Right after my last final exam in April and just before jetting off here to Germany, I flew to New York to visit Helena again. But this time, it was with the whole family. This was the first “vacation” we’ve had together as a family in a long time. (I say “vacation” because Helena was still working and didn’t take any days off, but it was still a nice family reunion all the same). It was Dad’s first time in New York and mine and Mom’s second time.
Mom and Dad flew over from Vancouver with a connection in Toronto, where I conveniently hopped onto their same flight going to New York. We arrived in NYC late in the evening and found our way easily to Helena’s small studio apartment in the Upper East side.
Day one: The MET
First day in New York and of course we decide to check out a museum.
The MET recently changed their pay what you wish policy to set ticket fares (adults $25; students $12). Although it is no longer the cheap tourist must-stop it used to be, the value of seeing some of the world’s most famous pieces of art and artefacts is priceless. Regardless of not having the time to see every gallery, it was a wonderful day spent wrapped up in art and history. Dad wanted to fully examine every, single, exhibit, but we had to rush him along so that we were able to see more than just one gallery.
Our favourite gallery was the last one we visited: The Musical Instruments Gallery. From Stradivarius violins, to lutes from centuries ago, this gallery contains musical instruments from all across the world and all throughout history.
A few tips for all you future MET visitors:
- Get the audio guide to have a chance to hear the sounds of many of the instruments in the Musical Instrument gallery and to have amazing descriptions of notable pieces in the whole museum. You can even leave the building for lunch and come back to reclaim the audioguides that you had borrowed without an extra fee.
- Speaking of lunch, grab a quick, cheap and delicious lunch from one of the many street food stands just outside the museum. Delicious, fast and so much cheaper than anything you would purchase in the museum itself.
- Your entry tickets to the MET last you three days of visit and can be used at the main museum, the MET Breuer, and the MET cloisters.
Day Two: New York Royal Botanical Gardens
With the weather looking bright for the day, we left the house early and took the subway up to the NYBG to meet Mom’s friend who invited us to go to the gardens with her. It was a beautiful day for a day of strolling through the gardens that were in bloom and walked through the orchid show.
I’m generally not a fan of orchids. They look like creepy alien praying mantises to me. But, the orchid show isn’t merely a green house of orchids. It is more of an incredible display of the different ecosystems around the world. The building is HUGE and takes you on a journey through the tropics to the dessert.
After the orchids show, we walked through the lilac garden, the cherry blossom orchard and the edible garden all while taking a thousand photos.
Tips for visiting the NYBG:
- Wednesdays and Saturdays have free entry into the grounds! So if you just want to go for a photoshoot with your friends amidst the stunning cherry blossoms, lilacs or roses when they are in bloom, make sure to go on these two days. Admission to the orchid show is always extra.
- Skip the trolley and walk through the gardens yourself. Though it might look far on the map, it really isn’t a long walk at all from the entrance to the furthest point of the park.
Day Three: The MET Breuer, Chelsea Market and Pretty Woman
Day three started at the MET Breuer, a modern art gallery containing two temporary collections. When we arrived, it was fairly early and the gallery was as silent as a tomb. It seemed as though we were the first patrons of the day.
The exhibit that was on display was: “Home is a foreign place”. This exhibit contained some truly powerful and moving pieces which made me think and question my cultural identity and history.
After having had our fill of art for the day, we trekked across central park and found our way to the Tkts stand near Lincoln Centre to try to buy cheap tickets to a Broadway show. There was a small line when we got there but which moved rather quickly. We had to make a split second decision based on the available tickets and chose to see Pretty Woman. It was a difficult choice but the deal was sealed when I found out that Samantha Barks was playing the lead in Pretty Woman.
Having bought our tickets, we headed for lunch at the Turnstyle Underground market just below Columbus circle. We grabbed salteñas at Bolivian Llama Party and arepas from Arepa factory. It was a South American food kind of day. Both types of little bundles of flavour were deliciously packed with filling and a unique change for Mom and Dad’s typical asian taste buds.
After lunch, we headed to Chelsea Market where we wandered the many restaurants and cafes to munch on some more noms. We grabbed the unmissable tacos from Los Tacos no. 1 and tried some halva from Seed + Mill. I was so excited for Mom and Dad to try the tacos from Los Tacos no.1. Mom gave me the reaction I was looking for, saying that these tacos were the best thing that she had had on the entire trip. Meanwhile Dad, insisted that the tacos were indeed delicious, but he didn’t appreciate the saucy mess left on his hands and the stain left on his jacket after eating the tacos. (I was a little disappointed by his reaction.)
At Seed + Mill, we got two snack bags which contained 3 flavours each. Each flavour was deliciously smooth, nutty and rich. It was my first time trying halva and I fell in love, especially with the cardamom one. The only downside was that they are kind of pricy at $7 per 1/2 pound.
After we had our fill at Chelsea Market, we walked back to midtown where we met Helena for dinner at Shake Shack before going to see Pretty Woman. Seems like Shake Shack dinner before Broadway shows is becoming a tradition.
We inhaled our burgers and fries, then walked over to the Nederlander Theatre for the show. The show was unforgettable just like any other Broadway show and Samantha Barks is a queen.
To finish off the day, we walked through the shining lights of Times Square. With the hoards of tourists and scammers, Times Square is definitely not my favourite place in New York. But since Dad had never been before, it was a must see. Even at 11:00pm, the square was still jam packed with people.
And with that, we ended the day and now we end this post. Stay tuned for days four to eight of New York in upcoming posts.