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I love my life! Taking my time, soaking in the sights and always taking the road less traveled.

NY, New York!

USA | Wednesday, 13 February 2013 | Views [2730]

Two Australians in Brooklyn!

Two Australians in Brooklyn!

Where on earth do I start when trying to describe and recount a two week getaway to New York, New York?! Typically I start my journal entries by going over the photos I have of what I want to write about. Upon going through my vast collection of happy snaps, I flagged seventy-one photos that I would deem worthy of putting in the entry. Whilst it could be done, it is far from necessary. So I will make another cut, and then maybe even one more. I feel like a movie producer… or at least the script writer… ? I'm going to go ahead and produce my script now

I recall when I set off almost a year ago that before leaving for the airport it was a "cocktail of emotions". This time though, there was no cocktail, just unbottled emotions! There was stress! Stress that we wouldn't make our 3pm flight due to extreme winds which a few days earlier caused BC ferries to stop running. There was excitement! Excitement because we were heading to the Big Apple! What is your first thought when you think "New York?" I think Home Alone 2.

This time though, I wasn't tackling the unexpected alone. I was going to be accompanied by Daniela Santangelo! She had flown into Vancouver at the beginning of December and for two and a half weeks she had stayed with me at my temporary place of residence in Victoria, I'll dive into those two and a half weeks another time, for now, let's focus on New York.

Daniela with her wheeled suitcase, me and my oversized backpack, we made it to YVR in time. After multiple buses, a ferry, a sky-train here and there, we were ready to collapse in the airport with hours to spare. Despite the lack of sleep due to excitement (and last minute packing) the night before, PLUS all the travel time that day, being at the airport was quite exhilarating and energising! Receiving our boarding passes, filling out a declaration card and then dropping baggage off, going through customs and security… I love it all!

An excited puppy at YVR!

Who's excited?!

December 22nd - Arriving in New York

Daniela and I flew into Newark, New Jersey late that evening, by the time we got out of the airport it was past midnight and we were both absolutely buggered. The following morning we caught a very packed train into 42nd st Manhattan, which connects with many of the other lines. We didn't surface from the substation yet as we were both desperate to dump our luggage. A few more trains and transfers here and there and we finally made it to brisk Brooklyn. The air was cool and the streets were Polish. Yes, Polish. We were staying in Greenpoint, Brooklyn which turned out to be a very Polish inhabited community. Cozy though. 

Eventually we found the yoga studio where we would be staying during our time in New York. There was no time wasted unpacking or washing up, someone was hungry! I'm not going to say who, but in the end we sought out a very cozy and quaint cafe a few blocks from where we were staying. It was somewhat liberating to walk with no luggage through the crisp streets of Brooklyn. The excitement between us could not be contained!

This is no ordinary playground... !

This is no ordinary playground. It's American!!

I am not sure what was better looking.. ?!

I'm not sure what was better looking? That food, or Daniela??

Simple is better!

Just... EAT!

This was our first dining experience in New York, and probably one of our best! Such simple, delicious, fresh food. In short, the cafe specialises in seasonal, locally sourced food. Even the name of the cafe is simple; EAT. 

The next part of our day was super awesome… We called it a day! Time to rest and recoup before we head to downtown Manhattan. 

December 23rd - First Impressions

The next day, which was the 23rd, was our first venture into the big city, and boy oh boy is it big! From my perspective, I have been living on Vancouver island since June 2012, and emerging from the substation into the busy and bustling streets of NYC was quite overwhelming and stimulating! I can honestly say, I wasn't prepared for the mad rush of Christmas tourists, obnoxious locals and fast paced life that is NYC. Our first tourist stop was St. Patricks Cathedral which was at the time, undergoing major renovations so we didn't get any great photos from the outside. Again, it was like a mad house going in and coming out. After we had seen enough there, lost and confused, we stumbled upon the Rockefeller Centre. I have no knowledge of what the purpose of this centre is, but it was still pretty cool to see.

Rockefeller outside

Rockefeller - Outside. I struggled attempting to frame the building in my shot!

