5 Things To Do In New York

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New York, New York! Sorry, all the emotional, sing your hear out cliché and then more some. Except hopefully I can show you a few things to do that might not necessarily be the most obvious…

Thanks to the Conrad team and their Director of Inspitation Nilou Motamed – I know, job title goals – I got to experience their tailored to each city Stay Inspired programme (accessible through the app) which gives you ideas for 1,3, and 5 hour experiences in the city… But before we start, here’s a little peek at where I stayed, at the Conrad New York hotel in the Financial District right by the Hudson River – yes, I could actually see a minuscule Statue of Liberty out of my window… 

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The Conrad lobby looking up…

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Gearing up for my first day with power-packed granola and berries
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Room with a skyscraper view…

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Walk The High Line

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst off, and this felt like exactly the right thing to do on my very first day in New York, we set off to walk the High Line, a disused cargo railway line turned into a walkway above the city, full of greenery and great views from its elevated vantage point – see my first New York post about it here. In sum, it can take about a hour at a leisurely meander, but faster if you’re setting a pace. I loved this as it was a great way to get a feel for the city, checking out all the amazing buildings and street art along the way, as well as a little tunnelled market. You end up in the Meatpacking District where you can super easily segue into checking out the Whitney modern art collection…

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Mohair errvrywhere!

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Wisdom…
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Ending up in the Meatpacking District…
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Nattering away with New York blogger & You Tuber Justin
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The famous Times Square kiss in mural…

See Some Art 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe newly relocated Whitney Museum of Modern Art (between the High Line and the Hudson River) is as short or as long an experience as you want to make it. A fantastic, mind-blowing visual smorgasbaord of colour, shape and ideas spanning twentieth century and contemporary art. Although I must admit we spent quite a of time too hanging out on the brilliant outdoor, metal-grated terrace looking down on visitors on the levels below, looking out to the incredible cityscape. My main regret was not sitting down for a coffee in the cafe before spending more time trawling the art. We also visited contemporary Leila Heller Gallery in Chelsea, where we saw artwork inspired by the troubles in the Middle East.

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Admiring acrylic on canvas by American Modernist artist Morris Louis on the Whitney’s 7th floor… (Saddle bay by Sandqvist)
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Smash cut to Chelsea gallery Leila Heller Gallery
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Lived in these Topshop straight legged jeans practically the whole trip…
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Couldn’t stop photographing the Whitney view…
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The amazing Whitney terrace…

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The inspirational Director of Inspiration (dream title, right?) Nilou

Eat Somewhere Different

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhere do you start with eating in New York? With restaurants open til way past midnight (wondering whether you can find somewhere to eat at 10pm is just not an issue) and cafés and brassieries at practically every turn, your best bet is to rely on recommendations. Which is exactly how we ended up getting a snapshot of different parts of the city, eating super delicious food.

First up was Balthazar, a New York institution – opened in 1997 – I’d say akin to London’s The Ivy. Decked with original Paris bistro mirrors, home to many a celeb (a favourite with Anna Wintour as she divulges in her 73 Questions vid!) and colourful characters holding up the bar! The star of the night had to be the French menu’s exquisite execution of snails, moules frite and the steak and chips. The buzz was high and was clearly going to outlast our visit by quite a few hours. 

The next evening we dined at Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem, in the basement below the renowned Red Rooster. A roaring success by Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised celebrity chef and restauranteur Marcus Samuelsson with a speakeasy vibe in the basement bar replete with jazz band. We tucked into the most divine ribs, soulful macaroni cheese and cholesterol boosting donut puddings – comfort food heaven. 

Just as much an institution but in the Lower East Side is the Russ & Daughters cafe. A Jewish family-run comfort food (can you see a theme emerging here?) deli, which opened a cafe last year due to high demand, the bagels, salmon and toppings menu have gone down a treat and this was one I couldn’t stop myself from packing in as much as possible! Loved this, a real New Yorker experience. 

