It’s officially Coachella season! The countdown has begun for the biggest and most anticipated music and art festival, which will return to its home at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Coachella rookies and veterans alike will flock to the said venue for a 3-day long weekend filled with fun, music, and art.
I’m always up to hit the open road. The wide open spaces, the tapestry of landscapes, the never ending horizon are just a few of the winning qualities that converted me to become a long-term road trip enthusiast.
Last month, I embarked on a mini weekend getaway to Arizona for a girlfriend’s 27th birthday. The three-day road trip took two months to plan. It was a brief escape yet more than enough to explore three of Arizona’s most famous natural wonders: Grand Canyon National Park, Horseshoe Bend, and Lower Antelope Canyon.
Ever since my family started going on annual road trips when I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to eventually set foot in all 50 states. It’s been nearly 15 years since I started the journey, exploring nearly every state in America. Last June, I had the opportunity to explore my 31st state… ALASKA.
Our third day in Manhattan was wet. Rain poured, but we didn’t let it stop us from exploring. We ended up switching up a few days in our itineraries because of the rain. We explored Brooklyn/DUMBO and Lower East Side.
The subway system in New York City is incredibly complex but still easy to understand. Our commute from Midtown to Brooklyn took only about half an hour.
Because of the rain, we lucked out because the Brooklyn Bridge was practically empty, allowing us to take as many pictures as we can without people in the background.
My native New Yorker friends have unanimously affirmed that the best pizza in New York is in Brooklyn, so we decided to have lunch at Juliana’s, which is literally next door to the world-famous Grimaldi’s. Juliana’s is a pizzeria owned by Patsy Grimaldi, and it did not disappoint. We devoured a traditional New York-style thin crust pizza. None of that deep dish sh*t.
Post-lunch was spent exploring DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Any Gossip Girl fans recognize this area? We were in Dan Humphrey’s hood!
The rain hindered us from doing a lot of the activities we initially planned, but we didn’t want to waste the day away so we spent the second half of our day to explore Manhattan’s Lower East Side, particularly Chinatown and Little Italy.
Di Palo’s in Little Italy was definitely a MUST-STOP for me. I knew that there was no way I would return to Los Angeles without grabbing a few goodies from this New York establishment. Di Palo’s is my version of a candy store. My eyes immediately lit up when I walked in. The cheeses, the dried meat, the olives, the pastas…. YUMMMMM-O! I may be Asian, but my gut tells me that I was Italian in my past life.
The rain poured the entire day and night, so we decided to get take-out dim sum and other yummy Chinese food and have a pajama party back at our apartment!
I wish we spent more time in the Lower East Side, but I know this trip won’t be the last time I’ll see the Big Apple. To those who are visiting, make sure to visit Katz’ Delicatessen!
Stay tuned for day 4!
19 Old Fulton St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
200 Grand St.
New York, New York 10013
Day 2: Sunday, January 11, 2015
When creating the itinerary for this New York City trip, I tried my hardest to plan our days conquering one section/neighborhood of the city at a time. For our second day, our target was Lower Manhattan.
The New York City subway system is by far the most intricate subway system I’ve ever encountered. Their map looks like spaghetti! So many trains and subways going in all directions. In fact, they have so many that they had to use alphabets AND numbers to name them. Los Angeles’ subway system is nothing but mere fart to New York’s.
With the island of Manhattan only being 13.4 miles long, the subway is one of the most convenient, fastest, and cheapest mode of transportation to get around the city. The fare for one subway ride alone is $2.50. My friends and I knew that this will quickly add up considering our vacation was 10 days long, so one of the most important things we researched prior to our trip was to find a way to minimize our expenses as much as possible.
Perhaps one of the best things we spent our money on while in New York was a 7-day Unlimited Metrocard. The Unlimited Pass was a total of $31.00 ($30.00 for the pass and $1.00 for the Metrocard). It’s valid for 7 days and can literally be used in any subway or train, unlimitedly. This not only saved us so much money, but time as well! We didn’t have to constantly buy one-way tickets every time we entered a subway station. Instead, all we had to do was swipe the card at the turnstiles.
