🚖 New York (part 1 of 2)

Hello friends. I’ve been in Portland (Oregon) for the past five days for XOXO and while you’re going to eventually hear all about that (spoiler alert: I’m so emotional right now), I thought I’d post another instalment of #cookesUSA2018. This all happened back in July when it was much hotter in New York! Fortunately (or unfortunately?) I had to split this New York post into two parts, because I had quite a lot of photos, and as promised in an earlier post, I mentioned that I wanted to keep photos to a maximum of 50 photos per post.

A view of the city of New York with the Empire State Building in the middle
The city of New York, seen from the Rockefeller Center

Half-day 1: Joe’s Pizza, Times Square

So after we finally landed in New York after getting stuck in Boston airport, we got a ride to our Airbnb. Our Airbnb host was going to be at an event the time we were originally going to check in, but since we were so many hours late, we were able to meet him as his event already finished.

He showed us around the apartment quickly and left us to our devices. Because it was already evening and we were hungry, we went to Joe’s Pizza, a famous pizza joint which was just down the road a little bit.

A few slices of pepperoni pizza on a white paper plate
We were so ready for pizza!
A few slices of cheese pizza on a white paper plate
We got pepperoni as well as a classic cheese flavour 🍕
Washington Square Arch, a tall arch structure, lit up in the evening. In the foreground, people are sharing their artwork with it laid out on the ground
Washington Square Park arch in the evening.
A nighttime view of many people sitting around a fountain. The fountain is active and jetting water.
The fountains coming alive with many people sitting around its edges and also going for a swim (yes, it’s allowed).
A man using a ticket machine to purchase subway tickets
Nick buying us subway tickets to last for our whole stay.
A row of turnstiles with subway lines printed on a sign above them. To the left is a black service entry/exit gate that resembles a door
The entrance to the subway station

After that, we went to Washington Square Park, which was also nearby. The area of Greenwich Village, which the park is located in, is known for its creative and artistic folk. There were already some people performing, singing, or playing musical instruments, and it looked very lively.

Times Square is really famous, and we wanted to actually avoid the area because it’s rather touristy. We did stop by to see what it was like that evening though. I didn’t like it! It was so busy, and it was packed with people. It was not only overwhelming, but it was uncomfortable. It wasn’t a mosh pit, but it was still enough for me to want to get out quickly, haha.

A very busy street with giant, colourful lit-up billboard advertisements
The extremely busy, packed, Times Square. Iconic, but it sure seems very touristy.

Day 2: Real New York Tour, and Rockefeller Center

On the second day, we woke up rather early and waited outside our Airbnb, because we were going to do a full day private walking tour. We booked via Real New York Tours, and Nick had gone with his family a while back and had an incredible experience. Although it will cost you quite a bit, the tour guide can personalise the tour and see the sights you want to see, or the areas you want to visit. I think the tour was very, very good, and we got to enjoy learning about the history of New York. Even the recent history, like the restoration that is happening around the site of the 9/11 attacks – it’s all information and facts you might not know unless you did the tour.

The Washington Square Park arch during the daytime. In the distance, the tall Empire State building can be seen through the arch.
Washington Square Park in the morning! Spot the Empire State building…
The inside of a white building with white panels from the sunlight roof and down the sides. Sunlight flows through the glass windows at the top
The World Trade Center Transportation Hub, the “Oculus”

Speaking of the 9/11 attacks, we did visit the memorial where the twin towers used to be before the 9/11 attacks. We didn’t visit the museum on this trip, but Nick and I do want to see inside and experience that on a future visit. We walked through the building known as the Oculus (which is actually part of the World Trade Center station). The architecture is really incredible and the large space of white floor that the sunlight shines on, casting rib-like shadows, is really compelling.

The inside of the building from the previous photo, shown at a higher angle
Another view, from a higher level
The outside of a white building, where the panelling looks a bit like a fish’s tail
The Oculus from the outside

The rest of the day we subway-hopped and visited other attractions, and browsed various areas in New York, such as the Financial District, Soho, Chinatown, and Little Italy, learning about the history of each place as we went by. We stopped by a sandwich place called Salt for lunch, which was in a spot where we could clearly see the Brooklyn Bridge above us. It was a very worthwhile tour and our tour guide was professional, humorous and really knew his stuff. I’d recommend the tour!

