Brooklyn Bow Wow – Doggy Services

– $16 for a 30 minute social walk
– $25 for day care under 6 hours
– $35 for day care over 6 hours
– $45-60 for boarding depending on the length

Having a dog in New York can be a little complicated, especially when everyone in the household is busy with full time jobs! When we first got Smiley, we didn’t have to worry about it because I was still job-hunting from home while Isaac brought home whatever the vegan version of bacon is.

Timing is a weird thing, however, and as soon as Smiley came into our lives, I started getting interview requests after two months of cricket chirps. That’s when I started panicking and doing research about what to do when I finally started work.

I first heard about Brooklyn Bow Wow while walking Smiley at a local park. Several people mentioned their dog-walking services and had nothing but amazing things to say. Being the paranoid dog-mom that I am, a walk just didn’t seem enough to keep Smiley safe and happy.

To add to my stress, one I finally got the job, my first week of work ended up being at the same time that Isaac had Walford training upstate resulting in him having to leave at 5:30 AM and returning as late as 8 PM! At the same time, I was leaving by 7 AM latest and getting back by 7 PM for my first week.

Since we had only had Smiley for a few weeks, we didn’t feel comfortable leaving him alone that long even with a 30-minute walk around noon. The only solution was to take him to a doggy daycare. Which was expensive, a long walk away and we didn’t know if he would be happy there.

Before the week we brought Smiley in to meet the dogs and hang out for 30 minutes to see how he behaved. He was extremely calm around all the dogs and seemed content to be there. It was a great start! On my first day of work I dropped him off without a second thought and went to work. I called at lunch to make sure he was okay and found out that he was! It was all great.

By the time I picked him up, I found out that after 2PM he got very anxious and tried to escape. He was so focused on trying to escape that he ignored all other dogs and didn’t respond to commands and basically acted like an unhappy, spoiled child, which was not good.

The daycare said it was normal at the beginning and that we were welcome to bring him back. Which we did for two more days, during which his behavior did not improve. The staff at Brooklyn Bow Wow was great and so patient with both me and Smiley. They explained that he just didn’t want to hang out calmly with other dogs, needed one-on-one attention from the staff and seemed unhappy there.

They explained that they had enough staff to provide the one-on-one care that Smiley needed, which was a great relief… but they felt bad about Smiley being unhappy and so did I. I fully intended to take him to them again on Thursday and Friday, because I just couldn’t leave him home alone, but after walking by a different, slightly smaller doggy daycare that Smiley had previously visited, I spontaneously decided to take him there just to see what would happy.

For some reason, Smiley preferred that particular daycare (which I will write about in another blog post). We were definitely not done with Brooklyn Bow Wow and we were disappointed that Smiley didn’t like their daycare! We did have a trial walk scheduled with them and hoped to switch to daily walks once our schedule got less crazy.

Just last Saturday, while Isaac and I were out, we had a walker from Brooklyn Bow Wow come over (we had left them the key) and walk Smiley for 30 minutes. It went really well so we are excited to keep using them for regular walks!

Being the paranoid dog parents that we are, we also got a $35 camera to watch Smiley at home. Our apartment has thin walls and a no-dog policy (which our landlord waived as long as Smiley doesn’t disturbed anyone) so we wanted to 1. have peace of mind, 2. see if he barks during the day and 3. see if there’s anything he tries to get into so that we can hide it.

So because of the camera, we got to see (and hear) the Brooklyn Bow Wow walker come in, greet Smiley who was excited to see him, put his harness on and then play with him briefly after dropping him off. We’re not sure if he even noticed the camera (and we resisted scaring him by saying hello through the two-way microphone) so we are extremely satisfied with how the pick up and drop off went. We assume that the walk was just as good!

From now on, we will have the walker come Monday – Friday and since we have a less crazy schedules, Smiley will never be alone for too long and we now know exactly what he does when he’s alone – he snores on our bed like a good boy!

