Day 1: NYC Adventures

Hello from New York City! I’m here with Maya. This is our sequel to the Paris adventures in 2010, but this time, we decided to meet up in the Big Apple instead of crossing the ocean. I’m so glad that I get to spend the next four days with my BFF, in one of my favorite cities in the world!

We’re staying right smack in the middle of Times Square. We can see a part of the famous illuminations from our 41st floor hotel room. We’re on a FULL ON tourist mode, with maps and cameras and all.lol

After our red-eye flights landed in JFK (where we met up), we headed over to the hotel to check our luggage and walked over to the Rockefeller Center to watch the Today Show.

It was chilly outside so we went into Bouchon Bakery (formerly Dean and Deluca) to warm up, and to enjoy an amazing breakfast. We even got to watch Today Show from inside the bakery through the glass windows.

I had the Brioche bagel with Gruyere cheese spread, picked onion, and tomato slices, a cup of chocolate soy milk, and two macarons (chocolate and raspberry lemon). Definitely not a bad way to start out the vacation.

After we walked and shopped around the Rockefeller Center, we returned to the hotel and had our first drinks at the hotel bar, while we waited for the room to be available. The hotel staff informed us that the room would be ready in 15 minutes, but we ended up spending almost 2 hours at the bar talking and laughing!

We were getting a bit hungry after a few hours of walking, so we headed to the Grand Central Station for some oysters at the Grand Central Oyster Bar.

We had eight pieces of Kumamoto oysters each, and shared the order of fried oysters and broiled scallops. Everything was amazingly fresh. We opened a bottle of Chardonnay.

Grand Central Market made me wish that I had a kitchen nearby!

We had tickets to go on the NBC Studios Tour so we hurried back to the Rock, but not before taking in the beauty of Bryant Park. This is one of my favorite spots in NYC.

The NBC Studios Tour was a-okay, but we got to see the studios where Dr. Oz, Jimmy Fallon, and Saturday Night Live are taped so that was pretty neat.  I’m happy that I got to take a photo with my TV crush, Matt Lauer, even if he were a cardboard.

I was getting a bit fatigued and didn’t feel like going up the Rock so we headed to a nearby Italian restaurant for much needed rest. The restaurant was called Pasta Lovers but neither Maya nor I ordered a pasta dish.  Instead, we had Salad Nicoise (me) and Sea Bass with Risotto (Maya).

Okay, time to go to bed now. I’m looking forward to another exciting day with ma-ma-Maya!

Chasing the Flavors of the City: Magnolia Bakery, NYC

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I won’t go so far as to take the Sex and the City bus tour, but I was definitely curious to see some of the memorable locations featured in the show while I was still in New York. (Just like any other red blooded women in the world, I absolutely love the show.  I would have to say that Miranda is my favorite character, although all those silly “which-SATC-character-are-you” quizes I take indicate that I’m more Charlotte … hmmm.) One place in particular that I had to visit was Carrie’s apartment, or the front of the apartment known to fans as Carrie’s Stoop. Although she lived in the Upper East Side on the show, the actual apartment steps are located in Greenwich Village on Perry Street, between West 4th and Bleecker Street. The actual address is 66 Perry.

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Another reason why I wanted to visit the Greenwich Village was to check out the ever-so-popular Magnolia Bakery and try its famous cupcakes. I admit that I’m a total ambulance chaser when it comes to sweets, and ever since I watched Saturday Night Live’s “Chronicle of Narnia” rap, (Lazy Sunday), I had to check this place out and see what the buzz was about with my own eyes.

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The bakery was only a few blocks from Carrie’s Stoop, and as I expected, there was a line about 15 people deep. The place was a lot smaller than I expected but I was able to grab the famous Red Velvet cupcake from the self-serve cupcake section. Since there was no place for me to eat there, I walked over to the little park across the street.

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I really enjoyed the whipped vanilla frosting that was smothered on top of the cake (it was heavenly) but the cupcake itself was a blah. The cake was pretty flavorless and way too dry! Perhaps it was because it had been sitting out for a while (afterall, it was already around 3:00 p.m. when I got there) and it would have probably been so much better earlier in the day, but still, I thought Sprinkles was 100 times better! Nonetheless, I was very happy that I had the chance to take a bite out of the beloved New York landmark.

Magnolia Bakery
401 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10014

Solitude and the City: New York City

new-york-3One of my all-time favorite movies is Sophia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, but I get a lot of slacks when I tell this to my Japanese friends. The flick, for some reason, is not too popular among the Japanese crowd, who feels that the movie makes a mockery out of the culture, and depicts the city in a negative light. One friend said that it’s unrealistic for Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson’s character) to be in Tokyo, one of the most exciting cities in the world, and still manage to feel alone.

new-york-2It was very interesting that he said this, because that is the exact reason why I love this movie so much — that you can feel lonely even in a city so crowded that you can’t walk down the street without rubbing shoulders with strangers. New York, to me, was exactly that kind of place, where, despite thousands and thousands of people sharing one small space, everyone is alone and in their own, solitary world.

Next stop on my whirlwind of business travel was Manhattan — not a huge departure from Sao Paulo which was equally metropolitan, but definitely a change from my everyday life in the quite suburb of Los Angeles.

To me, New York seems not a city, but a living, breathing being. When I walk by all the famous landmarks alas the Chrysler and Empire State buildings, etc., I couldn’t help but to acknowledge its existence, as if I’m greeting an actual person. Each location has its own distinct personality and charm, and sometime I want to smile, hug, wave, bow, high-five, or just applause because it’s truly magnificent.

new-yorkMy favorite spot in the city was the Bryant Park, located right across from the office, and only a few blocks from the hotel I was staying. I often escaped the office at lunchtime, grabbed food at a local eatery (Pret A Manger being my favorite … thank goodness they were all over Midtown) and just hang out at the crowded park watching the other office escapees – in a complete peace and solitude.