New York with friends

When my friend Ina and I were in our early twenties, we made a pact: we would visit New York together before we turn thirty. This year, after many years of dreaming about it, we finally followed through with our pact. Ina’s boyfriend Daniel and my sister Pia joined us for an exciting week in the Big Apple. We booked our accommodation through AirBNB. Eight nights in a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn cost 1500 €.

This blog post is hard to write because New York makes me speechless. I can’t count the times I’ve been moved, delighted and amazed by this place. New York is hands down the most incredible city I have ever visited. I wish I’d come sooner.

I loved living in Brooklyn. We lived on the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Not only did this area have a cozy neighborhood feel to it, the views to Manhattan were incredible.
I loved living in Brooklyn – we stayed in an apartment on the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Not only did this area have a cozy neighborhood feel to it, the views to Manhattan were incredible.
Both day and night.
Both day and night.
I met John on my first day in New York and he instantly became part of our group. It was amazing to have a local show us the best parks to have a picnic and the best restaurants to eat pizza.
I met John in Brooklyn on my first day in New York and he instantly became part of our group. It was amazing to have a local show us the best parks to spend sunny afternoons and the best restaurants to eat pizza.

John also introduced me to Whole Foods. Oh. My. Goodness. I could write an entire blog post about this supermarket chain. Best store I have ever visited. Whole Foods has an unbelievably large variety of fresh food, the only problem is knowing when to stop filling your basket…

Whole Foods picnic at Washington Square Park.
Whole Foods picnic at Washington Square Park. At Whole Foods, you can fill boxes with whatever you want from the pay-by-weight deli and even grind your own peanut butter!
Besides Washington Square Park, we obviously visited Central Park, an important New York landmark.
Besides Washington Square Park, we obviously visited Central Park, an important New York landmark.
At Central Park, you can rent row boats for $15 / hour.
At Central Park, you can rent row boats for $15 / hour.
Central Park is also the optimal place to practice some acro yoga!
Central Park is also the optimal place to practice some acro yoga!
You can see squirrels running around in all New York parks. This fellow was hanging out at Union Square.
You can see squirrels running around in all New York parks. This fellow was hanging out at Union Square.
Every Saturday, a large Farmers Market is organized on Union Square.
Every Saturday, a large Farmers Market is organized at Union Square.
The colourful vegetables are a delight for the senses.
The colourful vegetables are a delight for the senses.
At Union Square, we were lucky enough to spot street performer / crazy person Matthew Silver! I'm so excited we saw him. This guy is legendary.
At Union Square, we were lucky enough to spot street performer Matthew Silver! I’m so excited we saw him. The man is a living legend.
Matthew Silver wants to be my child!
Matthew Silver calling me his mummy!
This guy could be seen walking around both Union Square and Washington Square Park. My inner hippie was extremely disappointed when he burst out: "The hug is free but the photo is by donation".
This guy could be seen walking around both Union Square and Washington Square Park. My inner hippie was extremely disappointed when he burst out: “The hug is free but the photo is by donation”.

New York is a massive city, and especially popular among tourists, so it’s easy to find a free walking tour. As the city is so big, the tours are usually built around a theme or a certain part of town. We participated in the SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown tour organized by Free Tours by Foot.

The tour started in Soho.
The tour started in SoHo.
On Manhattan, you can find a piece of Southern Europe in Little Italy.
You can find a piece of Southern Europe in Little Italy.
Then, just walk one block further, and you're in Chinatown!
Then, just walk a block further, and you’re in Chinatown!

Our tour guide recommended that we enter the Broadway Lottery. Many theatres organize raffles, where approximately 30 tickets are sold at a fraction of their normal cost. At the recommendation of our tour guide, we entered the raffle for the Wednesday matinée show of Kinky Boots. Usually, there are less people than tickets so basically everybody wins!  Tickets usually cost closer to $200, but by winning the raffle, you can purchase tickets for $37. Kinky Boots was one of the highlights of our week in New York – it was such a funny, spectacular and over-the-top show!

