then landed in Newark around sunset. We made it to our Chinatown AirBnb and set off in search of food and to help my boyfriend get his bearings. We made a very important first stop at Ferrara's Bakery in Little Italy for an espresso, tea, and cannoli. While it might not be as obvious as Seoul, with a giant palace in the middle of downtown, I love that there is so much history in New York. That this little business has been serving the same cannoli for nearly 130 years.
After a deep sleep we started our day around 7am, thank you jet lag. For the full New York experience I made sure our first meal was a bagel sandwich which my boyfriend devoured. Since we had no set plans other than a Yankees game that afternoon, we simply wandered around snaking our way uptown. After introducing him to honey crisp apples at the Union Square Farmers Market (he's in love now) we finally got on the train with tourists and locals draped in Yankees gear and headed to my home, the Bronx.
This was something my boyfriend felt was essential to the full American experience so we sat in the nosebleeds, grabbed peanuts and a hot dog, and watched some good old American baseball. We were still pretty tired so we found some Chinese food near our home and went to sleep early again. We never quite got on New York time the entire trip.
The next day I met up with some people from my YouTube channel at my favorite cafe in Koreatown, Grace Street. It was so fun to meet with people who had so much in common with me, and I could have sat there chatting all day! My boyfriend had been exploring the New York Public Library, and when we met at the AirBnb we took another well deserved nap. Dinner was all-day breakfast for me and a burger for him at the 24 hour Polish diner, Veselka near St Marks.
Then we got news of the tragedy in Las Vegas. I felt so helpless reading the news that I booked a blood bank appointment right away. I rolled out of bed and hopped on the train to Grand Central to donate while my boyfriend figured out what we would do for the day. We met up in Chinatown and took the train out to Williamsburg. After hitting a record store, a thrift shop, and a cafe, we had a perfect lunch at Cafe Colette! We really didn't have a plan and that's exactly how my boyfriend likes to travel. I'm much more of an itinerary traveler, but he just likes to pick a neighborhood and see what he sees. Since I knew I'd be happy no matter what we did in New York, he ran the show!
Later we wandered around St Marks and went to the movies at midnight. Later we grabbed bagels and headed to my favorite spot, Washington Square Park. We spent hours just people watching and listening to the various jazz ensembles practicing under the trees. After grabbed dolsas from the food cart, we wandered east and spent the day meandering the East Village.
The next day was pretty tough for me. I hadn't visited the World Trade Center since 2002. My family and I had actually been to the top many times, with our last visit in 2000 being one of the few when we decided to buy the souvenir photo. Even when living here for school, I couldnt bring myself to go down there. This time I did and they did a really beautiful job. I had a hard time, but I'm glad I did it. For the birthdays of the deceased, the monument puts a white rose on their name plate. All the details were really thoughtful and thought I may not go again, I really appreciate what was done there to remember.
We took a quick peek at Wall Street and then spent the rest of the daylight hours exploring Central Park. We grabbed dinner at the Meatball Shop and sat in Times Square taking in the chaos.
I finally went to the Whitney Museum in Chelsea and everything about it, inside and out, was amazing! I even ran into my former coworker from Korea there which was completely unexpected. Then my boyfriend and I explored Chelsea Market and The Highline before taking a break at home. I met up with an old friend for dinner, and my boyfriend happily got (too much) ramen for his meal of choice. The next day was spent in New Jersey with my Grammy, which is always fun, then we conquered Brooklyn again, this time heading to DUMBO.
With green tea from the Good Sort and huevos rancheros from Cafe Habana in our tummies, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with hundreds of other people and simply explored the neighborhood. We eventually took the train back to Manhattan, took in the views from Top of the Rock, and people watched in Grand Central.
Our last day was just as lackadaisy as the previous ones. We woke up, got falafel from Tiam, and spent the rainy day reading at Housing Works Bookstore. My boyfriend found a jazz club in the Village so we got our wrists stamped, listened to some jazz, then grabbed ramen at a nearby cafe. We went back to the club and got our fill of sax and piano, then headed home to pack.
Our trip was exactly what I wanted my boyfriend to experience. Lazy days that were still filled with so much art and food and wonder. Lucky for me, he loved the city too and I hope to call its busy streets my home again one day. I love you, New York!