New York, New York

Clock Tower Building

So the bf and I spent a week in New York. I have to say this was the best vacation of my life. It even tops San Francisco and Venice.

You’re probably thinking it’s a bit cliché to say that about New York and I would have agreed with you had I not been to New York. But after standing on the observatory deck of the Empire State Building and looking out at this beautiful man made city, I have to say there’s nothing cliché about it.

New York city is proof that anything is possible. You can tell that so many people with so many dreams moved all the way there to make something of themselves. As you walk the streets of New York and feel the hustle and bustle, you also understand the meaning of “in a New York minute”.

34th Street, New York

We had a list of places to see/things to do that we had prepared a few months in advance, after purchasing our tickets. We were quite sure that we didn’t want to do all the touristy stuff and miss out on just being in the city and getting a feel for it.

When we reached there, we realized that the city is humongous and there was no way we could cover everything we had on our list. So, we figured we’ll wing it and try to see some of the items on our list. After all, we just might be able to make another trip here someday in the future :) *fingers crossed*

Sights

1. Empire State Building

We tried to get to the Empire State Building after 10am once, but the queue was just too long. A passerby asked one of the entrance workers how long it would take with that queue to get into the building and she said “3 hours”. We realized we could accomplish a lot more in 3 hours so we decided to postpone the visit. The next day we tried again, this time at 8am, when the building actually opens. Success! There was no queue at the entrance, a small queue at the security check, and a small queue at the elevator.

We went up to the Empire State Building’s observation deck on the 86th floor. Our ticket (the City Pass) included a free audio guide that was very, very informative. It’s basically a phone-receiver-like device that you place against your ear and you can choose which portion of the city you are looking at, and Tony (the voice) will tell you a little bit about the sights there with some interesting anecdotes.If you have the opportunity to visit the Empire State Building, please do.It’s a really nice building that was built in 1931 but it looks so ahead of it’s time.

View from Empire State Building Observatory

Lesson of the day: If you’ve traveled to New York from the East, use your jetlag to get you there early :)

It was a slightly foggy day, I believe, but the weather was quite pleasant.

2. The Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History is another sight we visited. This is the museum where A Night at The Museumis set. I’m normally not very keen on museums because they take a long time and sometimes it can be a bit eerie with all these strange relics and artifacts around. However, I must say this museum was wonderful.

I was very impressed with their Dinosaur exhibits as they were so upfront about what they wrote and how difficult it is to find scientific information about dinosaurs. For example there was an exhibit where they tried to explain whether dinosaurs were warm-blooded or cold-blooded. That was interesting. Another one that was interesting was also how they claimed that birds are dinosaurs. I tried to get a photo of that one here:

Museum of Natural History - Birds are Dinosaurs

It’s funny because as a kid I was told by a teacher at school that lizards were the descendants of dinosaurs and since then I’ve developed a phobia for lizards. I’m still not sure how I survived two years in Brisbane with the chameleons walking around *shudder*.

Here’s a peek at the fossil they have there, it is huge. I’ve placed the bf in the frame for size comparison only :)

Museum of Natural History - Dinosaur Fossil

 

3. Central Park – We walked around central park (West) for an hour or so one particular morning. Central Park is huge! It was nice to see the location where so many movie scenes were shot. The park was quite empty so we took some photographs and continued walking. The weather was wonderfully sunny and quite warm for winter. Here’s a photo of me in Central Park with the lake behind me.

Lady Feeding Birds by Central Park

Me in Central Park - Excuse the windblown hair

 

4. Grand Central Terminal - I’ve seen some train stations but this one takes the cake. It’s really beautiful. I kind of wish we had taken a train from New York to somewhere just to be able to use the station. If you watch a lot of Hindi movies like I do, you’ll have a certain attachment to Grand Central Terminal as it is pictured in some of the movies lately, especially if the movie was shot in New York. I had to go to the Apple store within the area, which is like an open store.

