New York City – 12 Key Attractions

New York City, North America, Southeast Asia

New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of…

Well, NYC is just full of life and the street lights made me feel slightly brand new… :p

So glad that I did this trip with my bestie and a lot of planning were involved – where to go, what to do, when to go, what to eat etc. This trip took us few months to prepare but worth every single bit. This blog entry shall cover these 12 key attractions to go if you have limited amount of time.

  1. Brooklyn Bridge

It is a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge connecting Manhatten and Brooklyn. Take 4,5,6 train to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop, exit the station and you will see crowd going in one direction. That’s how we ended up at the bridge haha.

I would highly recommend to walk the entire bridge, soak in the atmosphere and the enjoy the city view. We walked there and took a train back, after we were done exploring Brooklyn before evening.

At the end of Brooklyn Bridge, there was Jane’s Carousel! To all ladies out there, you need to drop by for some OOTD shots!

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I would say exploration at the Brooklyn Bridge would take half a day, if you plan to have lunch and grab a drink there. There’s abundance of cafes and restaurants in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

2. Rockefeller Center / Top of the Rock

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Isn’t this so dreamy to watch? Imagine ice-skating on this rink during the holiday season! But I didn’t have much energy left to ice-skate and the first and last time I did was 13 years old. LOL. Do remember to drop by Magnolia Bakery for their banana pudding!

We were a tad late to book afternoon tickets for the observation deck at Rockefeller and settled for night time. Well, the city lights sure took our breath away.

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3. MOMA The Museum of Modern Art

Next day, we started our day to visit MOMA to see Claude Monet’s work – Water Lilies, Starry Night and other impressive exhibitions.

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4. Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Yes it was museum hopping day. We headed to Metropolitan Museum of Art – any gossip girl fan??? It was drizzling but the rain won’t stop us.

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5. Central Park

Well, I was not very impressed by Central Park – maybe I see too many pretty pictures on IG and I have this false expectations.

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How this trip came along was that we wanted to coincide with autumn foliage sight at Central Park and somehow we forgot this highlight along the way of our planning haha. Though we didn’t see the autumn foliage, still an awesome sight to behold.

6. Woodbury Common Premium Outlet

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This is everyone’s fave place to shop! Get ready your credit cards and go shopping already! We booked this tour with our hotel (most of the NYC hotels should offer this) and we spent the entire day shopping. We actually missed our return bus at 4pm but thankfully we called and requested to hop on the last bus at 6pm. This was the first time that I did not feel hungry but just keep shopping and buying.

7. Chelsea Market

Chelsea market is really a great place to eat and shop, especially for vintage lovers. It is an enclosed food court with lots of food choices and a small area of flea market. It’s a short walk from Hudson River in Manhattan area. This place is definitely worth your time for a short visit to grab a lobster roll and soak in the atmosphere.

8.  Broadway Musicals

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When in NYC, you have to experience the magic of Broadway in New York City.  There’s abundance to choose from and we settled for Chicago. It was amazing! I caught Phantom of the Opera on my own few days later and was so hooked onto Broadway now.

9. Grand Central Terminal

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This world famous landmark is not to be missed. It’s more than a transportation hub, but offers shopping and dining options as well. Again, gossip girl fans will recognize this place to be the opening of Serena.

10. FlyNyon Helipcopter Ride

Another crazy adventure that we embarked during this trip would be taking this open door helicopter ride with Flynyon. We had to attend a safety briefing session before we started this 15-min ride, which cost us around USD$299. But it was a YOLO experience.

https://www.flynyon.com/product/nyc-experience

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11. Statue of Liberty

Another iconic place to go would be the Statue of Liberty National Monument. We took the cruise to get some shots but we did not visit the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

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We queued under the hot sun for half an hour for the tickets so be prepared and bring an umbrella along.

12. Times Square

The major famous commercial intersection among tourists, where all the happening things and stuff take place. I actually went up to Marriott Hotel to get a good take of this shot.

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That’s all for my NYC adventure… What’s your other recommended place to go in NYC?

