By PRIYA MULJI.
Taking a bite out of the Big Apple.
POPULAR Eastern Eye columnist Priya Mulji was recently invited to a wedding in New York
and she took the opportunity to give her own unique guide to the city that never sleeps.
Accompanied by her close friend Urvashi Lad, she took in the sights, but also explored some hidden corners of the Big Apple and not surprisingly, had some eye-opening experiences.
“I recently had the pleasure of being invited to a beautiful wedding, which happened to be in New York. It was an opportunity I could not turn down. I booked my flights and off I went with my friend Urvashi Lad,” said Mulji.
Like many, I’ve previously visited the Big Apple and really wanted to write an article about some of the on-trend things to do in the city.
I could sit here and write about all the normal tourist things to do, like go to see the Statue Of Liberty, visit Times Square, go up the Empire State building, walk around the Central park, but I’m not.
During this trip I found out there is so much more to this wonderful place, so I’m going to
share my recommendation for things you might not think about doing in New York City, but
should and some top tips.
The Holiday Inn hotel we stayed at was based in the financial district, a stone’s throw from an area called Tribeca and the World Trade Centre. This is a great location if you don’t want to stay Midtown, which is a lot busier (and more expensive) as it is close to the popular tourist attractions of the Big Apple.
Tribeca is close to the Hudson River and has easy access to the Brooklyn Bridge. It is also close to the subway if you’re looking to travel around the city and taxis are available easily nearby.
I have to start by mentioning the most elegant wedding I have ever attended and the main reason why I was in New York. It took place at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, which is open to the public and it was simply stunning! It happened in an outdoor section of the gardens, which is similar to Kew Gardens in the UK and the ceremony was full of romance. It showed that if you get the location right then everything else will fall into place. After the ceremony there was a cocktail hour, lots of food, plenty of dancing and so much love. Thank you for the invite Natasha and Ashley. Top tip: If you’re attending a wedding or event in New York and want your hair or make-up done, use an app called Glam Squad. They’ll come to wherever you are staying and get you all glammed up for your big event. Big shout out to Lesley who made us look fabulous. Check out their websites. www.bbg.org, www.glamsquad.com and Instagram for Lesley – @lucythewolf
I travelled to the United States with Urvashi, who also happens to be a personal trainer, so I wasn’t able to escape taking a couple of fitness classes. The morning of the wedding, I did my first hot yoga class at a place called Y7 studio. They have various locations but we did a class in Tribeca, close to where we stayed in the financial district. It was just the thing we needed on a Saturday morning to wake us up (and great for recovering from the dreaded jet lag).
The class is heated with infrared heater and candles burnt while we did our vinyasa flows. It was hard at first, but we soon got into it. If you have done regular yoga before it is much easier if you’re planning on taking this class; maybe try a class or follow some online videos first. Be prepared to sweat, though. I felt really good after the
Another class we did was SoulCycle, which is similar to a spin or indoor cycling class you might take in the UK but has better music. Some use weights and have hotter instructors! Big shout out to our instructor Sam Y who made us work hard. www.soul-cycle.com and Instagram for Sam @unstoppablesamy
If you don’t have time to visit a gym, then simply walk up the stairs. New York has lots of high rise buildings and climbing stairs instead of taking elevators will keep your heart rate high. We were staying on the 46th floor of our hotel and Urvashi decided to walk up and live streamed it on Facebook. However, I decided not to do that; soul cycle, yoga and lots of walking were enough for me.
New York City has some of the most delicious and diverse range of food in the world. Here are some recommendations of places to eat and drink on your visit.
Joe’s pizza: The best place to eat a pizza slice in New York. It boasts lots of celebrity fans such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper and Indian American actor Kal Penn. This is a great place for a quick late bite. There are a couple of venues, so check out their website. www.joespizzanyc.com
Beauty and Essex: This is one of the trendy hotspots in New York right now. Sanjay Dutt’s daughter Trishala Dutt and Jennifer Lopez have been known to frequent the establishment. Based in the Lower East Side, it’s worth checking out their monkey bread and chicken biscuits. They also do a champagne brunch on a Sunday, but do book in advance. www.beautyandessex.com
Summer/Autumn Park Avenue: Natasha and Ashley’s wedding rehearsal dinner took place here. Each season the name changes so soon it’ll be Fall (or autumn for us Brits) Park Avenue and then Winter etc. This is a great place for an upmarket lunch or dinner. www.parkavenyc.com
City Vineyard at Pier 26: If you’re looking to have drinks with fantastic views of the Hudson River, check out City Vineyard at Pier 26. It features a rooftop deck, great wines and they show an outdoor movie on Monday nights. www.cityvineyardnyc.com
Black Tap Burger: There are a couple of Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer joints; check this place out for burgers (obviously), wings and their massive freak shakes. This is a great place for a quick, lowkey and very American lunch. www.blacktapnyc.com
Indian Food: If you’re looking for Indian food in the city, head over to Lexington Avenue. There’s an array of eateries/restaurants including popular south Indian restaurant Saravana Bhavan. www.saravanabhavan.com
While at Saravana Bhavan, I had the pleasure of meeting the author of Louisiana Catch, Sweta Vikram, whom I have interviewed for Eastern Eye. We chatted about writing and well-being and it was the perfect last day in the city. Thank you, Sweta, for giving me all those super writing tips. Instagram @swetavikram
Another super trendy place to visit on your travels is Brooklyn. I’d recommend walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and taking in some awesome views of the city. It takes around 30 minutes to walk across the bridge, stop halfway to take some Bollywood-style pictures. Once in Brooklyn there is lots to do including having a lobster roll at Luke’s lobster, walking around Main Street Park, visiting the Pebble Beach and having pizza at Grimaldi’s pizza.
I love shopping as much as the next girl, but for me, this trip was about taking in new experiences. If you do love shopping then there are plenty of amazing stores with great bargains. Great places to check out are in midtown Manhattan, which boasts stores like Sephora, Macy’s and Bloomingdales. A trip to Fifth avenue is a must. In Tribeca, there is
also Westfields, which has some really cute stores and coffee places. If you’re looking for foodie gifts for yourself or loved ones, Chelsea market is a great place. Also, check out boutique markets dotted around Brooklyn. Another lovely place to hit a few shops is South Street Seaport in lower Manhatten. This is close to Fulton Street and you can walk
down to the East River. The area has some great American branded and designer stores as well as boutique stores. To channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker opened a shoe store there. It’s also a great place to grab a coffee or lunch while enjoying some river views.
Chelsea Market and High Line
My final recommendation is to walk the High Line. It begins in Chelsea Market. The market contains lots of foodie places, touristy shops and funky deco places. From there begin your walk on the High Line, which is an almost two mile long beautiful public park that’s been built on an old railway. It ends close to Times Square. So if you’re planning to visit New York’s version of Piccadilly Circus, then this is a great way to combine them both. www.chelseamarket.com, www.thehighline.org/visit
I hope this guide has been useful for you. If you’re planning a trip, you can visit any time of the year because that’s the beauty of New York City, it’s truly the city that never sleeps.