Travel Dates: August 10-17, 2012
While I find travelling to new cities by yourself a ton of fun, there’s nothing quite like having a native show you around to ensure that you don’t end up in a foreign ditch somewhere. That and also being in a city, like New York, where everything is built on a simple grid of streets and avenues. It makes getting around easy for even the most directionally challenged human being (aka me).
DC is actually a transplant from Vancouver, but he’s lived in Manhattan long enough to kick it like any other New Yorker. He kindly agreed to show me around the city on the only Saturday I’d be spending there. The only caveat was that we couldn’t go to any tourist sites because I had planned to visit all those things with my friend, Natasha, who was arriving from Vancouver in a few days.
So, what’s left to see when you cut out the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, etc? Plenty, as it turns out.
Saturday started out muggy and cloudy, but the sun intermittently showed its shine as we went on a walking tour of the city. Well, first, DC showed me what was in the area around his apartment so I knew where to go for food, drinks, toilet paper, and pretty much anything else I may need to survive while he was at work (or if the zombie apocalypse occurred).
DC lives in Hell’s Kitchen and from there, it was just a ten-minute walk to Times Square, which was surprisingly roomy given that there weren’t that many tourists milling about. I suppose Times Square isn’t really as impressive without all the lights on, but that didn’t mean the billboards weren’t still visible in broad daylight.
We spent the next hour and a half walking around the NYC, passing by sights like Bryant Park (it’s right behind the New York Public Library), the Empire State Building, the Flat Iron Building, and the flagship Barnes and Nobles store.
One of the awesome things about this city is that everywhere you go, there’s always something to see and do. Like this cool piece of street art:
And this farmer’s market by Union Square:
Another fantastic thing about NYC? FOOD TRUCKS. They’re everywhere. Like the Gorilla Cheese NYC Truck, which was number one on my list of must-try trucks while I was in New York City. And lucky me, it happened to be parked in front of DC’s bank, which we had coincidentally been making our way towards.
Ever since seeing this truck on an episode of Eat St. on the Food Network, I couldn’t stop dreaming about the grilled cheese sandwich possibilities. There were so many choices! I ended up going for the pulled pork sandwhich. It’s two slices of wheat bread filled to the brim with succulent, spicy-sweet BBQ pulled pork, flavourful smoked gouda, and grilled onions that rounded out the party in my mouth.
I would’ve gotten dessert, too (the Smores dessert melt sounded delish), but DC and I were on our way to the Smorgasburg Food Festival in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Yes, you read that right. Food Festival. In Brooklyn.
Cue the Jay-Z.
KB Travel Tip: I definitely recommend setting aside some time during your first two days in a new city to get your bearings. Whether you’re staying with a friend or at a hotel by yourself, knowing where to go for not only food, drinks, and weapons to combat zombies with, but in case of emergency is super important.
Do you have a first-day-in-a-new-city ritual? Share your story in the comments below – I’d love to hear ‘em!