I had the opportunity to spend some time in NYC with my hubby. Alone. Sans kids. So in no particular order, and certainly without any pretension, here are a few gems we ran into, worth checking out.
Grand Central Terminal
Thousands of people pass by and through the train terminal everyday without knowing or appreciating it’s history, architecture and small secrets that hide in different nooks and crannies of this magnificent complex. The terminal, at it’s location, was officially opened on February 1913, thus celebrating 100 years this year.
Up until the end of 2012, free tours were offered in Grand Central, but beginning in 2013, you could either take a guided tour offered by MAS (The Municipal Art Society of New York), or get an Audio tour, or a smartphone app. I strongly suggest the MAS tours, even if it’s not free anymore. You connect with other people, and you get to ask the tour guide questions. It’s worth it.
Not only will one find great food, market, and grandeur sights of the architecture and fun facts about it’s history, but will also celebrate Grand Central’s Centennial with lots of events throughout the year.
While in the neighborhood, if you want to sip good coffee and enjoy a cozy, shabby chic atmosphere, allow yourself to enjoy in Piccolo Cafe on 238 Madison Ave, a short walk from Grand Central.
The Museum at Eldridge Street
Thanks to my friend Laurel, who told me about this place. Smack in the middle of Chinatown, rises a beautiful architectural façade, magnificent and proud, of a synagogue from 1887. Yet the outside is just a hint to the gorgeous interiors, depicting beautiful stained glass windows, brass fixtures, and intricate carved wood, among other things.
Eldridge Street Synagogue was New York’s first congregation built by Eastern European Jews. It now serves both as a museum, with tours offered every hour, and a synagogue.
If you arrived here, you must have made your way through Chinatown. No need to describe Chinatown, right? Just remember to walk around and open your eyes in the less crowded streets of Chinatown. It’s always interesting.
The Tenement Museum
Staying in the area of the Lower East Side, I would recommend the Tenement Museum, that follows the history and lives of immigrants who came to America, beginning in the 19th century, and who worked their way to immerse and become Americans. The museum has a visitor center and an interesting shop, yet the guided tours in the restored apartments of past residents as well as tours of the neighborhood are most impressive.
After all that walking, a nice lunch would be in Cocoron Soba, for a tasty Japanese Soba dish. 61 Delancey St (between Allen St & Eldridge St).
The High Line
On the western side of Manhattan, high above, lies a unique park. Built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan, a fun walk is guaranteed: green public space, little corners, cool views, and public arts at display. The High Line runs between Gansevoort Street and West 34th Street, mostly between 10th and 11th Ave.
you can hop on, and get off, at several location along the park, back to street level.
If you’re hungry, you can climb down on 23rd or 20th street, and head 1 block to Le Grainne Cafe on 183 9 Ave. and 21st street. We had a very good brunch, and felt a bit french with the crêpes and Salade Nicoise. Yumm yumm
Food adventure – in Queens
Again, what would I do without good friends? This time, my friend Naomi, a foodie, knowledgeable, and a fun person, took us under her wings, and revealed the delicious corners of Queens. Well, it may not be in Manhattan, but one train ride (the 7 line) will take you all the way to the very last stop- Main Street, Flushing, and that’s where we started. Flushing, around the train station, is also known as the Queens’ Chinatown. This one is a little different- culinary diversity from other places in Asia, not just Chinese. Spotted, were Malaysian, Korean, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, and of course- Chinese. You’ll find stretched noodles made from scratch, lots of dim-sum joints, neat bakeries, and different street food-carts, each looks and smells more appetizing than the other. It’s a real treat to just wonder around, especially with friends, and take bites from many different vendors.
By the time we left Flushing, with bellies full of dumplings, pastries, soup, little chunks of lamb on skewers, and even a black sesame panna cotta (Iris Tea & Bakery), all from different places around Main Street, we didn’t think we had any more space for further tastings. Yet, we were already here, so we hopped back on the 7 Line, and back to the street in Jackson Heights. We found ourselves in the middle of Mexico and Central America, with restaurants serving Colombian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Cuban, Argentinian, and of course- Mexican cuisine. Also, lots of shops and ethnic grocery stores. We just had to taste the Alfajores at Buenos Aires Bakery .
As one goes further towards 74th Street, the scenery changes into Pakistani, Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan eateries, food carts, and grocery stores. We ended our day on the R train, back to Manhattan, with a momo dumpling in our mouths. Irresistible. Delicious.