New York Day 1: Brooklyn and Upper East Side

New York in my mind is a city of skyscrapers, a true metropolis which is also the financial centre of the United States of America. With icons Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Central Park, it was a destination that I did not have the chance to visit even after numerous trips to North America. This time I made it a point to drop by the Big Apple for a week stay and what better way to visit the city than via Cathay Pacific’s daily service from Vancouver. Arrivals at JFK in the morning was great with little crowd to begin with and fast immigration lines. I boarded the city shuttle to downtown Manhattan where I will spend the first 2 nights at Andaz Wall Street.

Yellow cab along Wall Street

Skyscrapers of downtown and the various historic buildings makes Wall Street more than just a business and financial centre. It also became a tourist attraction in its own right judging from the crowds taking photos of the NYSE building as I walked past it myself. My first activity was a walk to Brooklyn Bridge, allowing me to catch a glimpse of the old World Trade Centre site and the City Hall. Brooklyn Bridge was a destination in itself on that sunny weekend morning filled with runners, cyclists and pedestrians, all enjoying the weather and the views of Manhattan. With pedestrian crossing along the bridge being free, it was a great way to experience New York without breaking the bank.

Runners and tourists along Brooklyn Bridge
Colourful townhomes in the Brooklyn Heights neighbourhood

Brooklyn has a distinct charm in itself just like the various boroughs of New York City. This district still retains its industrial feel and has a great waterfront promenade which offers fantastic views of downtown Manhattan. It was also a great place for an ice cream as well as for a small lunch! The residential areas of Brooklyn Heights is also an attractive neighbourhood with quaint townhomes with colourful facades. It certainly makes this a very desirable place to live in. Having walked the whole morning to Brooklyn, I decided on the underground route back to downtown Manhattan on my first virgin ride on the subway!

Borough Hall subway station

After experiencing the rustic atmosphere of Brooklyn, the subway ride brought me to Madison Avenue, the glitz and glamour of the Upper East Side. Here wide avenues and art deco condominiums grace the area, with residents more likely to be seen in a black Lincoln Town Car. And what comes naturally are the shops and boutiques, with the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue being a star attraction since it opens 365 days a year around the clock. After a short walk around the area, I headed back to the hotel for a rest and to have a nice shower.

Armani at 5th Avenue

For dinner, I once again boarded the subway towards 1st Avenue where I would head to Momofuku Ramen. Being one of the most well-knowd Ramen eatery in the city, it was obviously crowded, especially on a weekend night. For one person, it was an easy wait though as a spot opened up around 15 minutes after I entered the establishment. Naturally, I ordered a bowl of their specialty ramen which was more like a hybrid between a Shio and Shoyu ramen, and with a broth that was more clear than thick. The portion was relatively small though adequate if one isn’t a large eater as it came with 2 slices of roast pork, bamboo shoots, seaweed, and a half boiled egg. I guess the only part of the ramen which I loved most about was the egg. Other than that, I think I have tasted better Ramen elsewhere. After dinner I took a walk around the bustling neighbourhood until I reached Union Square which was crowded even late as night. I visited the Best Buy outlet at the southeastern corner of Union Square as it was still open before I decided to call it a day as I headed back to my hotel.

Momofuku noodle bar
Momofuku ramen
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