Rockefeller - Inside

Rockefeller - Inside. I thought it was pretty cool!

What followed next was probably the highlight of my entire trip, well it's right up there! We ventured up 5th Ave and stumbled upon…  


I was always a fan of The Apprentice, and we wandered in looking to fill out an application for the next seasons show. Unfortunately, Donald wasn't around, so we took to his lower lobby food court to indulge in our home packed tupperware food.

Date with Donald

Date with Donald! I mean... Daniela!

We felt moderately bad about not supporting his small business(s) so we felt inclined to make a purchase before we left. Our second New York dining experience was a… 


It was so good, that we had to get another! 

Our fine dining experience in Trump Tower was followed by a quick attempt to reach Central Park and have a quick look around there. Unfortunately we underestimated how big Central Park is and we were going to be late for our 2:30pm appointment! Daniela had booked to have a tour of ground zero, where the World Trade Centres stood, and where the Freedom Towers are currently being built. Again, we didn't set aside enough time to get there in time, and when we did, we found out that we had to go back 5 blocks to pick up our tickets from another location. Ugh! So more brisk and impatient walking, we finally cut the line to grab our tickets - thanks D for pre booking us - but then had to wait in a snake of a line to go through security to get into ground zero. I was pulled aside for my pocket knife that is attached to my keys, the guy just told me not to take it out (this wasn't the first and last time it bought me attention) and we marched through to ground zero. Apparently there was something like 4 World Trade Centres? And now there will be 7 Freedom Towers. It was somewhat daunting to be there, so we didn't stay for long. 

Construction of the new Freedom Towers

Construction of the new Freedom Towers

Ground Zero

Ground Zero memorials

It was as if we hadn't crammed enough into our day already, we decided to tackle Times Square before heading home. Times Square, what a place! The lights, the energy, the other annoying tourists. I love it! This has got to be one of my favourite places that we visited. So much going on, and did I mention, the lights?!

Tourist 1

Tourist 1

Tourist 2

Tourist 2

I think it's obvious that we were both in awe of this place. It really is the city that never sleeps

Daniela on steps

Daniela lit up New York!

I'm not entirely sure why or if these red steps are significant, but I do know that to get cheaper tickets to broadway shows, TKTS underneath the stairs is the place to go! 

December 24th - Christmas Eve

The following day, we did squat-diddly apart from go out to dinner. For some reason, I think we were both still very tried/jet-lagged. The time difference is only 3 hours ahead from Victoria, but when you're waking up at 7 or 8am New York time, it does make a slight difference, or at least it feels like it does! I can only imagine how Daniela felt. That didn't stop us from some fine-dining that evening in an area which to me, resembled Newtown. Williamsburg is a pretty hip and funky area and we accidently stumbled upon this super Pan-Asian Vegan restaurant. We enjoyed it so much that we actually came back… with special guests!


Some of us eat rather elegantly...

Not quite..

Others, not so much...

When the dance party in our mouths came to an end, we made our way home, but not before some photo snaps in front of these groovy murals in the subway. 



Interpret as you will!

December 25th - Christmas Day

The following day was Christmas!! Christmas in New York! No way, right? To start the day we went to mass at St. Patricks Cathedral. We were almost late because I got attempted to take us a "quicker way". After the service we decided to see what was open… nothing! Nothing was open. Daniela was disappointed that she couldn't check out Fao Schwarz.

Fao Schwarz

A Toy Factory I hadn't heard of until then. Apparently it's a big deal!

Unfortunately it wasn't the white Christmas we had imagined, so what was left to do but… cook!

Italian in the kitchen. Step back!

Italian in the kitchen. Back up!

After hours of slaving away in the kitchen, we produced a scrumptious meal fit for a king… and his whole army! 

Christmas lunch

Christmas lunch

All up, it took us around 4-5 hours to prepare (myself 1 hour, Daniela 4 hours) and we finished eating within 15 minutes, and then to clean everything up, another 2 hours. HOWEVER! It was well worth it!! Daniela's pesto gnocchi was the best I've ever had. She did labour for hours to prepare it and it was better than any Italian restaurant I've been to! And no, I am not just saying that!! My handcrafted samosas were okay. Throw in a few veggies and a cider or two and you have a pretty nifty vegan-friendly Christmas feast!!

