Category: Trip Tips

Williamsburg

Brooklyn is the mainland, separated by a thin flap of sea from Manhattan, but it is light years behind in terms of creative spirit, history and lifestyle: it is “more American”, people are relaxed and the hipster bars and coffee shops spring up like mushrooms.

The neighbourhood, which is the setting of the famous “Two Broke Girls”, has a predominant artistic soul that bursts on the weekends at the Artists & Fleas Market (located in an old warehouse on the north side of 6th Street), it is a gathering place for collectors and enthusiasts of vintage objects, artists and people poking around. Travellers and locals can visit it every Saturday and Sunday from 10AM to 7PM.

Are you an indie music fanatic? Rough Trade NYC (64 N 9th St, Brooklyn) offers a wonderful selection of CDs, LPs, gadgets and books in an industrial setting with unique charm. Inside it has a small bar and a concert area too. On the first floor, the book section will make you fall in love with this place, which, seen from above, is even more fascinating.

Want to live a real hipster experience? Make yourself pampered by The Stepping Razor Barbershop (952 Flushing Ave), which since 2010 is a “traditional barbering service for the gentleman and the outlaw”; in the meanwhile women can take a look at the Mother Of Junk (or just “Junk”, 567 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn), a real – and cheap – vintage paradise.

And if you need a moment of sweetness, just forget the industrial donuts, and dive into the wonders of the small Williamsburg shops that really know how to give their best. Moe’s Donuts Shop (126 Nassau Ave, Brooklyn) offers Cannoli donuts (with fresh ricotta cream), maple – the famous maple syrup – and bacon (looks strange but it is actually very good) donuts and classic red velvet ones. The famous Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop (727 Manhattan Ave. Brooklyn) is renowned for its red velvet donuts and its ice cream donut sandwiches. Only available for those who have already seen the whole neighbourhood and really need to get their fill of energy and sugars!

Brunch in New York

How do you like it? Middle-east flavoured, classic or chic?

You better be an eggs lover, as the most classic dish of the NY brunch are eggs Benedict.

The traditional version includes an English muffin cut in half and topped with bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.

There is also a “Florentine version” with spinach instead of bacon.

Apparently, this recipe was invented in the Waldorf Astoria by a customer who was trying to deal with a massive hangover.

Now, you know not only what to order, but also a nice story to share over one of the delicious brunch spots we’ve chosen for you.

  • Brasserie 8 1/2 (Solow Building, 9 West 57th St): maybe it’s the free refill Mimosa, the mini pastries or the stylish buffet in a charming location, but on Saturday mornings this place is pure vintage.
  • Café Mogador (East Village, 101 St Marks Place): a Parisian look for this for Café that offers a spicy brunch and several kinds of eggs Benedict, along with an interesting cardamom scented menu.
  • Champs Diner (197 Meserole Street): plenty of vegan options and all the classic American comfort food, including stylish cheeseburgers and pancakes. Here you’ll find plenty of tasty ideas such as the blueberry pie milkshake: ice cream, pie, blueberries and whipped cream… delicious but maybe not your lighter option.
  • If all you crave is a senses-awakening avocado on toast, a special mentions goes to Banter (169 Sullivan Street), with its goat cheese, tomato and pumpkin seeds toast, and Dudley’s (85 Orchard Street) with his incredibly rich poached egg topped toast.

New York – Architecture and future in Manhattan

But if you want to discover the trendy, vanguard Manhattan you have to turn your attention to the daring and gravity-defying glass structures.

The Bank of America Tower, completed in 2009 in Bryant Park, is already part of the city landmarks-filled skyline, as if it had always been there: glass and steel blend in a skyscraper which was built following cutting-edge bio-architectural principles (maximum exploitation of natural light and a inner garden Cafe) and which today adorn a little part of Manhattan not too far away from the notorious Empire State Building (350 5th Ave).

