Friday, November 04, 2016

NYC, I love you: What to see, eat, and do in 2 days



New York is one of my absolute favorite places in the world. I love the hustle and bustle, and the never-ending energy of everything going on around me. Plus it's got amazing food, sights, and culture, and there's just always SO much to do and so little time.

This trip is from exactly a year ago, but I love New York so much and it was a super fun, super packed trip, so I wanted to document it here. My first trip to NYC was only a day...I had 2 days this time, but obviously, it is impossible to see and do (and eat!) everything in that short time. I need to plan for a much longer trip next time.

But in true caroekg fashion, I packed in as much as possible in that time span!



Amy is my bestie from back home, and she found a super cheap flight out of LAX, which inspired her to plan a birthday trip. Her boyfriend Lou tagged along, and then we invited my SF bestie June. Together, we made an awesome team!

June and I flew in together on the redeye from SFO. We flew JetBlue, and they had just started flying a sweet new aircraft for that route, and it was a super comfortable flight (and they give you free earplugs and eye masks). I NEVER sleep on a redeye and always regret flying on one, but I actually slept a for a bit on this flight.

We stayed at the Springhill Suites Midtown, which was in the perfect location, affordable-ish (for Manhattan anyways), and hard surprisingly spacious rooms. We had prepared ourselves to be packed in our rooms like sardines, but we had plenty of space to move around, and the beds were queens, instead of the doubles that most Manhattan hotels seemed to have.

We got in a few hours early than the others, and I ended up having a quick work meeting nearby (seemed better to stop in for a presentation in person instead of doing it via phone a few days later). Afterwards, I quickly strolled through Washington Square Park on my way to lunch.


It had been drizzling all that morning, but I was so blown away by how yellow and orange the leaves were, even against the super gloomy, dreary sky, I wish we got that autumn vibe here in the Bay Area too. 


Strolled past the Flatiron Building. Love the cool triangular shape of this building.

We finally met up with Lou and Amy at Eataly. My boss had been talking about how much he loved Eataly leading up to this trip, so I was excited to finally eat there.

Eataly is a giant Italian food marketplace/emporium by Mario Batali, and there are markets, cafes, dessert shops, restaurants, take-out counters galore. There was sooooo much goodness there - meats, cheese, wine, dessert, gelato, coffee, pasta, olive oil...it all made me HUNGRY.



We ate at one of the sit-down restaurants there, and ordered 3 different pastas and a pizza. Everything was delicious, and the pasta was cooked to al dente perfection.


We had planned to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge after lunch, so we headed to that end of Manhattan. But someone (*cough*me*cough*) had neglected to look up directions on how to actually get ON the bridge instead of admiring it from the streets below, and then it started raining, so that mission ended up being a fail.

After trekking all the way back to the hotel to check in and freshen up we headed out again and started strolling through Midtown. The Empire State Building was looking mighty fine that evening.


We stopped by the Ace Hotel to stop in the photo booth, and then hoofed it all the way across to the other side of town and headed over to the Highline.


The Highline is a public parkway that is built on what used to be elevated railroad tracks in the Lower West Side. You get a cool perspective of the skyline and the city. It runs through the Standard Hotel, the Chelsea Market, and the Whitney Museum, among other cool stops.


It had been raining on and off all day, so the walkway was a bit slippery, but it was cool getting that unique perspective of the city and seeing the juxtaposition of the greenery with the urban cityscape. I would definitely love to come back during the day, and maybe have a picnic with goodies from the Chelsea Market, and definitely want to come back to the Whitney.


We then hopped on the subway, and went back across town to the Lower East Side to head over to Momofuku Noodle Bar. A few years ago, Amy introduced me to the show Mind of a Chef, which followed around David Chang for its first season. He talked a lot about ramen, and how Momofuku created its unique broth (INFUSED WITH BACON!), so we were super excited to try it.


The resulting broth was SUPER rich. This ramen, while super tasty, definitely was not the best bowl of ramen I've ever had. I definitely want to try one of his other restaurants next time I am in town, though.

We stopped at Milk Bar afterwards, and went a bit crazy on the dessert. That crack pie is named as such for a reason, guys.  We definitely went back the next day for more crack pie to stock up on goodies to bring home. As I write this, I am craving crack pie and can't wait to go back.

The next morning, we woke up ready for more eating. Our first stop was Russ & Daughters for some lox bagels.


I didn't realize that Russ & Daughters was the super famous Jewish deli that shows up on all the NYC related movies and TV shows until I walked in. This definitely made for the perfect breakfast.

Since my last trip to NYC, I had been complaining about how the bagels on the West Coast don't hold a candle to the ones in NYC. So it was great to FINALLY have another NYC bagel after 5 years. It definitely hit the spot.

