Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Weekend in New York: Eat, See, Do

New York is like a familiar friend, it greets you with sunshine hues but also at once, is filled with mysteries and surprises.  My second time in this city felt more at ease, and not one that was filled with a desire for closure and certainty, like so many moons ago.

I thought I'd share some of the places that I really enjoyed during this extremely quick pitstop (I was there for work)!


Westin Grand Central

We had the pleasure of staying at the Westin Grand Central, right down the street from Grand Central station with a beautiful view. From the 18th floor, I could see the Chrysler building and my colleague's room on the 24th overlooked the Hudson! It's a typical business hotel but also family friendly, comes with an insanely well-equipped mini fridge...

But I hated the fact that you had to pay for WiFi in your room - how ridiculous is that?

212 E 42nd Street
New York

Check out
Pod 39 (East 39th St)-  Smaller rooms than the Westin but more modern, lively and contemporary, it also has a great rooftop bar. I stayed here last time!
Ace Hotel (20 West 29th St) - Stylish and modern hotel (much like Pod hotels) with free wifi and in-house art gallery, a blogger favourite or so I hear.
The Bowery Hotel (335 Bowery) - Loft-like suites with marble bath tubs (!) and an outdoor lounge.


What's New York without a diner experience? We hunted one which was opposite the hotel the next morning but it wasn't super great, but I was very impressed with the number of eggs it came with - THREE. I will also be forever in awe of refillable coffee (I don't drink coffee which is a pity)... 

Those pancakes were huge too. Unfortunately being lactose intolerant, mine was a good ol' sunny-side-up with hash, still very yummy and very filling! 

Sarge's Deli (548 3rd Ave)- Wholesome and traditional diner foods like meatloaf, pastrami (I LOVE), matzo ball soup and less touristy than Kat's 
Zucker's  (370 Lexington Ave) - They had the best pastrami bagel I've had (not that I had many but still) and the portions are h u g e, check out this photo when I last went. Pick one up and nibble as you walk around city! 

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Bryant Park & Herald Square

Take a stroll after breakfast down to Bryant Park and make your way towards Herald Square where Macy's and a giant Victoria's Secret is - just for the fun of it.

Union Square

Keep walking until you get to Union Square - another dandy area filled with shopping and just very quintessential New York scenery. Walk past the Flatiron building (it really is so strange!) 


The Refinery Rooftop Bar

We wanted somewhere with a view and found reprieve from the sun at The Refinery hotel and rooftop bar. It boasts an industrial chic theme, with exposed bricks and lots of sunshine! Drinks aren't the cheapest but go for the atmosphere and the views.

It does get crowded on the weekends but I think they take reservations so you could make one for a larger party.

The Refinery
64 West 38th Street


I needed a bagel break after two beers and that's exactly what I did! It was from a stall on the street which cost $2 but tasted so darn great. We meandered back towards the hotel, but not without a quick stop at yet another eatery (I felt bad for my colleagues putting up with my foodie habits) at X'ian Famous Foods.

Hannah recommended this small and cosy place, famous for its hand-pulled noodles and spicy beef soup. And my gosh, the noodles were top-notch and all you ever wanted: chewy but not rubbery, soft enough to go with the melting beef, and down it all with the spicy and soupy broth. It's actually a small chain, so they have a couple of shops in different areas. I went to the one nearest to our hotel!

X'ian Famous Foods
24 West 45th Street


Times Square by night

There's nothing better than taking a walk after dinner in the city that never sleeps. And it's true, I stole a midnight walk to Times Square and it was filled to the brim with tourists, 24-hour convenience stores, late night H&M (and a few sneaky purchases!) and the world's most famous billboards.

The lights were terrifyingly bright and acted as fuel for my jet-lagged body, and I couldn't fall asleep even if I wanted to. Take a few selfies and stroll back down to see Grand Central in the dark...

Grand Central

Serena van der Woodsen must have walked down these streets, right?! Or at least be ferried through these hallowed paths... Somehow New York becomes mystical when night comes, as you spy through smoke and cool air, a wonderful and most magical feeling - because it doesn't feel like you're alone at all.


West Village

Where the soulful and youngins go for Sunday brunch... We hopped on the Metro and emerged from Bleecker Street and made our way to find a place to fill our (or my) bellies...

Very popular brunch place serving modern American brunch with great cocktails - we didn't make it in because the queue was too long but many friends have recommended it to me.

Jack's Wife Frieda
50 Carmine Street

Because we didn't want to wait long, we turned around and went across the street to the café opposite which was actually pretty good! They had the best fries (which came cubed, so I was very confused) and sausage patties and I was so full and ready for more exploring at this point...

The Grey Dog
49 Carmine Street

This whole area is littered with great places to explore, here are some more places I wished I had more time for:

by CHLOE  (185 Bleecker St) - A vegan bakery! The perils of being lactose intolerant means I get to indulge in cool and funky treats these days.
Buvette (42 Grove Street) - I saw this pop up in my Instagram feed so much I had to add it to my list. French-style bistro with brunch and lunch on the weekend, in the most beautiful and airy space (or so it seems!).
Freemans (Freeman Alley) - Recommendation from a friend, supposed to have some of the best ribs in town.
Bite Beauty Lip Lab (174 Prince St) - Where you can make your own lipsticks!


Between West Village to The High Line are some truly timeless architecture that makes you feel like a real New Yorker. The fire escape stairs zig-zagging down brick red buildings, those dulcet tones in between the yellow façades... everything moves at a slower and more enjoyable pace here, and that's the way it should be.

The High Line

I made it my mission to make it to The High Line - a suspended park 30 feet from the ground, built around an old train line with self-seeded greenery and beautiful views of Manhattan. The skyline looks almost unreal, and you wouldn't think you're actually standing in a dense metropolis if not for the sun glaring back at you from the neighbouring opaque reflective windows.

