New York, New York: April 2016

This past weekend I flew to New York to visit a friend for her birthday.  I’ve never been to New York, and of course you see it in movies and TV shows all the time so what’s a better excuse than a friend’s birthday??  The customs officer raised her eyebrow when I told her I came for a birthday, but oh well.  Haha

Once I landed in Newark I had to take the train over to Brooklyn.  It was a tad bit more complicated than I thought it would be, but once I thought about it it’s actually quite simple, you just have to make a few transfers.

NJ PATH drops you off at WTC, so I went ahead and got out and walked around for a bit before catching the subway to Brooklyn.

WTC 4

It was almost eerie to see something in person that you have only seen in pictures before.  Actually not almost, it WAS eerie to see it in person.  And surprisingly quiet.  Even still, I’m glad I walked through.

I made it to Brooklyn, and looking back it was probably a bit of a task to take my carry on bag through the subway during rush hour, but it all worked out just fine.  I made it to my friends place and then we went and got some NY pizza, that NY is famously known for.  We went to a pizza joint that’s pretty well known in the DUMBO district of Brooklyn (across from Manhattan) and got seated pretty quickly.  In a word, the pizza was amazing.  Not much else to say about it, really.

Literally a block away from the pizza place was the waterfront, which looks out to the Brooklyn Bridge and downtown Manhattan.

This trip was filled with a lot of these experiences, of seeing something in person you only see in pictures.  It’s a crazy experience to stand at the waterfront and look out over downtown Manhattan.

It was cool walking down the local streets as well, which had a lot of “mom and pop” shops.  That’s something that I really wish LA had more of, I feel like LA is more franchised whereas NYC was very much pop up or mom and pop stores.

The next day my friend Leah had to go to school for a bit, she’s in a masters program for public health, so I met up with a friend of mine from college who also lives in NYC.  Maya and I go back to the first day of college, she was my first friend which originally fostered because she needed a ride to a class function…  Anywho, we met up on 14th street and started walking up towards the NY public library.  We figured it was easier to just walk and see some stuff rather than take the subway since the subway is $2.71 per swipe.

Flatiron building!

If you turn around from there, you see the Empire State Building.

Base of the Empire State Building.

NY public library.  Super bummer that the grand reading hall was closed for renovations.

Then of course Grand Central was just around the corner, so…

From Grand Central, we walked to Rockerfeller Center

Adjacent to 30 Rock was a Nintendo store…

What was really crazy was just down the street, NBC studios and Radio City music hall!!

By now it was time to stop for lunch, so what’s better than some Halal Guys??  Must stop for NYC.

By this time Leah was done and ready to meet up, so we decided to meet at the Met and on the way we stopped by to see Juliard.

Lincoln Square was on the west side of Central Park, so we cut across to head over to the Met.

And finally, the Met!  84th Street.  70 blocks from where we started.

Once we got to the Met, my phone died, so we found a plug in the floor and charged for a little bit.

A few minutes later Leah meets us, and we decide to see at least one exhibit.  They had an exhibit on Korea so we decide to check it out!  When we went in we couldn’t readily find it so we asked for directions, and the info desk thought we asked for the map in Korean, so my friend said “oh no my friend is from Korea and wants to see it” so she continues to try to give the map to my friend in Korean and my friend goes “My friend doesn’t know Korean, we just want to know how to get to the exhibit.”  It was pretty funny.

That tomb was showcasing some sculpture thingy.  People lined up to peek inside to some tiny sculpture.  LOL

I found someone who wanted to tell me secrets.

And finally the Korean exhibit.

As a Korean I was marginally disappointed.

With only a limited time in NY, and the fact that you can spend hours, if not days, in each museum, we called it quits and walked towards the subway and came across Park Ave.

From there, we decided to take the subway back to Union Square, where we got ice cream.  I got cereal milk flavor with chocolate syrup, Leah and Maya got cereal milk with cereal.  It was the weirdest ice cream flavor I have ever tasted in my life because it tastes like you’re drinking the milk leftover in your cereal bowl.

From here we parted ways.  This became the discussion of the weekend, but it’s definitely kind of weird to have two friend circles meet each other.  I know Leah from high school and Maya from college, and they didn’t know each other until this past weekend, it’s just really weird but really cool at the same time.  Meanwhile Leah had the same thing happen with her friends for her birthday, as they were all from different groups – if you stop and think, it just kind of shows how small the world really is.

