.: New York – Day 4 :.

The holidays fly too fast, don’t they? Working week again… 😦

At least the holidays were good for catching up with all the photos from New York! Getting there I hope
As you remember, on our 3rd day in NY it was really rainy. I was hoping for a better day the next day, if for no other reason, just because it was my birthday! But I’m afraid it was mostly cloudy and a bit rainy and quite cold.

We woke up early in the morning (still in UK time), and after another delicious breakfast we’ve headed up to visit the Statue of Liberty. I’ve booked the tickets online (which is totally recommended to avoid big queues).

We didn’t enjoy the cruise as much because it was cold! The views are really nice though. Once we’ve reached the island we’ve decided to walk around first, but it was too windy

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to US and was designed by Gustave Eiffel (the same guy behind the famous Tour Eiffel)?

I’m sure the views are a lot better on a sunny day. We’ve decided to stop by our best friend Starbucks to warm up for some coffee before carrying on walking all the way until lunch.

I was fascinated by this building, because it’s simply concrete with pretty much no windows

For lunch I wanted to visit ABC Cocina, quite a well known restaurant in NY by Michelin start Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. I’ve really enjoyed the quirky decor and the friendly (and good looking too) staff

Photo from google

It looked really promising! The main concept of ABC Cocina is a relax environment to share some tapas with your friends. We’ve ordered 3 each from the lunch menu

shaved beets, portobello mushrooms, queso blancoand herbs

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mushroom empanadas withgreenchili mayo

The starters were really tasty.

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crispy chickensalad, salanova lettuce, citrus dressing, market vegetables

My salad was really fresh and the chicken crispy as it should be.

The disappointment was the dessert, this was supposed to be a white rice pudding (and I was thinking of the yummy cinnamon flavoured rice pudding from Portugal), but the citrus compote was simply too much. Couldn’t enjoy the combination of flavours and didn’t manage to finish it either.

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caramelized whitechocolaterice pudding

So I would say that, even though I’ve enjoyed the ambiance, it didn’t match the expectation. The food wasn’t that memorable for me. Maybe I went for the wrong choices. I would say the starters were the best.

ABC Cocina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

11/11 is also a very special day all over the world because it’s remembrance day (Poppy day in UK) and means the end of WWI. In France it’s actually a bank holiday. In US they do the veterans day parade, which started at 11a.m and at 16h it was still on-going.

The other highlight I had saved for today was a visit to the famous Empire State building. It feels it takes forever to get to the top due to the queues, but it’s so worth it! Loved it all. It’s a shame it wasn’t as sunny as I had imagined in my head, still breathtaking

Back to the 5th avenue, the parade was still on-going

.: New York – Day 3 (Rain edition) :.

Yap, unlike the first 2 gorgeous sunny days, Tuesday woke up to me a cold rainy morning. Quite miserable to tell you the truth. To be honest I was feeling quite tired from the long walking the previous 2 days, so it was a perfect day to take it easy.

I’m normally not very keen on museums (yes feel free to jump on me), but I don’t. I get bored. Normally I love to visit museums more for the architecture itself than for the museum. I like to read and find things online, so the prospect of spending hours reading labels or doing an audio guide isn’t for me. I prefer to walk until my legs can’t move and get the sense of the city and its vibe. And well, living in London we have free access to some of the best museums in the world anyway.

Anyway, my sister had recommended for us to visit the interprid, as both of us like military history (my favourite museum in London is the Imperial war museum or the British museum for a classic type museum). I guess it comes from my dad, as we grew up surrounded by planes in the house (kit ones or even the little ones with an engine).

It’s a shame it was raining so badly, so I didn’t explore the upper deck properly

We’ve also took the tickets to visit the space shuttle, which is totally worth it!

And the Concorde, one day it will be a lot faster to fly (and safely)

After the museum we’ve headed back to the hotel for a bit of rest, and also at this point he was having a massive back-pain. Not that my legs where feeling any better.

For the afternoon we went to the Financial District. If I would ever move to NYC, this is probably where I would end up working

This is the same area where the Two Towers used to be before 9/11. Little did we know what was going to happen a few days later. The more the reason not to take life for granted and make the most of it with those you love. This is one of the reasons why we don’t leave the house upset with each other and we always kiss each other goodbye.

It was such a cold and miserable day that we’ve called it a day. This time we didn’t went out for any rooftop and decided to chill out in the hotel instead.

.: New York Day 2 :.

After the amazing day visiting central Park and midtown, we were ready to stretch our legs and visit Brooklyn. This also meant our first underground ride. Gosh, it felt such a travel back in time! I didn’t took any photos inside, which I have to admit it was a bit shameful, but I didn’t feel secure enough to do so.

It feels like I was travelling in a museum artefact! Well it works. Really loved the concept of the express trains, which skip a few stations and end up being the fastest way down-town.