If you’re looking for a doggy daycare, boarding or walking, I definitely recommend Brooklyn Bow Wow! They are located by the DeKalb Subway Station (L train) and they have great prices.

  • $16 for a 30 minute social walk (may include other dogs, private walks are more expensive and less fun for the doggies)
  • $25 for day care under 6 hours
  • $35 for day care over 6 hours
  • $45-60 for boarding depending on the length

We have just started using Brooklyn Bow Wow but have so far had a great experience and high expectations for the future. To save some $$ we prepaid $550 for their services that gives us $600 of credit. If you are interested in using them, give them a call or send them an email and schedule a trial visit and/or walk. You won’t be disappointed!

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Buying Carnivorous Plants in NYC

Amazon was an obvious option but the plants there were expensive and didn’t always have the best reviews. Plus ordering a plant online is risky in case it’s not handled correctly. Does any package deliverer look at “fragile” or “this way up signs”? Not in my experience…

I’ve always been a fan of carnivorous plants and had a bunch in Prague. After the move I got back on the hunt and I started searching in for some hungry plants. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any even though I’ve heard of them being sold everywhere including Walmart.

Amazon was an obvious option but the plants there were expensive and didn’t always have the best reviews. Plus ordering a plant online is risky in case it’s not handled correctly. Does any package deliverer look at “fragile” or “this way up signs”? Not in my experience…

Finally I found a place, Midtown Carnivores, but didn’t have a storefront which made me nervous. I emailed the owner with my order and some questions and he answered me almost immediately. He was friendly, communicative and offered to meet me in Brooklyn with wide range of possible times.

He arrived on time with the plants well-packed and healthy. He provided an info packet on care and said to email him any time with any questions. Although I haven’t had any yet, I am confident that he would answer quickly and help me if I did. If you live in NYC and want a carnivorous plant friend, I definitely recommend Midtown Carnivores. The prices are great, the owner is professional and the plants won’t disappoint!

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Nowadays: Pet-Friendly Bar

Their already great beer prices are even more exciting during their 2-for-1 happy hour which runs from 5pm to 8pm on Thursdays and Fridays. It only works for select beers, but where else in NYC can you get a draft beer for $3? 

I am lucky to live next to two great dog-friendly bars with amazing beer prices! One is the Bridge and Tunnel Brewery and the other is Nowadays. Nowadays is located in Ridgewood, Queens but is right next to Bushwick, Brooklyn. It’s just a five minute walk from Wilson Avenue subway (L).

Nowadays has an indoor and and outdoor area. The indoor area is fancier, doesn’t allow dogs and has a cover fee to enter after certain hours. The outdoor area is dog friendly, free and has a relaxed vibe that I love. Nowadays is open Thursday – Sunday, sometimes also on Wednesdays and they are open year round. Make sure to check on Facebook to see if they are open.

Their already great beer prices are even more exciting during their 2-for-1 happy hour which runs from 5pm to 8pm on Thursdays and Fridays. It only works for select beers, but where else in NYC can you get a draft beer for $3?

As mentioned before, they are open year round! So when it gets cold, the outdoor area is heated with chic round fire pits! I was there on a particularly cold October day and the fire was much needed, plus it added to the great atmosphere. I’m not sure if I’ll enjoy it in the snow, but we’ll find out.

In addition to a great space and atmosphere, the staff is also pretty amazing. They are always friendly and let you try the beers, offer shots of mulled wine (that make you end up buying a cup for $11). I’m from Europe, where mulled wine was born and Nowadays made it so surprisingly good that I almost forgot I wasn’t in Prague’s Old Town Square.

If you’re ever in the area or feel like venturing over to this part of town, make sure to check out Nowadays! It doesn’t get hopping until later at night but if you come early you can grab the best spots while enjoying cheap drinks! Feel free to bring your pets as long as you don’t mind staying outside.

My only complaint: the beers come in single-use plastic. However they will let you re-use the same cup all night.