Wanderlust,

Salseralove

17 Places to eat in New York City

New York City, North America, Southeast Asia
It has always been my dream to go NYC one day. Cue* Empire State of Mind song! Well, it has been a good experience and some stuff has been really overrated – I may have watched too much Gossip Girl last time and have some expectations on certain places.
Here’s the list of places we have been in NYC.
– Statue of Liberty
– Central Park
– MOMA
– Broadway Musicals
– Rockefeller Centre
– Top of the Rock
– Empire State Building
– Times Square
– Brooklyn Bridge
– Metropolitan Museum of Art
– Grand Central Terminal
– Cafes

We even did a super cool thing – having an open door helicopter ride via Flynyon. SGD 350 for a 15 mins ride! Craziest thing we had ever done but it was an experience to last a lifetime. We stayed at a hotel near Times Square and I would not recommend this hotel (Amsterdam Court Hotel) at all as they overcharged me another night without my consent. Seriously I do not wish to dwell on this but I’m glad I have evidence to prove we have already checked out and caught our return flight. And finally settled the dispute and gotten my refund.

When we first reached there, the warm temperature was a great respite from the cold ones we experienced in Niagara and Washington DC. We thought we can ditch our outerwear for our #OOTD. LOL. But after one day, it just dipped all the way down to single digit and it even rained. Our outerwear was not enough and had to replenish with more inner wear long john from Uniqlo and a shawl to keep our necks warm. Well, my first impression of Times Square was not fantastic and it was just swarmed with tourists. Bustling with neon lights and random street artistes. It can be rowdy at times but it is indeed a good location for those musical-goers. If I were to return next time, I would probably stay at area near Prince Street or Brome Street with abundance of cafes and food choices.

This blog entry would focus mainly on food and the cafes/places that we have been to,

1. Cha Cha Matcha

We chanced upon this Cha Cha Matcha cafe and we fell in love with the theme and the look and feel of it. They served matcha and tumeric latte, with soft serve for ice cream lovers.

2. Dominique Ansel Bakery
Another mandatory place we visited was Dominique Ansel Bakery, in which we didn’t get to try their cronut as it was sold out in the afternoon. So we tried their Ice Cream Coffee Shot. It was so crowded but after nightfall arrived, the crowd subsided fast.
3. Jack’s Wife Freda
Another hippie, SOHO cafe named Jack’s Wife Freda at Lafayette Street. Their green shakshuka (baked eggs in a spiced sauce) is da bomb. It is reasonably priced and their small space offers a cozy feel with their communal table.

4. The Smith Restaurant

The Smith is a casual American Brasserie with a contemporary feel to it. I would recommend to drop by this plce for brunch affair and try its sicilian eggs or avocado toast. At night, it turned into more of a bar dining place. They are pretty generous in terms of food portion and be sure you can get yourself fueled for the day.

5. Magnolia Bakery

I reckon this is the most missed food amongst all. Their banana milk pudding is done just nice – not too ‘jelat’ and it’s flavorful with chunks of fresh bananas in it. We regretted not getting the bigger tub as we licked this clean within few minutes. Yes, it was that good.

6. 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar
Their winter igloos were the first thing that attracted me when I saw posts on IG. I was so fascinated by it that it was the first thing on my visit list. Termed the best heated rooftop bar, it promises good view as is located in the heart of the NYC just a few blocks from the Empire state building. Surrounded by skyscrapers, 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar is the largest open air garden rooftop bar in New York. The stylish indoor area is worth a visit alone, but it’s the vast roof terrace that attracts the crowds. We ordered the normal fries for sharing but I would say it’s the ambience and experience that counts here. We came back the day after for brunch but it was totally deserted. And we were not into the buffet-styled breakfast so we gave it a miss.
7. Eataly – Lavazza and Baita
Eataly Flatiron is a huge place that has different sections of dining concepts. Eataly Flatiron is a vibrant Italian marketplace that features an array of cafes, counters, restaurants, and a cooking school. Eat, shop, and learn. We went to Lavazza section for a cuppa of latte and croissant for breakfast.
Thereafter, one of the days we went back for dinner at their spaghetti section and there was bustling crowd. One of the best pasta I had ever eaten!

We then went on to their rooftop place Baita to chill the night away. BAITA has reopened as NYC Eataly’s winter pop-up restaurant on the roof at La Birreria.

8. Pietro Nolita

Now this place Pietro Nolita, I would only recommend you to go take some IG-worthy photos but not the food. I ordered truffle spaghetti or something but it tasted so awful that I only managed a few bites. We were the only customers there during the day and the owner was interviewing a chef. Indeed, they needed a decent chef to save their food. But other than that, still a worthwhile place to drop by perhaps during night time for drinks?

