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New York Part 2: Eats Edition

Earlier this month, I took a trip to New York – the trip was so amazing, I decided to split out my posts into the tourist stuff, and the foodie stuff.

Welcome to the food edition!

Katz

Legendary diner where Harry Met Sally, where Adam Richman took on food and the place were meat gets married. Sandwiches are insane and come in one size: MASSIVE – with a truck load of pickles!

We made sure to arrive early because queues can get a bit insane. It’s canteen style seating so you’ll be sat next to an interesting character or two (my new Katz friend told me he eats at Katz every Sunday then takes a sandwich back for his wife).

100% worth a visit, delicious, filling and a real NYC experience (although, we didn’t eat for the rest of the day, so go hungry!)

Nom Wah Tea Parlour

Nom Wah have been serving up dim sum in New York’s China town since 1920. order less that you think you want. The menu is so incredible it’s hard to restrain yourself but it’s much better if you order more as you need it rather than ordering the whole menu and not being able to finish it… like I did.

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230 Fifth

Not the bestest food ever ever but it’s decent, the cocktails are great and the views are pretty spesh.

 

Shake Shack

This place is just the business. The chicken burger was ridic, as was the cheese burger. Delicious. The absolute star of the show though was the cheese, bacon BBQ fries. ALL OF THESE WORDS ARE DELIGHTFUL TO THE EARS!

So tasty, I didn’t have time to stop and take a pic!

 

Chelsea Market

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Random Diner on Time Square Street Corner

So so awful…I didn’t want a pic!

 

Have you eaten in any of these places, is there anywhere else you would add to the list? Get in touch and let me know!

 

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New York in 12 Bullet Points!

1. New Yorkers Love their Food

Where do I even start here… I ate some of the best food of my life in New York… so much so, that I’m going to do a separate blog post of my favourite spots! For now, here is a quick and dirty top tip list for eating your way across Manhattan:

  • Katz Deli – get the Ruben – you’re welcome!
  • Nom Wah Tea Parlour – start with less, order more.
  • 230 Fifth – they do an all you can eat breakfast buffet.
  • Shake Shack – cheese bacon BBQ fries. Need I say more?

See my New York food blog post for more info!

2. New Yorkers are Friendly

I don’t know why but I was expecting people to be stroppy and busy. While they might be busy and rush to get everywhere (I believe the phrase is “New Yorkers rush to relax”), every person I spoke to on the trip was super helpful, chatty and welcoming (except one person, see point number 10). I was enamoured with not only the city, but the people there too.

3. Central Park is the bestest place ever in the Sun

So as a country gal, you’re surrounded by buildings taller than anything you’ve ever seen in your life, it’s nonstop 24 hours a day and there are more people in the state of New York than there are in your whole country (8.4 million people in New York, vs 5.2 million in Scotland), how do you recharge and regroup? Central Park. But it’s not just a park, it’s a man made sea of green in the middle of a towering city that instantly transforms it’s patrons into dog loving, sunbathing, relaxed boat sailing people. The park has weird magical qualities and in the sun, it’s just yet another mind-blowing sight to take in on this tiny island.

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4. The Skyline is surreally staggering

I don’t think words are even needed here.. just look at it. It is like a photoshopped backdrop (disclaimer, the pic is unedited, and taken on my humble camera phone). Quite simply breath-taking skyline in the day, and the night… well done New York architects, well done.

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5. Times Square is just a massive advertisement

I’m an advertisers dream, so easily susceptible so for me, Time Square was incredible and also dangerous. Like a magpie I was drawn in by the shiny shiny ads and googled, shopped and visited wherever the billboards told me to look.

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6. Walking is the best transport…

Firstly because it’s so so busy, walking at certain points of the day is your only option. But, and maybe more importantly because walking opens you to see o much more! You’re bound to discover something new; not in a tour, book or website around every corner and you’ll see loads of different characters, like this guy totally rocking the orange suit, white fur coat comboWhatsApp Image 2017-04-10 at 00.05.31

7. ..unless you get a boss uber driver!

I was lucky enough to get a few amazing uber drivers while I was in Manhattan. They gave me some top tips, pointed out off the beaten track stuff to do and gave me a tonne of advice for my next trip to New York. NYC’s uber drivers are legends!

8. Catcalling is real 😐

I mean… it was just so blatant. This doesn’t happen at all in the UK – at least not to me! The fellas of NYC are not ashamed or embarrassed to tell a lady if they think she looks good or to very obviously check her out.

9. Even if you plan, and think you have enough time to do everything… you won’t be able to do everything

I walked an average of 5k per day, was out and about for about 12 hours a day and I did the Big Bus hop on  / hop off tour about 20 times and I STILL didn’t see everything I wanted to see. One lovely uber man said that if you want to see and do everything that NYC has to offer you need a month in the city. Which is exactly what I’m planning on doing – another top tip Uber Man!

