City Guide : New York

The moment we arrived in Manhattan, I could feel my heart beat. Pitter patter it went to the pulse of the city. It could have been my blood pressure rising with every extra block our cab driver circled “trying” to find our hotel. More likely, it was that feeling the city gives you, that makes you feel so alive.

New York is all together new and familiar. While I have travelled to many cities, it's here I feel especially connected. The shouts of taxis drivers traversing through the streets, the rumble of the subway below sidewalk grates -- they hum as background music to a city constantly in motion. There's newly opened galleries and shops to visit. There's favourite restaurants from trips past. A weekend in the city is well spent. Though you might only scratch the surface during your time here.

The first day, I find myself on the rooftop of the Whitney Museum's new Renzo Piano building, the wind whipping through my hair. The Hudson River is to the west, the High Line to the east. The Frank Stella retrospective is on view and the museum is bustling inside with tourists and locals alike. I enjoy a moment of solitude, looking down on the scene below. From inside and out, there is a sense of connectedness with the city. Glass-enclosed on both ends, its views take you straight out over the river, and the Meatpacking District's aging red brick buildings. The museum in a way, is an anchor in Chelsea's shifting cultural landscape. Uptown, the Met Breuer has opened in the former Whitney Museum at Madison Avenue and 75th Street. The Marcel Breuer-designed building, a Brutalist beauty, has been restored to house the Metropolitan Museum of Art's new contemporary outpost.

I head up to the High Line. A stop along the way at the Chelsea Market is a must. The rest of the afternoon is spent around Chelsea, popping in and out of local galleries. I meet up with my friends Vasie and Nikoletta and we cap off the night with dinner at Beauty and Essex, a gorgeous restaurant and bar hidden behind the doors of a dusty pawn shop. Reservations here are a must.

 

The next morning, I take to Instagram for suggestions of what to see and do, where to dine and drink. My friend Chelsie, a recent transplant to New York replies suggesting Two Hands. So we go. Tucked away on Mott Street, the white washed brick and tin ceilings flooded the space with light. Community tables made for good company.  The corn fritters with avocado, sour cream and pickled beets were perfection. If you're in the city for a weekend, brunch here.

 
 
After brunch, we stop at the corner of Kenmare and Mott street to snap a photo in front of James Goldcrown’s #lovewall mural.
 
 
The last time I was in town, we stayed on the Bowery and somehow never made it to the New Museum. During this visit, it was on my list of must dos. The Jim Shaw exhibit was showing, and I was spellbound when I stepped off the freight elevator to see Labyrinth: I Dreamt I was Taller than Jonathan Borofsky (2009). Barbara Rossi's Plexiglass paintings were just as moving. 

Afterwards, we stroll down Prince Street, and Tokyo Bikes,  a small independent bike company captures my curiosity. "Tokyo Slow" is their focus -- designing bicycles as a means for exploration of one’s city, rather than for the purpose of speed and commuting.

The shop is artfully curated, complimenting the colour palette of their bikes. We also stop by the Steven Alan store to flip through their selection of A.P.C, Acne Studios, and Karen Walker sunnies and Saturday Surf's Nolita outpost. They may not carry apparel for gals, but who doesn't love the idea of a surf shop in the middle of the city? Not to mention their coffee bar and back patio.

In New York you are never far from coffee. But its the independent shops that I love most. 

Happy Bones has a parred down, minimalist aesthetic, so you can focus your attention on the amazing coffee. They opened their first storefront in Little Italy is a nod to the founders' New Zealand roots and traditions (a country that seriously loves espresso). The space is small, so you'll likely have to order and go. But if you're lucky enough to find a seat, its the perfect spot to sit back with a brew and peruse a title from their superb magazine selection.

I'm starting to think I should have just rounded up my favourite weekend spots for a guide to brunching in New York City. But is there anything better on a Saturday afternoon than a Bloody Mary (with bacon salt rim.. 'cause yolo)  and classic bacon and eggs? Egg Shop is my go-to. I choose to build my own egg sandwich. Soft scramble, white cheddar, on a buttermilk biscuit with honey butter and black forest bacon.. in case you're curious. Afterwards, we grab a fresh pressed juice at The Butcher's Daughter across the street. 

You can make yourself at home in The Apartment by The Line. The 150 year old, third floor apartment in SoHo is an intimate space to shop the collections of your favourite designers, plus a range of beauty products, home decor and even original artwork.

It's truly a curated retail experience, allowing you to make your own discoveries as you wander through the apartment. This Max Snow photograph, I couldn't take my eyes off. Likewise the collections by Protagonist and Lemaire. I treat myself to a beautiful pair gold earrings by Kathleen Whitaker 

Having been to the city on so many occasions, I tend to avoid the tourist spots. But we decide a visit to the One World Observatory is a must. It has a view that leaves you breathless. The 9/11 Memorial Plaza is especially moving as well. We walk the grounds as the sun sets, and its both haunting and beautiful. 

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On a morning stroll, we come across Hamilton's Soda Fountain & Luncheonette, a neighourhood diner on a cozy Greenwich Village corner. Housed in an 1898 historical building, even their soda fountain is a vintage gem salvaged from an early 20th-century building. Aside from the diner boasting the name of my hometown, I'm taken by the 1940s vibes and playful atmosphere. An elderly couple sit in the corner with the Sunday edition of the New York Times. They know the menu by heart, the waiter by name. I order a strawberry soda and people watch. 

The High Line is a ten minute walk from Hamilton's. We head toward The High Line Hotel. Built in 1895, the hotel is a former Seminary Campus. Collegiate Gothic in style, the details of the era were preserved during the restoration, giving it much of its charm.

Many of the hotel rooms have beautiful historic fireplace mantles. And each boast vintage style wallpaper designs, heirloom rugs, and locally sourced furniture. Intelligentsia Coffee's refurbished 1963 Citroen coffee truck is out front, and we sip a freshly brewed pour over coffee in the courtyard, watching people pass by on 10th Avenue. If you are staying at the hotel, you can take one of their Shinola bicycles out for a spin. They even offer custom picnic baskets to bring along. We head to The Standard in the evening. It's so mild out, we grab a table at The Standard Plaza, sip on cocktails and snack on charcuterie well into the night. 

Our final day in the city, I plan to cram in everything I can. We wake up early, and head to Jack's Wife Freda for breakfast. I can't decide between sweet or savoury, so I order both the rosewater waffles and the house cured duck bacon. And a mint lemonade for the road. We hop on the subway, and head to Brooklyn. There's charming neighbourhoods, like Williamsburgh, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, and Prospect Heights with plenty of 19th century brownstones, shops and restaurants to explore. I stock up on gold stacking rings and travel sized skincare goods at Catbird and sample some chocolate at Mast Brothers before heading to Dumbo, a waterfront neighbourhood. Here you'll find picture perfect views of the Manhattan skyline, and Jane's Carousel, which was originally built in the 1920s for an amusement park,  and brought to Brooklyn once the park in Ohio closed. Refurbished and enclosed in a glass structure designed by architect Jean Nouvel, the carousel overlooks the East River. It's magical. A children's birthday is taking place while we're there, and I think about crashing it. We watch the sun go down over the Brooklyn Bridge, then head back to our hotel. A perfect ending to our trip.

Thanks to my talented friend and photographer Vasie Papadopoulos for the portraits she snapped of me in front of the #lovewall and at Hamilton's.