The first morning is always the most difficult one. We’re quite experienced travellers by now from Europe to the States, so we know how to avoid the worst kind of jetlag. We managed to sleep until 6AM (which is noon where we live!) instead of 4AM like on our first trip to NYC. We know we’re up very early the first day, so book in an early morning trip to something you really want to see. In our case, that was the 9/11 Museum which finally opened it’s doors in 2014.
But first: breakfast!
Now, the last time we were staying in the Soho Grand, we always went to this little coffee shop around the corner, Cafe Cafe. It was an awesome little place frequented mostly by locals and their dogs. Unfortunately, in August 2013, they lost their lease and had to close down. I was truly devastated (still am to be honest) and even more so when we walked by and noticed that the place was still boarded up and they were looking for new tenants.
Anyhow, back to my trusted Yelp-app to find a new place around Soho that didn’t charge massive amounts of dollars for breakfast. I decided on the Landmark Diner on Grand St. Now, don’t run away when you see the exterior of this diner, because it might just scare you off. Ok, no, that’s not true. It will scare you off. Inside is not that much better, but then you’re in a straightforward diner. You’re greeted by a feisty little lady who immediately plonks menus and a mug of coffee in front of you whilst asking: fresh OJ, yes? The menu options are huge. You can also choose out of several set menus at great prices. I took the pancakes, the husband some eggs with bacon and fresh toast. Service was swift and the food was really good. Portions were huge, but hey, when in the States …
If you really want to enjoy and experience New York, don’t get subway tickets … just walk! The city is full of wonderful places and beautiful vistas, it would be a shame to miss out on them by riding from one station to another. Only take the subway when it rains or when you have to go all the way from downtown to uptown. The NYC street grid system is easier to comprehend than the subway system by the way …
Also, get your tickets to the 911 Memorial Museum (or any kind of visit that you want to do) online beforehand. They might be cheaper in some cases, but they also allow you to jump the queues. And there will be queues. Also, get there early: we walked around the museum for a good three hours and I feel like I still didn’t see it all. I’m not going to tell you about all the things we saw there, I’m going to let you experience it all for yourself. One thing: go. You have to see this if it’s the only museum you’ll visit in NYC. It’s powerful, it’s full of pictures and recordings I’ve never heard before and it just makes you go quiet.
Outside are two huge remembrance pools which mark the spots where the two WTC towers stood before the attack. All around are the names of the people who lost their lives in the attack. Above it all towers the new One WTC. Powerful place, I can’t help but reflect and gaze into that falling water.
From the 911-site it’s about a 5 minute walk to one of the BEST burgers you’ll ever have in your life. Some say I am overreacting (yes, you Ben!), but most people agree with me, Shake Shack is the best fast food burger you’ll ever eat! Get the Shake Shack burger (single or double, up to you!) and the curly fries. And don’t get scared off by long waiting lines. For one, the wait is totally worth it, but the lines are moving fast as Shake Shack staff is really quick to take your order. If you’re traveling with your dog, get him the pooch-ini – yes, there is a menu for the four legged friends too!
Our afternoons in NYC are mostly reserved for strolling through he city and shopping, so we did just that. Got an awesome t-shirt for myself at Gloria Jewel (West Broadway) and we went back into the huge Chinese Pearl River Mart on Broadway and Canal St. It’s just so much fun to browse through all the stuff they have there! All this made me crave for some really good dumplings, so back to Yelp to find me a good Chinese restaurant not too far from the Soho Grand. We decided on Uncle Ted’s Modern Chinese Cuisine in Bleecker St. The place was pretty full, but they were able to give us a table straight away. I went for the pork dumplings in spicy sauce and my husband went for the steamed pork dumplings as a starter and then the lo mein as well as the fried rice with chicken. My god! The food was amazing here, I can still taste the spicy sauce. Very good service too, quick and friendly! If you’re lucky, you’re even greeted by uncle Ted himself 😉
Landmark Diner: http://landmarkdinernyc.com
911 Memorial Museum tickets: http://www.911memorial.org/visit-911-memorial-museum
Find the Shake Shack nearest to you: http://www.shakeshack.com
Gloria Jewel: http://www.gloriajewel.com
Browse online through the Pearl River Mart: http://pearlriver.com/v3/index.asp
Be sure to reserve your table at Uncle Ted’s!! http://uncletedsnyc.com