by Roaming Panda
Ask anyone to rattle off the first 5 US cities that come to their mind and I'm sure survey says New York will be among the top answers. I've been to big cities before but New York is unique. If you consider the United States to be a melting pot of cultures then New York is the cauldron where it all started. Walk down the block and you'll find more cultures than the world showcase at Epcot. We only had 4 days to explore the city so let's get started.
Let me preface that our entire trip was centered around food. We built a loose itinerary based on all the places we wanted to eat at. We arrived on a clear and sunny Thursday morning and jumped in a cab to our hotel. Big thanks to 50 Bowery for letting us check in even though we were early. We were too late to catch the last tour out to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty so we decided to make our way to Katz's Deli for lunch (full review coming soon). We walked around the city a bit afterwards to alleviate this uncomfortably full feeling before ending the afternoon with a solid nap. Rested and awake, we were ready for dinner and more specifically, we were ready for ramen. New York is home to more ramen restaurants than I could count, making the choice even harder. We landed at Nakamura based on many reviews and articles and we were not disappointed (full review also coming soon). End scene.
Our friends from Brooklyn joined us and were kind enough to be our guides for an action-packed day. We started with some NY coal-fired pizza and a leisurely stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. Weather was near perfect, clear blue skies and warm sunshine. I wish it was just a touch cooler but global warming isn't real and a little sweat never hurt anyone. We made our way to the 9/11 Memorial, a truly humbling and inspiring sight. I was surprised by the emotions that were invoked. This wasn't a tragedy before my time, it was a tragedy in my time. So many people harp on the things they don't have but the only thing you really need is your health, your family, and your friends. Everything else is insignificant. Appreciate the opportunity you have to make tomorrow better and always let the people around you know you love them.
We couldn't leave the 9/11 Memorial without making our way to the top of the new One World Trade Center. The elevator ride up, while short, was neat. The view from the top is reminiscent of the Skydeck of the Willis Tower in Chicago. Great views of the city. No time to waste now, next stop is dinner. We wanted to try one of the best burgers NY has to offer and that search led us to Minetta Tavern (you guessed it, review coming soon). The crescendo of the evening is yet to come. With tickets purchased months in advance for the Book of Mormon on Broadway, it's onward to the Eugene O'Neill theater. As a huge South Park fan, this was a must. The show was hilarious but it tries too hard to be funny at times. If you're easily offended, I would advise you to stay away because they insult just about every group you can think of. After the show, we poured out of the theater and wandered over to Times Square. The bright lights are mesmerizing and turned night to day. People packed every corner and crowds gathered to watch street performers and discount costumed heroes peddling tourists for pictures. If you hate crowds, this isn't the place for you but if you come to NY, you must check out Times Square. Just suck it up and do it.
We wanted to move a little slower on the third day, but there was still so much to see, and do, and eat. We saw a few Sichuan restaurants while roaming around Chinatown so we decided to give one a try. Skip the pancakes and waffles and start your day off with beef noodles and spicy fried chicken. We ordered more food than we should have but regretted nothing. Sadly, the Sichuan restaurant we frequent in Orlando is better so a bit disappointing but still good. We cabbed our way over to the American Museum of Natural History afterwards to spend a day in the museum. We love museums and this was the mother of all museums. My mind was blown by how big the inside was. The exhibit halls seem to never end. We spent maybe 2 hours in there when we just had to tap out. We didn't get close to seeing everything but the most fascinating exhibit for me is easily the Fossil Hall with all the dinosaur. I've been to museums where they'll have a few fossil sets but this one wins is quantity and they even have the giant long-neck dinosaurs. These guys are massive and make you feel pretty insignificant. Dinosaurs are always a win.
Since the museum is right outside of Central Park, we strolled through on our way to the Nintendo World store. Central Park is huge and well kept. You can walk, run, bike or even take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage if you want. We only walked through a very small portion given the amount of time we had. As huge gaming nerds, we had to check out this giant Nintendo store. It's 3/4 retail store and 1/4 mini-museum. The GPS kept flipping around as we're walking but it did bring us pass Times Square again and Rockefeller Center which was neat. You can find all sorts of Nintendo paraphernalia ranging from shirts to backpacks to toys and there is a small exhibit upstairs where you can see every hand-held and console Nintendo system through the decades. A must if you grew up on the classics.
Still with me? We didn't have much planned our last day. At this point we're exhausted. We asked ourselves what we wanted our last meal to be in NY and agreed it should be Katz's Deli. We just wanted one more hit of their pastrami. After that, we just held on to dear life as our race car driver...I mean cab driver zipped us back to the airport. NY is an amazing city. I can see why it's in the center of pop culture and inspiration for so many songs and movies. There's just everything in NY. Four days is enough to get a taste but we definitely want to come back. Sorry for the long ramble. If you want to check out the rest of the pics from this trip, click HERE.