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Best Vegan Food in China Town, NYC: Bodhi Kosher

On our way in I saw sashimi in the display window and I was disappointed that we weren’t in an all-vegan restaurant. It turned out that the sashimi was vegan too! Another customer who had lived in New York her whole life told us that it was her favorite place in the city.

It was hard to find a vegan restaurant in China Town. Just kidding… it was hard picking one of the dozens of restaurants all claiming to have the “best vegan food in New York City.”

When we lived in Shanghai, China, the concept of veganism was not something that was understood by local people. Although it was easy to avoid animal products by ordering veggie side dishes in local restaurants, there was only one exclusively vegan expat restaurant. So even though we knew that New York is extremely vegan-friendly, we had no idea that China Town was in on the hype.

After a quick search on Google we picked a restaurant based on distance from where we were. It was raining and it would have taken an hour to go through all the options… so we walking for two minutes and found ourselves at the end of a long line outside of Buddha Bodai, supposedly the best vegan restaurant in the city.

Isaac used his Mandarin skills to eves-drop on the staff who mentioned a 45 minute waiting list. We considered waiting since the place had such great reviews, but we ended up finding another place nearby and it didn’t have a line. Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant was barely a block away from Buddha Bodai.

On our way in I saw sashimi in the display window and I was disappointed that we weren’t in an all-vegan restaurant, because I was excited to browse the menu without having to check what I could and couldn’t eat. It turned out that the sashimi was vegan too! Everything in the restaurant was, and this place also claimed to be the best all-vegan restaurant in the city. Plus, another customer who had lived in New York her whole life told us that it was her favorite place.

The list of items on the menu was overwhelming. There was sushi, dim sum, all sorts of traditional dishes made out with mock meat. Like pulled pork, duck and a meat platter all made of mushrooms, stain and other plant-based ingredients that I couldn’t identify.

Unfortunately we came about three hours after dim sum happy hour, which makes every meal a dollar cheaper! Not that Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant is expensive… we spent just over $35 on a giant meat plate, a sushi platter, steamed dumplings, fried dumplings and some dim sum. We even got fortune cookies with the bill – which is not something that happens in China by the way.

We definitely hope to go back and sample some more of their delicious menu. However there’s many other vegan places we still need to eat at in China Town. One of the best things about New York is that you could eat a different restaurant every day and it would still take you a lifetime to try it all!

What’s your favorite restaurant in New York? Leave a comment below!

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Cheap Ferries with Great Views of New York

Depending on the time and day of the week, it can be faster to take the ferry than the subway to get from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn. After a day of exploring New York a few weeks ago, we did just that. We managed to get on the last boat of the day and made it to Dumbo in less than five minutes. From there, we got to enjoy a beautiful view of the city…

As soon as we found out that we were moving to New York, we began booking weekend trips, sightseeing tours and ferry rides. We found a really cool sunset cruise that only cost $16 per person so we bought tickets, never wrote it down on our calendar and we ended up missing it… which was extremely disappointing.

Luckily, just two days later we decided to go to the beach and the subway took almost two hours to get us from Brooklyn to Rockaway in Queens. On our way back we decided to take the ferry to Manhattan with our friends. For the same price as a subway ride, just $2.75, we spent an hour on the ferry with a double rainbow behind us and the most spectacular New York skyline in front of us!

For about $10 we could have ordered a beer on the ferry too. Although that was too expensive for us, if you add $10 and $2.75, that’s still less than the $16 (+ tax and service fee) that we paid for the sunset cruise that didn’t include drinks… if it hadn’t been raining, we would have even gotten a sunset! Instead, we got to see the most beautiful rainbow.

The Manhattan Pier 11 ferry terminal is on Wall Street and it’s in a really cool area. There are places to eat right on the water, there are parks and cute streets to explore. We didn’t have enough time to stay there and look around, but next time we take the ferry, we hope to see more of the area!