9. The Butcher’s Daughter

Another hipster cafe packed with brunch-goers in Nolita neighbourhood. It is situated just diagonally opposite The Egg Shop and the 2 cafes had their own fair share of supporters. Contrary to its name, the Butcher’s Daughter is a plant-based restaurant that sells vegetarian/vegan food.

10. The Egg Shop

No prizes guessing what they serve in this cafe… eggs it is! They serve breakfast during dinner time as well. We were super full from brunch at Butcher’s Daughter so we could only handled latte.

11.  Gregory’s Coffee

Besides serving good smooth coffee, I would totally recommend to try their Nordic Whole Wheat Toast (Almond Butter with chia seeds and fresh strawberries) Their coffee is not too acidic with good selection of pastries. Coupled with relaxing vibes and friendly baristas, it is not hard to see why there’s a good steady stream of crowd during the breakfast hour.

12. Bibble and Sip

Another bakery and coffeehouse in the Times Square neighbourhood, they positioned themselves as serving the finest gourmet coffee and pastries. Love their alpaca themed concept which is so adorable.

13. Shake Shack

Well, I think this place needs no introduction. This East Coast burger chain seems to be packed with people all day long. I’m so drawn to their crinkle-cut fries and as I’m typing this, I’m salivating. The fries are warm and crispy and damn the soft potatoes! I’m not a fast food person and I don’t eat Macs or Burger King in SG most of the time. Every bite into their Shroom Burger was just RIGHT. We had this meal twice during our trip and we just craved for it badly. Now someone please bring me back to Shake Shack.

14. Dim Sum Palace

Times Square area actually offers a wide variety of food and we were pleasantly surprised to google some Asian food. We still miss Asian food somehow and we decided we had enough of Avotoast. Asian food here also serves large portion. Their dumpling is huge with generous portion of soup fillings. Suddenly it felt as if we were in HK but not US with those dim sum displayed in front of us. This place is conveniently located near those broadway musicals.

15. Little Steamed Buns and Ramen

It was raining again the day after and we craved for warm food. We found ourselves searching for Asian food and we had dumpling again! She said if I asked her to eat dumpling for three days in a row, she’s gonna throw dumpling at me. LOL.

16. Luke Lobster

This casual seafood shack offers succulent lobster meat tucked in
Each roll is nicely buttered, filled with mayo and stuffed with seafood; sprinkled with their secret seasoning powder. Conclusion? Quality maine lobster roll at its best!

17. Little Cupcake Bakeshop

I probably looked retarded trying to get this epic shot in front of their neon signage. Another gem in Nolita neighbourhood, we chanced upon this place and decided we need to try their cupcake no matter how full we were. They have great array of cupcakes and cakes, with gluten free ones.

So that’s a wrap on some of the key highlights of my dining experiences and where to eat in NYC. An average meal at restaurant would be around USD 25 and most of the places would indicate suggested tips starting from 18%! Yes not just 15% already.

Missing NYC already.

Wanderlusting,
Salseralove

Canada + US Trip Travelogue Part 1

New York City, North America

Finally back after a hiatus and wanted to jot down some stuff about my recent 2-week Canada + US trip while my memory is still fresh (and the jet lag has not hit me yet) I have received some questions with regard to my itinerary, mainly on costs, hotel accoms, flight, etc so I suppose it would be good for me to share here on my blog.

This is my first time to US and my fren and I have done fair bit of research. You wouldn’t want to waste your trip there not knowing where to go and what to do after flying for 20 hours in air.

In terms of staying connected, we rented Changi WIFI but it didn’t work well during our trip. So we got refund for that and activated my personal overseas data roaming instead.

In addition before all of these, you would need to apply eta to enter Canada and visa for US.

My Itinerary

We booked Korean Air in May, preparing this trip in late Oct. We flew into Toronto first to see Niagara Falls, cleared immigration at Niagara Falls border and took a cab into Buffalo airport to take a flight to Washington DC. Thereafter, we took Metro Bus (4-hour ride) into New York City, and flew back from JFK airport to Singapore.

Costs

Flight
1. International flight via Korean Air: SGD 1.45K per pax (Do note it is best to book only when you have a rough idea of your overall itinerary)
2. Domestic flight via America Airlines from Buffalo Airport to Washington DCA Airport: USD 148 per pax

Review of flight:

1. Korean Air offers a relatively good stopover time at 1-2hour before the next flight. This is my priority when it comes to selecting flight as I do not want to be in limbo for too long. My experience of the flight was alright; food was good but the return long haul descent had too much pressure and got me feeling really unwell.

