Perfect New York City Trip

Last year, I went to a wedding on the East Coast and decided to make a fun trip out of it: wedding, Atlantic City, and the Big Apple.

After the wedding, my cousin Kim and I decided to drive down from Edison to Atlantic City in New Jersey. We spent quality cousin time together, we gambled, had nice dinners, and explored the AC Boardwalk. However, the New York City trip was amazing because I just traveled solo and planned out the perfect 36 hours in the city.

Day 1 (Evening)

7:00 pm: Kim drove me to the city and I got settled in the tiniest hotel room ever on the Upper West Side.

7:30 pm: We went for a quick stroll to Central Park with iced tea and coffee in our hands. The weather was gorgeous!  We took pictures in front of the Museum of Natural History and recapped our weekend in Atlantic City (people can get a little crazy down there).

Cousin Trip

8:00 pm: We decided to be adventurous and have delicious vegan food at Peacefood Café on 460 Amsterdam Ave. I had the vegan chili and the fluffy quinoa salad.

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8:45 pm: We kept walking up Amsterdam and stopped at Treat House for dessert. It was awesome and they had a lot of different types of marshmallow treats.

9:00 pm: My cousin drove back to her home outside the city and I spent the night doing some work for the Summer job I had at the time and anxiously waiting for my perfect NYC day.

Day 2:

8:00 am: I walked down to Zabar’s (amazing Kosher food!)  on Broadway and 80th to pick up a quick bagel and fresh coffee togo. Then, I moved over two blocks west to Riverside Park for some light reading, dog watching, and looking out at the Hudson River. I read some Madame Bovary in French and was ready to seize the day.

coffee and bagels NYC

8:30 am: I headed over to Central Park West from Broadway to 72nd and saw the Dakota Building, where John Lennon used to live, but unfortunately it was under construction. Then, I listened in on a German tour group at Strawberry Fields.

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Afterwards, I walked over to the Friends fountain, but as many of you know they didn’t actually film the opening credits there, but rather on a set in LA. Still, it was awesome.

9:00 am: MET Time! Little known fact for non locals, the Metropolitan Art Museum is donation-based meaning…that it is basically F R E E. However, I still made a small donation because I felt bad. They had Anna Wintour’s China: Through the Looking Glass exhibition, which was fantastic!

Anna Wintour exhibition

 

10:45 am: After over a good hour and a half at the museum, I headed outside and sat on the steps of the MET with some iced tea in my hand. It was fantastic. Then I wandered off to the streets of the Upper East Side to take the subway on 86th and Lexington. Fun fact: I accidentally took the subway uptown instead of downtown, which was annoying but a good experience in itself.

11:30 am: I made a quick stop at Grand Central Station to meet Kim because we were meeting my other cousin, Chris, for lunch. Grand Central is such a beautiful place (and free to just wander around there) right in the middle of the City so if you’re around Times Square make sure to make a pit stop there as well as the New York Public Library.  After that, we took the subway down to Chelsea for lunch.

Grand Central Station

12:15 pm: My cousin Chris took us out to lunch at this amazing restaurant right off the Meatpacking Industry near where he works. We went to The Standard Grill on 843 Washington St and had an amazing lunch with homemade sorbet for dessert. Afterwards, we headed up to the High Line Park. This amazing new park has amazing views, great designs, and cool little funky shops. Since it was built recently,  it wasn’t packed with tourists at all.

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2:00 pm: Kim and I took the subway back Midtown and hung around Times Square, got some macaroons at Ladurée and hung around the 30 Rock area. We also stopped at the New York Public Library and had coffee in Bryant Park. It was amazing!

4:00 pm: I took the subway back to my temporary home and got ready for dinner with my college roommate who works as a fashion designer in the city.

5:30 pm: We decided to head over a couple of blocks up to the Columbia campus area. We found this nice, underrated rooftop bar/restaurant called The Heights. We had some of their amazing burritos and enjoyed the view of uptown NYC.

7:00 pm: We moved the party to Refinery Rooftop Midtown. The space was amazing with a good wine selection. After a long night, we called it a day and Ubered home.

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Day 3:

8:00 am: Before checking out of my beautiful, tiny hotel room, I headed over to Café Lalo for some croissants, éclairs au chocolat, and coffee. Their coffee was amazing and gave me the energy for another great NYC day.

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9:15 am: I made a pit stop at The Strand Bookstore to pick up some nice limited edition Shakespeare comedies. This is a great store and I would definitely recommend it to anyone near this touristy area.