Other than the completely free Staten Island ferry that I definitely recommend every New York visitor to take for great views of the Statue of Liberty, you can also take the ferry from the same Pier 11 to Dumbo, Brooklyn.

Depending on the time and day of the week, it can be faster to take the ferry than the subway to get from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn. After a day of exploring New York a few weeks ago, we did just that. We managed to get on the last boat of the day and made it to Dumbo in less than five minutes.

From there, we got to enjoy a beautiful view of the city. We ended up walking to a secluded spot right by the water where we could see the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance as well as the Manhattan skyline. Once again, this ferry only cost us $2.75!

Although we haven’t done it yet, we’ve heard rumors of a $10 ferry that circles the entire island of Manhattan that runs frequently every day. Although these cheap public ferries are a great way to explore New York, if you’re looking for a proper boat tour, that is another cheap option. Subscribe to The Travel Bug Bite for more tips and info about New York City!

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The Best View of New York City: One World Trade Center

One World Trade offers a unique view of New York’s spectacular waterfront. While you can see both the Hudson and East rivers in the distance from Top of the Rock, One World is right on the water. You can both rivers clearly merging into the Upper Bay and watch the sunset over New Jersey…

Everyone always debates between going up the Rockefeller Center‘s Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building to see the best views of New York City. My advice? Go to the One World Trade Observatory (Freedom Tower) instead.

Isaac and I travel a lot and one of the highlights of any trip that we take is going up the highest point. Nothing beats seeing a place you’ve been exploring from a new vantage point and we always try to schedule our trip around sunset to experience the city going from day to night.

Although we still haven’t seen the view from the Empire State Building, we’re confident that nothing will beat One World Trade and here are the reasons why:

1. The Waterfront

One World Trade offers a unique view of New York’s spectacular waterfront. While you can see both the Hudson and East rivers shimmering in the distance from Top of the Rock, One World is right on the water. You can both rivers clearly merging into the Upper Bay and watch the sunset over New Jersey.

2. Brooklyn Bridge

New York’s most iconic bridge, the first steel-wire suspension bridge ever constructed and finished by a woman is one of the highlights of the city. One World offers a beautiful view of not only the Brooklyn Bridge but also the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. Seeing the bridges light up at dusk was magical and not possible from Top of the Rock.

3. No Obstructing Construction

Construction is not an issue at night because the lights of the city drown out the many cranes. However, on our last visit to Top of the Rock during the day, the view was quite obstructed by construction – we couldn’t really see Central Park because at least three buildings are coming up in front of the park. On the other side, right next the Empire State Building, surprise, surprise, there’s more construction!

Since One World Trade is so much taller than all of the buildings surrounding it so there’s no cranes in view. The construction happening uptown is too far to interfere. Unfortunately you can’t see Central Park from the One World observatory at all, but the Top of the Rock isn’t a good place to see it anymore either.

4. Picturesque Skyline

Both One World Trade and Top of the Rock offer great opportunities for photos. On our visit to Top of the Rock we saw a couple getting their wedding photos taken. There are a few big differences between the views. Top of the Rock offers the best possible close-up shot of the Empire State Building and you can even take a selfie with it.

From the One World Trade observatory, you can see Empire State but from a distance. You can take beautiful shots of the entire city with Empire State, Top of the Rock and all of the other iconic sky scrapers all lined up in the distance. Seeing the entire city like that was spectacular, but you couldn’t make out any of the buildings clearly in a selfie. Enjoying a great view should be a bigger priority than the perfect selfie, but to each their own…

5. Floor-Length Windows

When you’re standing up against the floor-length windows in the One World Trade tower, you can see all the way down and feel like you’re flying above the city. With so many people touching the glass and leaning their greasy foreheads against the windows (like I did) create unsightly smudges and reflections that interfere with the view and with photos. But having windows also makes it weatherproof, which gets me to #6….

