After thinking, rethinking, planning, booking and rebooking tickets, I finally landed in New York City on the 12th of July, 2013. Nothing, seriously nothing prepares you to see the Manhattan Skyline arise in slow motion right before your eyes as your cab prepares to go into the tunnel on your way from the airport to Manhattan. It’s surreal, it’s magnificent, it’s breath-taking and from that moment on you’re in LOVE with undoubtedly the greatest city in the world.
Accept it or not, if you’ve been to New York at some point you do ask yourself “Why the hell do I not live here?!” I did too. I love Bombay! For all its craziness, it keeps you grounded. It keeps you motivated. I think I love New York for pretty much the same reasons. But what I love the most about NYC is that each neighbourhood has its own style and culture. Yes, that also causes neighbourhood-snobbery which every big city is privy to (Hello, South-Bombayites!) but New York does it effortlessly and with pride. Talking about pride, when you look at NYC’s steely, picturesque skyline, it really makes you wonder how much love, pride and focused-intentions must have gone into creating a city that amazing! It makes you wonder why the rest of the cities fail to do so? Is it just money? I don’t think so! Before I move ahead I must clarify that that I am not saying other big cities are not charming or impressive. Look at London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, Istanbul, Dubai, Hongkong, Shanghai…. they are all very impressive in terms of culture and infrastructure but no city in the world takes so much pride in itself. So may be eventually, what matters is how the people feel about their city…. that’s why may be with all the potholes, crazy traffic, over-capacitated public transportation, Bombay aka Mumbai still works and is so loved because we the people love it for just letting us be. There might be a lack of space but Bombay manages to offer us more personal space than any other city in the country.
See how difficult it is for me to talk about any other city without subconsciously comparing it to Bombay? Coming back to New York, the one thing you should know about New York is its tendency to hyperbole. Do not fall for “the best pizza in the world” reviews. Go with your intuition and the city won’t let you down.
For my flights, I used goibibo.com. Have to say hey got me a great deal considering I booked really close to my date of travel. Also their customer service was good. They called me as soon I tried booking my ticket to assist me in case of need. Which I thought was really nice as I was booking multiple destinations – Mumbai – New York, New York – Los Angeles, Los Angeles – Las Vegas, Las Vegas – LA and LA – Mumbai.
If you’re heading to NYC and want to download just one single app, go for YELP! It’s effing brilliant. Dining, nightlife, shopping, maps… there’s nothing you can’t Yelp.
I used airbnb.com to book the stay for the first couple of days. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was amazed! For the uninitiated, airbnb.com is a crowd-sourced platform where people who are not using their apartments, offer it to travelers. I liked it and recommend it for two main reasons. One it offers you the experience of living in the city (in your favourite neighbourhood) and secondly, it’s more cost-effective than a good hotel. Our one-bedroom apartment in Chelsea, Manhattan was really adorable and convenient. I think it makes a great travel deal.
For the last two nights, we stayed at Hyatt Union Square. What can I say, it was the perfect choice!! Imagine this, you’re just a walking distance from shopping heavens like 5th Avenue, SoHo, Nolita etc and a quick ride away from Times Square, Central Park, Empire State and Rockerfeller Building! Yes, that’s Hyatt Union Sqaure for you. Another thing that I loved about the hotel was its boutique-hotel-like vibe. The staff was polite and dressed in we-are-not-so-stuck-up uniforms. It’s a smaller, more chilled-out Hyatt with a great roof-top. I liked that! The bed was super and the shower was absolutely brilliant. I just wish they had a bathtub, although to be honest you’d rather be on the streets soaking up the city than bath-salts in a fancy tub.
If you’re in New York, you have to go to Williamsburg, Brookyn! And you have to take the ferry. No cabs, no subway… just take the ferry. It’s gorgeous! In Williamsburg, eat at La Nonna Pizzeria, great food and an even homemade Tiramisu. Drink at Meatball, the bartender made me his favourite cocktail, totally off the menu. Woop woop! The other interesting way to get to Brooklyn is to walk the famous Brooklyn Bridge. Yes, you are allowed and yes it’s a long but a beautiful walk.
The last travel tip goes out to fellow vegetarians, there’s no dearth of veg/vegan food places in New York. We even found a veg sushi place, Beyond Sushi, in Meatpacking district. Yup, talk about irony.
This is all I can remember, do go through the photo gallery. I have added some more info as captions. If you have any interesting NYC stories, please do share them in the comments section. I will be sharing my other travels stories soon. Thank you!