by - Monday, April 16, 2018

I'm baaaaack! Of course, I've been abandoning this blog recently - what's new? I know I've said it 10289173 times but I will be sticking to blogging from now on. I blame my lack of posts on how hectic my life seemed to get when 2018 first started. A lot of changes happened in a short amount of time (including getting a new job!) but I finally feel like things have settled a bit and I'm ready to put my all into making this blog the best it can be.

On the 3rd of April, a couple of friends and I travelled to New York. We booked the trip pretty much on a whim around Christmastime. For what seemed like forever, we'd talked about visiting the city, but there was always something stopping at least one of us from booking. However, after finding ridiculously cheap flights on Lastminute.com, we were convinced that fate had intervened, and it was finally time to visit the Big Apple.

Before leaving for New York, I already knew that I was going to blog about the trip. What I didn't know, was how I was going to structure it. There are one million and one articles out there about what you "absolutely must do when visiting New York" - so any blog post in that style would be nothing new. As we only spent 4 full days in the city, there's no way I'd be able to write that kind of definitive list anyway. What I can do however, is give you all the low down on what we got up to, some of our favourite places and what to expect if you're planning a trip. Sound good? Let's go.


Now that I've been back from New York for a while I can officially say that I've gained weight. Me, whose most said phrase of the holiday was: "calories don't count on holiday!" Yeah well, I lied. I can't be surprised though, I literally did not stop eating. There's something about American food that makes you want to keep binging, regardless of whether you're full or not - and that's exactly what I did.

Since NYC is so famous for its pizza, it was something we were determined to try out at least a few times. Of the pizzerias we visited, my favourite had to be Sauce & Barrel. It's located in the Financial District and was suggested to us by our hotel's receptionist. As it was about 5 minutes away, it was an ideal choice for out 1st night's dinner. The menu is pretty extensive and they don't just serve pizza, there are pasta dishes on offer too. I was definitely happy with my choice - I had the Bella Della; it was topped with mortadella, heirloom tomatoes and pesto. The only thing that would have made it better was if the prices were slightly cheaper. My pizza was $18 and we split a (very pricey) bottle of wine too.

Like London, brunch is also a big thing in New York - you'll find that a lot of restaurants offer a breakfast menu, especially on the weekends. There was one place that stood out for me in particular and, were it possible, I would eat there every single day without hesitation. No joke. It's this cute little restaurant we found in Chelsea Market called Friedmans. They now have other branches elsewhere, but this one is the original. On the morning we visited the restaurant, we arrived at Chelsea Market pretty early. Despite that, we were faced with a half an hour wait for a table. Even though we were starving, we decided to wait since the reviews were so good. And BOY, we were not disappointed! I was feeling adventurous and decided to go for something other than my usual avocado on toast or American pancakes. Instead, I chose the Nova Benny: potato pancakes topped with poached eggs, smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce - but of course I had to get some avocado on the side. There's not much to say other than every part of it was incredible! 11/10 would recommend.

The standout restaurant of the entire trip had to be Kichin at Baby's All Right in Williamsburg, a Korean inspired diner/bar. We stumbled across it late one afternoon, after exploring Dumbo and taking countless touristy photos in front of the Manhattan Bridge. We were starving and cold and just needed somewhere to sit down. After we'd almost given up hope, we found this very inconspicuous building. It LOOKED like a restaurant - there was a menu in the window. But it was completely empty. We couldn't even see a single member of staff. Despite that, we ventured inside and managed to find a few workers by the bar. They seemed a bit surprised to see us - maybe they'd just opened - but gave us a few menus and sat us down. To start, we shared a plate of Korean fried chicken and for my main I (as recommended by the very friendly bartender) had the Kalbi: bbq short rib with with charred gai lan and spicy cucumber. Everything was bloody delicious and I couldn't fault any of it. I also appreciated that many of the dishes come with a side of vegetables. My stomach was so thankful to get some fibre after eating and endless amounts of fried food. If you're going to Williamsburg, you need to go here!