Grand Central Station

Inside Grand Central Station

 

5. Flatiron Building -  This building was built in 1902. I was a bit annoyed with myself the first time we walked up to this building because I realized I had forgotten my camera’s zoom lens. So I couldn’t take a proper photograph of the entire building. The bf, who’s always too kind to me, brought us here again the next day so I could get a real photograph. Here’s the evidence:

Flatiron Building

Near the Flatiron District

 

Shopping

1. Woodbury Common Premium Outlets - We spent most of one particular day walking around here. Technically it’s a 1.5 hours drive from New York City. I’m a little bit of a shopaholic and I love bargains. Woodbury has wonderful outlets like Lululemon, Calvin Klein, Coach, Michael Kors, L’Occitane, etc. The upside of the outlet is the somewhat discounted prices.If you happen to be there at the right time of the year, you can get some good bargains. The downside is usually lack of size and colour.I’m common sized so it’s quite difficult to get my size items at outlets.

This time it was successful. I picked up some workout gear at Lululemon (They make the best workout clothing ever; I mean if you’re going to sweat, you might as well sweat in style, right?), a bag from Michael Kors along with a matching wallet, a biker style wool jacket from Calvin Klein, nothing in Coach (it was way too crowded, you’d think they were giving away bags for free!), and a  pair of short winter boots from Timberland (I paid roughly 1/8 of the price in Norway). The bf loved the deals at Timberland as they had down filled jackets for $100 and Calvin Klein Merino wool sweaters for $30. Definitely a steal for those of us paying an arm and leg for winter clothing in this corner of the world.

2. Bleecker Street - If you like Covent Garden in London, then you have to walk around Bleecker Street. The only reason I went to Bleecker Street was to visit the NARS store on 413 Bleecker Street.The store was wonderful. It was too much fun, standing there and swatching NARS blushes and lipsticks. Here are some photographs of what the store interior looks like. I didn’t take photos in the store as I was too busy swatching. Now, what did I get? Not telling ;)I will blog about it at … some point.

Now my fascination for NARS products is a little bit crazy. When the Bleecker Street store opened last year, they released a limited edition lipstickwhich I loved so I ordered one by phone from the store, had it shipped to San Francisco where a friend lives and had the bf pick it up when he was there for work. The things we do for love. I won’t be doing this anytime soon though, as the bf is going to travel less this year :)

Bleecker Street also has a branch of Magnolia Bakery. The first time we were walking along here, there was a long, long queue outside the bakery. Now the bf and I have little patience for queues as we live in small Oslo where there is never a line for anything beyond coffee in the mornings. (Norwegians drink a lot of coffee, have you heard?)

3. MAC Pro Store – I’m a huge fan of MAC cosmetics and I had heard about a Pro store that is near the Flatiron district. We tried looking for it but couldn’t find it. Then we asked at another store (that is within the Flatiron building itself) and was told that the Pro store is right across the street. Finally we did find the store but it looks like you have to buzz the intercom to be allowed entrance. Now the Pro store is in a league of its own :) It’s a makeup lover’s dream come true. They have literally everything. If I wasn’t pressed for time, I could have spent the whole day there!

4. Union Square – There are some really nice stores around Union Square. If you like London, like me, being here might remind you of Regent Street; except for Regent Street having slightly narrower streets. The feel is quite similar. I checked out Banana Republic, Lululemon, Uniqlo, Loft, and Sephora. The bf actually got a haircut somewhere on this street while I was shopping :) Talk about multitasking!

Food

The food, the food. What can I say? It was so delicious. We were spoilt for choice. Usually I read a lot of restaurant reviews and sometimes even make reservations by phone, before hand, to be able to secure a table for the two of us. This time we kind of played it by ear as we knew competition for food in New York had to be high and most restaurants had to maintain a certain level of quality. We tried the following restaurants/cafes:

  • Momofuku - The best thing to come out of the kitchen here is: The pork buns. Just kidding :) Try the Kimchi Stew. The bf had that and I had the Spicy Chicken Ramen but it was not very spicy. We also ordered a serving of the pork buns. We loved the pork buns so much that the bf and I actually tried to make it the next weekend, after we came back.
  • Buddakan - We met an old friend of mine, from highschool, and her boyfriend here to have dinner for New Year’s Eve (This is the only restaurant for which the bf made reservations before hand). Later we went to a wine bar to countdown.
  • Olio - On our last day in New York we had lunch here. The pizza was really good and so was their coffee.
  • Magnolia Bakery - We shared a Red Velvet cupcake as well as a Vanilla cupcake with chocolate icing. Both were really good. I was really eager to eat my cupcake so much so that I actually forgot to take a photograph of it. This rarely happens to me :)
  • Financier Pastries- We were looking for a nice cafe for breakfast and saw this quaint little place. Let’s get to the important part, this is their pastries display:

    Financier Pastries Display

    I had their Egg on Brioche for breakfast and it was very, very good.