The easiest way to travel actually, it’s way faster and cheaper than a taxi ride. You can buy the metro card and top it up in any station. A single ticket costs you $3, but with the card it’s $2.75.

Love the architecture! These buildings are simply gorgeous in my point of view

Now here’s something silly, I didn’t check the settings on my camera and apparently I was photographing with ISO 1600, this is why the exposure looked so funny.

Tip: Always check your camera settings and ensure you’re reset them before you turn off the camera. Always!

So many of my Brookly Bridge photos are rubbish and were deleted. Plus the light in the sky was too high, which meant a lot of glare. But still managed to save a few I like

Here’s another place I had on my wishlist but where my photos didn’t turn out the way I was expecting and picturing in my head.

Expectation

Reality:

Tip: The best view from Brooklyn Park is at sunset / night, so ensure you save the bridge for the late afternoon

After a stop at Starbucks (yap, we’ve spend loads on Starbucks, as we went at least twice a day) in Dumbo we’ve decided to go back into the city via Manhattan bridge

The views from Manhattan bridge are really awesome as they include Brooklyn Bridge in the scene

You can also enjoy the views into Chinatown, which I recommend!

After Chinatown, which I found a lot more interesting than it’s London version, it was time for Little Italy. This is where I’ve spotted quite a famous painting by Tristan Eaton (from Brooklyn). You can visit his website here.

After our long walk in the morning, we were more than ready for an american lunch (big portions!). He decided to visit Katz, a famous dinner in the east side. And oh wow, quite an experience!

Katz's Delicatessen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

As you get in you notice this buzz of people around. It’s quite big! You will get a ticket upon arrival which you’ll be using at every counter as you order your food. We went for the famous pastrami sandwich. Next time we’ll order 1 for the 2 of us. One was huge! I could barely do half of it

The pastrami was really delicious! I ended up not having any dinner, just a tea, cheese and crackers at the lounge as I was still full!

One of the famous spots that needs a visit is the Grand Central Station

Again it was really hard to get a decent picture and actually I’ve ended up damaging my card trying to get one. Fortunately we’ve later managed to save the photos from the card (just lost a few ones)

But the building is indeed quite beautiful and totally worth a visit. We’ve decided to carry our walk back into the hotel, even though I could barely feel my legs after this point.

It was our first walk through the famous 5th avenue.

Once I’ve reached the hotel (17km later) I could barely move my legs. This is what happens when you do pretty much nothing during the year, your legs can’t cope with all the walking.

After a big of rest and some nibbles at the lounge we went to visit another rooftop, which was recommended by the staff in the hotel (we’ve asked for a nice rooftop nearby).

The Roof @ Viceroy Hotel

I didn’t really took pictures of the rooftop so using the website ones

The Roof Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Which rooftop is your favourite?

.: New York Day 1 :.

After a good night sleep we were more than ready to go outside and enjoy the views from the central park, so this is precisely what we’ve decided to do. What a surprise! I have to say that although I didn’t had big expectations, the park surprised me a lot by it’s beauty. Even though you can see the huge towards from most of the park, it’s very easy to forget we are in a big city as the colours are so gorgeous and each area of the park so diverse!

What I was expecting

So something similar to Hyde Park in London but with taller buildings around. The reality was way better! This is where it feels it was a great idea to go over Autumn

You can see our hotel from the park (House of Essex)

And the magnificent autumnal colours

After our walk we went to swipe our rooms and then we went back to the city to try to find a data card and for some lunch.

Tip: If you’re going abroad check the number of days you’ll be out and how much your operator will be charging you in roaming. In most European countries for example Vodafone offers the passport, which costs £3 a day to use the same services as in UK. But, if we are let’s say 1 week away, that would be more than a pay as you go card. So do the maths and check what works for you. In some places you’ll find free WiFi, like most Starbucks, but if you feel the need to use google maps while you’re trying to find a place maybe you’ll reach the conclusion you need data!

We had some amazing Tacos in a local Mexican grocery store @ Hells Kitchen. I forgot to take pictures. But this is the place Tehuizingo

Tehuitzingo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Photo from Zomato

You know a place is good when someone that is leaving ensures you know how good it is. So tasty!

And the first rooftop of the week, spyglass. We were feeling tired by then and most of the rooftops only open after 17h, so once we  found one that was nearby and already open we had to give it a go: Spyglass

I ended up going for a cocktail with gin, ginger and lemon (yap, I’ve spend the whole week with a cool, so was feeling sore throat and tired) ($18 per cocktail, which seemed to be pretty much the standard everywhere we went)

Official photo from spyglass

The view wasn’t perfect as the place is pretty cosy, but it was awesome to enjoy the golden tones over the city

After the cocktails we went for a warm shower and rest at the hotel as I couldn’t stop coughing.

