New York

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

New York was one of the first places I added to my bucket list as a teenager and this year for my 30th birthday I finally got to tick it off and even had a surprise visit from my best friend for a long weekend. Celebrating our thirtieth together was an absolute dream come true (thanks to best husband in the world!) I had this idea of exactly what New York was going to be like in my head but there was so much about this concrete jungle that I couldn’t have imagined. It’s a sensory overload experience that makes you feel small and insignificant amongst the skyscrapers and constant flow of traffic, both bodies and cars. People constantly ebb and flow onto the filthy streets and there are some stinky smells I couldn’t even possibly begin to describe. Well weed, I can describe that. I thought it was legalised we smelt it so much. But amongst the constant noise and chaos in the city that never sleeps (it is as noisy at 4am as it is at 5pm) you experience the magic of this diverse city that cannot be put into words, only experienced. 

This is one city that I would recommend you research beforehand so you have the key places you want to go to ahead of time. There is so much to do and see, you will barely be able to scratch the surface so don’t expect to walk aimlessly and “stumble” across the best spots. This city has thousands of restaurants and hundreds of things to do so you need to have a plan of action. This is a list for the places I loved and would recommend if you need some help planning your itinerary.
Left - View from the High Line & Right - View from The Bentley Hotel where we stayed for our last 2 nights.


I would recommend going to New York in Autumn, it’s cool and more bearable to walk around. What I wouldn’t recommend is going the week of the United Nations summit. This was our mistake, so all the hotels were double the price. Make sure you check the dates.


We stayed at The Frederik Hotel. However, I would recommend you stay somewhere more north of Tribeca. The West Village, Soho and Greenwich Village are the areas I would look at staying in if I went back. I would also recommend you book a more affordable hotel as you don’t spend much time in your room, you just need a place to sleep, so as long as you and your luggage can fit in and it’s in a nice clean hotel, book it.


Oh my goodness, yes! New York had dogs everywhere. One of my favourite dog friendly cafes was Boris and Horton. There was even a truck with rescue dogs needing homes that pulled up outside while we were there. It was such a beautiful concept. I had researched all the dog stores ahead of time and Dog & Co. was the best store I went to. It is underground in the TurnStyle Market, 1000 8th Ave, New York, NY 10019.
Borris & Horton


Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise. It’s touristy but it’s beautiful. It can get crowded and everyone seems to go for sunset so to miss the crowds grab a cup of coffee and go early. You can always get a bicycle and ride back or cross over one of the other bridges on your way back.

  • Brunch at Cecconi’s. I am adding this under “what to do” rather than “where to eat”, after walking across Brooklyn Bridge go to Cecconi's in Dumbo Brooklyn for a long, lazy brunch. This had the most beautiful views of the city skyscrapers. The eggs benedict is Brett’s favourite and whether we are in London or New York I have always had incredible food at Cecconi’s. This is now my favourite brunch spot in the world, and I’m a girl who loves to brunch so I don’t say that lightly.
  • Strand bookstore. The store itself is pretty crap but the content and variety of books is incredible.
  • Visit the World Trade Center & 9/11 Memorial and Museum. This was one of the most moving exhibits I have ever been to.  I would also recommend paying for the guided group tour as this bought it all to life for me.
  • Go to a roof top bar. Don’t waste your money on going somewhere just for the view like the Empire State Building. You can get a drink and a gorgeous view for half the price with half the crowds. There’s so many great rooftop bars in New York City like: Mr Purple, St Cloud Roof Top Bar, Pod39 and Salon de Ning at The Peninsula.
  • See the Flatiron Building.
  • Shop around Prince and Mulberry street.
  • See the Statue of Liberty. You won’t believe we ran out of time to do this. So, I only saw her from a far but you can catch a ferry from Battery Park. Again, get there early to avoid the queue. If the line’s too long and you don’t want to wait, take the Staten Island ferry for photos of the statue and harbour, it’s free!
  • Get a portrait of your pet. Ben from Art on Block does the sweetest pet portraits. Even if you aren’t in New York email him at you just need to include your pet’s name, type of pet/breed and pet’s personality. You can research his rates online.
  • Picnic in Central Park. This was the only place I felt like you can breathe fresh air in New York. I would recommend packing a picnic and watching the world go by. 
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I am not into museums but if I was this was the one I would go to.
  • Go watch a Broadway Show. Dress up and go watch a Broadway Show. There are also a few restaurants that do theatre dinner discounts so be sure to look those up.
  • Walk The High Line. The High Line is unlike any urban park I have been to. Raised above street level and built on an old train track you can walk from 34th Street down to the Meatpacking District (or vice versa). You can stop at food stalls, look out points and art stalls along the way and it is one of the nicest ways to see the city.
  • Watch the Jimmy Fallon show. Click here to see how to get tickets. We were on stand by to see Seth Meyers as we walked by in the afternoon and then just didnt get in as they had enough people. Meep. But if you had preplanned and booked online or gone in the morning, it's almost a sure bet.
  • Visit Grand Central Station. This was the prettiest station I had ever been to and I have never used that word when describing a subway/tube station. Usually those places gross me out.
  • Experience Times Square. Go here for 10.5 minutes only. Do not eat here, do not stay here longer than needed, do not use the public toilets. Just pass through as it’s great to see but you don’t wantto be here longer than needed.  
  • Find the perfect hat at The Hat Shop. Situated on 120 Thompson Street this store had lovely, locally made hats. They had the most gorgeous boater style hats and I now regret not buying one. Nothing haunts you like the things you didn’t buy, that’s for sure!
Left - Grand Central Station & Right - The Frederick Hotel with my bestie

