The Brooklyn Bridge and the skyline of Lower Manhattan

New York – where little town blues are melting away

No time for sightseeing? You can simply enjoy the buzz of city life and the countless culinary delights of New York City. 


My personal three highlights in New York City:

  • Brooklyn: walk across New York icon Brooklyn Bridge (see featured image of this blog post); enjoy the views of Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park; walk the brownstone-filled streets of the Brooklyn Heights, explore artful DUMBO and hip Williamsburg.
  • High LineChange the perspective and enjoy stunning views from this former elevated rail line on the neighborhood streets below – a brilliant example of urban redevelopment. Particularly recommended in the summer months.
  • Museum visit – my personal favourites out of an infinity of world-class options: Lower East Side Tenement Museum (immigration history and experience), The Museum of Modern Art MoMA (modernist art), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (art), The Met Cloisters (architecture and artefacts), guided tour of the United Nations Headquarters (not really a museum, but definitely a highlight for those who are interested in history and politics).

New York City is one of my favourite cities in the world. There is an unlimited number of sights to visit and things to do. But what fascinates me most about New York is that it is so completely different from calm, tidy and clean Switzerland where I live. “These little town blues are melting away…”, as Frank Sinatra sung.

This was already my fifth visit to the Big Apple. As the schedule of a (very interesting and educative) business trip at the beginning of December didn’t allow enough time for sightseeing, I could “only” add two (non-culinary) items to my list of New York experiences:

Together with my workmate Lukas, I went to see my first football game in the almost full MetLife Stadium (capacity of 80,000) on the New Jersey side of Hudson River. Although the game was very one-sided and the New York Jets were beaten down by the Indianapolis Colts, 41-10 (view game highlights), it was a worthwhile and entertaining experience: the sport itself, the pick-up trucks and barbeques on the parking lot, the cheerleaders, the dramatic display of national pride etc.

The other thing I did was to see the famous Christmas Tree at the Rockefeller Center (apparently with 45,000 LED lights). The crowd was enormous, the tree and the atmosphere around the ice skating rink were as kitsch as you would think. Been there, done that.

As always in my blog posts, I would like to share some restaurant experiences:

  • Emporio (Lower Manhattan, Nolita, 231 Mott St): The TripAdvisor rating (no. 39 out of 9,079 restaurants in New York City at the date of publishing) says it all: beautiful interior, great atmosphere, authentic and delicious Italian-American cuisine (I recommend the Prosciutto & Burrata as appetizer and the Creekstone Farm Skirt Steak as main) and great Italian wines. Sometimes you see true class of a service in the reaction to criticism: when we complained to the waiter that two persons at our table were served only when the others had already finished their meals, the maître d’ came to our table, apologized, offered the dessert on the house and even granted a discount on the bill.
  • Rebelle (Lower Manhattan, Nolita, 218 Bowery): Great wine and dine place with French-inspired cuisine (the chef, Daniel Eddy, worked at the Parisian bistro Spring) and a tasteful minimalist interior. I had a delicious Veal Porterhouse.
  • Fraunces Tavern (Lower Manhattan, Financial District, 54 Pearl St; also home to a museum): Beautiful restaurant and bar in the oldest standing structure of the city; tavern where George Washington bade farewell to his officers at the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783; the restaurant serves American cuisine classics like tavern beef stew, calm chowder, slow-roasted chicken pot pie – I had a very tasty rib-eye steak sandwich.
  • Haru Sushi (Lower Manhattan, Financial District, 1 Wall St Court and six other restaurants in Manhattan): Don’t let the distasteful interior put you off: the sushi is delicious.
  • Stone Street Tavern (Lower Manhattan, Financial District,52 Stone Street): I had a tasty Tuna Nicoise Salad, with briefly roasted sushi-style tuna slices instead of the usual canned tuna salad.
  • Le Pain Quotidien (Lower Manhattan, Financial District, 85 Broad St and dozens of other stores in Manhattan): bakery and communal table; great place for breakfast.
  • Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (between Midtown and Downtown, Flatiron District, 900 Broadway): Cheese factory, store, café and restaurant one – a paradise for a cheese lover like me. Even though The Cellar restaurant is rather noisy, it is definitely worth a visit. We tasted a selection of five home- and handmade cheeses and a surprisingly good Riesling from New York.

For the sake of completeness, I should like to mention that we stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New York City Financial District. As Grandma Shumway once said: “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.

I would have hundreds of nice things to say about New York however. It’s a great vibrant city and I hope to come back soon!

 

Date of visit: December 5-9, 2016 (Blog post includes elements of earlier visits in 1995, 2008, 2010 and 2013).
We stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New York City Financial District (not recommended).

Read next: Berlin, the perfect weekend escape

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