    Egg on Brioche at Financier Pastries

  • Nyonya – Whenever I travel, I dream of eating Malaysian food but I worry it might not be a pleasant experience as my taste buds are influenced by homesickness which can result in two outcomes: either I’m completely in love with the food or I’m sitting there comparing it with what I remember. Now the food at Nyonya was pretty good. I had the Nasi Lemak and the bf had their Kuay Teow. We also ordered some side dishes like Steamed Popiah and Roti Canai. Unfortunately the restaurant’s service was a bit disappointing. I’m not sure if I would go there again during the peak dinner period.
  • Wall & Water (W&W) – This is a restaurant that is part of the Andaz hotel. We had breakfast here once and it was very good. I had the Eggs Benedict and it was delicious. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photographs.
  • Sushi Samba - This is what I would call a fusion restaurant that serves cuisine that is a blend of Japanese, Brazillian and Peruvian food. We stumbled upon it by chance as we were nearby and were almost starving.

    Sushi at Sushi Samba

  • Dean and Deluca – We had soup and sandwiches at their branch near Times Square. It was delicious on a cold day. I was too hungry to take photographs :)
  • Kyotofu – Kyotofu is a Japanese dessert bar. They make desserts like green tea chocolate, black sesame flavoured tofu pannacotta, and serve delicious tea. If we had not known about this dessert place in advance, we would not have been able to find it. It’s cleverly concealed.

    Kuro Goma Sweet Tofu at Kyotofu

    I really liked their teapot:

    Hoji-cha at Kyotofu

    This is me at Kyotofu. I look so chubby :/

    Me at Kyotofu (I look so chubby!)

  • Chipotle - A chain of Mexican grills that serve very fresh burritos (and other stuff but I always end up picking a burrito). They’re fairly laidback and have a bit of a fast-food feeling but they make your food in front of you so you get to see how they make it and it gives me, at least, some peace of mind.
  • Devi – We dropped by here one evening. The service was impeccable and the food was extremely good. We had the Ragda Pattis Chaat, Abha Aunty’s Baingan and Pav “Indian Sloppy Joe” Bhaji. All three were excellent.

Overall it was a wonderful trip but New York is one of those places where one visit is just not enough – at least that’s what I’m telling the bf to convince him that we need to go there again. I’m still going through photographs. I might add a few more in later.

18 responses

  1. OMG gorgeous photos. Makes me want to take a flight out to visit New York! You lucky lucky woman you. I think NY is a MUST GO, even if it’s just once but yea if you can convince the bf to go again then you totally should, lol. How did you manage to get your US visa? Was it easy? Central park, omg central park! Btw love your eyemake up and no you dont look chubby. I see you shopped quite a bit too. Hahaha wouldnt think there’d be an indian restaurant called Devi, reminds me of devis! And yes add more photos pleaseee :) Your post just put a huge smile on my face for some reason so thanks ;)

    • I’m glad you’re smiling and very happy that you like the post :)

      Are you contemplating a trip to NY? :) Lufthansa has some reasonable tickets (less 2K MYR) if you buy during their promotion; but this is usually from Frankfurt. I’m not sure what the price is like from KL but I’ll check it out and let you know next time there’s an offer.

      I applied for my US visa two years ago when I was going to go to San Francisco. There are two parts to the application: the online application and then the interview (which is conducted over their counter itself). Once you do the online portion, you can request for an interview timeslot and then you go to the embassy at that time. You need a flight ticket and hotel reservation even before you book your visa and it took about two weeks I think for me to receive it. If you provide all the information they request then it’s alright.

      Thanks for the compliment on the eye makeup. It was tricky to apply it with hotel room lighting. I shopped a bit, but not too much. It really helps that the currency exchange is good. I buy a lot of jeans and sweaters when I travel because the variety is so much nicer and it’s like half the price.

