Our stay in the United States continues with a week’s vacation in New York City. A real vacation, without working, to fully enjoy this beautiful city of a thousand facets.
We have to take a bus(Flixbus) between Washington DC and NYC, but the bus is 45 minutes late. Add to that the traffic in NYC and we arrived 2 hours late compared to the scheduled time. Fortunately our Airbnb hostess was able to wait for us during all this time there.
Our room looks like a large closet. We share the bathroom with the owner. Everything has its place because it’s so small. I think the whole apartment (including the owner’s bedroom) is 45m² maximum. We are in the South of Manhattan, in Chinatown so the rent must be a little cheaper, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the rent is more than 2000$/month.
Note: this is the 2nd time we visit New York. The first time goes back to 2015, and we are going to incorporate the photos of the 1st visit as well to have a complete travel diary (and to serve as a guide for those who wish to)
Day 1 (half a day because we arrive late)
To reward our efforts, we go directly to Douhgnut Plant, just a few minutes away. I opt for their crème brûlée donut (they invented this recipe apparently). I exclaim with joy from the first bite, it’s crunchy, very sweet but very good. It reminds me of a pastry I’ve already eaten. 15 minutes later, I finally find it: it looks like the pasteis de natas that we didn’t stop eating in Lisbon. JB opts for a coconut donut something, it’s very good, but not as good as mine. Total: 16$ anyway!
We go right away to City Kitchen (upstairs), a food court where we stopped a few years ago to have a snack before seeing the show “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway (I recommend). The beef taco we had at Gabriela’s Taqueria was so good that no other taco has been able to make us forget it since.
Unfortunately, when you fantasize about something for too long, you end up idealizing the taste. I’m sure the tacos remain the same, but this time I found it less good, less unforgettable than I remember.
In any case, this part of the city, around Broadway, is particularly lively because we are 30 minutes away from the Broadway shows, and people are all eating quickly so as not to arrive on an empty stomach.
Even if we have already seen several times, Times Square is still The place to be, whatever the time of day. It’s still funny to think that we go there, of our own will, to come and watch the pubs. It’s the world upside down! It is Friday evening thus there are still more people than usual. It’s super festive, and everyone seems very happy to be there in this temple of capitalism.
This is where people come to celebrate the New Year. There’s a kind of arrow with the ball, and the ball comes down all of a sudden as the new year passes + the confetti falling from the sky. There is a place where you can simulate this experience, with a 360°C screen I think, for those who want to live this “magic moment” without going there on a 12/31. JB and I still can’t decide if we go or not.
I spotted Levi’s boutique, and took advantage of the discounts at the moment to offer me a pair of shorts. I’ve always wanted to have a Levi’s, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. There are only the small sizes on sale, and for once, I’m happy to be small ahahah I’m spoilt for choice 😀
It’s time for the fitting. JB finds it too short. So I chose the most covering and longest model of all the shorts in the store. It should be noted that American women wear shorts that are so short that you can see half of their buttocks. And it doesn’t seem to shock anyone, I saw a lot of people with a crop top + micro-short. It’s a bit matt, but no shocking reactions/insults/dragging/harassment like in France. I have the impression that there’s more freedom in terms of the length of women’s clothes here. That’s great! The perfect body is also relegated to second place, everyone seems to assume its curves and imperfections, it’s great!
Next to Levi’s is Sephora‘s store, less impressive than the one on the Champs-Elysees. There are similar products to Sephora Canada, you can read my article on cosmetics to bring back from the US here (the Canadian version is available here).
What particularly bothers us is the thermal shock as soon as we set foot in a store/building/subway. As in Asia, they set the air conditioning at 18°C I have the impression, so when we are sweating under 35°C, to take the air conditioning of 18°C requires to be in good health. In this heat, having the air conditioning is rather pleasant but they could set it lower, such temperature amplitudes all the time, nothing better to get sick. Luckily, our owner of Airbnb is stingy on air conditioning and only offers us a huge fan on the ceiling. And that suits us very well!
Difficult to get up early today. The heat makes me dumb & useless ahhaha I’m taking a long time to decide on the program while watching the weather forecast (it’s very hot in the morning and it rains in the afternoon). JB thinks I’m depressed because every question from him makes me sigh
In these moments, there isn’thing more exciting than to go to a former film location, which is, moreover, very close to home. Just the idea of going there makes me crazy with joy.
