Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The American Dream

Back in September I got to visit New York City for work. I get to go to the Big Apple frequently enough, though I'm hoping it becomes more frequent and eventually permanent! I went for a work conference that I really only had to set up for, so then I had the week to do as I pleased. I did some business networking for both our interpreting company and also visited some yoga studios hoping to make connections for my future teaching jobs. The rest of the time I walked and ate and walked and ate, enjoyed the city life, and spent time with amazing people. Since I've been to New York many times, I don't really see the tourist sites every time. My favorite things to do are just regular city people stuff, a lot of walking that I can't do in Houston, people watching, trying out all the great restaurants and just being in the middle of "it all". I'd like to give you advice on both ends, the city life and the tourist spots, too, because you HAVE to do them at least once. And even I like to go back to the museums every so often because it makes me feel artsy and inspired. 

I started off my week with a speed networking event through NYCgo I was invited to because we are company members, but even if you're not going to do business with them, the website is probably the best place to go to find things to do, see, and eat. It may even help you do it cheaper!

My first night there, I took myself on a wonderful dinner date at Josie's East Side. There were about a dozen things I wanted to try on the menu but ended up with the Veggie Deluxe plate. They also bring out the greatest bread and a pumpkin hummus to hold you over! The food was amazing and abundant and I felt like a scene straight out of "Eat Pray Love", and if you haven't seen it, it was me, myself, and I, in a bubble of food induced bliss. I give this 5 stars! Unfortunately I didn't have room for dessert but they had many dairy free options I would like to go back and get. 

This is straight from Veggiegirl's website. But hers appears to be missing the fried rice mine came with. So picture this + fried rice + grainy bread and hummus = fullness. 

My dad met me there and we went back to our hotel, Murray Hills Suites. I travel to NY a lot, and always stay here. It's a fantastic location and all the rooms have little kitchens. Quite the ideal situation. This place was recommended to us by an Argentinean friend, and I've noticed in my stays there that half the clientele are visiting from Argentina. I guess this place has just been recommended by word of mouth or through Argentinean travel sites. I just find it random and funny. 

I made sure to visit Chelsea Market this time since I had never been. I really liked it! It has a bunch of little shops and coffee places, a mini grocery store, Italian specialty store, a couple of cupcake places, and restaurants. Not to mention free Wifi where I played with my new to me, but oldest version ever made of the I-touch. 


Directly north of Chelsea Market, there's a staircase that leads you to The High Line. This is a beautiful park and garden on a raised platform. It was originally built for freight traffic in the 1930's to allow trains to go over the center of city blocks rather than the avenue. You can read all about the history and view more photos on the website. It's all very interesting and I actually did not know any of this at the time. I did still enjoy it and am very glad that Kate, my blogger turned "in person" friend, recommended I go see it after the market. It's a long walkway lined with a variety of fauna, and has large wooden benches and "recliner" type seats for locals and visitors to lay out in the sun and relax. Quite pleasant! 

Rocking my city style boots on the High Line

Speaking of "nature" type places in the midst of the big city, we can't envision New York without talking about THE park. I mean Central Park. This is one of the most important trademarks of the city- known worldwide, exhibited in dozens...no, probably hundreds, of movies. And it's huge. And beautiful. And fun. It has anything you could want, gardens, food, trails, the New York Zoo, tennis courts, and a variety of other fitness options, playgrounds, museums, lakes, etc. September provided me with the perfect weather for getting lost on its trails, but I've also been in summer when everything is in bloom, and in winter when we were able to sled down the hills. Many of the museums can also be found on the upper East side of the park. The only one I stopped into this time was the Museum of the City of New York to see an interesting exhibit on the most notorious women of the last century. I'm not sure how long it was supposed to go on, but it's worth checking out if you have any interest in history and culture. 

Upper east side, or at least northern Midtown on the east side is also where I found the greatest restaurant ever, Good Health Cafe. It's super simple but delicious food. Very vegan friendly, and was able to satisfy both my healthy vegan tastes and the pickiest meat and potatoes Argentineans. I introduced my other blogger friend Maggie to this place and I think it's become a favorite for her. She's now written a couple of reviews on it, too. I definitely plan on going back since I have to try almost every thing on the menu. Even my parents, who are in New York this week, have gone back! I'm jealous. Maggie also took me to another macrobiotic/ Asian style place called Souen in the East Village. This place was amazing too. 

