Tag Archives: new york travel guide

New York-SoHo/NoLIta

31 May

Honestly, this is my first guide to any city ever written, and I don’t know how to go about it. Should I cover just the highlights? Should I just tell you everything that I did or should I just be an escapist and not write it at all.

While the third is my favorite, I asked some friends and they suggested i break it down into parts. While their idea was to divide it into where to eat, what to do, where to shop-I wanted to do it slightly differently. Mostly because I have spent most of my time in Soho, I wanted to make a guide just for it. The other parts to the NYC guide might be more generic, but here is my guide for you to Soho (and the neighbouring regions including Nolita)-the place I fell in love with and the place that saw me grow more in a month than I had in probably years!

Where to eat

  1. Balthazar  
    My roommate, the queen of Soho, took me here and I will always owe her for that. The place has very strong Godfather vibes making you feel like you walked right into a spot where all the Mafia lords are coming for a meeting (but like minus the goons and with an extra hint of polished glamour). However, even if you put the interior aside-the food itself there is divine. Their service is immaculate and the desserts are beyond delicious. That, and their bathroom entrance is one of the most rad one I have ever seen (so dungeonesque, if that is even a word).
  2. Rubirosa  
    If the Hadids say they love a particular place’s pizza, you have to check it out. And, oh my god, was I glad that we did. I have never had a better pizza in my life, that too an all-veg one. You better believe it guys, it was even tastier than many non-veg ones I have had. Plus the interior is totally groovy. The vibe is very laid back chic but still cosy (made more so that day because of the crazy rain outside) with a bar that made me want to skip sitting at a table altogether!
  3. Dominique Ansel
    Cronuts. Enough said. (p.s. the other baked goods here are spectacular too, so I will say try as many as you can without going into a food coma, but if you have to pick one, pick the cronuts!)

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    Dominique Ansel Cronut

  4. Georgetown Cupcakes
    The shop itself is gorgeous, but what makes it better is the street it is on. The cobblestone pavement, the cute stores around it and the laid back, quiet vibes of the area-you feel like you are walking in some old English town and not in loud, over crowded New York-loved it. Plus, I swear they have the best cupcakes ever. Ever…..Ever!!! (Just wanted to make a point here.) You can stay there and eat or get your cakes ‘to go’. Either ways, it is a must try!

The Instagram-able spots

  1. Cha cha matcha
    If you are a matcha fan, you have to go here. If you are a fan of cute little cafes being a little extra, you have to go here. If you want cute clicks of your coffee for your insta feed, you have to go here.
    In short, you have to go here, period!

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    Cha Cha Matcha

  2. Once upon a Tart
    Some of the most influential bloggers from NYC still turn to this spot for a picture in front of this picturesque bakery/cafe. Case in point, this picture of Blair from Atlantic pacific! If you are looking to up your insta-feed game, do stop here!

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    Once upon a tart

  3. Shuka 
    This is another NYC blogger favorite for their pictures and correctly so, seeing the blue store front of this cafe makes any outfit (and picture) pop!
  4. Sweet Moment Cafe 
    It is not exactly in Soho/Nolita but it is Little Italy which is right next to the two and, if you have a sweet tooth or crave cute colorful pictures, this place is a must see!

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    Sweet Moment 

  5. Greene street
    And other cobblestone streets, that Soho is famous for, provide the perfect character to any picture. The more towards the south of Soho you go, the more of its historic buildings you will find (i.e., get closer to Canal street if you want both the famous cobblestone streets and the historical cast iron buildings in your picture).

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The places worth experiencing

  1. Laduree Soho
    Getting a bit of the Parisian experience in your travels is always a fun idea, but this particular branch is always fully reserved for a reason. The little patio/open-air seating area that they offer in the back is divine. I preferred it at night when all the garden/fairy lights were on and the atmosphere seemed almost magical, almost Parisian but they are generally more frequented for their brunch. Either ways, don’t forget to get some macaroons to-go, because-why not?