My boss (the native New Yorker) had been going on and on about Katz forever, but I had not been planning to go on this specific trip, since I thought we wouldn't have time or have room in our stomachs.


But since I basically next door to it, I just HAD to walk in and get a Pastrami sandwich. Because... #YOLO. And second breakfast is a thing y'all.

We then headed over to Central Park to start walking off our super full stomachs.

It was GORGEOUS. And the weather was a balmy 70 degrees (even in the first week of November), and it was such a perfect experience.


My first time in New York had been in April, and it had felt like full-on spring, with everything in bloom in pink. It was great to see the yellow and the orange all over the park this time.

We coincidentally wore coordinating outfits, which made us take a gazillion photos.


As we Californians don't get a true autumn experience, we spent too much time taking photos of us throwing up leaves in the air, such as these:



We may have had a bit tooooo much fun.

We spent a bit of time around Bethesda Fountain.



Sadly, June lost her memory card here and we spent an hour looking for it, but it didn't turn up. *insert sad face here* We are all still sad about it, a year later, because that memory card had some epic photos on it.

We had planned to go to the Met after this, but we ended up having to nix it. The one thing that I haven had zero time to do in NYC is go to the amazing museums, so I am definitely making that priority #1 on my next trip. I may even plan a trip focused on museums, since I've pretty much crossed off most of the other attractions on my to-do list at this point (yes, even with such limited time !)

No trip to New York is complete without a trip to Shake Shack!
Can we talk about how I was recently in Vegas and really really wanted to stop by the Shake Shack there, but couldn't swing there? And how I'm still dreaming about the frozen custard?

We swung back over to the southern end of the city (lots of back and forth on this trip), to make walking on the Brooklyn Bridge happen for reals this time.


It was ridiculously crowded, and they had blocked off parts of it for construction so it was extra packed. One thing that was scary was that everyone kept walking into the bike lane, and the cyclists would just come out of nowhere. I would be terrified/annoyed if I was biking on the bridge.


Sweet views of the Manhattan skyline.

I left my dSLR at home on this trip, but I really wish I hadn't been too lazy to bring it along, because I really wish I had the chance to play with long exposure with these views of Manhattan.




 But I guess there's always next time...

We were hungry again (!!!), and in the mood for some pizza. Lou and I had both been talking about Grimaldi's, which is now Juliana's.


We ordered the #3: mozzarella, sausage, broccoli rabe and garlic. Perfection.

Next stop: back to Midtown, and up Top of the Rock.


I had decided that we should do either Top of the Rock, or the Empire State, but not both. The thing with the Empire State Building is that when you're on top of it, you can't SEE it as part of the skyline.


It was a pretty clear night and the views were pretty epic. But I did decide that when I come back, I'll probably still go up the Empire State Building because it's such an iconic New York City experience, and I'm all about that. (and speaking of iconic NYC experience, I am dying to skate at the Rockefeller rink one day).

Funny story about this photo:

June and I refer to each other as "baes," in a sarcastic way. When we passed by the love sign and decided to take a photo in front of it, we kind of just looked at each other, and both knew exactly how to pose. 

Because we are true baes and all. haha.

After this, we stopped by the Halal Guys (because we clearly needed MORE food) - that white sauce is addictive and I cannot wait for them to open here in SF. Afterwards, we had a drink at the Top of the Strand (next to our hotel) - June requested that we go to a rooftop bar while we were in NYC.  There was an awesome view of the Empire State from there. 


All in all, it was a great time with my two besties. I definitely want to come back ASAP, though.

Til next time...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A night in the city: Pooja + Vic - Engaged



Haven't done this in awhile! Got to follow these two lovebirds around the city recently. It was a totally gorgeous night - even with the full moon high and bright in the sky. Of course, it poured the next 3 days after that, but you wouldn't have known it.

Pooja is totally gorgeous, and Vic is a total stud. Together they make a pretty damn fine couple. ;) They are totally in love and it was fun to chase them around like paparazzi and capture their love.











We then walked along the Embarcadero, which has stunning views of the city skyline and the Bay Bridge.






Thank you, Pooja and Vic - you guys are awesome! Good luck with the last-minute wedding planning!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Trek Up Bernal Heights Park


I had seen photos of Bernal Heights Park on Instagram, and immediately put it on my list of places to check out ASAP. Even after all this time in SF, I've hardly explored this part of the city. But on one sunny, clear day, I was in the mood to explore after work, and decided it was the perfect opportunity to check it out.





The path up is a gradual uphill, and only about a mile. The view from the summit is absolutely amazing on a clear day - there are sweeping views of the city, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge, and all the way out into the East Bay.

Gorgeous!




Would definitely love to come back again (and do a shoot here!). I'm sure the view would be pretty spectacular at night as well!