6. Weatherproof Views

Top of the Rock is outside which is great on a breezy sunny day, but I’ve been there twice in the middle of winter which was less pleasant. Sure, there’s something to be said about the crisp night air, but if it’s raining a lot or if there’s a storm, the observatory is closed. You can visit One World Trade whenever you want and enjoy a (slightly too strongly) air-conditioned space.

7. Tallest Observatory Deck

Size doesn’t matter, but when it comes to views, height makes a difference. One World Trade is significantly taller than Top of the Rock and was actually the tallest building in the USA (if you count the height of the antenna). As I previously mentioned, it’s height puts it over ugly construction on nearby buildings and it just makes it more excited to be as high off the ground as possible.

8. The WOW Factor

This might be an unfair category since the Top of the Rock was built almost a hundred years ago and opened to the public in 1933… but I can’t not mention the cool extras that the One World Trade Center offered that made the experience more special. The elevator that took us up took only 45 seconds and shows us a video of New York as it changed (and grew) in the past 300+ years. It was unexpected and beautiful!

Next we were waiting in line watching yet another movie about the building. It wasn’t boring but staring at screens gets old when you’re itching to see the real thing. The video ended with the screens lifting to reveal our first glance of the bay from (almost) the top of the building! Everyone was so genuinely surprised that we wowed and clapped. Sorry for spoiling the surprise…

Conclusion:

The two buildings offer completely different view of the city. If you can only do one, I’d say go to One World Trade. If you get the chance to do both, it’s definitely worth going to Top of the Rock too. They charge you extra for going around sunset so if you do both, go to Top of the Rock during the day and then do One World Trade for sunset to save a few dollars. Or get the New York Sightseeing Pass and save a lot of money on visiting various attractions in New York.

Both buildings have a fascinating history – if you do One World Trade I’d recommend visiting the 9/11 Memorial first to truly appreciate what a symbol of hope the Freedom Tower was in the light of the terrible attack on the Twin Towers. It’s a somber experience that made sure to emphasize the One World Trade Center’s part in New York’s healing process.

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Rainbow Bagels: They Look like a Unicorn, Taste Like 💩

The bagel was sugary yet flavorless, the beautiful twirls of colors wasted on what tasted far from the rainbow I expected. I had to scrape the cream cheese onto a regular piece of bread to get the grossly bland flavor out of my mouth…

Bored of regular New York bagels and coffee after just one month of living in Brooklyn, I decided to venture out and sample something special. Somehow Googling “glitter coffee” took me to the The Bagel Store’s website. I couldn’t find what I was looking for but the words “rainbow bagels” and “the bagel that broke the internet” combined with pictures of crazy colors had me intrigued. I just had to try one but I didn’t want to do it alone.

I got to their store at 754 Metropolitan Ave way too easily, already worrying that if the bagels tasted as good as they looked I’d be tempted to hop on the L train for 15 minutes for a fresh taste of the rainbow every single day. Perpetually early, I got there with time to spare and was disappointed to find that the place was tiny and hot. But at least there was an empty seat for me to sit in while a waited!

After just five minutes of me waiting the two men behind the counter started eyeing me and I overheard one asking if I had ordered anything. It was my first experience of New Yorkers being rude and it made me squirm in my seat, going out of my way to check my watch, sigh and pretend to text so that it was clear that I’m waiting for someone. Why else would someone sit in an non-airconditioned bagel store in the middle of a heat wave?

Five more minutes passed, I made accidental eye contact with the staff who didn’t return my smile, so I got up and waited in the doorway which provided a pleasant breeze and was slightly less awkward. My friend finally arrived and we went in to buy some bagels, “to-go” of course, to avoid the heat of the place and the coldness of the staff.

