Travel Diary – A Short Trip to New York
A lot of people have asked me about my trip to New York recently. I already told you the purpose of my trip HERE, but haven’t really gone into detail on what we did there apart from working. So here’s a little travel diary to fill you in on what went down during my short visit in the City that never sleeps.
In between our video shootings and appointments we tried to see as much of the city as possible. The areas of the city we spent the most time in were West Village, Soho & Meatpacking District, Williamsburg/Brooklyn as well as Lower Manhattan & Midtown.
Day 1 – Exploring the Neighborhood in East Village & Lafayette St Shopping Haul
I arrived late afternoon on Friday. Our apartments (East Village Apartments) were located on 32 East, 3rd Street right in the heart of quirky East Village. Since Nik and the others were out scouting for shooting locations my first point of business was to familiarize with the neighborhood and so I went on a little exploration walk which resulted in a shopping spree. As it turned out the famous shopping mile Lafayette Street happened to be just one block down from our apartment. From BLK DNM to Supreme there’s really a whole lot of Stores on Lafayette you shouldn’t miss out on when in NY. My first day in NY finally ended with a nice dinner accompanied by live Jazz music at the venerable Roxy Hotel together with the Nik Pichler Crew and Su Hwei, the charismatic owner of NY bag brand Manhattan Portage.
Day 2 – Video Shooting and West Village/Meatpacking District with Nik Pichler
The next day I had to get up at 5am to film my scene for the Manhattan Portage Video at a nice little beach next to the East River State Park in Williamsburg Brooklyn. The skyline view from there was breathtaking. Also this spot is kind of an insider tip for getting a good look at the skyline without being surrounded by a horde of tourists all the time. After the shooting Nik invited us on a little tour through West Village and Meatpacking District, which over his many trips to NY have become his favorite parts of the city.
We started our walk at Washington Square Park, located right between Soho & West Village. Washington Square Park is considered an open space with a history of non-conformity and a meeting point for residents as well as tourists. It’s fountain area and arch have not only been visible in numerous movies and TV shows, they are also a widely popular place for cultural activities. There’s always something going on at Washington Square. Just sit there and watch the people for a while. It’s fantastic.
As we headed we strolled through the charming brownstone-lined, cobblestone streets of West Village. The area around Bleecker Street, Hudson Street and Greenwich Avenue is packed with nice little stores, designer boutiques, hidden gardens, some of the cities best restaurants and of course cozy little coffee shops everywhere you look. Nik took us to his favorite Italian restaurant, Aria, which I can highly recommend and once you’re in the area, you also must not miss out on the heavenly Brioches at Aux Merveilleux de Fred.
The final part of our tour with Nik took us to Meatpacking District. Also there you’ll see one beautiful brickstone building after the other. Former factory buildings turned into galleries, clubs and shops, Meatpacking District has it all. Besides the area is also known for its vibrant nightlife. Last but not least it is also home to one of the most creative park concepts in the world, the High Line. The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan and in my opinion an absolute must-see when in New York. As Nik told me, it’s also great for early morning runs.
Day 3 – Lower Manhattan, Ground Zero & Soho
My third day in NY took me to Ground Zero as well as One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. This place has impacted and changed the world we live in significantly and thus should be a top priority for every NY-visitor. Also, the 9/11 memorial is probably one of the greatest and well-made memorial sites in the world.
Two gigantic twin reflecting pools with built in waterfalls mark the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. The names of every single victim of the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into the edging of the pools. Despite all the grieve and dismay one experiences when thinking about the tragedies that happened at this very place, the memorial also conveys a deeply peaceful and hopeful atmosphere with the neighboring One World Trade Center tower as a strong symbol for a better future and that even after the most shocking events the world has to keep on turning.
All the impressions at Ground Zero took their toll on me and I felt pretty wrecked afterwards. So I decided to take it easy for the afternoon and just spend some time in Soho, which quickly became one of my favorite neighborhoods in NY. I browsed through the boutiques on Mercer Street, dropped by the Kith Store on Broadway and the Acne and All Saints Stores in that area. My way back home then took me to Little Italy, a charming little area with many Italian-Style Eateries and delis. For dinner that day, we stayed in East Village, where from Asian, over European to American cuisine, you really have endless options. The area is also quite brisky at night and great for going out to have a drink or two.
Day 4 – Exploring Brooklyn from Williamsburg to Dumbo
On day four, I finally got to explore Brooklyn and in particular Williamsburg. Williamsburg is one of New York’s hippest districts of history and character. What I love about the area is the omnipresent creative vibe mixed with urban street culture. Williamsburg is far more relaxed than Manhattan. Converted warehouses, old factory halls and the typical brickstone architecture as well as street art at every corner are some of the characteristics of the area. Together with its many cafes, stylish shops, concept spaces and parks Williamsburg is a true paradise for all lovers of eclectic, quirky, vibrant and creative urban living. Needless to say, Williamsburg is my favorite part of NY. Take a walk along Bedford Street, explore the side alleys, have a coffee at Toby’s Estate on North 6th Street, go buy some cool clothes at the trendy boutiques and markets, head down to the Kinfolk Concept Store and visit the famous Brooklyn Brewery before enjoying a little timeout with a spectacular skyline view at Smorgasburg Park.
My second highlight in Brooklyn was the Dumbo area between Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. It’s a little less raw and edgy than Williamsburg but still offers a great urban mix. You can get some spectacular views of the NY harbour and Manhattan skyline, enjoy a nap or picnic at Brooklyn Bridge Park and explore the many eateries and cool shops in the old cobblestone streets of Dumbo. Take pictures at the numerous vantage points and although it’s incredibly crowded and touristy, walk Brooklyn Bridge. The views you get from up there are simply sensational. I suggest to walk from the Brooklyn side towards Manhattan because that way you always have the skyline in front of you, rather than behind you.
Day 5 – Midtown & Top of the Rock
I have to admit after 3 days of video shootings, exploring the city, sightseeing, shopping and walking more than 20 km every day I felt quite exhausted on the final day of our short trip to New York. However we still wanted to visit some of the famous spots in Midtown.
Starting at the Flat Iron Building we wandered down to Times Sqare. Personally I found Times Square and the surrounding area quite horrible. It’s Extremely hectic, overcrowded with tourists, there are tourist traps at every corner and one seemingly identical souvenir shop follows the other. So of course, it’s a place you should see, but I was happy when got out there again and headed on to the Rockefeller Center.
At Rockefeller Center we took the elevator up to the Top of the Rock viewing platform. Most people go up Empire State Building, but if you ask me, Top of the Rock offers a far better view because from there you can see the Empire State Building throning in the middle of the urban jungle. We spent almost two hours up there enjoying the 360 degree view over Manhattan, taking pictures from all possible angles. So if you’ve never been to NY, I’d put Top of the Rock far up on your to-do list. Unfortunately after Rockefeller Center, we didn’t have enough time left for a walk through central park. So instead we decided to quickly drop by Trump Tower to send Donald a little message before making our way back to the hotel via the famous Fifth Avenue.
All in all I can really say I’ve made the most out of my first yet rather short visit in New York. This city is definitely one of the most exciting and interesting places I’ve ever been to and it’s vibe is just magic. However, five days are by far not enough to really get to know New York well and so I’m already planning on going there again.