So at 11am we go to Katz’s Delicatessen (Katz’s Deli for connoisseurs), THE place where the mythical scene of the movie When Harry met Sally (quand Harry met Sally) was filmed – YouTube link. So, for those who have never seen her, Harry and Sally are having lunch in this restaurant / cantine, when Harry claims that none of his conquests have faked with him (and that he would have known it otherwise). Sally (his best girlfriend) gives him the live demo, faking the orgasm (in a good sound way) as convincingly as possible. The whole restaurant is silent, and the scene ends with an old lady at the next table saying “I’llhave what she‘s having”. Hilarious!
The restaurant looks like a huge canteen in its juice, which hasn’t changed for decades. We are offered either to sit at a table (and have a waiter), or to take the menu (and two tickets to keep absolutely because it serves as a means of payment later) and go order the different dishes directly at the counter. We chose the 2nd option (it’s more fun), and we did well, I’ll explain why.
We are behind an Australian woman and it is by listening to her ask the questions and order that we understand the rules of the game. There are several types of dishes: sandwiches, salads, grill… and you have to order each item in front of the right counter. There we are in front of the sandwich counter, and the game consists of asking for your sandwich and adding lots of options. We opted for the Pastrami sandwich with coleslaw and swiss cheese (about the same as the hero Harry). It says that we could ask for mayo “at our own risk”, we wondered why. In fact it’s just that the sandwich is so thick that you could get it everywhere. I recommend the mayo and mustard option. And while watching the neighbors asking for pickle, I also asked for pickle. This is the“Combo” option, we have a sandwich + a plate of pickled cucumbers +pickles.
While the chef prepares our custom sandwich, he offers us two pieces of pastrami (smoked beef) and ohlalala, how good is that !!! It looks a lot like the smoked meat we discovered in Canada, a Jewish specialty as well, but the pastrami is even better. Luckily we opted for a sandwich for two (considering the price, already) because the quantity is huge. Even for two, we had a lot of trouble to finish it.
From a distance, I spot the sign indicating the exact place where Meg Ryan (who played Sally) was for the shooting of the movie.
Self-service tables are on the right (and Meg Ryan’s table is one of them), and tables with servers are on the left. So by ordering by yourself, you’ll have a better chance of being able to sit at the movie table.
Luckily, we manage to find a place just behind the famous table. Honestly I’m so happy! We didn’t take the same sandwich as Sally (she took the turkey sandwich), but we liked ours.
Union Square: the name-dropping of boutiques
After 3 days in Washington DC burning under the sun despite my precautions (SPF 50+), I decide to aim higher and really opt for the best sunscreen in the universe, recommended by doctors to those who have to flee the sun like a plague: No Sun by Esthederm. This cream is French but to find it in New York, you have to do a lot of research. In addition, I use a acid toner right now, and with the heat and sunshine waiting for me in Miami, I’d rather be white as a vampire than get burned.
That’s when we went to the area around Union Square, and I found out that there are a lot of spas/dermatos/stores I know/have heard of in the area (thanks YouTube). It’s the place to be if you’re looking for a facial, or hard-to-find beauty products.
Attention, for NYC care, you must count at least 200$ + tips. So if you have a husband who’s less concerned about spending than JB, go for it!
- Rescue Spa: that’s where I found my Esthederm cream. They also sell products from Biologique Recherche (I talked about the P50 lotion here), offer high quality facial care
- Ling Skin Care Union Square: I’ve watched two videos about this spa, and I think it’s one of the only places where the manual massage is done and the blackhead removal is done cleanly. However, I don’t like the way the beautician criticizes all the skins to better sell her products behind.
- Union Square Laser Dermatology: where Shireene Idriss works, a famous New York dermatologist who specializes in cosmetic surgery (laser, botox, fillers) with very natural results. It’s not cheap but the advantage is that she looks very competent and she speaks French. I follow her on Instagram, she knows perfectly all the ingredients of cosmetics.
- THE OVUE: one of the many Korean cosmetics stores in the neighborhood (we are next to Korea Town), they sell many products that are difficult to find elsewhere than on the Internet, like COSRX, Pyunkang Yul, Heimish, Benton…
Of course, in the neighborhood, you can find some rather hype but expensive clothes stores, like Anthropologie, Aritzia, lululemon… but also Levi’s, Victoria’s Secret, 7 for all mankind… Contrary to Times Square, the stores are big but there are few people, making shopping very pleasant. Next door is the huge Barnes & Noble bookstore , for those who like to read.