      • Well that’s because your post will have to do for now until I actually go there *hopefully*

        Yup we’re planning at the moment, thinking of going to banff canada then N Y, probably next year or the year after that coz god knows how expensive NY is. Plus there’s the US visa issue since mine expired last year. Got mine done during our tour about 10 years ago so I’m not sure how easy/hard it’s gonna be if we were to do it by ourselves. I hear they’ll ask all kinds of questions and it can get very intimidating. Anyway been pestering the hubby about going to NY plus I showed him your blog post – he was impressed alright, hehe. Now just gotta keep nagging him until he eventually takes me there, lol, I”m so sad I know.

        Ah yes, some hotels have crap lighting but nevertheless, you did a great job, very sexy.

      • They usually want to know what you are going to do there. When you do the tourist visa, it’s important to tell them that you have a job where you are living right now. That’s the main thing to clear up. I had copies of my employment contract and stuff, to show them, but they didn’t ask for it.

        You’re not sad. I nag the bf all the time for stuff that I want. I always give him crap for not taking me to Paris, Japan, Munich, Sweden, the list goes on and on :)

        Thanks for the compliment, again. We should so go shopping the next time I’m back – I’m a bad influence though, major enabler here :)

  2. Ahhh, the post makes me miss NYC so much! Union Square will always have a place in my heart — I lived in NYC for a couple months when I was 16, and stayed at one of the dorms right by Union Square. Did you stop by Max Brenner’s for some delectable chocolate desserts?! :D

    The MAC PRO store in Flatiron District is fabulous. The first time I went there was about eight years ago, and like you, I could not find the damn place. (I think they do this on purpose.) FINALLY, after asking every single store around that area, we realized we had to go through one building door, get buzzed in, and take an elevator up to the second floor. CRAZY. I think going into that store (where I made my FIRST EVER eyeshadow palette!) made me want to become a make-up artist. :D

    I love Bleecker Street! I always end up at the Marc by Marc Jacobs store, and I always end up spending way too much money. :( And then I go to Magnolia Bakery to console myself with too many desserts. Their banana pudding is phenomenal!

    Did you go to The Met or Guggenheim or MoMA?

    I’ve never been to Woodbury Commons, but all of my friends always tell me I should. I feel like it would be incredibly dangerous (for my credit cards) to go there… I would, however, love to get some discounted Lululemon (which apparently has become HUUUUUGE — yay for Canadian brands!!!), ’cause I just can’t bear to pay $80 CAD for a pair of yoga pants (that I would not be using for yoga). :P PICTURES OF YOUR HAULS, PLEASE!!!

    • No :( Didn’t go to Max Brenner’s. I’ve heard so much about them (from Australian blogs) but there was just so much to do. I yearn for food and am usually willing to give up the desserts for real food…shhh don’t tell the Norwegians I said this but it’s so hard to find simple, good food here, especially dishes that I grew up eating.

      I loved the PRO store too! I agree, it is probably on purpose to reduce the traffic there. I have a feeling celebrities/big shots come there to get their makeup done sometimes, perhaps, so they don’t want people hanging about there unnecessarily. Maybe they also don’t want it to be too crowded because it’s nicer when you can look around a bit. Either way I’m just glad they let me in :) Felt so honoured to be standing there.

      Bleecker Street…sigh. I was actually avoiding the Marc by Marc Jacobs store. I went into Bookmarc instead and bought some keyrings for the fun of it. See I’ve been drooling at some of the Marc by Marc Jacobs hobo bags and I knew I would cave if I saw them, especially being in New York (I told myself it’s a once in a lifetime chance so I must milk it for all it is worth). So, I kind of intentionally skipped it. (I also bought a heavily discounted Michael Kors tote at the outlets already anyway, so it was easy to dissuade myself.) I went to NARS instead and had a ball. Magnolia bakery was so packed. The first time the queue was crazy so we avoided it. The second time (the bf seemed to like Bleecker Street too, so we came back on our last day) there was no crowd/queue outside but it was still like a market inside. We went in, grabbed two cupcakes, paid for them, and ran out. We don’t deal very well with crowds actually, because we’re so used to living in Oslo. Previously I’d have felt at home in a crowd. KL is really crowded :)

