Day 3: Brooklyn & Lower East Side

Our third day in Manhattan was wet. Rain poured, but we didn’t let it stop us from exploring. We ended up switching up a few days in our itineraries because of the rain. We explored Brooklyn/DUMBO and Lower East Side.

The subway system in New York City is incredibly complex but still easy to understand. Our commute from Midtown to Brooklyn took only about half an hour.

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Because of the rain, we lucked out because the Brooklyn Bridge was practically empty, allowing us to take as many pictures as we can without people in the background.

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My native New Yorker friends have unanimously affirmed that the best pizza in New York is in Brooklyn, so we decided to have lunch at Juliana’s, which is literally next door to the world-famous Grimaldi’s. Juliana’s is a pizzeria owned by Patsy Grimaldi, and it did not disappoint. We devoured a traditional New York-style thin crust pizza. None of that deep dish sh*t.

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Pizza Special No.4: tomato, mozzarella, arugula, and prosciutto

Post-lunch was spent exploring DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Any Gossip Girl fans recognize this area? We were in Dan Humphrey’s hood!

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The rain hindered us from doing a lot of the activities we initially planned, but we didn’t want to waste the day away so we spent the second half of our day to explore Manhattan’s Lower East Side, particularly Chinatown and Little Italy.

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Di Palo’s in Little Italy was definitely a MUST-STOP for me. I knew that there was no way I would return to Los Angeles without grabbing a few goodies from this New York establishment. Di Palo’s is my version of a candy store. My eyes immediately lit up when I walked in. The cheeses, the dried meat, the olives, the pastas…. YUMMMMM-O! I may be Asian, but my gut tells me that I was Italian in my past life.

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The rain poured the entire day and night, so we decided to get take-out dim sum and other yummy Chinese food and have a pajama party back at our apartment!

I wish we spent more time in the Lower East Side, but I know this trip won’t be the last time I’ll see the Big Apple. To those who are visiting, make sure to visit Katz’ Delicatessen!

Stay tuned for day 4!

Cheers,
Anicka Nadine


Juliana’s Pizza
19 Old Fulton St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
T:718.596.6700
www.julianaspizza.com 

Di Palo’s
200 Grand St.
New York, New York 10013
T:212.226.1033
www.dipalosselects.com

Day 2: Lady Liberty, Vodka Shots with Pickle Chasers, and That One Time We Traveled from Ukraine to Paris in Two Minutes

Day 2: Sunday, January 11, 2015

When creating the itinerary for this New York City trip, I tried my hardest to plan our days conquering one section/neighborhood of the city at a time. For our second day, our target was Lower Manhattan.

The New York City subway system is by far the most intricate subway system I’ve ever encountered. Their map looks like spaghetti! So many trains and subways going in all directions. In fact, they have so many that they had to use alphabets AND numbers to name them. Los Angeles’ subway system is nothing but mere fart to New York’s.

With the island of Manhattan only being 13.4 miles long, the subway is one of the most convenient, fastest, and cheapest mode of transportation to get around the city. The fare for one subway ride alone is $2.50. My friends and I knew that this will quickly add up considering our vacation was 10 days long, so one of the most important things we researched prior to our trip was to find a way to minimize our expenses as much as possible.

Perhaps one of the best things we spent our money on while in New York was a 7-day Unlimited Metrocard. The Unlimited Pass was a total of $31.00 ($30.00 for the pass and $1.00 for the Metrocard). It’s valid for 7 days and can literally be used in any subway or train, unlimitedly. This not only saved us so much money, but time as well! We didn’t have to constantly buy one-way tickets every time we entered a subway station. Instead, all we had to do was swipe the card at the turnstiles.

Another purchase that I highly recommend is the New York CityPass! The cost is $109 for adults, and it includes admission to 6 tourist attractions and landmarks all throughout the city.

For our second day at the city, our first stop of the day was Lady Liberty herself. Because of our hotel’s prime location, we only had to take one subway (Subway 1, Red) all the way to Battery Park, which is located at the southern most tip of Manhattan.

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The beautiful Battery Park

We purchased our CityPasses in advanced, and we traded our email vouchers for the actual booklets at the ticket window in Battery Park. For our first attraction, we had a choice between Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. This was a no-brainer.

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First stop of the day!
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Our middle school selves would be so proud!

The ferry itself was only a 20-minute ride away. Our CityPass gave us admission to the ferry and to Liberty Island. It did not include entry to Lady Liberty’s crown, but we didn’t really think it was necessary.

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[J]ustine, [A]drie, [D]ianne, [E]meline, [N]ikki = JADEN
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Bow down, bitches.
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Group selfie (groufie?) with Lady Liberty!

We returned to the mainland after lunch. Financial District was only walking distance, so we took pictures with the famous Charging Bull!