The designer in me really appreciates the beautiful signage in the New York subway stations.
The subway system in New York is huge with trains running 24/7. The best way to get around town is to buy an unlimited 7-day pass for $30.
Musician
At most of the subway stops you can see talented musicians entertaining commuters. Here’s a one man orchestra playing at the Union Square subway station.
Grand Central Station
Besides seeing many subway stations, we visited Grand Central Station, just to take in the atmosphere and marvel at the beautiful architecture.
Another gorgeous building that's free to visit is the New York Public Library.
Another gorgeous building that’s free to visit is the New York Public Library.
Everyday there is a free tour that goes around to many of the beautiful rooms.
Everyday there is a free tour that goes around the library to many of its beautiful rooms.
This man stood on the steps of the Public Library all day long.
This man stood on the steps of the Public Library all day long.
I love people watching in New York. Every single person looks different. I just feel like going up to everybody and asking them to tell me their life story.
I love people watching in New York. Every single person looks different. I just feel like going up to everybody and asking them to tell me their life story.
People watching is especially fun in Williamsburg, the hub of hipsters and Mac computers.
People watching is especially fun in Williamsburg, the hub of hipsters with Mac computers.
Every Sunday, the Brooklyn Smorgasburg is organized at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5. This event brings together hundreds of different vendors, and you can buy all kinds of food from the stalls.
Every Sunday, the Brooklyn Smorgasburg is organized at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5. This event brings together hundreds of different vendors, and you can buy all kinds of food from the stalls.
At Pier 5, you have good views to Manhattan while eating your snack.
At Pier 5, you have good views to Manhattan while eating your snack.
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the bridges connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn. The walk over the bridge takes about 25 minutes.
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the bridges connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn. The walk over the bridge takes about 25 minutes.
WTC
One World Trade Center is the tallest building in USA. It stands on the site of the original World Trade Center destroyed in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Memorial
A memorial has been created where the Twin Towers used to stand. Visiting the memorial was so much tougher than I thought. Seeing these names and realising that they were someone’s husband, mother, brother, child, had me in tears.
There are tons of museums in New York and most of them are donation based, so it's up to you to decide how much you want to support the arts. We only had time to visit the American Museum of Natural History. It was the greatest museum I have ever visited. Besides interesting exhibitions, it was fun to spot characters from the movie Night at the Museum!
There are tons of museums in New York and most of them are donation based, so it’s up to you to decide how much you want to support the arts. We only had time to visit the American Museum of Natural History. It was the best museum I have ever visited and it’s so big, I feel like you could spend days there. Besides interesting exhibitions, it was fun to spot characters from the movie Night at the Museum!
Halloween was just around the corner and you could see pumpkins and decorations around the city.
Halloween was just around the corner and you could see pumpkins and decorations around the city.
Times Square is a busy (and very touristy) area with spectacular lights that will blind you - especially at night.
Times Square is a busy (and very touristy) area with spectacular lights that will blind you – especially at night.
For a bit calmer evening, walk The High Line - a 2 km long park built on an old railway elevated above the city.
For a much calmer evening, walk The High Line – a 2 km long park built on an old railway elevated above the city.
From the very South end of Manhattan, you can catch a free ferry to Staten Island.
From the very South end of Manhattan, you can catch a free ferry to Staten Island.
There isn't much to see on the island, but the ferry ride provides great views to the Statue of Liberty.
There isn’t much to see on the island, but the ferry ride provides great views to the Statue of Liberty.
New York is everything I ever imagined and a hundred times more. I had planned to travel around during the four weeks I'm spending in USA, but I think magical New York deserves the majority of my time here.
New York is everything I ever imagined and a hundred times more. I had planned to travel around during the four weeks I’m spending in USA, but I think magical New York deserves the majority of my time here.
Thanks a lot everyone!
Thanks for a fun week everyone!

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