The weekend following my Toronto trip, my wife and I took a trip to New York City. It was the first time we’d been there together in a while. For a long time we had talked about taking a weekend to just be tourists in NYC and we finally got the opportunity. We caught the Friday evening “Best Bus” from Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. Bus travel isn’t the most pleasant but Best Bus is usually a better experience than alternatives such as Mega Bus and Bolt Bus, if only because their power plugs usually work and the WiFi sometimes works. In most of my past experiences, Best Bus has been pretty reliable as far as leaving on time, but this particular bus ended up waiting at Union Station for over half an hour (Best Bus did issue us a credit for 10 dollars to make up for the late departure).
Fortunately, traffic wasn’t atrocious, so it wasn’t an ungodly hour when we finally pulled up near Penn Station in Manhattan. We had reserved a hotel in Korea Town so getting from the bus to the hotel wasn’t too long of a trek. Once we got checked in to the hotel, we debated whether we were more tired or more hungry. Most likely because we were in Korea Town, hunger won out. We would have loved to get some legit Korean BBQ but exhaustion wasn’t far behind hunger, so we needed something quick and easy. BBQ Chicken on W 32nd Street fit the bill – we got some delicious fried chicken wings, then went back to the hotel to crash.
On Saturday, we caught the Metro North train from Grand Central Station to Hastings on Hudson. My wife’s cousin and her husband recently opened a waffle shop there called Wild Culture Waffles. If you live in New York City, or are spending a long weekend there, it’s definitely worth the train trip (a little less than an hour) to get their waffles. We tried the grilled cheese, the ham and cheese, and the chocolate (stuffed with Wild Culture’s original chocolate custard, made with Venezuelan chocolate). All of the waffles were amazing but the chocolate was definitely my favorite. Also, their chocolate milk is awesomely delicious.
Hastings on Hudson is a nice town to walk around and offers a quiet, relaxing break from the big city. Of course I’m always keeping an eye out for cars and we spotted some classic Bimmers while walking around the town.
From Hastings, we took the Metro North back down to Manhattan, but got off in the Bronx, near Yankee Stadium. From there we walked across the Macombs Dam Bridge, which took us right into the part of the city where I lived when I first moved to New York over eight years ago, Washington Heights. It was nice to be able to walk around the neighborhood with my wife and show her the different places that shaped my New York City experience for the first months that I lived there. We walked through the Jumel Terrace historic district, and around the grounds of the Morris-Jumel Mansion, the oldest surviving house in Manhattan, where I used to walk my dogs, Zack and Jack. Interesting fact I learned recently – Lin Manuel Miranda was granted a writing space at the mansion when he was working on his smash hit Broadway show Hamilton.
All the walking around the old neighborhood helped to work up a post-waffle appetite so we had to go to the best deli in Manhattan. Folks in lower Manhattan just don’t know. If you’re the type of person that understands that a really good sandwich requires more than a couple of pieces of white bread and a stack of pastrami, Tasty Deli on 169th and Broadway is the place for you. Their celebrity sandwiches have awesome combinations of ingredients and will put you into an afternoon coma.
When I lived here, I had a close friend who was attending nursing school at Columbia and she introduced me to this place. It’s across the street from the Columbia University medical center so it is very popular with the medical and nursing students. I highly recommend “the Wild Child” (see menu in link) and “the Storm”. I had the Storm this time. It was the first time I’d been in probably three or four years and it was just as good as I remembered.
Other highlights from our 48ish hours in the Big Apple included walking around the high line (super touristy but still lovely when the weather is nice) and checking out the new Hudson Yards area, including this weird, giant space ship looking thing.
We also walked around Washington Square Park and the East Village, experiencing multiple levels of failure while trying to find something to eat for dinner. It was like an escalated version of our first night in Sintra – everything had a super long wait or nothing at all without a reservation, so we ended up eating at some mac n’ cheese place before meeting some friends for drinks.
On our second day of being tourists in the city, we got some bagels at Zucker’s Bagels & Smoked Fish (delicious) near Madison Square Park and made our way to lower Manhattan. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, along with 500 gazillion other people, many of whom were walking too slow, dangerously swinging their selfie sticks around, and coming close to getting run over by agitated bicyclists.
We spent most of the afternoon and early evening getting drinks and catching up with friends at Circa Brewing Company in downtown Brooklyn. I think maybe we got there earlier than the Sunday crowd because it was pretty quiet. It was a great place to hang out and have some beers.
We also made a late afternoon trip to Peter Pan Donuts, but unfortunately we missed out on pretty much all the doughnuts except the powdered ones with jelly. Next time, we’ll aim to be there in the morning. In the evening after we made it back to Manhattan, we sat in Bryant Park and did some people watching for a little while before heading back to the hotel to pick up our bags.
Our trip back was via the Amtrak train, a pretty significant upgrade from the bus, both in terms of comfort and speed. It was an eventful and delicious (but unhealthy) weekend in New York. We are looking forward to taking another trip again sometime next year.