Lastly, I couldn't have gone to New York without sampling a doughnut (or two...) (or more...). My favourite place to get them had to be Dough in the Flatiron District. The doughnuts here are huge and there are so many flavours to choose from. I got two because I was having a hard time deciding. The ones I chose were Dulce de Leche and Hibiscus. The cafe itself is really cute, and you can also grab a coffee or tea to wash your doughnut down. Worth a mention as well is Doughnuttery in Chelsea Market. They make cute bite sized doughnuts and you can add your own sugar toppings. I flavoured mine with Lemon Pop (lemon, vanilla and poppy seeds) and Paris Time (lavender, pistachio and vanilla).

By the way, be prepared to spend a lot on food in Manhattan. It's a very expensive city.


It's impossible to come to New York without indulging in some shopping and we definitely did a lot of that. Most of our shopping however, took place outside of the city, in the Woodbury Common Outlet Mall. It mostly houses designer and high end stores, but everything they sell has been reduced in price (some significantly!). To get there, you need to catch a coach from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. You can buy tickets at the station, but it's much cheaper to buy them online. We got our tickets through Groupon for $25 (versus $42 on the day) and we got a free voucher booklet with it. I didn't end up using mine but it allows you to get extra money off on top of the stores' discounts. 

Now, I can't say what deals they'll be doing when you visit, but Coach and Michael Kors had at least 50% off their items' ticket prices. I treated myself to a MK handbag which was reduced from about $300 to $150. 

I got a few more items from some other shops there (mainly American Eagle Pac Sun - so the cheaper options haha) but nothing else too extravagant. Though, I did get my mum a pair of trainers from the Nike store that she'd been wanting for a while. I paid around $85 for them, which is a lot less than I would have paid in the UK, seeing as they'd only just come out.

If you want designer goods at a fraction of the price, this is the place to go! 

As a quick word of warning, you should avoid shopping in Times Square at all costs. Maybe it's because we went on a Sunday and there was an event happening, but the whole area was heaving. If it's your first time visiting the city, then by all means, go there to take a few touristy photos. For anything else - dining included - you're better off going elsewhere.


I'm embarrassed to say that we didn't actually do that much sightseeing! I blame it on the fact that the weather didn't often get higher than about 5 degrees, so we spent most of our time there indoors. That means I have very few recommendations for this section. One place I would say that everyone should visit however, is the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I thought I knew a lot about the attacks, but in the museum you learn so much more. Walking through is definitely an emotional experience. You can read the stories of both survivors and those who lost their lives, as well as see items left behind on the day - including a mangled fire engine. The memorial outside, where the towers themselves stood is also remarkable. If you were looking to go, get there early because queues get long very quickly and the security checks mean they're also slow moving.

As I mentioned earlier, we also visited the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. They're a must-see and the view from them is pretty spectacular. Though we cheated a bit, because we only walked a 1/4 of the way along the Brooklyn Bridge before turning back. Like I said, it was cold!

We also enjoyed visiting the Highline, which is a park that was built on a disused railway track. It's short walk away from Chelsea Market, and you can walk along it for a few blocks. Luckily, when we went it was a sunny day so we didn't mind the walk. Though because it was winter, the plants weren't very green. I can imagine in the summer it's a really beautiful place! 


One thing I noticed is that New Yorkers are either extremely friendly and helpful, or the complete opposite.  Often when we looked lost, random people would stop to see if they could help. However, on our first day we asked a member of staff in the railway station how we could get to a certain stop - she responded "I dunno, Google it." To (mis)quote Forrest Gump "New Yorkers are like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you're gonna get."

If you go to New York, you'll also notice that there are a lot of homeless people. Living in London, I expected it, just as I would with every other large city. What I think shocked me most was how many of them there are, especially on the subway. I assume it's because their trains run 24/7, so the stations are probably the most convenient and warmest places to stay. The staff don't seem to be bothered by their presence either, unlike in London where they are often ushered elsewhere. I'll have to say, I didn't once feel threatened or afraid - they're just normal people trying to keep warm and dry. However, it's clear that they and/or other people use the stations as their own personal toilet - you'll find a lot of them smell very strongly of urine.

Lastly, if you're eating out (which you probably will at some point) you need to TIP YOUR WAITER. For a start, it's the polite thing to do. And secondly, unlike London, American waiters often don't make minimum wage - they essentially earn a living from tips. So be nice, and leave a few dollars behind (unless you feel you've had terrible service, of course). Also, it's the customary thing to do, so if you don't you'll be judged for being stingy 😇

That's all friends! If you've made it this far, I'm so proud of you :) You're a real one.

Much love,

Natalie x

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