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Other notable attractions in the Financial District are the famous Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.

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My friends and I wanted to truly experience New York City’s food scene and not just dine at the famous eateries, so we decided to grab lunch at Korchma Taras Bulba in SoHo, which was a short cab ride away.

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I discovered Korchma Taras Bulba after it was recommended by one of my favorite New York-based blogger, LoveTaza. The place offered Ukrainian cuisine, and it was unlike any restaurant I’ve ever been to in L.A.

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Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences we had at Korchma Taras Bulba happened during on our way out of place. Prior to our departure, one of the friendly servers stopped us and asked if we were willing to partake in a very Ukrainian tradition — which is taking a shot of vodka, with a chunk of pickle as chaser (all complementary by the way).

My friends and I were all in the same open-minded mentality to try new things and new experiences while in the city, so we were definitely willing! Vodka shot, pickle chaser? Count us in! We cheered and toasted and it was by far one of the coolest ways I’ve ever left a restaurant. It immediately created a stronger bond between my friends and I, reaffirming a sense of camaraderie that we are all in this gritty and loud and exciting city of New York together.

For dessert, we transported ourselves from Ukraine to Paris in two minutes as the legendary Maison du Macaron, Ladurée, was only one block away!

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Eenie meenie miney moe!

As a person, my sweet-tooth is unparalleled. I love love love love sweets! Ice creams, chocolate, cakes, pies, give ’em to me! However, macarons for me have slowly been one of those desserts which I really stopped craving. For one, they’re expensive, ranging from $1.00 per cookie to almost $3.00. Secondly, known as the “world’s most impossible cookie,” French macarons are very very difficult to perfect. It’s very common for me to find a macaron that’s too sweet or too chewy or something else. I always find something quite not right. Which is why I initially entered Ladurée with very very low expectations. Of course, I’ve heard of Ladurée before, but I was still hesitant to believe that their fame as actually earned and legitimate. For all I know, they’re simply overhyped and their macarons overrated.

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$21.00 for a box of six! Ridic, but worth the splurge!

My god, was I wrong. Very very very wrong. Ladurée macarons are by far THE BEST macarons I’ve ever tasted. Ever. Ever. Ever had. I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong. They run at $2.80 a pop, which I admit is a bit on the pricey side, but mother of all things holy, they are absolutely divine. Gahhh, my mouth is salivating just by the mere thought. I recall having one of those moments where upon having my first bite of the salt caramel, my eyes instantly widened as my confused tongue processed the gloriousness occurring in my mouth. They’re not overtly sweet, so it’s beyond easy to consume 10, 20, even 30 in one sitting! They’re truly an indulgence that I believe everyone should have and deserve to have every once in a while. When I die, I want a handful of Ladurée macarons in my mouth, please.

The night was young when we left Ladurée. We didn’t want to waste time being in the city and head home so early, so we decided to see Grand Central Terminal. We originally planned to see the place on a different day, but we figured we might as well cross it off the list now since we have the extra time allowance.

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There’s something so romantic I find about Grand Central Terminal, or train stations in general. Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that train travel is a much older form of travel than airplanes, so it echoes more history of goodbyes and reunions, tears and kisses, from individuals from all over the world.

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Don’t wait to realize you should not have waited.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for day 3!

Love,
Anicka “unpaid Ladurée endorser” Nadine


Korchma Taras Bulba
357 West Broadway
New York, New York 10013
T: 212.510.7510
www.tarasbulba.us

Laduée, SoHo
398 West Broadway
New York, New York 10012
T: 646.392.7868
www.ladureeus.com

Day 1: New York City

Day 1: January 10, 2015

My first visit to New York City was March of 2013 as part of my parents’ college graduation gift for me. I recall taking my very last final by myself at UCLA inside my Geography professor’s office on Friday and jetted off immediately the following Saturday morning. New York City instantly stole my heart, and I remember promising myself that I will return as soon as I can.

Little did I know it will take nearly two years to do so. Last month, I spent ten amazing days in my favorite city with my favorite people as part of my 24th birthday celebration. It was my first time traveling with a big group of friends instead of family, and it was indeed a trip of a lifetime.

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We took an early flight out of LAX, arriving late-afternoon at JFK International Airport. We were a group of seven, so we split between two hotels which were two blocks apart in Manhattan’s Midtown area. The place I stayed at with a few of my girlfriends was an apartment-style hotel located on 38th Street and 6th Avenue called Ten15NYC.

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Ten15NYC is not your typical hotel. It’s apartment-style, so we had our own full-functioning kitchen, dining and living room. We stayed at a one-bedroom, which consisted of one queen size bed and a pull-out sofa bed. The building  is literally tucked in between a mini supermarket and a dumpling house, totally obscured from the street. There are only four floors, the second of which is a nail salon. There are no lobbies, so “checking in” was super informal as it was nothing more than our friendly hotel manager welcoming us in our room, handing us three sets of keys and giving us a tour.

