Italian girl in London heads to NY for a long weekend. Here is a summary of impressions, tips and few recommendations from one of my favourite cities. London and New York have many affinities, are only 7 hours plane ride apart and share few common traits. However New York is easier to navigate, explore and blend in.
September is the best time of the year to visit. Days are long, the temperature is warm and Central Park gets ready to wear its best coat, full of autumnal shades. I love it.
WHERE TO STAY
If you want to live like a New Yorker, stay away from the central and overcrowded hotels in Midtown, heading to less obvious, and often cheaper, neighbourhoods. These are the places where actual people live: Yorkville, the Village, Williamsburg in Brooklyn. I stayed at the Excelsior on the Upper West Side, just by the National History Museum, which I warmly recommend. In these parts of town it is easy to feel like a local: grabbing a coffee, stretching my legs in central Park or browsing the farmers market made me feel like I belonged there.
This is an intense and fast paced city. Do not let museum fatigue or sleep deprivation spoil your time in town. Sounds obvious, but I always need to remind it to myself. Jet leg doesn’t help either.
GET OUT OF MANHATTAN
The most vibrant and funky bars, galleries, shops are – arguably – on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge. Ditch the train for the ferry, conveniently located at East 34 Street by the UN headquarters. It takes 30 minutes and offers a fantastic view across the East side of Manhattan. On the other side of the river you will be rewarded with a great people watching spot: hip and young, everyone looks like an extra from the TV series “Girls”, with healthy bodies, great hair and the confidence that comes from having a trust fund. House prices and local amenities are priced accordingly.
I never ever had a bad meal in NY. Or a bad customer service experience, as everyone works on commission.
On this occasion I was lucky enough to get a reservation at the legendary Gramercy Tavern, a great viewpoint to observe how the well-heeled New Yorkers eat, drink and socialise: a young couple on their first date, a group of middle aged friends, few lucky people who live nearby and use it as their diner, and the usual bunch of models and their dates, aka men who can afford to date a model. Men shorter than the aftershave they wear. I had the tasting menu, which is pure indulgence, especially by pudding time.
But sometimes the best food doesn’t need to come with a hefty price tag. I do not feel ashamed to admit that in 4 days I had more than one burger, probably the most classic American food. The one from “The Spotted Pig” beats any competition: generous portion, juicy and flavoursome, comes with shoestrings. I still hold fond memories of it. I think I will not have a burger anymore, unless I can have it in the US.
Cocktails and Martinis are consistently and reliably good in NY. But if perfection is what you are after, you need to head to The Campbell Apartments. Behind the doors of this institution, you will emerge in the atmosphere of a Scottish castle, with dim lights and a secretive atmosphere. If only those walls could talk…
The London’s equivalent of this place is Duke’s hotel in St James. If I had a lover, I would like to meet him in one of these two places.
This is the only thing I didn’t do on this trip, despite the high reputation of NY as a shopping destination (books and movies feature this topic extensively). To be precise, I bought something and restrained myself and bought a classic pair of Ray Ban sunglasses – cheaper than in Europe – and a couple of little things from J Crew – where instead I could have bought the entire collection. Their stuff got much more expensive since my last trip. Pityhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/slice/2371491678/”>Adam Kuban</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a> photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougletterman/465598877/”>Doug Letterman</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a> photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulteriorepicure/1389590227/”>ulterior epicure</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>