I ate the bagels a few hours later at home after toasting them on the stove, taking some pretty pictures and slathering them in tofu cream cheese. A sweet stuffy smell filled the kitchen but my hopes were still high… until my third bite. The bagel was sugary yet flavorless, the beautiful twirls of colors wasted on what tasted far from the rainbow I expected. I had to scrape the cream cheese onto a regular piece of bread to get the grossly bland flavor out of my mouth. They should call it the bagel that broke the planet after a tsunami of colorful bread clogged up toilets and overflowed landfills.

Despite the unpleasant experience with the store, the staff and the rainbow bagel itself, I plan on returning to give their glitter bagel a chance. Now that my expectations are so low, nothing can disappoint me. Right? Plus I still haven’t tried edible glitter and since I can’t find a sparkling coffee anywhere, a blinged out bagel will have to do for the time being.

All in all, I recommend the rainbow bagel if you’re an Instagrammer or just want to check it off your bucket list like I did. Please don’t feed it to any birds, unless you hate them and want them to die. Just keep in mind that crows never forget a human face and will get revenge if you torture them with this rainbow 💩.

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New to New York: First Impressions

So our first impressions are: New York is awesome! It’s overwhelmingly huge and the atmosphere, in Manhattan especially, is boisterous and pregnant with possibilities that make you want to follow your dreams and shoot for the moon! The people have been friendly, chatty and very welcoming. It’s so diverse and international that no one bats an eyelash about a Ukrainian-born Czech moving here from China…

Isaac and I left our cozy home in Europe in July 2016 with a plan of spending a year in Shanghai, China while doing some traveling before settling down in New England in a cute house with a large backyard to fit all of our rescued animals. But things don’t always go the way we plan… and that can be a good thing!

Since my visa wasn’t ready and our travel plans had spun out of control, we ended up spending another year in Shanghai. During that year we visited Tibet, Seoul, Harbin, Bali, Cebu, Manila and PhiPhi! That Christmas I also got to spend a year in New York and I couldn’t help falling in love with it.

When my visa interview appointment was set and it was time to look for jobs, I pushed Isaac to extend his New England applications down the coast to New York and New Jersey. I had no idea that he would get his dream job in my dream city! We made all of the arrangements and started booking weekend trips and bought New York Sightseeing Passes but it didn’t feel real until we arrived at our first apartment viewing on August 1st.

It only took seven apartment visits to find our perfect apartment and it was far from the house we had pictured as our first home in the US. It was also perfect! It’s no colonial but it’s surprisingly large and affordable for Brooklyn (picture a shoebox that’s meant for knee-length boots instead of flip-flops) plus it has a small shared backyard with one other family.

Our backyard-sharing neighbors are quite rude I must admit, almost as rude as we pictured most New Yorkers to be. We could not have been more wrong! Compared to Shanghai, the people here are extremely polite, respectful and aware of personal space as well as their surroundings.

In addition to not stepping on us and letting people get off the subway before they get on, they don’t stare and always say “excuse me” if they want to get by you, or if they get in your way at all. One guy apologized for almost stepping on me when I was rudely rushing by him without saying “excuse me” to warn him to not step on me. It’s truly night and day!

It’s also making me curious to explore the rest of America and see these terrifyingly friendly and polite people who make New Yorkers seem rude. Our first trip outside of the city will be Block Island RI to visit family, then Cape May NJ to whale watch and in October we have a fall foliage train ride leaving from Connecticut and then a lighthouse bout tour planned along the Hudson River.

Between unpacking, Isaac working, my job hunting and our weekend trips we’re low on time to actually explore the city! We’ve been squeezing in some activities from our Sightseeing pass that have so far included a day at Luna Park followed by the last weekly Coney Island fireworks of the season, we took a night tour of the city, we visited the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, soaked up the day-time views from the Top of the Rock Observatory and then took a stroll through Central Park – yes, our feet hurt.

We also got to spend the day in flapper dresses (well I did, Isaac wore his typical work outfit with bonus suspenders and a fedora). We had booked the tickets for the Jazz Age Lawn Party the moment my visa was approved back in June and it was even more fun than we had expected! We went with an old friend from Prague who also moved to New York and met a brand new dance-loving vegan friend who happens to live in Brooklyn too!