10:45 am: I met my college roommate again at her place in Brooklyn Heights. We headed over to the Brooklyn Promenade for a nice stroll under the sun.

11222251_10155980286880261_2390347079001943657_n12:00 pm: Then, we had amazing lobster rolls in DUMBO until it was time to head over to the airport.

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My NYC Trip was an amazing opportunity to catch up with friends and family. I would definitely redo it again and would recommend all of the places I visited to anyone. I will also be posting more Midwest spots to visit from trips I made last year and I will keep writing about the places I will visit this year.

Next Trip: DC! Can’t wait!

PS. This was written under a procrastination caffeine haze!

 

 

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The Downward Spiral

As I’ve mentioned before, I made the decision to challenge myself this 2015. What a difficult task!

Throughout the past three and half months, I have decided to cook more international food, play more music, workout activities, calligraphy, square dancing, hot yoga, rediscover my love for photography and too many more things to count! (I will talk more about these activities later on) However, my favorite of these challenges is travel.

love visiting new places, old places, meeting new people, and delving into new environments.

Before Spring Break, I went on a retreat in Northern Wisconsin. Wynncliff Manor is  the perfect location for a getaway.

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Do not be fooled by the barn. This beautiful countryside estate has a beautiful lakeside house, a lodge, a barn AND it’s located in front of the beautiful Lake Michigan.

After a stressful semester, it was the best opportunity to travel with my closest group of friends to this location. We settled down, experienced the retreat, walked on the beach (even though it was freezing) and prayed intensely. Not to mention, I loved exploring around the property. It was incredibly fun and stress-relieving.

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This beautiful staircase always captured my attention. It has been a year since I visited Wynncliff, and it was incredible to be back. Sometimes it strikes me how much things have changed within the span of a year.

At times, the struggles of life carry a heavy weight in our hearts. Things change. We stray away from our original desires and we make new ones. We focus on different pastimes. Friends change. Feelings fade away. We change…and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Somehow, we realize that things change for the best. We change because we grow. We mature. We learn. We fall out of love. We fall in love.

It’s a constant never-ending struggle, but it is one that  challenges life in the best possible way.

Seasons change. The leaves fall, the snow melts, and the arid sun returns.

We should embrace this change. Take a look around and be thankful.

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Chicago Birthday

Hello again!

2015 began with a BANG! In 2014, I made plans to travel more. For my birthday, I wanted to have a weekend getaway. However, traveling usually requires a lot of money. It is insanely difficult to travel on a budget, but not impossible.

Then, I realized: “I moved to the Midwest.” I am literally in the center of so many different states; I can explore and visit so many beautiful places. Where should I go for an entire weekend? How about the Second City: Chicago!

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Although I had visited Chicago numerous times, I had never spent an exorbitant amount of time in the city. My birthday was the perfect opportunity to delve into the metropolitan Illinois area.

Back in December, I talked to my closest friends and planned to have the weekend of a lifetime. Fast-forward to January, five Christ-centered women headed over to the Windy City and formed the friendship of a lifetime.

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It felt entirely surreal. For years, I had been praying for good girlfriends. I had never had much luck in finding friends that I could trust, talk to and have a good old-fashioned time with. Through the years, I have met wonderful women with whom I have had the opportunity to befriend. Nevertheless, something usually went wrong.

Everyday we were able to discuss relevant topics, reference our favorite TV shows or films and basically joke around for an entire weekend. We could talk about significant difficult subjects, personal experiences in our lives and still have a lot of fun.

While we do have a lot in common (our love for Starbucks, Parks and Rec, music), we have the incredible blessing of having a Christ-centered friendship. Sometimes life surprises us in strange ways. When our hope is shaken, people come along and spark our lives. These friendships, strengthened by Jesus, will forever sear our hearts because we found the ones we would like alongside this path called life. And it is truly a joy to walk alongside these wonderful women.

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This was a life-changing weekend, in the best way. Not only did I have the opportunity to visit incredible, beautiful places such as the Sears Tower (Willis Tower), Hancock Tower, Millennium Park and admire beautiful expressionist pieces at  the Art Institute of Chicago, but I also had the chance to ponder about my life.

At a glance, it seemed like everything was taken away from me. Through life’s trials, I learned that I need to Let GO and Let GOD! As Mark Hart said

When God closes a door, don’t try to shove your foot in to stop it. Trust him. Let it close. His Plan is always better.”

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2015 is a year of change, love and friendship.

Chicago was my first stop, but it certainly will not be my last.