36 Hours In New York City

Having just returned to the U.S. on Friday after being in Edinburgh for the semester, I did a quick 180 and hopped on a GoBus with my mom on Sunday morning heading for New York. And only for 36 hours. Talk about a whirlwind.

I've been to New York many times in my life- I'm so lucky that I live in Boston where the transport connections are easy and the fares are relatively cheap. But I wouldn't call myself an expert on New York (you can look to my NYU friends for that). This 36 Hour trip barely covers 1% of the city, and it hardly mentions any of the main tourist attractions. So if you've never been I wouldn't treat this as gospel. Still, aren't we all tired of hearing about people going to the Empire State Building and The Statue of Liberty?

Also, I think it's fair to mention that the whole point of this trip was for my mom and I to meet up with her longtime friend from high school who now lives in Australia. We hardly ever get to see her or her family, so this was the perfect excuse to travel to New York!

Taking the bus down was far from glamorous. I mean, my electrical plug didn't even work. So I spent a fair bit of time reading (go read "We Should All Be Feminists"!) and running down my laptop battery by online shopping. I did manage to fit in a few job applications too, though!

Having only been on the bus for four hours, I'd say that it was a pretty quick journey. Especially considering that there's always a chance of running into traffic. We arrived in Chelsea at noon, and were absolutely dying to get something to eat. And, as you do when you're in Chelsea, we headed over to Chelsea Market to get our fill of artisan eats and iced coffee.

Faced with one of the toughest decisions we had the whole trip, we finally decided on Num Pang where I devoured a ginger brisket bahn mi in what seemed like an instant. The pickled vegetables and fresh produce paired with the rich meat made for a meal worth eating without stopping to take a picture. My mom had an asian chicken salad of sorts with honeyed carrots, brown rice, and yogurt dressing.

Obviously you can't just try out one vendor at Chelsea Market. The more the merrier! My mom and I headed to a doughnut shop which we remembered from our last time at the Market (years and years ago...). The Doughnuttery is located in the one place where you might be able to snag a seat. I was lucky enough to claim a spot while my mom stood in line for the mini doughnuts. I trusted her to come back with a good selection and she certainly did- smokey chocolate and lemon strawberry with rainbow sprinkles. Warm, fluffy, and heavenly. All with a side of iced coffee (hello, summer) from Ninth Street Espresso.

Energized and ready to take on what remained of the day (it was 2 PM by then, but hey what better way to spend your day than eating?) we headed toward our hotel to drop our bags. Now, I am so incredibly grateful for my mom's job as a travel writer. I may be lucky enough to go out and review local restaurants from time to time, but my mom, as a profesh travel book writer, doesn't even compare. We were kindly offered to stay at the Sofitel New York in Midtown for the nigh, and it couldn't have been better!

Plush beds, a stunning view from nearly all rooms, and the warm and friendly staff were among the many highlights of our stay. Every detail was accounted for in the rooms from the cute macaroons on arrival to the candle and fresh flowers in the bathroom. And, as far as NYC hotels go, the room was pretty spacious!

With about half an afternoon left, we headed over to the Museum of Modern Art to have a peek at some newer works. We had both never been before so we were excited to explore! As we had arrived close to closing, the museum had a great discount on tickets. We wandered the galleries, stopping at pieces we recognized, marveling at those we didn't, and questioning why certain pieces of artwork (like Starry Night displayed in the museum) were so sought after while others weren't (but that's another story).

By far our favorite piece was Christina's World- a work we both recognized that was for some reason displayed to the side, out of direct sight. The artist, Andrew Wyeth, grew up near where my mom is from, and the painting depicts a young girl with polio reaching toward her neighbor's house in Maine. It's such a peaceful, yet tragic, and hopeless, yet hopeful, painting. Definitely one to see in person.

With enough time to walk the two mile journey down to the restaurant where we were meant to have dinner, but not enough time to see any more sites or museums, we made our way toward Dos Caminos in the meatpacking district. Buzzing with locals and tourists alike, this restaurant specialized in fresh, flavorful Mexican food. We chatted to our friends, met some of their friends, and munched on guacamole and chips before tasting some insanely delicious ceviche. For my main, I had fish tacos (of course) topped with crema and cabbage. My mom had carnitas with pickled beets (pictured). As for drinks? Try the guava-rita. You won't regret it.

On the second day, we started off with brunch at Penelope's- a neighborhood favorite that felt far from touristy. Still keen to consume as much iced coffee on this trip as possible, I had a cold brew alongside my breakfast. Punkin' (aka pumpkin) pancakes were the obvious choice here, topped with cardamom pecans and cranberries with a side of apple butter. A bit autumnal, but oh so satisfying.

My mom's friend had a trip to The Whitney on her hit list. This building was only finished just recently (in 2015 after a relocation of the museum), and houses some of the most modern (and fittingly avant-garde) American art to date. The artworks were a bit hit or miss in my opinion. With the best ones speaking to the issues of contemporary society.

The last bit of our trip was spent walking the high line. A sort of "park in the sky" the high line takes you on a scenic tour of one small section of the city by foot. With plants and old railroad tracks sharing spaces with park benches and art installations, it certainly is a unique experience. Walk the whole thing or stop off and return to street level wherever you wish. Either way, this is a can't-miss on a sunny afternoon.

With just a bit of time to kill before our train out of Penn Station (and having been thoroughly museum-ed out), my mom and I took a seat in Bryant Park, enjoying the sunshine and the inescapable energy of the city. While we didn't hit most of the popular tourist attractions, our 36 hours in New York City was spent doing what we do best- eating, socializing, and, most importantly, enjoying every moment.


  1. Maria is honestly travel writing goals. Glad you had such a nice time. And of course the classic Leda iced coffee ;)

    1. Isn't she though? I'm sure you'll be spending tons of time in the city over the next year- just a 45 minute train ride from Stamford! And I'm never not drinking iced coffee ;)


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