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    Laduree Soho (the outdoor seating area)

  2. Little Cupcake bakeshop
    Again an eatery in this category? Odd? No, because I frequented this shop more for its ’70s diner vibe than their food (which was good but not my prime attraction). Like my friend justly said, it reminds one of the diner from Pulp Fiction. MUST EXPERIENCE!
  3. Jack’s wife Frieda
    Ok, last eatery, promise but although their food is ridiculous (read:ridiculously amazing), it is the festive vibes, the welcoming staff, the feeling as if you are in an Italian backyard with your friends, the cute gold pendants, and (most importantly) the adorable sugar packets that all contribute to the absolute, mind-blowing ridiculous-ness of the place. The green shakshuka has mystified me though. Why is it green and what makes it so good?

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  4. McNally Jackson Books
    So growing up one place I always wanted in my hometown was a book store where one could sit for hours and read but one that also offered coffee and snacks as needed. When I found out that God had blessed me with the exact place I had always day dreamed about right around the corner from my apartment I could not have been happier. A huge book store offering literature from all over the world including books on and from Russia, France, India-I was in my kind of paradise. But what added to the charm was the cute seating area/coffee shop in one of its corners complete with window seats and the nicest staff ever along with small seating arrangements all over the two floors of it. It is needless to add, but I went there almost daily. And if you go there even once, you will know why, especially if you believe paperbacks are better than e-books!
  5. Washington square park
    It is not Central Park, but what it lacks in its size it makes up for in its beauty. And because it is less crowded by tourists pouring in from all directions, it is the perfect spot for a quick picnic or to spend your evening with a book. Plus, it lets you see New Yorkers New Yorking (yes, I just turned it into a verb) and giving you a more wholesome experience of the city.
    Note:- It is not exactly part of the Soho/Nolita region but it was close enough for me to be able to walk here oftenn!
  6. Washington Square arch
    It is a part of the Washington Square Park, and not only an architectural landmark frequented by a large number of tourists but also a spot most first timers deem essential for a quick picture at. And once you see it, you will know why. But, word of caution, it can get pretty crowded.

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  7. Little Italy
    Ideally it is not a part of Soho but it is right next to it and Nolita and a walk away from both, so I am putting it here. It is not just the food you go here for, though, but rather for the whole ‘Italian” experience (which, having never been to Italy, I can’t really attest for but it felt Italian enough to me). Grab a friend, a camera and walk through it with your wallet full and your belly empty. You wont regret it! (Also, there is some really amazing wall art in this area!)
  8. Chinatown
    Mentioning this because of its proximity to Soho/Nolita, I honestly cant gush enough about this place. With buildings mirroring old Chinese architecture it simultaneously gives you a glimpse into Chinese cuisine and maybe some of the lifestyle there too, but for me it also reminded me a bit of the ‘bazaars’ from my home country and made me like it more. Again I found some of the most amazing street art in this area.
    My suggestion would be to take a walking tour of Chinatown and Little Italy that lets you experience both more thoroughly (plus these are usually very cheap)!

The must stay ats-

  1. The Nomo SoHo hotel
    Although it is gorgeous to look at from outside and the walk inside is almost as good, it is the lobby that I fell in love with.  Buzzing with cliché New York hotel moments the space stays true to the grit of the city via its decor. And the rooms with their over-sized windows and welcoming interior are just what vacation dreams are made of! The NoMo Kitchen (sitting off the lobby and along the walkway entrance) is their cherry on top with food as good as it can get!
  2. Sixty SoHo
    Following a (remarkable) renovation, Sixty SoHo is a visual expression of the neighborhood’s most treasured qualities. It’s chic and vibrant and offers all the little things characteristic of any great stay, particularly on the dining front. Dinner at their Sessanta will leave you speechless, and their Gordon Bar is a perfect place to end a night!

Where to Shop

I would love to give a list but if you are visiting New York and want to shop without the craziness of Times Square (which I can never take) or the long lines of the 5th avenue stores, SoHo is your place. The vibe is fun but not obnoxiously loud, the staff has more time for you, the lines are shorter and the architecture is swoon-worthy. Honestly, even basic stores like Forever 21 look like taken right out of a painting. And every store is there, from Sephora to Chanel to Tiffany’s to high street brands to fancy grocery stores!

My favourite thing to do there was to walk along Broadway (literally as far as I could go) and try new stores every day (covered a lot in a month to be honest). Plus that allowed me to discover the small boutiques that offered the latest trends at prices that made me want to dance. And the streets off of Broadway are filled with even more brands and fun little places to eat. So, give shopping there a try for sure.