Another purchase that I highly recommend is the New York CityPass! The cost is $109 for adults, and it includes admission to 6 tourist attractions and landmarks all throughout the city.
For our second day at the city, our first stop of the day was Lady Liberty herself. Because of our hotel’s prime location, we only had to take one subway (Subway 1, Red) all the way to Battery Park, which is located at the southern most tip of Manhattan.
We purchased our CityPasses in advanced, and we traded our email vouchers for the actual booklets at the ticket window in Battery Park. For our first attraction, we had a choice between Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. This was a no-brainer.
The ferry itself was only a 20-minute ride away. Our CityPass gave us admission to the ferry and to Liberty Island. It did not include entry to Lady Liberty’s crown, but we didn’t really think it was necessary.
We returned to the mainland after lunch. Financial District was only walking distance, so we took pictures with the famous Charging Bull!
Other notable attractions in the Financial District are the famous Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.
My friends and I wanted to truly experience New York City’s food scene and not just dine at the famous eateries, so we decided to grab lunch at Korchma Taras Bulba in SoHo, which was a short cab ride away.
I discovered Korchma Taras Bulba after it was recommended by one of my favorite New York-based blogger, LoveTaza. The place offered Ukrainian cuisine, and it was unlike any restaurant I’ve ever been to in L.A.
Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences we had at Korchma Taras Bulba happened during on our way out of place. Prior to our departure, one of the friendly servers stopped us and asked if we were willing to partake in a very Ukrainian tradition — which is taking a shot of vodka, with a chunk of pickle as chaser (all complementary by the way).
My friends and I were all in the same open-minded mentality to try new things and new experiences while in the city, so we were definitely willing! Vodka shot, pickle chaser? Count us in! We cheered and toasted and it was by far one of the coolest ways I’ve ever left a restaurant. It immediately created a stronger bond between my friends and I, reaffirming a sense of camaraderie that we are all in this gritty and loud and exciting city of New York together.
For dessert, we transported ourselves from Ukraine to Paris in two minutes as the legendary Maison du Macaron, Ladurée, was only one block away!
As a person, my sweet-tooth is unparalleled. I love love love love sweets! Ice creams, chocolate, cakes, pies, give ’em to me! However, macarons for me have slowly been one of those desserts which I really stopped craving. For one, they’re expensive, ranging from $1.00 per cookie to almost $3.00. Secondly, known as the “world’s most impossible cookie,” French macarons are very very difficult to perfect. It’s very common for me to find a macaron that’s too sweet or too chewy or something else. I always find something quite not right. Which is why I initially entered Ladurée with very very low expectations. Of course, I’ve heard of Ladurée before, but I was still hesitant to believe that their fame as actually earned and legitimate. For all I know, they’re simply overhyped and their macarons overrated.
My god, was I wrong. Very very very wrong. Ladurée macarons are by far THE BEST macarons I’ve ever tasted. Ever. Ever. Ever had. I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong. They run at $2.80 a pop, which I admit is a bit on the pricey side, but mother of all things holy, they are absolutely divine. Gahhh, my mouth is salivating just by the mere thought. I recall having one of those moments where upon having my first bite of the salt caramel, my eyes instantly widened as my confused tongue processed the gloriousness occurring in my mouth. They’re not overtly sweet, so it’s beyond easy to consume 10, 20, even 30 in one sitting! They’re truly an indulgence that I believe everyone should have and deserve to have every once in a while. When I die, I want a handful of Ladurée macarons in my mouth, please.
The night was young when we left Ladurée. We didn’t want to waste time being in the city and head home so early, so we decided to see Grand Central Terminal. We originally planned to see the place on a different day, but we figured we might as well cross it off the list now since we have the extra time allowance.
There’s something so romantic I find about Grand Central Terminal, or train stations in general. Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that train travel is a much older form of travel than airplanes, so it echoes more history of goodbyes and reunions, tears and kisses, from individuals from all over the world.
Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for day 3!
Anicka “unpaid Ladurée endorser” Nadine
Korchma Taras Bulba
357 West Broadway
New York, New York 10013
398 West Broadway
New York, New York 10012