After this long window-shopping walk, we resume our tourist activities by going to the Flatiron Building. Wikipedia explains better than me the origin of its particular shape:
The term “flatiron” means “iron”. Its characteristic shape is due to the intersection at this location of 5th Avenue with Broadway, which is the only avenue in New York City that does not respect the alignment plan with right-angled intersections of the other arteries. As a result, a spike building had to be constructed at the intersection. The Flatiron was one of the tallest skyscrapers in Manhattan when it was completed in 1902 but was never the tallest in the world
If you zoom in on the photo, there is a large poster on the building behind, representing a character that is embedded in the photo, moreover it is done on purpose because it is marked “Photo bomb”
We decide to take another walk along 5th Avenue to the New York City Library. A few years ago, its most beautiful reading room was under construction, but it has since been reopened.
Empire State Building
On the way, we come face to face with the Empire State Building.
Note : I’m trying to put a few more pictures of me on this blog, instead of uploading only JB’s pictures; otherwise you risk (1) forgetting that I exist (2) thinking that JB is egocentric (even though he doesn’t like me taking pictures of him)
We’ve already gone up to the top of this building so we’re skippering it this time. On the other hand, I can show you the pictures from 2015. We went there in the evening so we don’t have to wait in line. In general, the building is lit in white, but other colors can be used. In this case, we were there in 2015 during Columbus Day, hence the color blue.
Public Library of New York
The building itself is magnificent, but it is especially its reading room on the 3rd floor (3rd American floor = 2nd French floor) that is magnificent and makes the reputation of this library. Everyone can come and sit and read here, without subscription, without ID card… it’s the ideal coworking space (unless you have calls to make).
There are other reading rooms and exhibits of all kinds in the building, take the time to explore, especially if it rains.
Just behind the library is this nice park. The contrast with the skyscrapers next door makes it even more magical. There are plenty of tables and chairs available free of charge.
Right in front of the library is the DECIEM store, which sells products of the famous brand The Ordinary. In spite of the brand’s large collection, the place is almost empty. It’s very minimalist, like the brand’s philosophy, which relies on assets – without superfluous – for a price defying all competition. It’s the ideal gift (cheap – count 7$ and efficient) that you can take back to your girlfriends in France. A small bottle of AHA here, a bottle of HA there … and it’s good.
At the intersection of 49th Street and 6th Avenue
Other things to note: if you continue north, but take 6th Avenue :
- The Magnolia Bakery on 49th Street, where a scene from Sex and the City was shot, where Miranda and Carrie were eating a cupcake talking about Adan. I tested these cupcakes, which I found expensive, small and a bit dry. I didn’t want to re-test them in 2019
- Right in front of Magnolia Bakery is New York’s best Greek kebab/diet(Adel’s), the one that still makes us dream years later. Opt for a mixed plate, and let the magic happen! On 49th Street as well. There is a very pleasant fountain next door for a quiet meal.
Rockefeller Center & Top of the Rock
Next door is Rockefeller Center (take a look at its stores – Lego, among others – and if you come in December, look at the huge fir tree, which has appeared in many movies) – and its observatory Top of The Rock. Ditto, we went there in 2015 so I show you the old photos. The most: the view on Central Park & the Empire State Building.
The least: the wait, a bit long but bearable.
Continuation and end…
It’s starting to rain a bit, but we still want to go back to Times Square to see the discounted Broadway tickets offered by TKTS. All this trip has only cost us time and energy, because the shows offering discounted tickets are also posted on their website (and the show we want to see isn’t one of them). We might not have been able to travel. The only use would be to pass right in front of Macy’s (a department store, supposedly the biggest in the world), to take a picture and discover its (ugly) interior.
To reward us for all our sports efforts today (it must be said that it’s really hot!), we recharge our calories at Junior’s Bakery (which has several addresses in New York). Their cupcakes are very good and huge (as big as a muffin), while their cake is delicious (each slice is enough for 2 people). We opted for a piece of the Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake, $8.75. To fall down!
See also all our articles on the United States