Left - Brooklyn Bridge, Dumbo & Right - The Flatiorn building with all my new books from Stand Bookstore

Art on Block's work

Left - Dumbo & Right - Brooklyn Bridge


I found the food places in general to be overhyped. We tried several highly rated, affordable options that were ok(ish) but not as amazing as the reviews and books made them out to be. Here is a list of places I did love:

  • Jacks Wife Freda for brunch. If you vegetarian or vegan (you can leave the eggs) order the Maya’s breakfast bowl.
  • Sun in Bloom had the best oat milk flat white, even Brett liked it and he is against anything “vegan / vegetarian”.
  • Brindle Room for burgers.
  • Van Leeuwen Ice Cream for well, ice cream. They also had amazing vegan flavours which I tried and wouldn’t have known the difference.
  • Nom Wah Tea Parlour. Based in China Town, this was the best value for money meal we had. If there is a long line, put your name down and go to The Crown for a drink on the rooftop.
  • Smorgasburg for a taste of street food. Try the truffle fries if you find them! I can’t remember the name of the vendor but follow your nose.  
  • By CHLOE had the best vegan mac and cheese, ever. And I’m not even 100% vegan.
  • Red bamboo for the vegan / vegetarians. Their food was so good and the portion size was huge. We rolled out of there.
  • La Colombe for coffee.
  • Lombardi’s or Roberta’s for pizza.
  • Rice to Riches for rice pudding.
  • Murray’s cheese for a great sandwich.
  • Shake Shack. Their mushroom burger is really good from someone who doesn’t like mushrooms.
  • Sadelle’s for a New York bagel experience. I only wish they offered more than filter coffee as a coffee option, I just wanted a flat white, ya know.
  • The Butcher’s Daughter
  • ABC Kitchen
  • Levain Bakery
Sun in Bloom


Jack's Wide Freda



Car pool if you going to Uber around town. It works out much cheaper and, in some cases, the same price as paying to go on the subway. We ended up uber-ing after a few days as changing between subway lines cost you each time. It’s not like the London Underground where it’s easy to switch between lines. Here you have to surface, re-enter and pay again. Uber was much easier.

Pack all the compeed plasters!

I was surprised at how little free WiFi there was available in cafes, shops etc. Starbucks was our saving grace. You can just stand outside and connect for free. This will be so handy when you are lost and trying to access Google maps.

If you want an ice coffee that will be like something you get home in South Africa, order an ice latte. Otherwise it comes as a huge black coffee that you can only add a dash of milk to and it’s basically like drinking petrol.

The city is home to over 8.5 million people, carrier hand sanitizer and don’t use the public bathrooms! Rather pop into a nicer looking bar or hotel as their bathrooms are much nicer.
Have you been to New York City? What did you love doing?


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