So our first impressions are: New York is awesome! It’s overwhelmingly huge and the atmosphere, in Manhattan especially, is boisterous and pregnant with possibilities that make you want to follow your dreams and shoot for the moon! The people have been friendly, chatty and very welcoming. It’s so diverse and international that no one bats an eyelash about a Ukrainian-born Czech moving here from China.

I will be writing an entire blog post about the subway and how it compares to the horrors that I experienced on my daily commute in China. Let’s just say for now that when I heard a girl complain about the rudeness of a man who stood up before the subway came to a stop because he stumbled and accidentally touched her – well, Isaac had to stop me from bursting out laughing. Because he didn’t want me to be loud on the otherwise quiet crowded subway… and if you’re reading this thinking I’m crazy, I beg you to book a flight to Shanghai and take the metro during rush hour.

Don’t forget to subscribe for more blog posts about New York, fun guest posts by people living on the other side of the world and for more fun travel stories from places both near and far.

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When to Visit the Top of the Rock Observatory

I have been to the Top of the Rock Observatory three times now. The first time I went was in February 2014. I don’t remember the day of the week but I know it was about an hour before it closed at 11 PM and it wasn’t too crowded. It was my first time in New York and I thoroughly enjoyed the view of endless lights made only more magical by a sprinkle of snow on the freezing night that I was grossly underdressed for…

I have been to the Top of the Rock Observatory three times now. The first time I went was in February 2014. I don’t remember the day of the week but I know it was about an hour before it closed at 11 PM and it wasn’t too crowded. It was my first time in New York and I thoroughly enjoyed the view of endless lights made only more magical by a sprinkle of snow on the freezing night that I was grossly underdressed for.

My second visit to the Rockefeller‘s famous viewpoint was unfortunately also in the middle of winter, around 8 PM on Friday, December 22nd, 2017. It took an entire hour from me getting in line to buy a ticket using my New York Explorer Pass to stepping out onto the observation deck. It would have taken longer if one of the guards hadn’t taken pity on me.

I must have looked quite pathetic squatting on the cold floor, my feet aching after four consecutive days of non-stop walking. He looked at my ticket, winked and let me in half an hour earlier than my allotted time that stood out on the glossy paper in bold.

Getting in the elevator was the first step of a grueling wait. There was an obnoxiously long line to get through security, picture people taking off all their winter layers and stray scarves getting stuck in the conveyor belt in between overflowing trays. Next came another line to get photos taken that few people would actually end up spending the price of lunch for two on. Then came another elevator before we finally reached the top deck where I had to wait patiently for people to take the perfect selfie before clearing a tiny gap for me to look out at the city through.

Once again, the view was spectacular! I didn’t recognize much except for the Empire State Building, the ball that would be dropped in just nine days in Times Square and of course, the darkness in between the lights that was Central Park. It was beautiful but meaningless unless you know the city… and the journey out of the building was an adventure of it’s own that took another hour.

Less than a week ago on an only slightly too warm Sunday afternoon, I visited Top of the Rock for a third time. This time I could actually see the buildings clearly and I wasn’t overwhelmed by the myriad of neon lights. Maybe it was because I knew the city a little better this time or because I was sharing the experience with Isaac, but it was by far the best my three visits.

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We spent ages looking up the buildings we were looking at, reading up on them (download the official app) and taking photos. There were essentially no lines going up (or down) and there were few tourists to obstruct the views. There was even a couple taking wedding photos because it was just that empty! We walked around leisurely, soaked up the views and sat down on a bench overlooking the Empire State building to eat lunch that we brought along from home. #zerowaste #vegan #newyorkonabudget

If you only have one opportunity to go up to the observation deck, I recommend doing it during the day. Not just because of the crowds, but you really get to appreciate the city if you can recognize the buildings in between green parks and sparkling rivers. You can enjoy the city lit up from the ground – specifically Dumbo in Brooklyn or from atop Manhattan bridge.

