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The Newest City

Week in NYC in September

Story by Pavel Macek May 11th, 2015

First visit in 2012

I’ve been to NYC only twice. First visit was really short – two days – but thanks to an old friend and two new ones, I had a lovely time. I was flying back from SF to Czech Republic and without knowing me at all the two kind architects Martin & Hanka agreed to let me crash at their cozy Upper West Side place. To this day, I can’t believe how generous they were.

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I also I got to spend a whole Saturday with Dave, british geezer that I lived with in Oxford shortly. He lives in Philly, but came on Chinese bus with some chickens so we could spend a day together, which was all in all splendid and peachy.

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Highlight of my first New York City trip was a flea market in Hell’s kitchen with all sorts of peculiar stuff. I almost bought a horrible Prince record.

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the proper visit

Fast forward 2 years, we knew we wan’t to see New York properly, together with Lucka and at least for a week. As always, we did a lot of eating, roaming around and enjoying all (or more like 1%) of what NYC has to offer.

We stayed in a tiny but very cozy apartment in Harlem, near Morningside Park, just around a corner from Columbia University. With plenty of restaurants, Double Dutch cafe and Levain bakery nearby, it was perfect location for our exploring. Even though we arrived quite late the first day, we managed to squeeze into Lido, hip little Italian joint with growing following.
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Another nice little Italian place in the area was Pisticci Ristorante. It is very well reviewed, although it was quite hectic when we were there.

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New York is full of fire staircases, slapped on every building and it adds a unique charm to the whole city. After some thought, I realised, fire staircase is like a hot sauce or bacon. It makes everything better.

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Another abundant thing in New York are parks. Green, lush and usually quite friendly looking (at least on Manhattan Island). Especially after living in Downtown San Francisco, we’ve felt like in haven.

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New Yorkers are known for walking around with their coffee all the time, so in the spirit of that … we didn’t do that, because we are not silly and we rather enjoyed our coffee from Double Dutch every morning sitting, with a almond croissant.

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Everytime you look up in New York it’s an interesting view. If nothing else, you can at least cringe at a thought of being killed by an AC unit hanging out of every other window.

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In Europe, squirrels are usually red, shy and generally beloved cute animals. The eastern grey squirrel found everywhere in NY is not like that at all. Vicious, impudent and ready to snatch your pastrami sandwich at all times. It’s basically a rat with furry tail.

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Before our Big Onion Tour – walking tour with PhD students from Columbia which I highly recommened – we needed to stop for coffee and loo. I came prepared, so I knew exactly where we can get a good cup of coffee. Unfortunately, coffee at Happy Bones was so good, that they didn’t have restrooms so we stopped at a much more friendly and inviting Two Hands cafe. My Latte was terrific and restrooms were nicely decorated, win win.

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Walking through NoHo, SoHo, Tribeca and the little that is left of Little Italy.

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The first time I was in New York, Dave gave me an advice to go to Rockefeller building instead of Empire State Building, because there’s less people, better view and you can see the Empire State Building. We did that and it looked like a smart decision.

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I’m a big fan of the brick buildings of Chelsea and Greenwich Village. The elevated supply train tracks transformed to a public park – Highline – has changed a bit since 2012 and is even more trendier now. In that area, Ovest Pizzoteca by Luzzo‘s is definitely worth visiting, it’s right under the High Line.

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To me, Central Park is the best urban planning idea anyone ever had. In and around the park, I haven’t felt as I’m in a city with 8 million people at all. It also probably helped that autumn was kicking in and trees were taking on all sorts of colours.

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We’ve spend a lot of time walking in New York, using subway only as means of getting home (Harlem) from lower Manhattan when we couldn’t walk anymore at the end of the day. And I must say, it was rarely a dull or scary walk.

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Even though we’ve been in New York a week, we haven’t got enough time to venture of Manhattan island except one time, when we walked over Brooklyn bridge and saw at least a bit of Brooklyn around the sea front, which turned to be a lovely, family infested area.

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Although we hate standing in line, raving recommendations made us wait the line for Julianna’s pizza, right next to Grimaldi’s. It was worth it, although Ovest Pizzoteca was comparable in cozier and less busy setting.

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We caught the perfect light crossing the Brooklyn bridge on our way back to Manhattan. So much better than the subway :) And later that evening, we had a dinner at Vinateria, which was unpretentious but very sophisticated and delicious experience and probably the best meal of our stay in New York. I’ll be back if I can.

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New York City, New York, Spojené státy americké