Saturday was Leah’s bday party so we decided to go out for dinner just the two of us the night before.  Leah made reservations for 7:30, and we showed up at 8 because well, why not be fashionably late… Anyway it ends up she made the reservation for 8 so we were exactly right on time.

We went to this restaurant called Club A, and it’s a steakhouse that’s so dimly lit you can’t read the menu… But it ended up being a wonderful experience.  We had a bacon appetizer because I wanted to compare it to Korean bacon, of which it is quite similar, and each had our own steak and shared a side dish.

So this is what made the night go from good to great.  We ordered one side dish only to get a different one, so we told them and they brought out the right one and gave us the other one.  Then, we got comped two drinks and free dessert.  And, the “wrong” side dish was actually really good… All in all it was a great experience with great service, which is along the same lines as what all the Yelp reviews say about the place so in the end I’d definitely go back to this place if I’m ever in NY again!

We had also wanted to go to the Standard because there’s this bar with a huge chandelier there that we both wanted to see but by the time we got there that part had closed, but we were still able to go up and see the Manhattan skyline from their rooftop.

It was the Meatpacking District, so it was pretty… Hipster…

Saturday, we met up for brunch in Chinatown (well adjacent to Chinatown) with Maya at this random place I found on Yelp.  It ended up being worth it!

What morning is complete without bloody mary’s?

Ok so this is that one ice cream restaurant from the Netflix Original “Master of None” with Aziz, it’s the one where that one dude takes the last banana split and then throws it in the garbage.. haha

None of us had been to the Guggenheim, so we took the subway up past the Met and went inside and looked around.

From here we walked to the Museum of Natural History but holy guacamole it was sort of drizzling outside, and there were so many people inside we just left… It was too much to handle.  Crowds, that is.

It was getting close to time to meet up for Leah’s birthday party so we parted ways for dinner and headed to this ramen place in Brooklyn that was pretty good, then we went to Leah’s friends house to wait around for a bit where Maya met up with us, then we all Ubered over to the 90’s theme venue we were going to, only to get there and have the line to get in be all the way around the block.  I mean, at least a 1/4 of a mile long AND it was like 40 degrees outside!  So we went to another bar down the street instead.

I also realized, in hindsight, I’m really bad about taking pictures now.  I used to take a ton of practically everything but I guess I’ve gotten more into taking pictures of a few things and just experiencing everything else.  I saw this photo a couple of months ago that had a bunch of people along a parade route and everyone had their phones out taking pictures, except for this old woman standing there watching and smiling.  She was the one living life, which I guess is something I try to do more of now.  So yeah, sorry Leah I don’t have very many pictures of your party… hahaha oops.

Sunday, since we stayed out until like 4AM we woke up late and then got pho at some super hipster joint that had pricey pho… but it was still good at least, but hipsters be damned…  That was near Barclays Center so we walked from there to Dumbo to see the Brooklyn/Manhattan bridges and see Manhattan skyline during the day.

Next stop, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan.

From there we went up to Union Square where there’s a place called Eataly, which is a market / series of restaurants which cater to Italian food.

We ate at one of the restaurants there, and had freshly made pasta.

From Eataly we headed to the oh so famous… TIMES SQUARE!

And found this along the way:

Madison Square Garden

And unfortunately all good things must come to an end.  Of course, like usual, I wish I had stayed longer than a weekend…

So far this year, New York has been my favorite trip.  Yeah I know I seem to say that about every trip I make, but legitimately this was the best vacation I’ve had so far.  New York is an awesome place with so much culture and history, and it was a huge amount of fun to experience New York like a local.  I purposely stayed away from tourist traps, such as the Statue of Liberty, and instead focused on things that locals do.

What really made the trip was hanging out with old friends.  I hadn’t spent “real” time with either of them in years, and it was nice to be able to enjoy each others company and talk and catch up from where we left off.  That’s what really made the trip for me.  Also, the hospitality was humbling and I’m grateful for the experience.

Through the experience I’ve learned a lot about myself as well.  I have learned (well, I knew it but this just reinforced it) or come to realize that I’d much rather have a few really close friends than a bunch of acquaintances, that I’d rather spend time with someone doing something or even just enjoying each others company rather than go to a ritzy place or do something crazy.  I’ve really come to realize that there are going to be people in your life that expect you to change to their liking, and want you to do what they want you to, and there are going to be people who let you be who you are and are simply your friend because they enjoy you for who you are.  The really cherished memory from the trip was getting to spend time with those that matter, with New York being the icing on the cake.

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