For dinner we went to KatsuHama for warm cosy ramen!

Really friendly and relaxing place and the ramen was pretty good, exactly all I needed (although I have to say the sauce was a bit to thick for me)

Katsu-hama 55st Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Could get used to this life!

.: JW Marriott House of Essex :.

I’ve just arrived back home after a long flight: 7h flight + 2h delay + 30m waiting in Heathrow + 30m waiting for the bags and add up all the travel to and from the airport. Oh well you get the picture

But if we travel back in time, 1 week ago I was travelling to New York.

A stressful start in London

Right… so what if I say we’ve started our trip with lots of stress. Upon arrival at Heathrow, when we were checking our bags we had the lovely surprise saying his ESTA (European visa application for USA) wasn’t approved because it missed the “M” as part of the passport number. I felt my legs shaking, I just couldn’t believe that having done all the application process and entered all the details back in April, only now, a few hours away from the flights we could be grounded. Then, try to go through a long form using your mobile phone and your hands shaking because you feel like you’re running against time. In the end it was approved and we’ve managed to check in. But still I was nervous all the way until we’ve passed security in US. I wish we were told months before that there was an M missing… Oh well

Quite easy to do long flights these days with all the good selection of movies around. I’ve ended up doing 2 in a row and then decided to have a nap.

Travel from the airport

Upon arrival, all we had to do was to follow the instructions to find our shuttle. I find the shuttles the most price efficient way to travel to / from airports. I’ve discovered this process while on a business trip to Budapest. It’s pretty much like a shared taxi, meaning you get an affordable price because the taxi will be shared with other passengers, but you’ll be travelling door to door without the fuss of carrying your bags in the underground. From JFK we’ve used super shuttle (I have to admit I didn’t do much research this time because we’ve decided last minute this was the way we were going to travel).

I have to say we were not very lucky this time. Although it was super easy to follow the instructions and to find our driver, let’s just say that rather than take the most efficient route he decided to deliver the passengers on a first in first out basis, which meant we’ve seen our hotel in south central park but we’ve ended up going all the way to north Harlem and travelling in circles until we were back into south central park. This was quite unusual! So we were feeling quite sleepy by the time we’ve reached the hotel (23h30 local time | 04h30 in UK).

The Hotel
I did a lot of research before selecting the hotel I wanted to stay and have to say one of the first decisions I did was that it had to be next to the central park (yes I know, I was dreaming with a view to the central park!) and that’s how I found the House of Essex. It was exactly all I wanted and was hoping for! Before I jump ahead, upon arrival our room was ready and they’ve apologised for the fact that we hadn’t been upgraded as the hotel was fully booked. I was so sleepy to be honest all I wanted was to jump on bed… and I know very well by know how comfy and brilliant the Marriott beds are.

I did noticed though how glamorous and charming the lobby was. I didn’t took pictures, so will have to use the official ones.

When I’ve noticed the lifts I felt teleported to the Gatsby movie

I was actually contacted by the hotel a few days before my arrival, which was really helpful. They’ve send me a few instructions and also send me the dining menu as I was arriving late. But again, I was so tired I wasn’t feeling hungry at all. Was just craving for a hot tea, but guess what,unlike UK tea is not a commodity in the rooms.

The Executive Lounge

Early in the morning (was we were still pretty much UK time), we woke up at 06h30, so we’ve ended up enjoying a long shower and going for breakfast in the lounge and this is where the surprises really started. Such a lovely welcome!!! Seriously, the staff was so friendly I couldn’t stop smiling, felt a lot cheerful! Thanks guys!

Not the best lounge I’ve been, but it had a lovely decoration and lots of red fruits available for breakfast. 😀

Our room

Before I went for our first walk in Central Park, I’ve stopped by reception to see if we could get an upgrade this time, and they’ve arranged it all for us. We would have our room available in the afternoon. I’m so pleased we’ve managed to get an upgrade and a view to the central park!

This was our room for pretty much one week

Loved instantly the modern decoration and the plugs available in the chandeliers! So handy!

I had a lot of rest in this couch after all day walking!

Bathroom wise, pretty much the standard with aromatherapy products which I love

And a better picture from the bathroom

It was amazing to wake up every morning with the sound of the birds and the view to the central park. I really felt comfortable all the week! All the staff makes you feel welcome and happy really and the hotel itself is so charming and cosy with modern rooms. All I can wish for. Can’t recommend it enough and I have to say I miss it already!!!

Other information

House of Essex is located in South Central Park, so really convenient location for a morning walk in the park. Also, there are 2 major underground stops nearby. On the 8th street for A / C which are the fast route to downtown, or 57th street for the majority of the destinations. We’ve ended up walking pretty much everywhere.

Rooms at the House of Essex start at $296 a night, for more information visit the official website House of Essex.