In April of 2017 all four of us could be found visiting the Nation’s Capital…(https://behindthecamerasnaps.com/2017/04/27/washington-dc/)
By April of 2018, however, we thought we were ready for the big city…
So New York, here we came. <3
Arriving in the city streets just about lunch time on a beautiful Friday afternoon, we were immediately in search of some food. In Brooklyn and waiting for check-in at our AirBnB, I couldn’t stop laughing, my red-head took the camera, and our friend Jon had a big secret.
Google had led us all the way around the corner about a block to Wafas Express. It’s a small home-style restaurant serving Lebanese Food, giving off a Mother’s kitchen vibe. That statement can easily be confirmed (if you had a doubt), by her son who took our order.
Home-made pitas and fries go a long way, and our bellies were equally satisfied as we held them in our hands and slowly headed out the door.
The AirBnB choices were interesting to choose from in a place like New York. I struggled, but did find a nice quaint apartment in Williamsburg. It’s 2-blocks from the L-Train Subway. It was small, but all you need. And not to mention it was conveniently located to everything.
Before arriving, you always have that vision in your head of what it’s all going to be like, what you’re going to do, and how you want to dress, etc. This is 100% a girl thing but 3 pairs of shoes in my carry-on later, I had thought I was ready and prepared for the Big Apple.
So we walked the two blocks to the L-Train and hopped the Subway over into the middle of everything and I learned very quickly on a Friday night at 5pm in the middle of Time’s Square that this was not going to be at all what I had imagined (usually happens this way)….
So many people. And I just was not used to the hustle and the bustle. I’m a southern girl who smiles and waves at everyone. And I was here to bring that charm to the city of big dreams and bright lights. Immediately shocked by the cities way of living, I had to take a step back to fully take it all in – in my own kind of way.
The Subway was full of ears with headphones, books in hands, eyes pointed downwards, and no smiles, no southern hello waves. Looking back on it now, I’m not so sure if I’d be exactly smiling, and/or giving friendly cheers to people on the Subway after a long day at the office. I know that because, I’m very rarely doing the same as I leave the office now, in my own car. Work is work. People are people. The Subway wasn’t going to change any of that.
Our first destination once freed from the underground world was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
If you want to have a panic attack, I suggest doing this on a Friday night, around 5pm. Try not to get hit by your fellow cyclist, but watch out for the group of 15 tourists ahead that are completely stopped in the middle of the walkway. The last thing I want to do is be like the tourists, but I really wanted to see this damn bridge. And there it was in all its glory standing tall, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn, and well-known for being the oldest roadway bridge in the U.S..
My first impression of the city was not at all what I had expected and I started to realize that I was getting negative about it. This isn’t what you were hoping to read, either, but I urge you to stay tuned because I do finally ease my way into this environment and enjoy the city for what it truly is: full of dreams.
So, here we were in Time’s Square…
In a matter of 60-seconds you will see everything and everyone from all races, backgrounds, and economic status. I saw young kids by themselves walking with book bags, to young kids by themselves in a corner shaking and out of their mind. You see these things in every city across the globe, but here in THE city, you see it condensed, up close, and hidden in the corners of the sidewalk.
The tourists populate the streets of Times Square more than anyone, and I would only suggest this as a heads up if you didn’t already know – keep your possessions in check. The center city is full of hungry people. It can be sad, upsetting, and very crowded.
I am only here to tell the experience as it truly was for me – and it was completely eye opening. Where I’m from we drive freely on the streets without really knowing what “traffic” is. When we do encounter traffic, we get so mad and frustrated that if we sit still on the freeway for 20 minutes, the world just may in fact, end. In New York, however, you’re just better off walking because driving doesn’t exist. You pay no regard to stop lights and being aggressive is the only way to get anywhere.
As we made our way through this magical place of flashing lights and car horn beeps, we were on a mission to find the Lyceum Theatre in Manhattan. There, we would see a Broadway play correctly named – The Play That Goes Wrong.