I'll get back to my New York guide in a sec, but I couldn't talk about the city without mentioning these new great friends Maggie and Kate because they are both talented writers, and awesome people. I realize we have mostly "online" friendships, but they have made me even more excited to eventually move to New York. Unfortunately, life in Houston keeps pushing my moving date back, but I'll get there soon and I'm so looking forward to it! 

So back to New York. There's just so much to do, I'm overwhelmed and can't figure out how to tell it all! Especially without writing a novel that no one will read. I'll get speedier from here on out. 

There's Union Square, right around NYU. I love that whole area. It's obviously very much for my younger age group, has a lot of shopping, coffee shops, restaurants, and so on (what area of the city doesn't?). One of my favorite places of all time is the Union Square Farmer's Market. The produce is pricey of course, but it's just beautiful to look at, and since I don't live there and I'm usually just buying a few pieces of fruit for immediate snacking, I don't mind. I'm also in love with the Body and Soul Bakery stand. This is my second trip to New York where I've stopped by this stand to buy several of their baked, all vegan, all scrumptious, goods. They have savory pies, muffins, cookies, and scones. I had a pear and thyme scone, and a sweet potato muffin with dried apricots. Both were perfect in my opinion, and I'm very hard to please when it comes to baked goods. 

Sorry, the photo is stolen from the internet because I was too lazy to carry a camera. 

From there, I walked through the East Village to China Town so I could cross through Canal Street. There was a street festival going on so it was packed with people, food stands, all kinds of Asian grocery stores, restaurants, stores, and sights and smells. It's chaotic in a good way. 

I was able to try out two yoga studios in the city. One was Mang'Oh Yoga, which happened to be just a few block from my hotel on the East Side. I took a vinyasa class from Randi and LOVED it! The studio is small but nice with a warm and friendly atmosphere, and nice sitting room in the front. Randi was a great teacher and not only guided us through a challenging flow but was really able to tie in some important life lessons to think about. She was really great at seamlessly weaving together the movements and meditation, and that is really the kind of yoga teacher I aspire to be! She recommended I read "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali". So I'm really looking forward to that and may write a recap after. I would definitely go back to this place and even apply for a job if one is available by the time I get there. 

The other place I checked out was Exhale spa's Central Park location. I saw they had vinyasa yoga classes but I actually took a Corefusion class. It was tough but I really liked it! The spa has several locations and I know the Corefusion method has several dvd's that are really popular in the fitness world. I would also come back here and try out all their classes, and spa services. The whole place was beautiful and had all kinds of fancy amenities that I was free to play with. The prices were surprisingly average/ low end for the place/ quality/ and location. If you live in the area you should go! 

After my week in the city, I spent a night in Brooklyn with a friend. I had never been and up until now have been skeptical about the idea of maybe having to live in Brooklyn, but I totally loved it! It's so cute, filled with cafe's, bars, parks, kid friendly activities, a farmer's market, beautiful waterfront views of the city, and really fun arts stores and vintage shops. I really need to go back and explore some more so I'll hold off on too much Brooklyn information, but it's worth the 10-15 minute subway ride. Maybe I'll get my friend to write a special post for the blog :) 

I get another chance to go back to New York in a couple of weeks so feel free to share any of your own New York stories or recommendations! I also always love getting to meet new people so if I haven't met you in person, or even if I have, and you'll be in the area, let me know! 



Katie said...

Isn't the bread and spread at Josie's divine?! It's my favorite part! They also serve a yummy coffee cake and spread at brunch (and, er, Bloody Marys and Mimosas!).

I'll have to check out Good Health Cafe after your rave review.

Hope to see you soon!

Maggie @ Say Yes to Salad said...

I MUST must must go try Josie's now. So good to see you :) And now I will get to see you again!

Maggie @ Say Yes to Salad said...

P.S. I love your new blog layout, I odn't know if I commented about it before!

Maggie @ Say Yes to Salad said...

P.P.S. I just got back from Josie's and got exactly what you got. That cornbread is YUM!

Gaby said...

woah! Cornbread? I must try this, I think they have different choices each time, I had a honey wheat seedy type bread. But I'll definitely go back with you next week!
And thanks for the compliment, I really need to update this more and make it more presentable!