10. The man that lives at Carrie Bradshaw’s house doesn’t care for tourists / SATC fans

Oh man, no shame here guys, I’m a huge SATC fan and I had to see where she lived… I’d planned to sit on her steps, recreated a few of my favourite scenes for banter and generally channel my inner Bradshaw. When we got to her apartment there was a chain over the steps – which is fair enough, it’s a persons house, I get that. We took a few pics and while we were standing outside (not on the steps), planned our next tourist stop. I got the fright of my life when the man that lives in her building shouted at us for loitering… I mean…we were just standing there for a minute! He must know he’s going to get tourists, right?

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11. I’m lucky to have bought my own flat!

The bus tour really opened my eyes to the real estate situ in NYC and if I ever wanted to live there, I’d probably have to rob a bank, sell all my organs on some dodgy website (probably my families too), or try and talk a wealthy family into adopting me (you can be adopted at 29, right?). The apartments are expensive as shit.

12. It’s busy, expensive, too hot in the summer and too cold in winter… but I’d live there in a New York Minute

I fell in love with this place. I already have a few days back in the city as part of another trip in November and am planning on staying in NYC for 5 weeks in 2018. I cannot recommend or praise New York enough… someone wanna take me in haha?

Added Bonus Round: we flew through the Northern Lights on the way back!

March means Madeira; 9 Top Tips

March is my favourite month, because it’s not only my birthday (on the 9th… hint, hint for future folks!), it’s pretty much my whole families birthday. We’re all Marchers, and man do we love a birthday!

This year, I was lucky enough to take a trip to celebrate being another year older. A bit of googling and a quick #skyscanner search revealed that Maderia was warm and cheap, but what else did Maderia have to offer? Check out my 9 top tips and find out….

9 Maderia Top Tips

1. Maderia is Grey

Not in the sense of the scenery – Maderia itself is sunny AF, gloriously green and the sea is topaz… but the majority of visitors when I visited the island were grey. It was a sea of grey. Ok, I’m absolutely not agist, I love talking to people of all ages and walks of life, but I thought we’d accidentally booked a Saga Holiday. The younger people that we spoke to said that in the summer months, younger crowds would come over from the mainland to party but March wasn’t peak season, so if you’re looking for a relaxing break, visit Maderia outside peak season 🙂

2. The night scene is wild… when you can find it!

When we arrived in the island, it was a Saturday night, and we were told that if we did want a night out, we’d have to dump our bags and go, because Saturday is the only night when the young ‘uns come out.

The old town had bars open until around 2am, then the clubs were opens till around 5am. The clubs were quite tehcno-y but we did find one playing spanish-style music too.

3. Drinks aren’t measured 😮

Like, seriously… Expect your vodka and coke to look like weak tea in colour. DISCLAIMER: you won’t be doing much the following day after these measures haha

4. You’ll walk at an angle

It’s a relaxed sleepy island –  but the hills are no joke. They’re so steep your feet will feel like they’re busting out the front of your shoes on the walk down, and you’ll you’ll need a Sherpa to make it back up.

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5. Maderia Banana-Land

The island itself is beautiful and green. It’s just green everywhere. Then, you learn that the green masses are banana trees… They’re the main exporter of bananas in the world (note, all the green in the pics that you see… those are bananas… no jokes).

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6. Food is killer

The food is tasty, but not the cheapest. Considering the portion sizes are massive, it’s probably good value for money, but if you’re not a big eater you may want to share!

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7. Bus Tour is totally worth the money

If you don’t have crampons, walking poles, etc. then you might struggle to get to the top of the Mederia mountains (jokes). In all seriousness though, it’s mountainy, no lies, and the climb and effort to get to the top felt like too much of a workout for us, so we took the bus. The bus was actually great though – you got great facts (like the banana thing) and it was a great way to see various spots around the island

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8. The Hotel Staff at The Pestana Casino Park saved my holiday!

I have a trip case with a built in secure lock aaaaaaannnddd it malfunctioned. When I got to the hotel and tried to open my case to change, the code didn’t work. After panic, upset, then frustration, I took the case to the reception and their maintenance man busted it open for me. What a hero.

9. The City is beaut

The holiday itself was a mixed bag; definitely more of a relaxing location for 30+ demographic. But with good company, great weather and beautiful scenery, it’s a great short break for some R&R.

Would I go Again?

It depends on the type of holiday you want… for me I prefer something with a bit more hustle and bustle so I probably wouldn’t go back to Maderia. However, if you’re looking for great views, lovely weather, plenty to do and aren’t a party animal, Maderia in March is 100% gonna be a winner for you!

 

 

Check out my other travel adventure in Berlin!

Ich bin Eine (Solo) Berliner!

Ok, so this one is a bit late, and probably waaaay too festive for March, but here goes…

My first stepping stone in the #12months12places challenge was Berlin, as a solo traveller no less. Both firsts for me!