It was amazing, hilarious, perfectly acted, and those that designed the set are a complete genius. I was feeling the mood as we left and headed to the first bar of the night: can’t tell you the name because it’s still a blur, but I do have a picture of the ceiling…
The night came to an end at some point (still unsure of the details here?) – we made our way back to the beds, and slept off the booze in preparation for the Saturday that lay ahead.
Remember, Jon had a secret.
Always looking for something to eat, as soon as we woke up, we made our way to the streets in search of the perfect brunch spot. After some searching and review checking we came across Harefield Road. Conveniently located via about 20 minutes walking through Brooklyn, we had arrived and enjoyed sipping coffee by the window while we waited for a table.
Something to note about brunch in NY — a meal typically comes with a Mimosa or Bloody Mary. So on this bright and sunny Saturday morning, we all cheered our glasses in a toast to the day ahead, and devoured the meal that was so delightfully placed before us.
The day was to be consisted of exploring the city, and that we did indefinitely. I felt confident and ready take on the streets now that I had spent my first night inside. Walking through Brooklyn on this day, I grabbed my first smile from the passerby. And another smile, and a wave, and a “hey how’s it going?” came next.
That’s the moment I fell in love with New York, the moment Brooklyn opened up to me. In that moment I knew there was something special behind the grime and gritty streets – and there it was as plain as day: a heart.
I now rode the Subway like a champ, swung around the poles like a star, and enjoyed watching the talent come in and present itself to us. Guys were dancing, rapping, and speaking poetry. It was magical and some of the realist forms of self-expression that I don’t get to see often, if at all, hardly ever. They had something to say and so they said it. Others complimented them, some ignored them, some went on their way smiling. I saw it in his eyes, he felt better after having spoke out loud to a crowd expressing his feelings. I saw a passion for something and that right there is why New York is the city of dreams.
Taking to the streets, a different perspective, I found myself falling in love over and over again. The fashion, the shoes, the way everyone wore leather coats and boots. The way every block entailed a new scene and it seemed as though, there would never be a dull moment or a lack of things to do here.
We made our first stop of the day at The 9/11 Memorial.
Being in a place filled with so many emotions can be hard. I remember exactly where I was the moment September 11, 2001 happened, and I will never forget it either. Being here years later still doesn’t change the feelings I had as a 14 year old girl in her first months of High School watching everything unfold on the TV. Something like this makes you more aware of what this city has actually been through, and how they have recovered and come together in the years following tragedy. This city is strong… stronger than any other.
We didn’t say much while we were here, and the mood was quite calming and reminiscent. The memorial in itself is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking.
We continued on and I snapped some pictures while walking through the streets.
Wall Street was hilarious as we waited to jump in and grab our famous “RAGING BULL” picture. Most of the pictures above I have no idea where we actually were in relation to Manhattan, but I’m pretty sure that’s where we were…
It’s huge. We did so much walking that my feet hurt for a few days afterwards. We used our cell phones for directions to places we wanted to see, and the streets are all numbers, I mean how am I supposed to keep up with all of this??
Making our way into Central Park, we let Jon and Cora take the lead and we hung back as they laughed and walked… finally catching up to them where we all sat down on a rock to take a break.
I casually looked to my right and suddenly realized Jon had let the secret out, and Cora had no idea…
She said YES, of course. And it couldn’t have happened more perfectly. We made them reenact it so we could grab some real photos of the special moment.
While Cora was still in disbelief that she actually just got engaged – we all adjusted our sunglasses as to not be blinded by the bling and moved on towards the John Lennon Memorial.
John Lennon was shot and killed walking into his apartment adjacent to the memorial in Central Park in 1980. He was a peace activist, Beatles singer, and still a huge icon to many today. Seeing his memorial was special to me because of what he stood for: he just wanted love.
He died fighting for it.
We frolicked around some more, taking more photos and made our way to The Penny Farthing so we could get something out of the way… A TOAST OF CELEBRATION to our little lover birds.
