One World Trade Observatory: New York City

The new One World Trade center is an amazing building, not one because of its architecture but because of its history. It is the tallest building in the USA and has one of the best views of New York City! The observatory has a unique view of the bay and even New Jersey. The best time to go here is right before sunrise to see it during the day and at night!

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Free Coffee in NYC: Pret A Manger

In case you were wondering, yes, they do have pumpkin spice lattes that can be vegan or not! There’s nothing basic about enjoying some pumpkin spice in the fall time! *glares at haters*

New York City is known for being expensive! We have lived here since August and I can confirm this, however, there are ways to visit or live here on a budget. One thing that we have done, is traded in Starbucks for a much better coffee chain Pret a Manger.

Not only is the coffee here delicious and cheaper than at other chains. They give you a free first coffee and they had a great card that rewards you for your loyalty. This card is digital and you can use it through your their app. You can also save your payment information which allows you to pay by scanning your unique barcode directly from your phone.

Although you will often come in to Pret and see a long line of people, the line will move at lightning speed. This is because they only make fancy coffees for you and if you want a regular coffee, you can pour it yourself! They have a cute little coffee bar with four options: decaf and three different brews as well as several kinds of milk, including nut-based dairy-free milks! Of course there’s also sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.

So basically, you come in, scan your barcode, pick a size and you do the rest yourself. No one gets the chance to mess up your order and you are in an out as quickly as you need. Of course, you can also bring your own thermos to illuminate plastic waste and you are welcome to hang out in their seating area for as long as you want.

In case you were wondering, yes, they do have pumpkin spice lattes that can be vegan or not! There’s nothing basic about enjoying some pumpkin spice in the fall time! *glares at haters*

Check it out:

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Chinese New Year Parade in Manhattan, NYC

The highlight of the day for me was two dogs, a husky and a golden retriever dressed in traditional golden Chinese lion uniforms. Just like the ones that are worn for the lion dance!

Yesterday, on February 17th, we went to see the Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown! As you may already know, Isaac and I lived in China for two years before moving to New York. We ended up going to the parade with a friend who we met in Shanghai! It was the first time we saw her since we had payday sushi and it was great to see her!

Our friend had actually been to this parade before so she convinced us to meet her for brunch at Jing Fong at 10:00. We thought it was ridiculous to meet so early when the parade didn’t start until 13:00, but she just said to trust her and we’re glad we did!

The brunch at Jing Fong was interesting. You need to keep in mind that we didn’t enjoy our time in China as much as our friend, so while she thrived in the chaos of Chinese waiters yelling and carts of mystery food rolling by, we felt like we were back in a place we didn’t love. Also, although the official menu had a lot of vegetarian and vegan options, this dim sum brunch did not.

So even though we were less than two blocks from our favorite vegan dim sum place, we were stuck eating the same two overpriced dishes, one of which was a dessert. It wasn’t the best experience but if you’re a meat eater and want to enjoy a new culture, I think you’d like this place!

The way ordering works, is that everyone gets a ticket – sometimes there will be several groups of people at one table if it’s crowded. We had two older Chinese gentlemen sitting with us which was interesting. When the carts come by, you can take plates of food and they will stamp your ticket in the correct category: small, medium, large, special, etc. Each category has a set price that is tallied up at the end.

Just like in China, not everyone at Jing Fong speak Chinese. It was really difficult for us to communicate with them to find out if things were vegan or not. Even though Isaac speaks basic Chinese! It also took 20 people to explain that we wanted two separate tickets for our group – even the two men sitting with us got involved in explaining what we want. This was a typical problem for us in China – simple things became a huge ordeal to explain and solve.

We left the restaurant after about an hour – when we first got there, it was only half full. On our way out, there were hordes of people standing in a line out the door. When we got out onto the street to find a spot to watch the parade, it was no different. There were already thousands of people standing and waiting for a parade that wouldn’t start for two more hours!

It was lucky we came early, although we did had another friend who came out at noon and he managed to find an ok spot to watch from as well. But if you want a guaranteed great spot to watch from, definitely come early. The earlier the better!