A traditional stone building with lettering “New York Stock Exchange”. Its front resembles pillars and tall windows
The New York Stock Exchange building. No idea why they want us to follow them on Pinterest though… so random
A low angle shot of a large bridge with concrete pillars, with murky green water visible underneath
The Brooklyn Bridge! 🧡
A low angle shot of trees in a park, in the background are very tall skyscrapers.
Looking out from Central Park. Central Park actually goes down from ground level, so you really can’t hear much of the city sounds while you’re inside.
A pond as seen from the edge of a small cliff. Surrounding the water are many trees
Our tour guide took us to a trail that had apparently been closed for many years. It had a beautiful small waterfall with natural water
The view of the inside of a park, with lots of very green trees and a big lake. In the background behind the park’s bounds are skyscrapers
It’s like an oasis 😍
A portrait style photo, same view as the previous photo, taken from inside a park, with many trees and a pond in the foreground, and the city in the background
Another angle of the same view
Green trees surrounding a pond
Apparently people go fishing here as well, but you have to release the fish once you’ve caught them. We saw someone fishing!

After we parted ways with our tour guide we went and booked a session for the Rockefeller Center. This was definitely something at the top of our list. We had to wait a while in queue, even after booking a certain time. I suppose they were really busy. We had to go through security and watch videos during the waiting time, and it just seemed quite slow.

We had to ride an elevator almost 60 levels! It wasn’t that big a deal for me, though, because my work is located on the 37th and 38th floors, and the elevators move extremely fast, so this wasn’t much different. Occasionally, I still experience the ear-popping sensation from the quick pressure change.

A view of a city with high-rise buildings. Some have active construction work and scaffolding. In the middle of the city is a large area showing a canopy of trees
You can see how huge and green Central Park is from here! Like a forest inside a city.

It was a bit hazy and foggy once we got to the top and saw the views, but they were still beautiful. I really liked that you could see Central Park in the middle of it all.

A view of New York City with the Empire State Building in the centre of frame
The famous view of the Empire State Building. See the photo at the beginning of this post for a landscape version!
A selfie of a man and woman, smiling. The buildings of New York City are in the background.
It was a humid day, so we look exhausted!

To finish off the evening we visited Grand Central Station, and spoke in the famous whispering walls, and then we had Shake Shack burgers at the original Shake Shack. 🍔

The front of a large train station building with stone architecture
Grand Central Terminal

I didn’t take photos of the burgers or Shake Shack. 😆 I’m not one for taking photos of everything to be honest, and on this trip I ate a lot of my food without bothering to take a photo.

Day 3: Catching up with Tiny, Museum of Modern Art, Mean Girls musical on Broadway

We were really tired on this day and it was raining heavily in the afternoon. In the morning, though, we went to the laundromat for an embarrassing reason: to wash and dry some of the towels from our Airbnb apartment because on our first night, the toilet flooded and we had to make use of the towels. ☹️ Not a good experience, but at least using a laundromat (my first experience! Haha!) was relatively easy.

After shopping in Boston days earlier for Lululemon gym tights that were never released in Australia (because we get such a crappy range of products for everything), I realised that a pair of tights I tried on were actually marked down, and I was so desperate to get them, so we went looking in so many of the Lululemon stores in New York. 😂 I loved the colour, labelled as “ruby wine”. 😱 I had been looking to branch from my usual navy/dark green palette at the gym, and deep red seemed like a nice alternative option. I found them in the 5th Avenue store, and I was so worried I wouldn’t get them because they seemed to be in low stock. But I’m glad I got them. 😜

For lunch we met up with our friend Tiny, someone we used to work with at a previous workplace, who moved to New York after finding a job there. I hadn’t seen her in years and it was good to catch up. We ate at a vegan restaurant, amusingly called The Butcher’s Daughter, and their menu was full of great sandwiches (hey, this seems to be a popular thing in New York? 🥪) and smoothies. I’d definitely go back there!

As I mentioned, it rained heavily, just as Tiny had left for a hair appointment. Charges for an Uber ride soared, and we ended up dashing back to our apartment in the rain, getting freshened up, grabbing an umbrella and jumping on a subway to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). It was unfortunate that our day was dampened down into indoor activities when we had outdoor activities planned, but I really did enjoy the museum and we went through it incredibly quickly since they were closing in an hour’s time. Some of the exhibits stood out to me so much…