We do plan on going up the Empire State building at night and we’ll let you know how the views compare so stay tuned! The reason that so many people go to Top of the Rock at night is to specifically see the Empire State building lit up in all it’s glory. So when you go depends on what you want to see. But personally, I think it’s just as beautiful, if not more, during the day!

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5-Day New York City Guide 2018 (Guest Post)

If this is your first time in NYC, you know why you’re here: you want to see Times Square. Sure, go see it. Everyone should see it once in their lifetime (and only once). Do some touristy stuff on Day 1. Day 2: West Side, Day 3: Central Park, Day 4: East Side and Day 5: Downtown.

Ok, here’s a suggestion of how I would do it, given 5 days. There is a lot of walking because New York is all about walking, by Jesse Richardsoriginally posted on Quora.

Day 1: Ugh, Midtown

If this is your first time in NYC, you know why you’re here: you want to see Times Square. Sure, go see it. Everyone should see it once in their lifetime (and only once). Do some touristy stuff. Go ahead, get it out of your system. We’ll wait. And I hear there’s a nice Applebee’s for lunch around there.

1. Times Square
2. Rockefeller Center
3. Bryant Park
4. NY Public Library 
5. Grand Central Station
6. Empire State Building
7. See a show (Broadway or Off)

Day 2: West Side

Now the good part starts. Let’s walk around some of my favorite neighborhoods. Start at the Flatiron building and walk south on Broadway to Union Square, and south some more to Washington Square Park. Then take Bleecker all the way through the West Village. Don’t be too prescriptive; you’ve got plenty of time to wander around. To finish off the day, walk the whole length of the High Line north. It will be crowded, but it’s worth it.

1. Flatiron bldg
2. Madison Sq Park
3. Eataly
4. Union Square
5. Greenmarket (certain days)
6. Forbidden Planet & Strand
7. NYU
8. Washington Sq Park
9. Bleecker Street
10. Get lost in the West Village
11. Meatpacking district
12. The High Line

Day 3: Central Park

And now, the most beautiful work of art ever created: Central Park. Afterward, there are a few million more pieces of art in The Met. Here’s a recommended path:

1. Columbus Circle
2. Chess & Checkers house
3. The Dairy
4. The Mall
5. Bethesda Fountain
6. Pass by the Bow Bridge
7. Strawberry Fields & Imagine mosaic
8. The Ramble
9. Belvedere Castle
10. Shakespeare Garden
11. Great Lawn
12. The Met

(If you are ever able to go to Central Park for a second day, check out the north half, including the Ravine and Conservatory Garden.)

Day 4: East Side

Back to another tour of incredible neighborhoods.

1. Chinatown
2. Canal St.
3. SoHo
4. Lower East Side
5. Katz’s Deli
6. Alphabet City
7. Thompkins Sq Park
8. St. Mark’s Place
9. East Village
10. Take the L one stop to Williamsburg
11. Wander around Williamsburg
12. Check out the Pier

Day 5: Downtown

Follow the beautiful series of interconnected parks around the tip of Manhattan, giving you spectacular views of the harbor and Statue of Liberty. Then, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and see even better views from the Brooklyn Promenade.

1. Rockefeller Park
2. Tom Otterness sculpture garden
3. South Cove harbor and Esplanade
4. Robert F. Wagner park
5. Battery Park
6. Vietnam Veterans Memorial
7. Elevated Acre
8. South Street Seaport (the museum is nice, too)
9. Brooklyn Bridge
10. Brooklyn Heights
11. Brooklyn Promenade
12. Skybridge down to:
13. Brooklyn Bridge Park
14. and DUMBO

Day 6: Soak feet.

Don’t do too many touristy things. Just wander in the world’s best neighborhoods.

(All photos by Jesse Richards.)

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