Note-Dean and DeLuca is a grocery-shopping-lover’s heaven. The fruits so fresh, the bakery items so good and the flowers always with the best fragrance! Shop there at least once if you can, you will love the experience. It is a little pricey but the food is worth it!

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Ten things I learned in New York

17 Jun

I love love love New York. 

Honestly speaking I am absolutely addicted to the city. The pace, the energy, the constant inspiration from every direction that can at times push your mind into overdrive, but usually keeps making you do your best-it is honestly a city where you feel like no dream of yours is out of your reach.

However, more than that, the city is always going to have a special place in my heart for it saw me stumble through a long month as I made my way around it on my own- adventuring, learning, falling and picking myself back up. At the end of that month though I felt like I could relate with Alicia when she crooned the iconic lyrics. The streets did “make me feel brand new” in a way that I can’t explain, and I felt more inspired there than I had ever before.

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Today I am going to share with you some of the lessons that I learned during that month, hoping that some of you will be able to make good use of all that I stumbled upon during my (mis)adventures in New York!

  1. Don’t shy away from asking for help. A smile and a kind “hello” opened up so  many wonderful conversations for me and is one of the main reasons I was able to see a side of NY I had never been able to when I visited it for those four/five days, going to only the mainstream ‘touristy’ spots. A quick question for some advice led me to see/eat at/experience the spots the New York-ers preferred (the ones that weren’t madly crowded by tourists) and I love NY all the more because of those experiences!

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    The (at times creepy) subway

  2. The Subway wasn’t difficult to figure out. At all. It took me a day to get the correct feel of it, and a week to learn the names of all the pertinent stops and even to learn the difference between SoHo, NoLIta etc. Besides, google maps was honestly a life saver for me when all else failed. BUT. Don’t rely on those around you in the subways to guide you correctly. I realized within a couple of days that most of them were either new to the city or tourists and more often than not gave me incorrect advice.
  3. Some of the best places to eat at are in Brooklyn. The place is full of hidden gems including some of the best bakeries (with some of the best bagels) ever! (More on that in an upcoming post.)
  4. Do not leave your house without your ID. Honestly, never ever take the risk!

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    SoHo

  5. The best place to shop in New York is SoHo. Some of the best bakeries and cutest/most hip cafes are in NoLIta and SoHo. Also, you can find some of the best photo-ops in SoHo! My advice, in short, is that even if you are there for only a couple of days, have one meal in SoHo at least. (I will be covering the best spots for that in an upcoming post!)
  6. West Village has the most laid back vibes and is infinitely chic at the same time with some of the cutest bookstores and shopsAlso, because the architecture here is beyond amazing and the tourist flow little, it is an ideal place to get your pictures taken (without getting in the way of others or vice versa)! However, somehow I found the people here most reluctant in making eye contact or being up for a quick chat-or was that just me?
  7. Broadway bites (Greeley Square – Broadway, between 32nd and 33rd Street) might not be a year round thing but if you are there in June/July or in fall, they are a must go! The stalls there offer everything and anything from the funkiest of ice-creams to pasta to the most delicious baked goodies. (Do not go there without cash though!)

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    Le Biblioquet, Upper East Side

  8. If you want to feel glamorous, eat out at a restaurant in Upper East side or shop their. Both experiences for me have been unforgettable.

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    Times Square

  9. Although Times Square is definitely overrated, (I mean the amount of people there give anxiety to my claustrophobia prone self), if you can, stay there late into the night, for a better, more memorable experience. The crowd thins out closer to midnight and the place is far less noisy and much more fun!

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    Central Park

  10. Put aside at least a day for Central Park. It is not a place to stop at between your morning coffee and lunch-if you want to find out why so many people fall in love with it you have to experience it-on foot, preferably. Start at one end, or even midway if you feel like you have little time and do try to cover as much area as you can (going up or down). So many people and websites will point you to the ‘tourist favored’ spots, but honestly every few steps you will come across a view to make you stop and stare-and that is what makes you fall in love with it.

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    Central Park

Bonus tip-try to rent a boat on the Lake in Central park and row your way around it. You will get to see the famous NY skyline from a completely different (and infinitely gorgeous) perspective!

Xo,
Gull 

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