A prism that becomes a unique structure: the Hearst Building (300 West 57th Street, near Columbus Circle) was designed by the British architect Norman Foster to give voice to the madness and the history of New York. Basically it is a building on the top of another building: the base was completed in 1928, but the 1929 depression caused the works to stop, so all it was left was an imposing but rather short building that nowadays is the curious base of a daring architectonic challenge, brilliantly won in 2006.

Among the futuristic buildings Santiago Calatrava mark just couldn’t be missed. The works started in 2004, and 12 years and 4 billion dollars later the World Trade Center Transportation Hub (also known as Oculus and really easy to find at 33-69 Vesey St, at Cortlandt Street Metro station) was inaugurated.

New York – TV Series location

  • Mad Men. The name of the show about the great publicists of the 50s that brought slicked hair back to the top, comes from the name of the street where all the major agencies were: Mad…ison Avenue. From series 3 onwards the hearth of the story pulses in the Time & Life Building, home of the buzzy Sterling Cooper Draper Price company. The building does really exist (at 1271 Avenue of the Americas – Sixth Avenue – between West 50th and 51st Streets), and was recently restored, luckily without losing its classic 50s charm and the magic of a place where every Life and Time magazine was born.
  • Talking about TV series and not mentioning Sex & City would be a shame: the city is without a doubt the fifth main character of the story… I mean, it’s in the show title! Want to see Carrie’s place? Just look it up in Google Maps: type in Carrie Bradshaw’s House and the correct address will pop up: 66 Perry Street and Bleecker Street. It’s impossible not to mention the famous Magnolia Bakery and the iconic New York Public Library where Carrie and Big should have married (5th Avenue, between East 40th & 42nd Streets). It’s really worth a visit, even if you are not a fan.
  • If after the (bittersweet) end of the 9th season of “How I Met your Mother” you are still longing for the company of Ted, Barney, Robin, Marshall e Lily (or better, Marshmallow e Lilypad), while you are in New York you can enjoy beer and burger at their pub, maybe at their very table! The real McLaren is actually called McGee’s Pub&Restaurant (240 West 55th Street between Broadway and 8th Ave), and is still there.
    We suggest you to go on Monday, when the“HIMYM Monday” takes place, and you can find the “Bro code Combo” or the “Suit up Sandwich” on the menu. And maybe someone will solve the pineapple dilemma too.

New York – Rock landmarks

New York is synonymous of underground music, swinging 70s and stars who started their path to glory here, leaving their undeletable mark in the city.

If your big passion is music, there are a few places you can’t really miss when visiting the Big Apple.

Start from the Greenwich Village, to visit the world famous Café Wha (115 MacDougal Street, between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets). Since 1959, its live stage has hosted many future rock and folk legends taking their first steps towards immortality.

Some names? Bob Dylan (fresh off Duluth, MN), Jimi Hendrix and a young Bruce Springsteen, who met here his long-time guitarist and friend Steve “Miami” Van Zandt (yes, that’s the guys from the Sopranos).

Another place you can’t miss is the Ed Sullivan Theater (1697-1699 Broadway, between 53rd and 54th West). Since 1927 it has changed name a few times, but this is the name it will always be known for. It was in this very theater that in 1956 Elvis Presley changed the history of music forever, with his signature move and a live show that was broadcasted live on TV and sent shockwaves among young American girls.

Many famous bands, such as the Doors, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles all hit this spot in the golden age of Rock and Roll. The theater also hosted the David Letterman Show, until May 20th 2015 when the famous program shut down.

If you are into some rock-themed shopping, don’t miss the Strand Bookstore (825 Broadway, Greenwich Village): 28 kilometers of used and new books form one of the biggest and most fascinating independent bookshop in the world: you won’t be able to leave empty handed or without asking how was Patti Smith when she worked as shop assistant at the bookstore. If you are not interested in books you can also opt for some gadgets straight from the 70s.

Another historic corner, although its high prices are far from the rock and punk spirit of the area is Trash and Vaudeville (East Village, 4 St Marks Place): Dee Dee Ramone e Keith Richards were regular customers of this funky clothes shop. You can just take a look and pay your regards to them.