2. Domestic flight for America Airlines had 1 hour plus flight delay but it seemed to be the norm there. The airplane was so small and compact that it is smaller than our SG buses. Those with claustrophobia issues, you may not survive this flight with the tight space. But it is only a 1 hour flight so just have to bear with it.

Accomodation
1. Best Western Fallsview Hotel: SGD 166 per night on Saturday (Do note that hotel rate doubled only on Saturdays. Also, if you are recovering from jetlag, you just need a basic hotel to sleep and recover from it.)
2. Marriott Fallsview Hotel (room with Niagara Falls view): SGD 226 per night
3. The Architect Hotel in Washington: SGD 771 for 3 night stay
4. Amsterdam Court Hotel in NYC: SGD 2314 for 6 night stay

So looking at flight and accommodation alone, it will set you back around SGD 3350 per pax for a 2-week trip.

Review of accomodation.

1. Let’s start with Best Western. The reason why I chose this hotel was that it’s a 5-min walk away from Marriott Fallsview Hotel and it is also close to Niagara Falls. In addition, it offers a good rate on a Saturday night. Security wise, we were given level 1 and it was so noisy and rowdy at night that we woke up few times during the night. No water or kettle was provided, except a coffee maker which looks old. A bottle of water anywhere will cost you CAD 5! after all the insane tax.

2. Marriott Fallsview was amazing. Please book this with Niagara Falls room view and you will thank me for it! 🙂
Complimentary water bottle was provided once only; their reception water was too sour to drink. In the end, we had to buy water. 😦

3. The Architect Hotel is just 5-min walk away from the White House and all main attractions nearby. It was considered the most affordable stay in the area and the room was small, just nice for both of us. We do see some people seeking refuge at the lobby during night time for water and away from the cold weather. Hmm, well it largely depends on how you look at it though. This may compromise the safety of guests somehow.

4. Amsterdam Court Hotel was few mins walk away from Times Square, with the cheapest rate around the neighbourhood. Initially I booked a hotel around Times Square area, thinking that it would be safe. However, I felt that Times Square area tend to be rowdy and messy, especially if you are an Asian walking around in the day or night time. I had my fair share of experience though.
On top of it, the hotel does not seem to have any security in place and anyone (really) can walk into the hotel and access the rooms. It was kind of creepy and there was once whereby a man just ran into the lift when the door opened as we were about to alight. He looked like he had done something wrong and wanted to get out ASAP. We were so shocked. In addition, we noticed few rooms had their doors left opened but a “do not disturb’ sign was displayed. We suspected it was dodgy business, if you know what I meant. No wifi was provided at hotel rooms but only their lobby. WTF. What era is this already.

Other than these nonsense, the hotel is conveniently located at broadway muscial theatres, times square, cafes and food places that we really love.

Additional travel/transport expenses

1. Taxi from Toronto to Hotel: CAD 179 (Fucking ex and we got a shock)
2. Marriott Hotel to Buffalo Airport: CAD 103 (including immigration clearance)
3. Mega Bus from Washington DC to NYC: USD 24 per pax
4. Airport transfer from NYC hotel to JFK airport: USD 26 per pax

Total Estimation of travel/transport expenses: SGD 220

Miscellaneous Expenses

1. Metro 7-day unlimited ride in NYC: USD 33
2. Washington Uber rides: USD 30
3. Washington Hop on/Hop off 1-day bus tour: USD 29 (please don’t take this)
4. Flynyon helicopter ride: USD 260 per pax (including insurance)
5. Uber rides in NYC: USD 200
6. Personal expenditure in Niagara: SGD 225 but we didn’t foresee so much tax and expensive transport cost. We had to use card most of the time. Approximately another SGD 300 expenditure.
7.Personal expenditure in US excluding all the transport expenses: SGD 1800
8. Shopping in US using card: SGD 800 (there isn’t much shopping in US except when you set foot in Woodbury outlet haha. I think I fare well and didn’t overspend.)

Total misc expenses: SGD 2612 per pax

So overall, my estimated total expenditure is SGD 6182. I would say it is still a reasonable amount given the prime locations of our hotels in this 2-week trip. I hope this information is useful to you and I would share more in my upcoming Part 2 travelogue entry.

Till then,
Wanderlusting