New York State of mind

There are perks to having a 17-year-old brother who models. One of them: a free trip to New York. 

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Having been to NYC once before, I made the most of my weekend there while my brother worked, trying to do things aside from the regular tourist attractions which I’d seen a couple of years before.

vintage stores, cafés with amazing coffee, pop-up boutiques, bars and interesting restaurants

Where to stay:

Recently becoming a magnet for the young New Yorkers, Williamsburg in Brooklyn is a much better place to stay than Manhattan. Classic fire-escape-lined buildings and plenty of subways, you can experience living in New York city without the stress and noise of Manhattan.

There are a plethora of vintage stores, cafés with amazing coffee, pop-up boutiques, bars and interesting restaurants to try out near Bedford Avenue, and there’s also Nitehawk Cinema – featuring a full menu brought to you while you’re watching one of their independent films.

Where to eat:

Swaying away from typical Philly cheese steak sandwiches, Champs vegan diner offers a creative alternative to the meat-based diner norm, without being too pretentious. I’m not a vegan myself but it was the nearest diner to our apartment, and it was delicious!

The quaint Café Mogador in both Williamsburg and East Village is a friendly place to get brunch (get the French toast!) and chat with the locals while having a read of the New York Times.

After a wander over the high-line, Chelsea Market’s food court parades a huge array of fresh food choices: noodle bowls, sushi, smoothies, coffee, pastries, lobster and pretty much anything else you can think of. I challenge you to decide on what you want in under 30 minutes. Believe me, it’s hard.

For a treat, City Bakery just off 5th Avenue is a must.

A foodie’s dream – every February they host a hot chocolate festival, in which they feature a different obscure hot chocolate flavour a day, such as banana peel, bourbon or chilli pepper. And if you thought it couldn’t get any better, they top it with one of their famous homemade giant marshmallows.

What to do:

watch the hubbub of the yellow taxis from a peaceful, tree lined promenade as you eat your lunch you picked up from Chelsea Market.

Although I was lucky enough to stay in and get to NYC for free, I’m still a student, and I still wanted to find ways to save money. Luckily, I discovered that MoMA – The Museum of Modern Art – have free openings every Friday.

It’s right in the centre of Midtown and it is definitely worth seeing, with several rooms to explore filled with strange and beautiful art.

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I loved how this painting resembles Picasso’s Guernica 

Of course, there is the High Line, which is free and open all day. It has stunning views down the centre of the streets: you can watch the hubbub of the yellow taxis from a peaceful, tree lined promenade as you eat your lunch you picked up from Chelsea Market.

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Even better, it is lined with anti-Trump street art. Speaking of which, next to Trump Tower (the dark building in the rear of the photo) I discovered an ironic advert placement:

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Bringing a student card is an essential: museum entry prices are almost halved. As a Spanish student, I was keen to see what New York had to offer in terms of museums.

El Museo del Barrio did not disappoint, with rooms full of films of Puerto Rican jungles and Haitian spoken word. Next door is the Museum of the City of New York which I – luckily – got a free ticket for.

In here there are a number of fantastic rooms to explore, from interactive photography displays that tour you around New York’s boroughs and allow you to design streets, to an exhibition named ‘Gay Gotham’ that feature Andy Warhol and multiple rooms teaching you about New York’s port, commercial and activist history.

This time, wander through Central Park just opposite the museums, and sit on one of their ‘adopted’ benches to enjoy your lunch while people-watching.

Using your MetroCard, a cable car to Roosevelt Island will only set you back a couple of dollars and it’s totally worth it for the amazing views of the skyscrapers from the island. The tense moment when you are almost touching the tops of the taxis and cars on the street below only adds to the experience.

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Once there, hunt for the abandoned smallpox hospital, a haunting relic of New York’s forgotten past.

In a jam-packed city, sight-seeing around New York by myself could easily have been a lonely experience. However, the people couldn’t have been more friendly and I couldn’t have had a better time.

If you get the chance to fly to New York (and Norwegian Airlines do much cheaper flight deals!), try and see different things in the city. It really adds to the experience, making for great memories.


Originally posted on Epigram

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