The Last Hurrah 

We went into Grand Central terminal this time, just to walk through it and then made it back to our hotel for our taxi to Stamford (lol I told ya it was a work trip aight?).

Even though it was only two days, I really did enjoy our quickfire trip in such a brilliant and lively city and can't wait to return as my best friend has now moved there!

Other places I wanted to try but of course, ran out of time for:

Milk Bar (251 East 13th Street) - David Chang's Momofuku offshoot, great desserts and pick-me-ups
Tarallucci e Vino (163 1st Avenue) - All-day Italian cafe with pastries, coffees, wine and nibbles
Please Don't Tell (113 St Marks Place) - Hidden 60s-themed (?) speakeasy bar
Smorgasburg (90 Kent Ave, Brooklyn) - Seasonal outdoor foodie market in Brooklyn
TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie (21 East 16th Street) - Udon restaurant! My colleagues laughed at me when I said I wanted Asian food so we couldn't go :(

What are your favourite places in NYC?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Should I Dress My Age?

When I was in Greece a couple of months ago, the hotel staff asked me if I was on holidays "with my parents" or whether they "arranged it" for us... At this point, I was quite annoyed and just said "no I booked it myself" and then walked away. I suppose in another lifetime, it'd be great to be seen as someone younger!

I have always looked "young" for my age. When we were in Ireland, one of the AirBnB owners also thought I was still studying i.e. in high school!

So a question that's been in my head recently given these "events" (hahaha no) is whether I should be dressing my age? As someone in their mid-twenties, I love any and every opportunity to not dress in all-black and experiment with different colours and textures. (Ironic because the dress I wore here is black but let's move past that...)

As the token strange person in every friendship group, I was known as the quirky girl whose style was unlike anyone else's – stripes, mustard yellow shorts (!), denim overalls as a teenager, you name it I wore it. At first this bothered me but I learnt to enjoy that and consider it as something I was happy to be associated with, and even be proud of!


But when I finally moved to London for university, while standing way too long to be served at bars too cool for me and watching more 'attractive' girls pushed and shoved their way in front of me to be greeted enthusiastically I thought, 'should I be dressing more like them?

The more I thought about this, the more annoyed I got at myself. Mainly because I felt like I lacked the confidence to dress the way I like, and increasingly felt a pressure to look my age, dress, talk and act in a way that someone could take seriously. Why couldn't I look more grown up? Was it my painfully youthful round Asian face (hahaha)?

This happened a lot while I was in university, no less because my friends had looked more mature than I did, and in a unexplainable and undetectable (like so many things) way, I always felt like someone who didn't fit with the crowd, even though we were the same in our own ways.

I wanted to be the cool girl who went to music festival in a denim jacket and ripped jeans, but I got rainbow facepaint to match my striped top and blue leggings. It was fun, but I always wondered whether I was just a wannabe 16 year old at a gig?


Now, you may say to heck with it, who cares what other people think so long you're confident about what you're dressed in and that's that. And maybe you're right, I was a very self-conscious and overly self-aware person growing up and that carried over well into my student years. 

But like I said, there was always this lingering and knowing feeling that it was because I was dressed in a colourful smock (rather than a shift dress) that I was treated in a way that you treat a 16 year old out on the weekend getting Starbucks. It was bugging me, and there was a year where I did a complete wardrobe re-haul and wore very muted colours, longer dresses and plain tops. 

I got bored of it very soon but kept it up because I received 'compliments' of how much I changed, but in a good way. I didn't really know what that meant, but it seemed like it was something I should be feel happy about. But I still felt frustrated that I had to essentially switch up what I really wanted to do to fit the expectations that probably existed more in my head than it actually existed in real life. 

At that time, it really felt like something changed around me. People were engaging with me more because I 'looked' smarter (I remember someone telling me this once) and wearing heels completed my outfit and I was acknowledged like I mattered, sometimes. Going out dancing seemed more fun, more freeing... 


Soon I got really, really bored of it all. I couldn't wear what I wanted without thinking 'how would this look to other people?' or 'do I look strange?' and that took away a lot of the fun. I also hated the way everyone else basically did the same - wear X or X because it was *the* thing to do, and did their makeup a certain way because it was nicer.

After a while, I decided it didn't really matter much what others thought and acted around me. If someone treats me based on the way I dressed then it's something I would and should bring up and question, instead of actively hiding behind it. No one should feel like they have to seek approval from complete strangers purely on what they had on, and that was what I hated the most.

So I brought back colours I love, wearing things I felt comfortable in, and while I may look like an overly excited tween in her Ray-Ban's, at least I don't really care what everyone else thinks about it. I also look about 12 when I go to work because I don't like having makeup on long work days so I do sometimes feel concerned whether colleagues take me seriously...

Psst, but nowadays I find a pom-pom headband and immediately buy it because I know it's something I can pull off and absolutely love!

Without sounding like a walking cliché, I now appreciate fashion and dressing up even more because it's fun and it's something I look forward to every day because I can do whatever I want and it's silly and something I try not to take seriously.  As for fashion trends, I was never really one for them and re-wearing all my summer clothes from last year (remember off the shoulder dresses?) was made me so happy it was even warm enough to do so!

What do you think about all this? Am I in another one of my self-babbling mode?

Dress - Zara / Sandals - Clarks / Sunglasses - Ray-ban Clubmaster

I'm back in London from the tropics (sobs) but slowly sorting through the photos to show you what we got up to! I loved being back home, eating so much till I felt sick and there's nothing quite like the wash of humid hot air as you step outside the house :-) stay tuned, friends!
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