I love Christmas, so I had to go in December and immerse myself in the home of Christmas Markets. I took to #Skyscanner (obvs), had a wee search for flights from Edinburgh to Berlin in the whole month of December, and got myself an amazingly cheap deal… for flights and 2 nights in a hostel (3 days full days in total over a weekend) in Berlin I paid a measly £62.00. I’ve paid more for a night out in Edinburgh, folks!

Sleeps

I highly recommend the Generator Berlin Mitte hostel. It’s central has great rooms, lovely staff and good bar space.

I opted for an 8 bed mixed dorm room and ended up sharing with a few great people (and a few odd ones… including one guy that binge ate fruit all night long!).

The rooms were clean and spacious enough for the time you spend in them. You’re allocated a number for which bed you’ll be sleeping in when you check in. Each bed has a drawer under the bottom bunk, so you can keep your suitcase in there as a whole, or unpack. You will need a padlock though, and it doesn’t take the smaller size padlocks!

The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer…

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Christmas Markets

Buddy the elf was wrong, it’s not singing loud for all to hear… it’s going to Christmas markets, in Germany, in December. It was festive AF. Even the Grinchiest Christmas hating Grinch would get into the spirit.

WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt was bar far the best market I went to. Was so close to my hostel, had a band / entertainment and loads of food options and lovely trinkety things to buy if you want to turn your home into a Christmas grotto.

Potsdamer Platz is another hub for a massive selection of Christmas markets, as well as regular old shopping.

Christmas Dinner for one

In WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt, there are loads of pop up restaurants. The glass buildings are dressed up to the nines in Christmas decor, and are a festive retreat from the cold. I had to go to the most Christmassy one I could find, and was not disappointed – it felt like Santa’s living room. The food was Austrian, and was delicious… Duck leg, with cabbage and dumplings, with lots of Gluehwein.

The Touristy Stuff

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Just walking around Berlin is the most fun ever. It’s not so big that it’s daunting (I saw Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall, etc. all in the one day). There are lots of museums and paid for tourist attractions, but you don’t have to pay to see all the good stuff. Checkpoint Charlie is free. You may have to pay to get into the “Topography of Terror” (Gestapo HQ), but you can walk around the outside grounds for free (pictured above).

Spy Museum

The spy museum was pretty cool but not really worth the money for the amount of time I spent there. There were a few cool things to play around with (testing how secure your password is and how long it would take a computer to hack it, to how to hack a webpage).  The gift shop is pretty cool and you can buy things like tins and lipsticks to hide whatever tin or lipstick shapped secrets you have.

Jewish Memorial

Smack bang in the middle of the centre, there is a massive maze of concrete columns, 2,711 columns in fact, serving a Holocaust memorial. Walking though as the columns get higher and higher towards the center of the memorial. It was a strange feeling walking through all the concrete… and it was at times even more strange when you’d bump into various people posing for selfies…

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Highlight

Highly recommend the hop on / off Bus Tour. Was a great way to get your bearings, and see the city. The commentary was insightful, engaging and funny.

Wait… what about the food?

Aufsturz was really close to my hostel and had some great reviews so I ate in there the first night and was not disappointed. Currywurst and potato wedges (sorry Germany, they’re not chips) and Apple Strudel, followed by lots of beer. Had a lovely wee night to myself!

Although it’s not remotely German, I had some of the best Thai / Vietnamese food ever in Berlin at Naht Long. I ordered a Tom Yum soup and Vietnamese Summer Rolls – both were delightful! While the food was great, it’s the only place in Berlin that I actually felt like a tourist, as most people in the restaurant were couples (and I was alone), on a Saturday night.

Every single thing I ate and drank at the Christmas Markets was exceptional. I have only listed 3 meals when talking about food because that’s pretty much all I ate… I grazed the whole time on Christmas Market morsels, for a pretty decent price!

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Top Takeaways (not the food kind):

  • I was worried about going alone, but got a mixed dorm hostel and met a bunch of cool people. I was on my own most of the trip, but didn’t feel lonely at all, the hustle and bustle and friendly nature of Berlin means there is always someone to talk to!
  • The hostel bar is loads of fun, and right on your door step if you don’t want to venture too far alone at night

Final Top Tip: Take the train from the airport right into Berlin – it’s cheap and quick

 

 

Liked this? Check out my March Adventure to Maderia! 

12 months, 12 places

I make lists for all sorts. Lists for food shopping, a daily to do list, list of clothes I’d like, gadgets I want, places I want to eat and places I want to travel. Out of all the lists I’ve made over the years, the travel one remains neglected. It’s uncrossed, unloved and not fulfilling it’s list destiny.

As I race all too quickly to the scary age milestone of 30, now is the time to check things off that damn list. I want to see more of the world.

No more “next year”.

No more procrastinating.

No more excuses.

travel

I set myself a challenge to go somewhere if I want to go, and just book things; be a bit more travel-spontaneous and see 12 places in 12 months.

Follow me on my greatest travel adventure to date 🙂

#AmysAdventures #12months12places