December 26th - BOXING DAY

The next day was no doubt going to be very exciting! Daniela and I were meeting up with Voula and Paul, two friends I made back when I worked at Vision Personal Training in Australia. We got up early, and attempted to make our way downtown before we realised we were heading the wrong way on the train towards the Bronx, or Queens. 

2pacs hood


Going by the portrait I think this was Biggies hood? Hmmm... 

Nap time

It was mid morning, and I noticed how it was prime time for a nap on the train. 

We finally figured out how to get to Grand Central station, which is where we were meeting Paul and Voula. For  a moment, it was like being back in Australia. For months I had met other Australians, in different parts of North America, some even from the same area. Now though, I was surrounded by THREE familiar faces, and it was, for lack of a better word, nice. 

Grand Central?

Grand Central - Spot the tourist?

We wandered around downtown with them, catching up, exchanging stories. It was great to hear of news back home. These were two seasoned New Yorkians and we really appreciated them showing us around, taking us through Times Square, and pointing out hot-spot shopping areas. After a little shopping here and there, we decided to grab lunch. We found a nifty Mexican joint around Times Square and tuckered into some burritos, salsa and corn chips.

Lunch with old friends

Paul, Voula, Daniela and myself enjoying our Mexican lunch

Mid way through our scrumptious lunch it started to snow! Not the nice, fluffy white snow, more then mushy, wet stuff. But snow nonetheless! The snow was only a day late for our ideal white Christmas, but better late than never, right?! Paul and Voula decided to go back to their hotel and prepare for seeing Jersey Boys on Broadway that evening. Daniela and I had planned to see a show on Broadway, but we didn't know when, or what?! We then proceeded to stumble around Times Square, attempting to locate "BROADWAY", going around in circles, not exactly to sure what it was we were looking for. We asked numerous people "where is Broadway??" but it was cold, and we were absolutely clueless! We did eventually figure it out. The Broadway district features a few big theatres, with other theatres scattered around the place. We checked out tickets for Lion King, Wicked and Spiderman. The first two only had select tickets left, each costing $250 +, Spiderman didn't come across as anything special. We were DOOMED!! Until… The glowing red stairs decided to lend us a helping hand. We sought out TKTS and the expertise of one of it's young, Broadway enthused sales staff and he gave us some no-bull advice into what was hot, and what was not. We went with his recommendation and saw:


Peter and the Starcatchers. HIGHLY recommended if you are in the area, and if it is still playing.

The prequel story to Peter Pan! It was marvellous! I had the best time in the cozy theatre. It wasn't at all what I expected, but I don't really know what I expected!! It was just so cool to be in the second row watching this "LIVE" movie. I think Daniela dozed off mid-way, but to be fair, she was tired. I walked out of the theatre so sad that the story was over. For 2 hours, I felt apart of the Peter Pan world, and didn't want to leave! I don't want to grow up.. 

Daniela and I in the theatre

Photos were not permitted in the theatre, but Daniela and I sneaked one in! :) 

December 27th

It was Daniela's turn the next day. We had met up with my friends from Australia, and now we were to meet up with her future brother in-law, Emiliano. He was a very pleasant and kind-hearted Italian/American with the accent too! We wandered around with him, through Central Park, searching for a suitable veg-friendly restaurant for lunch. He told us stories of the hurricane that had just passed and the work he was doing to help repair the areas that were still devastated. To conclude our day with Emiliano, we each had a coffee to resemble our personalities. Mine was bitter and Daniela had something sweet!

Emilio and Daniela

Emiliano, top fella!

We parted ways and then D and I decided to check our the Harry Potter expo. It was pretty neat to see all the props and costumes they actually used on set. Whilst it wasn't as cool as Peter and the Starcatchers, its was still magical!

Harry Potter convention

Gryffindor vs Ravenclaw!