As for the parade itself, I wasn’t too impressed but I may be a little jaded. There were many impressive dragons that got better the later it got. Those and the lion dancers were amazing. But like all parades in New York, in between the cool performers were people campaigning and I hate that every parade is so political.

The police department performed too and that part was great, but I could have done without all the boring stuff in between! If you haven’t been to Chinatown or New York before, you may not know this, but most police officers in Chinatown are Chinese or of Chinese descent, which is really cool!

So this was our third parade in New York. The other two we had experienced were the Caribbean and Halloween parades and they both had similar boring political fillers in between the cool stuff. I guess they don’t get the necessary funds without agreeing to include these? I’m not really sure to be honest.

All in all, the Chinese New Year Parade was interesting to see. I definitely recommend seeing it at least once, especially if you haven’t been to China and want to experience the culture a little. The crowds to get in an out are also very authentic, and if you think being smushed by crowds of people is unique to New York, don’t be fooled and read about my description of my daily rush hour commutes in Shanghai!

The highlight of the day for me was two dogs, a husky and a golden retriever dressed in traditional golden Chinese lion uniforms. Just like the ones that are worn for the lion dance! Did you get to see the parade? Tell me about your favorite part in the comments below.

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$2.75 Ferry Ride with a View: Rockaway Beach to Manhattan – NYC

Why overpay for a crowded cruise full of tourists when you can take a $2.75 (regular MTA fair) ferry ride!

Why overpay for a crowded cruise full of tourists when you can take a $2.75 (regular MTA fair) ferry ride! It takes about an hour and the views are spectacular. As you can see in the video below, it can get a little windy but sometimes there’s a rainbow waiting for you!

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Last Firework Display of Summer 2018: Coney Island, NYC

In the summer you can experience fireworks on Coney Island every Friday as long as the weather is good. We only managed to go on the last day and we’re assuming these fireworks were extra special because they can’t be this good every Friday!

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Luna Park in Coney Island, NYC

Luna Park adventure at Coney Island, NYC!

It’s still cold outside but warm weather is coming. I repeat: Warm. Weather. Is. Coming! There are so many fun things that we’re all dying to do when we don’t need to wear our ski coats and fuzzy socks just go cross the street to the local bodega. One of the things I’m excited to do is go down to the beach and maybe visit Coney Island!

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Jane’s Carousel: 100 Years in NYC

For $2, you can ride a 100 year old carousel with a view of New York City!

We moved to New York City this past August. Before looking for an apartment or job hunting, we dived head first into exploring and local travel! We ran into Jane’s Carousel accidentally while enjoying the views of the city from Brooklyn’s Dumbo. ¬†For only $2 we could ride this historic carousel. Who said that carousels are just for children?

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Rockaway Beach NYC: Better than Coney Island

Did you know that New York has 14 miles (22 km) of beaches? Check it out!

Most people who visit New York spend most of their time exploring Manhattan, hitting the tourist spots in Brooklyn, occasionally they even set out to Queens or the Bronx, sometimes to the beaches on Long Island. Not every tourist knows that New York has many beaches to visit during the summer! In face, New York has 14 miles (22 km) of beaches!

Brighton Beach and Coney Island are the more popular and crowded ones. There is also the popular Manhattan beach and the more out of the way – yet our favorite has been Rockaway Beach. Unfortunately for us, we live in Brooklyn so it took us over 2 hours of subway delays to get here, because the subway lines in New York are mostly horizontal.

We had to go into Manhattan then grab a train down to Rockaway. It would have been faster to drive or better yet, take the ferry. You can take the ferry here from New York and from Manhattan. The ferry ride is the same price as the train, just $2.75 and it’s fast, breezy and offers a unique view of the city!

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Exploring Buffalo, New York

Road trip time!

In 2018 Isaac and I visited 10 countries! After moving to New York and getting a dog we didn’t have as many opportunities to hop on too many flights, but we did take many exciting road trips.

In 2019 our travel goals are definitely more local and will hopefully involve Smiley! Can you say road trip? Right after the move, we visited Niagara Falls for my birthday with included exploring Buffalo. We’re hoping that our future trips go as well as this one!

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