New York State of Mind: My 5 NYC Tips

New York, New York: you are epic, thrilling, bustling, inspiring and exhausting. NY definitely is an iconic city and when you’re there it feels like you’re part of a bigger scene so very familiar from countless movies, series, novels and songs. In SATC NYC was  like the fifth major character in the series.

I want to share my best NY tips with you. Obviously, the list is not all-encompassing, but I hope that it can help you spice & shape your NYC experience with a few selected and tested gems.


Stay overnight in Jersey City


Definitely. Jersey City feels like an up and coming area with good vibes. With the price that we got a tiny (yet stylish) room in Midtown Manhattan, we got a beautiful spacious loft apartment in Jersey City. Jersey pampered us for example with a wide wooden pier which was perfect for sunny morning runs, a cute little coffee wagon where we got our post-run cappuccinos and almond croissants, a top-notch view to Southern Manhattan, a fast and affordable path train connection to Manhattan (20 minutes and $ 2,70), a farmers market and chilled vibes. When there, try also the Hudson Hall Smokehouse and beerhall (on 364 Marin Blvd): a tasty experience wrapped in yummy barbeque sauce and friendly and easy-going service.

Midtown Manhattan is busy and hectic and a good place to stay if you’ll for example take the train from the Penn Station the next morning (we went to Boston), but I really preferred to stay the other nights on the side of Jersey.


Feast in the Katz Delicatessen


Want to have the best pastrami sandwich of your life? The Katz Deli enjoys a legendary reputation and it was here where the famous scene in When Harry met Sally rom com was filmed. I’ll have what she’s having, indeed and yes please. There’s a sign hanging from the ceiling indicating where Meg Ryan’s character sat, pinpointing the exact seat for movie fans and tourists.

We shared the juicy Katz’s Pastrami Hot Sandwich and Katz’s Cheesesteak (the menu promised that this plentiful treat would make Rocky leave Philadelphia): both were purely delicious, tender and filling. The atmosphere in this Jewish-style deli is fast-paced, characteristic and interesting. You can opt for either the self-service way or the full-service seating: we did the latter and it worked well. The price was reasonable ($ 80 for two) considering it is New York and the sandwiches are shockingly yummy.

Address: 205 East Houston Street, corner of Ludlow St


Walk the High Line


High Line: calling it a green oasis might be a bit too much but it’s a verdant park-like public space built on an elevated freight rail line, located at the Meatpacking District in West Chelsea. On sunny days it is really popular. High Line is a nice green walk amid the bustling city. Before or after the day stroll you can visit the Chelsea Market (75 9th Ave) and for example enjoy Japanese inspired tacos for lunch.

See a Broadway show. See Chicago.

If you only have the chance, do this. A great place to get tickets up to 50 % off (to same-day performances) are the TKTS discount booths. We prefer the one on South Sea Seaport (located in the corner of Front and John Streets): there were no queues and we got tickets half price to Chicago of that same evening. There are two other booths as well, one on Times Square and the third at Lincoln Center.

And Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre (291 West 49th Street): it was mesmerizing, radiant and super skilled. The intermission drink from the theatre bar was way overpriced as you can expect but they served the sparkling wine in a big plastic mug with a straw so that you could keep sipping it during the second act. As a side note on how people in the audience is dressed: five years ago, in our first Broadway show I was slightly surprised how casually some people were dressed to the occasion. I remember seeing a bunch of shorts and t-shirts. But hey, then again, the main thing is the spectacular show.

Cross the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset


Cross the bridge to the side of Brooklyn, where you can admire the gleaming Manhattan skyline. Epic views are guaranteed. If you’re an early bird, go for the sunrise experience. We couldn’t help but wonder what it is like to live right next to the bridge where millions of people have a direct view to your living room, bedroom and life. Megacity life indeed.


What else, what else? Here are a few quick notes:

Visit the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1071 5th Ave). Afterwards you can enjoy a nice late lunch or light dinner at the atmospheric French bistro Demarchelier (50 East 86th Street).

Remember to apply for your ESTA before travelling to the States.

New York was way more expensive than five years ago. Back then we actually managed go under our NY travel budget (!) Many things can of course be affordable or free, but be prepared for high prices in food, accommodation, experiences and shopping of course.

And last, enjoy and take in the NYC magic with all your senses!

The Puppy and Gisele in Bilbao

Our trip started in Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque country. I’ll remember it best from the art, architecture, delicious food, the stroll in the Casco Viejo (Old Town) and of course as the starting point of our adventure in Northern Spain! And it’s these things mentioned I would definitely recommend Bilbao for.

One thing I was really looking forward to was our visit to the Guggenheim museum. I hadn’t visited a Guggenheim before and I had quite high expectations of the visit. And I didn’t have to be disappointed at all, on the contrary. But I was a little surprised maybe and also taken.

The museum building (designed by Frank Gehry) itself was interesting, monumental and imposing. Outside the museum sits the Puppy made of flowers – designed by Jeff Koons – and at the time of our visit it was gazing in the direction of Gisele.

 

 

 

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At the time of our visit the museum hosted two big exhibitions. The Matter of Time by Richard Serra included eight gigantic steel sculptures . We could walk inside the art works. The experience with the narrowing corridors, echos, children running and the steep metal walls made me think for example about the passage of time and how we experience time and art. The secod exhibition was that of Niki de Saint Phalle, who for example has created the abundant and colourful Nana figures. Her works are feministic, strong, experimental, peculiar and capturing. The exhibition both showed the many stages of her productive career and painted a picture of her as an artist and a political figure.

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And the food. We had really tasty tapas like pintxos in Bilbao, from a  savory slice if tortilla to mouth watering pulpo, soft croquetas and a piece of bread topped with a rich crab sallad and a slice of really fresh anchovy.

We had an unforgettable celebration dinner at La Vina del Ensanche. The restaurant was packed and the recommendations met their promise. At the busy bar the locals met up with friends and family and enjoyed a glass of wine or cider with some plentiful pintxos. We had atún rojo marinado, croquetas de jamon and crema gratinada de frutas rojos. We often asked to share what we ordered (para compartir) in order to get to try as many new tastes as possible.

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Thank you B!