Once we were Harry Potter gurus, it was time to bite the bullet, and do some shopping. Yay! We checked out a few of the big ones such as Maceys and Century 21. I'm probably the worst person to shop with, so I let Daniela go and do her own thing while I quietly sat and twiddled my thumbs.  

Shoe shopping...

Putting my foot down on shoe shopping. Photo time!

December 28th

December 28th was a significant day for me. I learned something about myself. I don't like museums. Mainly those featuring obscured art that is way to abstract for me to comprehend. I just don't get it, therefore, I really do not appreciate it. It was cool to see some things, but I think I got more of a kick out of trying to make these abstract pieces of art look even more odd with the settings on my camera. 


This artpiece evokes the emotion of confusion within me.

Melted barbie?

I thought someone had melted a GI. Joe doll here.


I knew I had seen this one before! It looks like my sister!


I think we were made to paint this in primary school.. 


This one should be a feature in MoMa. BEAUTIFUL!


To me, this was legitimately the most interesting thing featured in MoMa, the history of the @ symbol. I like that sort of stuff. 

The same day, we also decided to venture up the Empire State building, a whole two floors! I was in desperate need for a toilet, and we did have a pass to go to the top, but were hoping to save it for New Years Eve. After much joking around with the security about my little pocket knife, they let us through, I let the waterfall flow, and we inquired about our tickets. In hindsight, we should have just gone up then and there, because the lines were minimal and we wouldn't have another opportunity to go up again, unless we waited in the 4 hour lines. No thanks! 

We retreated back to Brooklyn for our first bar experience. Which was actually quite fun. We got talking with other locals who recommended things to see and do in the area. 

Daniela and I in a bar in Brooklyn

You can see our 2012 vegan pocket guide to NYC. It was a lifesaver and highly recommend it to not just vegans/vegetarians, but those who would like to seek out food that is different in taste, preperation and presentation. 

December 29th - A cold, cold day

The following day was probably the coldest and gloomiest. What better day for a cruise around the harbour!? Before stepping onto the boat though, I decided to stop in to the Pokemon convention and catch em' all!


"How do you catch Pikachu???"

The cruise was part of out New York sightseeing booklet that we had purchased, so naturally we wanted to get the most out of it. It was ridiculously cold on the little boat, and visibility was poor. I tried to get as many tourist shots as possible before my fingers froze. We got somewhat close to the Statue of Liberty, but it was closed off due to repairs still being done as a result of Hurricane Sandy

Daniela and the Statue of Liberty

Close... but not close enough!

Still cool!

I almost sufferent frostbite trying to take these photos! 

Even with all the clouds and fog it still looked amazing! The cruise was pleasent. It would have no doubt been beautiful on a clear day, but we made the most of it and still had fun!

What's next? If you guessed food, then bingo! This was probably my favourite little restaurant we visited. A small Vietnamese restaurant named "Lan Cafe". Very cozy, very intimate and small. The owners were traditional Vietnamese buddhists, thus the restaurant refraining from using animal meats and by-products. I got a hearty pho-soup and Daniela had something to do with lemongrass, I don't remember exactly. I do recall though being very satisfied and we actually ordered more to go! 

Daniela at LAN


Us and our warm, delicious dishes 

December 30th - New Years Eve, Eve

Museums, museums! We had purchased a booklet, as I had mentioned that allowed us to "sightsee" 6 common tourist attractions; THREE definite museums (MoMa, American Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan Museum of Art). One of the admissions was to either Top of the Rock (Viewing deck on the Rockefeller Centre) OR the Guggenheim Museum. 

With so many things to do, and not so much time left, we made an effort to use up the passes that we had already paid for. Next on our list; American Museum of Natural History. 

I was excited for this museum, and so was Daniela, I think. There were long lines to get in, even on our VIP quick admission side. The first thing we did upon entering the museums was head a few floors up to a dome-shaped room where everybody was ushered in and seated under the big, semi-circular roof and a video on space and planets (I think) was put on. Yes, it would have been interesting, but there was something about the room that put me to sleep… Whoops!

We were then set free and able to wander the many floors of history. Fun! We checked out a floor on anthropology and made some observations.