Ten15NYC became our home away from home. Our apartment had hardwood floors and brick walls, which totally exuded the New York City apartment vibe, completely making us feel like true New Yorkers. The place was very clean when we arrived and all the furniture and finishings were modern and updated. The only downsides are:

a) There were no elevators!

Apparently, it is not required by law in New York for buildings less than six stories high to have an elevator. We learned that lesson the hard way as all of us girls each brought 50-lbs carry-on luggages (on top of our carry-ons), all of which we had to carry four. flights. of stairs. It was a total team effort, and we were beyond out of breath at the end of it. I’m sure we gained 5 lbs of muscle after that ordeal alone.

b) The overhead shower was bipolar.

It literally took us fifteen minutes every morning just to find the perfect water temperature. Just a little tweak, the water became either too hot or too cold. We wasted so much water and time trying to make the shower function properly.

All my girlfriends and I agreed that we wanted to spend our first night dining at a fancy restaurant to celebrate ourselves for making the trip happen as well as to commemorate my 24th birthday. Lucky for us, we were able to make reservations at a Michelin-star Italian restaurant merely two blocks away from our hotel, Ai Fiori.

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We all dressed up for the occasion, and I couldn’t be more proud to be in the company of such an amazing group of friends.

Ai Fiori was elegant and refined, which was exactly the ambiance we were looking for. Since it was my birthday dinner, I spared no expense spoiling myself. Life is too short to not eat well after all.

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Torchon: foie gras au naturel, seckel pear, pecans, 25 yr. balsamic
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Astice: butter poached nova scotia butter, carrots, rutabaga, chateau chalon sauce
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Tagliata: prime dry aged strip loin, endive, potato terrine, “cacio e pepe, ” balsamico, bordelaise
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Tartaletta: Loma Sotavento 72% ganache, chocolate chibust, tiramisu gelato
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Mille Feuille: dark chocolate, hazelnut praline, fior di latte gelato

After dinner, we took a cab to Times Square! Cue Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York.”

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Man, it was F R E E Z I N G. I am pretty sure the temperature was in the single-digits that night. It was so cold I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Times Square that bare and empty before.

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Watch our selfie video below! We were all so happy and excited to finally be in New York City, after months and months of planning and waiting!

Thanks for reading and watching! Stay tuned for more!

Love,
Anicka Nadine

 

Empire State of Mind

Last month, I went on a trip of a lifetime with my closest girlfriends to the best city in the world, New York City! Below are some of the pictures we took at the observation deck of the Empire State Building!

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Location: Empire State Building Observatory Deck, 8th Floor
Hat: H&M
Coat: H&M
Sunglasses: Ray Ban
Sweater: Old Navy
Scarf: Zara
Boots: Nordstrom

Thanks to my very patient friend, Dianne, for willingly taking pictures of me in 2-digit weather!

Love,
Anicka Nadine

Life List #37: See a Broadway play live

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Life List #37 was finally crossed off on January 13, 2015! My friends and I wanted to make the most out of our vacation in New York City, and we definitely did not want to pass up the opportunity to see The Lion King live.

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Because of our hotel’s prime location, we only had to walk 4 blocks to the legendary Minskoff Theatre, which is in the heart of Times Square. Unfortunately, cameras and flash photography were not allowed inside the theater, so I wasn’t able to take pictures on my phone.

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2014/09/25/lion-king-autism-friendly-boston/
http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2014/09/25/lion-king-autism-friendly-boston/

I was never involved in drama class or theater in high school, so I don’t have as big of an appreciation for the performing arts as much as I want to, but the play was absolutely fantastic! The costumes, the music, the makeup, the props, the stage set-up were captivating! The intricacies of the costumes and the attention to detail were a level of their own. All the visual elements and acting and costume design all blended magnificently.

http://www.glogster.com/maxbrit/max-webb-and-brittany-greenbaum-the-lion-king/g-6ljotnp2q5vbd5chec83ha0
http://www.glogster.com/maxbrit/max-webb-and-brittany-greenbaum-the-lion-king/g-6ljotnp2q5vbd5chec83ha0

I remember getting goosebumps upon hearing the first few notes of “Circle of Life.” It was as if I was transported back to my childhood days. With every scene, I envisioned its cartoon movie equivalent, but with much more feeling and emotion. My heart strings were definitely tugged when Mufasa died during the stampede. Seeing all the pageantry in person instead of in a television screen makes the experience so much more personal and enchanting.

Sincerely,
Anicka “Hakuna Matata” Nadine