Three small cards in a vertical line, framed in glass with black border. To the right is a beige sign in red uppercase text, reading “Join the struggle. Take some for your own use”.
This, and the following three images, were part of an exhibition of Adrian Piper’s work
A framed white card reading: “Dear Friend, I am not here to pick anyone up, or to be picked up. I am here alone because I want to be here, ALONE. This card is not intended as part of an extended flirtation. Thank you for respecting my privacy.”
A framed white card reading, in uppercase: “Do not touch, tap, pat, stroke, prod, pinch, poke, grope or grab me.”
A framed brown card beginning with the following text: “Dear Friend, I am black. I am sure you did not realize this when you made/laughed at/agreed with that racial remark. In the past, I have attempted to alert white people to my racial identity in advance. Unfortunately, this invariably causes them to react to me as pushy, manipulative, or socially inappropriate. Therefore, my policy is to assume that white people do not make these remarks, even when they believe that there are no black people present, and to distribute this card when they do. I regret any discomfort my presence is causing you, just as I am sure you regret the discomfort your racism is causing me.”
A large white wall inside an art gallery showing a digitally-printed tree. On the left is one node reading “TIME”, eventually branching out into many other nodes reading “enslavement”, “liberation”, “gain” and “loss”
This was quite captivating.
The obtuse-angled corner of a room, with a mural painting across the span of the walls
I love seeing Monet’s Water Lilies
A man and woman, smiling, with a mural painting of water lilies behind them
Nick and I take a selfie every time we see Monet’s work
The inside of an art gallery with a geometric-style artwork of a Mondrian grid on the wall. Some people can be seen looking at it from the sides
There was a gallery for Mondrian grids and other geometric art
A framed painting of a bowl of apples, with some apples on the surface underneath
One of Paul Cézanne’s still-life paintings
A high angle view of a sculpture made out of mostly coloured cardboard, assembled together like a city on an island
These sculptures by Bodys Isek Kingelez were incredibly detailed and colourful
Small buildings sculptured out of coloured cardboard, part of a larger sculpture
These are made out of everyday materials like cardboard, straws, and paper

After grabbing well-deserved ramen for dinner, we saw the Mean Girls musical that evening. I was so, so excited for it! Mean Girls is one of those movies that I didn’t watch until many years after it was released. That’s me and movies – I hardly ever see anything at the theatre/cinema. I did enjoy Mean Girls a lot, though, and the musical was just as good. There were some very current political and cultural references, which were really funny. The actors and actresses were incredible, but by far my favourite was Barrett Wilbert Weed, the woman who played Janis.

The inside of a theatre with audience members both sitting and making their way to their seats. The stage is ready with a digital backdrop resembling a scrapbook of photos and comments
The stage ready for Mean Girls to start. A lot of the set was completely digital

Tina Fey had a hand in the musical as well, and we heard from one of the security guards later on that she regularly comes by the theatre to see how everyone’s doing. It was an amazing, very enjoyable night. I used the restroom in the intermission and the staff at the theatre were working to make the line move quicker by directing the long line in an S-shape, and keeping an eye on vacant cubicles inside the restroom so they could point the next person in line along.

I would definitely see the musical again! It was hilarious and very enjoyable.

Stay tuned for my next post on New York, I’ll publish it in the next day or two! 🙂🗽

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New York looks amazing :) we have a few New Yorker Pizzerias here and their pizzas are huge and delicious to the point that it reminds me of homemade pizza.


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Yay New York! And yay laundromat, haha! My first laundromat experience was also in NYC and I find them such a quintessential New York thing now.

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I’ve been waiting for this post!

I’m so glad that you were able to do the Top Of The Rock. It wasn’t super busy when I did it back in 2016, and I’m surprised considering that I was there during a holiday weekend and fleet week. We didn’t have to wait too long. The elevator made me feel kind of dizzy though. Once you got up there, it was so worth it. The last time I was in NYC (in 2011), we did the climb up the Empire State Building. It was exhausting, and so small up at the top, so it definitely wasn’t as enjoyable as the Rock was. We didn’t exactly get the express pass, so we had to do a lot more climbing up the steps, and had limited elevator access.

The Whispering Wall was pretty enjoyable too. It was actually pretty unbelievable that it worked. Haha.

I never have been able to catch any of the broadway shows. Mean Girls was an excellent choice. I didn’t even know that it was on broadway. I’ve been wanting to see Avenue Q!

Looking forward to Part 2.

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I am so jealous of your trip to New York and this is just the first half of your trip! You got so much done and so many things that I want to see and do myself, from central park (stunning photos by the way) to Grand Central Station and seeing a show on Broadway. I’m hoping they bring Mean Girls to the West End.

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