Daniels present skull shape has not changed since the dawn of time. Kidding!

I was transported back to Australia momentarily..

Western Sydney

Specifically West of Sydney, according to the featured display.

I discovered my birthday gem stone:

My birthstone

Notice that I colour-coordinate with my birthstone! Fashion sense = Through the roof!

Finally, Daniela was impressed with the restored Dinosaur exhibition.


Or not. 

Our interest in the museum had peaked too soon. We arrived early in the morning, when it first opened. However, then every tourist in New York decided they wanted to check out the museum and it got crowded, very stinky and hot and quite frankly, boring. Yes, it's cool to see all that stuff, but I think our patience and tourist-tolerance levels had depleted, so we quickly made for the exit. 

Daniela and I weren't keen to wait in another line to see another attraction, so we skipped the lines and dived right into the sea of people at some of the department stores around town. Yay for shopping! I don't remember exactly where or what we bought (probably Century 21 and I probably bought nothing) but the madness of shopping in New York, post-Christmas, still haunts me.

That evening, we made plans to meet up with Paul and Voula and take them to one of our favourite vegan-friendly restaurants; Wild Ginger back in Brooklyn. They met us there at 7:30pm and we had a lot of great food, drinks and embraced each others company one more time!

The four of us

December 31st - New Years Eve

What better way to start New Years Eve than going out, separately. Up to this point, Daniela and I had been living and traveling with each other for almost a month. We had been doing everything together, so we decided to go and explore by ourselves. I wouldn't have to tolerate her hours of shopping, and she wouldn't have to listen to my lectures on lettuce and carrots. So it was for the good. I know she had a good day, after speaking to her, so what did my day entail? Well…

First I went back to the Rockefeller Centre and waited my turn in line to head up to the top and see all of New York (Daniela chose the alternative, which was to visit the Guggenheim). Unfortunately, it wasn't as straightforward as waiting in line and up you go. You wait in a few lengthy lines and then a security check. The security fellas were not to impressed with my pee-wee pocket knife and told me I had to dispose of it if I wanted to proceed. No thanks. So I returned downstairs and hid it in a bush within the Plaza… He he he. I went back to the line, and the lovely, bubbly, singing lady let me right through and up and away I went! I was pretty excited to see all of New York from this perspective, and it didn't disappoint!  


With no Daniela, I had to enlist the help of another tourist (A Pommy, who kept making jokes about NZ/Australians relationship) to take my photo.

Impressive 2

Quite a view, eh?

I don't know if you know this, or if you haven't noticed from my pictures, but New York is a BIG city! 

Next stop? I went to explore some of the other districts. Using my MetroCard (Daniela and I purchased TWO during our time in New York - you can hop on/hop off as many times as you want within a week for $28. The alternative is to pay $2.25 every time you hop on) I hopped on a train and went somewhere we hadn't been yet.  

Iron Cast? 

I am not sure if this photo was in the "Cast Iron District" or "Flat Iron District", regardless, I loved the buildings and streets! I even made my first shopping purchase around here, I bought a pair of shoes! I explored China town and Little Italy, just browsing. I did like this one, and it's for you, Dad..


The perfect fusion of both my parents!

The fire stations are very much hidden, and blend in with the buildings. Not to say they go unnoticed, but they are not as welcoming as other fire stations I have visited.

After my retail therapy session was complete and I was tired of smelling dead fish in China town, I took a hike to The High Line which was pretty super cool! The High Line is a essentially a public park build on and over an former freight train line, which is elevated above the streets and side walks, which is the cool part! Although, I don't think my description is giving it enough justice. It's not just a park, but a park along a historic rail line above the street. Ahh, I'll let the pictures do the talking.

High Line 1

High Line 2

The train tracks were neat, but what was also neat was the buildings! 

Building 1

Building 2

Fancy schmacny! What was even cooler than the tracks, and the buildings was the... Yep. Art! Ha ha. This coming from the guy who has more fun playing Pokemon than discovering MoMa! 


Lost zebras?


We've all seen this one!