The hunger soon began to strike and we had just the person to visit: DAVID.
David is a friend from NC who currently lives in New York with the job of HAIR GOD to the hair of women that grace covers of top magazines (aka he’s an amazing hair stylist).
David is a big deal, but mostly because I love him so much. We were welcomed into his apartment sitting high in the East Village and he cooked us a warm, home-cooked meal and it set the tone for the night as we continued to cheers Champagne and laugh together.
This was my favorite part of New York – being in his life, even if just for a few short hours before we had to jet. There’s nothing like someone opening their doors to you in a place of unknown and making you feel at HOME. David did just that and it was such a pleasure to sit around a table with everyone after the exciting news of Jon and Cora’s engagement.
We filled our stomachs just enough before heading back to freshen up and make our way to the dinner made for Kings. That’s right, we had reservations at 10:30pm for 4 at Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn.
This day couldn’t have gone any better.
We each threw down a little over $100 bucks as we finished up and honestly, I didn’t think twice about it. That dinner was the best meal I’ve EVER HAD. Hands down. I’d spend that money again, I’d do it in a heartbeat, too.
Grabbing our bellies and adjusting our vision as all of the Champagne and Wine had started to kick in, we actually went to bed before midnight on our last night in the city.
Bags in tow, we hit the streets early the next morning in search of pizza, and The Empire State Building. Finding both rather easily, we enjoyed our Sunday goofing off and saying our farewells to the big and wild city of New York.
The pizza came from Joe’s Pizza (there are a couple of locations), and it was a great experience to eat a slice out front on the street while we watched the people pass by.
We found our way to the High Line, which is a 1.45 mile long elevated greenway trail created from the former New York Central Railroad. It provided great views of the city and was a nice walk as the day was just absolutely gorgeous.
It was here that I saw the tip – the tip of The Empire State Building that is. Making our way back to the streets we followed them until the magical 1,250 foot tall building made its appearance into my vision.
A special reason why I wanted so badly to see The Empire State Building has a lot to do with my home, Winston Salem. You see, the Reynolds Building sits on 4th street in downtown Winston Salem standing 314-feet tall. The same architects Shreve, Lamb and Harmon that designed The Empire State Building, designed the Reynolds Building too, just a few years prior. They are drawn from the same designs, but obviously on a much different scale.
“Every year the staff of the Empire State Building sends a Father’s Day card to the staff at the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem to pay homage to its role as predecessor to the Empire State Building.”
My home has ties to New York, and I can’t help but to feel special everyday as I grace the streets of Winston Salem, looking up at this building.
From my city, to THE CITY, it all came together and connected.
As we stumbled back into Times Square for the last time, taking the city in for what the city really is, I realized that no matter the location, HOME is where you make it. I had a really great couple of friends by my side, and was able to break through the evil front that New York puts on when you first walk in. You know, New York is just protecting its heart because there’s a lot of pain here – so maybe in a sense, New York is just making sure you’re here for the right reasons. Maybe there are no right reasons to come here, but I do know that I left full of love and that’s a reason enough.
Stopping in Lillie’s Victorian Establishment for lunch, we ate a delicious meal while enjoying the place practically to ourselves.
Catching a cab moments later towards the airport, we left with some memories, and much, much more than that. Another year of tradition in the books for the four of us and we were already planning for next year.
The fact that New York has been through so much crime, terror, and absolute distress doesn’t take away from the fact that New York is also deep down so full of love. The city masks itself in the hustle and bustle of everyday life but inside is a world of art, a world of hope, a world full of dreams and more importantly, a world full of people – just living life.
We can’t forget that as we visit other places – we can’t forget the people. Those people are you, those people are me. Those people are love… and so the morale to this story is simple: Don’t judge a city by its cover.
I love you, New York. Thanks for showing me your heart.
Broadway play: http://www.broadwaygoeswrong.com/
All the Foods: