One of the most fulfilling ways of discovering a city is by foot...and we did so in New York. Here are some of our favourite discoveries:
1.Walk the High Line: The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan’s West side. It is by far one of the most underrated and most charming ways to get a feel of the city. We walked the High Line, danced to African pop music there, sat next to a guy who wrote 5-minute stories on an ancient typewriter, painted for charity, walked some more and watched the sun set behind the crazy skylines.
2.Spend a Sunday (or two) at the Central Park: No matter how much is said about this urban park covering almost a third of Manhattan, it will never be enough. It is one of the most entertaining ways of spending a Sunday (or any other day as long as it’s sunny and you don’t have to work!) without burning a hole in your pocket. Walk across the length of the park, be a spectator to the several baseball matches, groove at one of the many Summer Concerts (we were lucky to be right in the middle of a thumping Fatoumata Diawara performance) and you never know, but you may also get to witness a wedding right there in the middle of the park!
3.Subways: God bless the MTA for the brilliant subway line connection down and across the borough! Almost like the Delhi metro (well the Delhi metro is a little more sophisticated), the subway system offers brilliant opportunities for people watching, people watching and more people watching! With music performances inside the stations or sketch artists pock marking the system, a ride from one place to another can never be boring.
4.Speakeasies: When in New York, dump the fancy, glitzy bars with over priced drinks and even more over dressed crowd and find yourself a speakeasy for the night. We got talking to the locals about their favourites and picked out two: The Bathtub Gin and The Blind Barber. The Bathtub Gin was the first one we hit and boy it did live up to the definition of a speakeasy! We kept standing in front of a coffee shop for 5 whole minutes, scratching our heads and figuring out where the bar was, till a gentleman finally showed us inside the coffee shop where a hidden door leads you to the dimly lit, sophisticated, gin-based-cocktails serving, burlesque performance showcasing bar. With amazing drinks, polite service, brilliant performances and yes the hidden entrance, The Bathtub Gin was not a disappointment. The Blind Barber was our next stop. Hidden discretely behind the doors of a nondescript barber shop, the ambience, the drinks (not as good at Bathtub gin though) and the music was well worth the trip to the East Village.
5.Hester Street Fair and other markets: The Hester Street fair is a perfect way to spend a lazy, balmy weekend afternoon. With artisanal street food, vintage clothing, hand-made jewellery, colourful stationery and not overly crowded, it’s a fairly good alternative considering the hustle bustle of most markets and fairs. BenJ gifted me two pairs of earrings and a necklace from one of the vendors here and they are by far one of the most quaint looking pieces of jewellery I own ( <3)
6.Discover D.U.M.B.O: DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is a neighbourhood in south Brooklyn with an interesting combination of old warehouses, quirky shops and restaurants and the magnificent view of Manhattan. We checked out the multiple old warehouses converted into creative centres, clicked (LOTS of) pictures with the Manhattan and the Brooklyn bridges in the backdrop, bought chocolates from the Jacques Torres chocolate shop (the lady working there told us about the speakeasies), and just sat at Fulton’s Landing watching the ferries pass by.
Apart from the above favourites, we walked (and we walked and walked and walked) almost across all streets and avenues and was the best way to discover New York. Be it amazing graffiti in different nooks and crannies, rice and chicken on 53rd & 6th (The Halal Guys and yes this cart is a NY Landmark and the chicken makes the queue stretching for a block and a half every bit worth it!!), all the museums (working in a firm associated with any of these museums can get you free entry), the tiny, yet expensive cafes in Meat Packing, the bustle when you get off at the Union Quare station, getting lost inside the Grand Central Station! New York gave us the best two weeks last summer (and the best Facebook profile picture options!!)