I can’t believe I’ve already been in New York for seven whole days! Time flies when you’re having fun. Having taken a few days to recover from jetlag, I now feel human again and am determined to make the most of every second here, and by that I mean starting my day really late, and sitting in my pyjamas until around 11am surfing the internet. No need to rush!
I’m staying in Astoria, Queens, with friends, and it’s been such a great opportunity to explore a neighbourhood I otherwise wouldn’t have jumped on a train to. Astoria is very diverse, yet predictably, gentrification is a thing here, and trendy coffee shops and stores are starting to pop up.
My first full day in New York started with coffee at home, and a run along the river, which meant a view of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler. Pretty amazing! Fighting with jet lag, I eventually made my way out of the apartment and onto Astoria’s streets to explore.
First stop. A supermarket. Obvs. I love going to supermarkets in other countries, and you can’t beat the grocery store in USA. It astounds me. I walk around with my mouth open, shocked at the sheer quantity of food, over the top packaging, and sugar heavy treats. Pretty sure I gained five pounds just looking at all that stuff!
Lunch was an Acai Bowl, one of my favourite things to eat.
Following lunch, I wandered further up the street, feeling like such a tourist when I got excited over spotting a yellow school bus. Just like the movies!
I sipped on my almond milk latte, which by the way was delicious, and watched the world go by through the window, before heading back to the station to meet my friend Derek.
That evening we went across the road to Costco for essentials. If you’re not familiar with Costco, it’s a large warehouse type store that basically sells everything from clothes, to food, to electronics and everything in between. But the best bit is the food. Everything is supersized and in bulk, so when we grabbed two bags of tortilla chips and some strawberries, that would usually be no huge deal. Except when you’re in Costco and the strawberries are the size of apples, and the giant bags of tortillas meant I could barely see where I was walking once we piled everything up. Ridiculous and fantastic all in one go.
Day two I was determined to ignore my jet lag and head into Manhattan. I jumped on the subway, and popped out on 59th Street, my old hood when I spent 3 months here in 2007. As I walked up those subway stairs and caught my first glimpse of New York City, the feeling of happiness, and familiarity washed over me, mixed with disbelief that I was finally back in my favourite city.
I’ve done a huge amount of research for this trip, so I don’t wander around aimlessly looking for places to eat or grab coffee, and thanks to that list, I was able to walk a couple of blocks to Little Collins and order a latte at the Australian owned cafe. With coffee in hand, I head back out onto the streets to start my day.
Stumbling across Dylan’s Candy Bar, a favourite candy store of mine, I walked around the store like, well like a ‘kid in a candy store’, eyes wide and sugar glazed, it’s amazing, but I’m pleased to report I practiced restraint and left empty handed.
The day was warm, so I walked along the south side of Central Park, dodging the tourists and horse carriages, but really being a total tourist myself, snapping away on my iPhone every few steps at all the stunning scenery.
Next stop was the Time Warner Centre on Columbus Circle, where I made a beeline for Wholefoods supermarket. Although we have Wholefoods in London, it’s just not as good, so I spent about an hour in there exploring the aisles and all the delicious food for sale.
It was about an hour after this that my jet lag knocked me sideways, and it was time to call it a day.
My third day in New York was a complete write off. Jet lag was in full swing and I ended up missing most of the day, which happened to be super hot and sunny. I did make it as far as the organic store up the road for a delicious late lunch, and this Cherry Lime Chia drink, which I was a little suspicious of, but turned out to be really good.
I’ve also made a new best friend. Loekie. He is my current room mate and we’ve spent many a moment having a cuddle whilst I speak to him in a ridiculous baby voice. He loves it.
Despite day 3 being spent mostly dozing on the sofa, I eventually felt human again in the evening and met my friend Julian in Long Island City for dinner, where I witnessed the New York skyline in all its glory. It was at this very moment that I realised I’ll have to be dragged back on the plane to London kicking and screaming. I love this place.
Saturday morning, day 4, and I was up early and on a train down to Soho to meet Lauren for brunch at the awesome Australian cafe Two Hands NYC. The best part of this story is that Lauren and I have not seen each other for 15 years. The last time I saw her she was 5 years old and her and her family were moving to Australia just a fortnight before I moved to the UK. I was Lauren’s babysitter from the time she was 8 months old, and after all these years and thanks to the power of Facebook keeping us in contact, we finally met again.
I ordered the Acai Bowl at Two Hands, and OMG it was delicious. Lauren’s avo on toast looked equally as awesome, and we finished off brunch with some raw gluten free cookies which were the best I’ve ever eaten.
Following some window shopping around all the gorgeous Soho stores, I located Chobani and ordered a Peanut Butter and Jelly Greek Yoghurt bowl, and sat outside to enjoy as I people watched.
The remainder of the afternoon and evening was spent with Lauren again, as we went in and out of stores, and walked several blocks to grab dinner at an amazing place called Gotham West Market, which I’ll talk more about another time! Back through Times Square and down to the subway, I practically skipped back home having had such a perfect day.
Yesterday myself, Derek and Julian head into Bushwick, Brooklyn to meet their friends for brunch.
Bushwick is world famous famous for it’s amazing street art. The little we saw was mind-blowing!
We carried on down to the border of Greenpoint/Williamsburg for an afternoon treat of cookies at Ovenly.
With multiple gluten free options, I was in dessert heaven!
This hipster hangout has me hooked. The cookies were kick arse good, and I’ll be doing my best to return to this bakery before my time in New York is up.
Tomorrow I’m off to Washington DC for the night, to hang out with friends, but I should really concentrate on today and get ready to hit the streets of Manhattan again. I’ll keep you posted on my adventures, but in the meantime you’ll find all the photographic evidence on my Instagram page.