Actually part of our DUMBO, Brooklyn tour (see the next bit!) Atrium is a French American restaurant just by Brooklyn Bridge. Beautifully decked out, I would have happily photographed forever, had we not to sit down and eat! I had an amazing mushroom soup followed by goat’s wrap and a delicious crumble.

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Wrap at Brooklyn’s Atrium…
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Snails at Balthazar – so good!
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Heading to Harlem…
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Salmon boards at Russ & Daughters…

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Our group at Atrium

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Take a Walking Tour of Brooklyn

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetWalking being probably my favourite way to discover a city, the BQE walking tour of DUMBO, Brooklyn was right up my street. Hosted by quick-talking, super-knowledgeable and full of jokes local John Garay, it felt great to be plunged into this part of town’s history and architecture; in case you’re wondering DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Overpass; originally a ferry and industrial area, then developed into an upscale residential and commercial community becoming an haven for artists and galleries, now more about the tech companies. With loads of amazing street art (see work by Frank Shepherd Fairey and Yuko Shimizu below ) to the movie favourite Manhattan Bridge archway, getting right up close to Brooklyn Bridge, visiting one of the area’s remaining artists in his home-cum-studio and jewellery shop and makers Thea Grant Design (where I got a brass bracelet moment stamped) the tour was plentiful and rich with content. I can’t begin to tell you how many photos I took, ahem. We also stopped by the Brooklyn Coffee Co, where they grind and roast on site and finished up with a great lunch at Atrium for delicious eats.

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I was in the mood! Sunnies by Taylor Morris via Beach Cafe

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The famous Manhattan Bridge archway used in many movies – Once Upon a Time In America and Vanilla Sky among others!

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This view from the artist’s studio we visited…
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Grinding & roasting at Brooklyn Coffee Co
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This dark roast put hairs on my chest!
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Amazing artist studio space…
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Scarf lifesaver by Lily and Lionel
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Jewellery designer Thea Grant’s studio
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My bracelet being stamped…

Walk Up Bleecker Street To Nolita

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAgain with the walking! I had a coffee date with an old pal in Lolita (this was my favourite part of the city shops wise and I’m putting together a little mini guide of all my favourite places) so I decided to walk the 40 minutes from the Meatpacking District north up Bleecker Street which turned out to be a great decision. Fire-escape fronted buildings everywhere (I could do a whole post with all the pics I took of these), loads of great designer-y shops to spy along the way, ending up in a brilliant quadrant of streets which basically felt like my spiritual home (think of Shoreditch’s Redchurch Street multiplied). But again walking my way through these streets was truly rewarding and with Google Maps to hand (sad to say, but how I coped in life before this, I do not know) I was able to plough ahead in the unknown with confidence. And also charge back speedily for my airport taxi on my last day, powering through Chinatown and the like!

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Leaving the Meatpacking District
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Fire escape obsessed!
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Deli emporium along the way…
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Eyeing up Justin’s cute little Pen in black…

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A huge thank you to Conrad New York for hosting me and introducing me to New York with their Stay Inspired #Conrad135 programme, it was perfect. 

Stayed tuned for my next New York instalment A Mini (Mainly Shopping) Guide To Nolita, New York…

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6 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh! We are flying tomorrow and taking our son for his 13th birthday. I cannot tell you how excited we are and reading your post has raised the excitement to fever pitch. Shall be taking my Pen and if I can get some pictures anywhere near you beautiful shots I will be very happy. Love your posts, always inspiring.

    1. Oh my goodness, perfect timing then! You will love it 🙂 have a fab time and do tag any pics on Insta #PenInPractice so I can see!

  2. I know NYC pretty well myself but its always so nice to see other people’s travel experiences there. Great BQE tour recommendation – I will definitely check that out next time I am in the city! Beautiful photos too… very inspiring for my new PEN E-PL7 🙂
    Laura recently posted…London: My top brunch spotsMy Profile