I don't get this last one, but I like it!

It turned out that Daniela had also taken to the sky and walked along the High Line that same day, we probably missed each other by 30 minutes, which is a bummer because it would have been nice to do together. We also got home within 20 minutes of each other. 

New Years Eve in New York? What on earth were we going to do?! Go watch the ball drop in Times Square? No. We had been advised against it by all the locals. The way they put it was that you have to line up to secure a spot, wait hours and hours in an enclosed area with no toilets, and if you do need to pee and leave the designated area, you are not allowed to be admitted in. It's freezing cold, overcrowded and the ball drop lasts… how many seconds? No thanks! So we took to the streets of Brooklyn, hit up two pubs, came back at midnight to our yoga studio and climbed up on the roof with the other Japanese girls who were staying there. It was a sweet view! You couldn't so much see ALL the fireworks, but you could see the city, which was pretty. 

Danielas fave

Danielas favourite...

My fave

I like this one!

New Years Day - Final full day in New York 

I never thought this day would come, so fast. We took things slowly when we first arrived, not wanting to rush anything, and with the last day upon us, there were so many things that we still wanted to do. It would have been nice to see the City from the Empire State Building, but the lines were ridiculous. We attempted to go and check out MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) but unfortunately it was closed. I had look it up and was sure it would be open, despite New Years Day, and so did many others rocking up only to be disappointed.  


Danieals Gossip Girl photo shot. Or something like that... ??

I think Daniela was more upset than I was. Although, I did want to check it out.  

We then decided to go for a stroll through Central Park, because we hadn't fully embraced it yet. It's hard to grasp how big the park actually is, and to cover ALL of it would take quite some time. Instead we entered around 78th St, where MET is located and casually took our time to wander through. 

Daniela in Wonderland!

Daniela in Wonderland.

There were some pretty cool bronzed statues in Central Park; Alice in Wonderland was my favourite! 

Frozen pond

I dared Daniela to go for a dip…

Bye Central Park

And we bid Central Park farewell.

Lunch time! Oh how I love to eat… We sought out a Yum Cha, Dim Sum house in China Town, which was all completely Vegan. I think Daniela agreed, it was a bit to vegan. The mock meats and such were a bit to real. Obviously very tasty, but a bit much.

Dim Sum

After our very heavy lunch (wait til you hear about dinner!) we went and stopped in a local fire station for my sake. Not the friendliest bunch, Irish and Italians… Daniela smoothly and sneakily squeezed in a happy snap when they weren't looking! 

Big Red

Fire truck in Little Italy

We moved on to Times Square, hoping to possibly get tickets to another cheap Broadway show, but unfortunately the lines were bonkers, so that idea went down the drain. BUT, we took a selfie! :)

Times Square

Our selfie in Times Square. Ciao for now!

By this point, it was home time. We were out of groceries, didn't want to cook and we STILL hadn't had an oversized pizza in New York. More than enough pretzels, but no pizzas!


Cha ching! We could have put it all away in one sitting but decided to leave a slice or two for the plane ride back tomorrow. 

What happened next? There was a mild food coma, some packing involved, a bit of sleep and up at 5:30am to eat as much as I could before our cab arrived at 6:30am to take us to the airport. Our first and last cab ride in New York.  

Final Thoughts

My long and overdue entry of New York - done! I wouldn't have done it any other way! Wait, that's a lie. Yes I would have! The inner-failure-to-plan me would have perhaps planned a few things to maybe accommodate more, but at the end of the day, I had a magical time doing what we did and there is no doubt it wouldn't have been the same (obviously) without Daniela. I am so glad we did it together. The memories will stay with me forever... 

… but if I do happen to forget, I can always refer back to here! Oh, and I actually uploaded SEVENTY FIVE photos! What can I say? I'm a visual guy!

Final, final thoughts

Eat yo veggies!

Cause if you don't… 

Food coma 

You may end up looking like this! A self-inflicted food coma. And I will be there you take your photo, and put it up. 


Tags: australians, brooklyn, central park, christmas, food, new years, new york, rockefeller, tourists, vegan



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