      I didn’t go to any of the art museums partly because I’m not much of an art person – I can appreciate how much work it must have taken the artist but the rest of it is kind of lost on me :/ I’m more of a science person, hence the Natural History Museum. I read heaps about the Guggenheim museum and its architecture. Maybe next time. I’m working towards going to New York again…I’ll let you and Mary know ahead of time. Maybe we can go on a shopping spree ;)

      Woodbury Commons was very nice in the morning, when there was nobody there ;) The Lululemon store was quite empty and I had some time to look around. They do have some great deals: the Lulu II pants were about 59 bucks I think, and the Lulu II crop was 29 bucks. I got a crop pants and a bag that was on 50%.

      I’m not comfortable showing photographs of my hauls..I think it’s because I get buyers’ remorse then. I’m also worried that people will think I’m showing off. The exchange rate for NOK to USD works in my favour most of the time but it’s kind of difficult to explain unless you experience it. You probably know what I mean since stuff is cheaper in the US compared to Canada. It’s kind of like that but even more.

  3. OMG ur blog is so amazing…….Never had a chance to venture in due to time constraints.
    New York is on my dream list right now! Hope one day I make it to US and shop makeup till I get arrested (LOL, never meant to get at least for the sake of makeup). I know MAC Pro stores are amazing and if u r a fan of glitters then blindly pic all the Reflects Glitter that they sell including the pink fuchsia one.
    The Oriental food looks yummy and irresistible.

    Thanks

    • Hi Neeraj, thanks for the compliment :) You have to go to New York when you get the chance. The shopping is great but the ambience and energy is amazing. I’ve never tried Reflects Glitters but I think I have a small jar or two somewhere with a pigment set that I bought, might have been part of the Tartan Tale Holiday collection. Will try them out, for sure.

  4. Pingback: Review: Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise, Pomegranate Noir « Across the Oceans

  5. What gorgeous photos! I didn’t know you were such a skilled photographer, babe =) Thanks for showing us around New York! It almost feels like I’ve been there, now. Almost.

    You look so pretty there in the sun! I love your sunglasses too, they’re pretty fly hon :) Looks like you two had a great time, with lots of things to see and do – and so many delicious meals! They all look scrumptious. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself – and hope you’ll be able to go back some day :)

    • Thank you! I take photos for the fun of it but I still have a lot to learn. I’m not too good at the technical part but more of a “hmm, this looks nice..” type of hobbyist photographer.

      Thanks again for the comment. The sunglasses are from Marc Jacobs. I got them when I was in the US for work, last Fall. They have these matte frames and are very comfortable to wear as they don’t weigh anything.

      I’m glad I enjoyed myself too! It was so surreal to be there that it didn’t sink in until we were standing on the observatory deck of the Empire State Building.

      It was definitely an experience of a lifetime. I am so grateful for the chance :)

  6. Man, your post is making me miss NYC so much!!

    I have only been there once and it was so much fun. NYC just has this vibe and spirit that leaves an imprint on all those who visit it. I love Toronto, but NYC will forever have my heart.

    And lovely photos, Fieran! I especially like the one of the Flatiron building. We have a similar building here in Toronto, but nothing like the one in NYC.

    • Yes, totally agree with the vibe and spirit. It’s such a cool city! So many people from so many parts of the world come there to make something of themselves. That’s the thing that attracts me. It’s like you just get lost there, but lost in a nice way. You can be anybody and nobody really cares. There’s a certain mystery there.

      Thanks for the compliment on the photographs. I’ve been playing around with my settings a bit, trying to make the photographs look more vivid :)

      I really want to go to Canada one of these days. Would love to visit Toronto!

  7. I am stunnedddddd Fieran … let me come again in my senses ….
    seriously :D
    you will see me again here ….
    WOW pics and i could feel the warmth in your post sweetie D:

    • Thanks for the compliment Rashmi Didi. I wish I could go back there again. There’s just something so magical about the city that it keeps calling to me.

      • Exactlyyyyyy … busy roads , rushing people , tall buildings … everything is so inviting :d
        i so wish to go there … never got a chance …
        but am enjoying the pics …. so crisp babes

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