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!

Kitchen experiments: Kimchi

Kimchi. Must say, it wasn’t love at first bite.

Kimchi is a traditional Korean fermented dish, made for example of cabbage or other vegetables. I tried kimchi for the first time on my first trip to South Korea about four years ago. And, as I had it almost on every meal for several days I not only started to like it but I even began to miss it. It’s quite addictive. There are of course various varieties of kimchi and I bet that many family recipes are carefully kept secrets.

After a lot of kimchi talk, we decided to prepare it ourselves. We followed the recipe found in Helsingin Sanomat with the distinction that we made a double size portion and used two different cabbages, napa cabbage and white cabbage.

What you need for a big portion with one cabbage type is:

1 kg napa cabbage
5 scallions
1 tsp. salt

The pickle:
3 tbsp. sea salt
8 dl water

1 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. red chili powder
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. sugar

And this is how it goes:

Detach the cabbage leaves and rinse them. Cut the biggest ones into two or three parts. Chop the onions into thin slices. Soak the salt in lukewarm water and let the water cool. Pour the salted water on top of the cabbage and the onion. Put a plate as a weight and lift the container in the fridge (or as we did, outside) for the night.

Pour the salted water away and rinse the vegetables. Mix the spices in a big bowl (emphasis on big, there will be a lot of the mixture). Add the cabbage and the onion and stir well. Sprinkle salt on top and cover the mix with cabbage leaves. Spread plastic wrap on top and again place a plate as a weight.

Let the kimchi ferment and become spiced for two or three days in the fridge. We put the containers outside again.

And then, enjoy! Welcome the new addiction.

At the point when we had three big containers filled with raw cabbage and onion I might have felt a slight feeling of doubt anticipation, but kimchi clearly is a patience dish. And the verdict: it did taste like kimchi. A cabbage dish with attitude. Not the best kimchi of my life but since I’ve had some excellent ones I wasn’t even expecting that from the first experiment.  As a side dish for example with meat and rice it works well.

And some pictures. Respect to food photographers, not always an easy task. But here are a few snapshots.




I’ll finish this time with a restaurant recommendation: Danji in New York (346 West 52nd Street). It’s a modern Korean tapas place, a rather small one, but to our luck there was place for two at the time of our visit a bit more than a year ago. We learned that the name Danji refers to the clay pots in which kimchi is made. We had both excellent kimchi and the softest and richest tofu I’ve ever tasted (the friendly waiter promised this with superlatives and he didn’t lie). Danji was an unforgettable food adventure of Korean flavors in midtown New York.