Author Archives: chicagoarteye

Adventure Point: Cape Cod

As anyone knows, New York summers are all about the long weekends. Whether you’re heading upstate, going to the Hamptons or getting some R&R somewhere else on the East Coast, long weekends are the answer to hot, sticky summers in Manhattan. My long weekend of choice was Cape Cod! When my boyfriend suggested getting out New York during one of his visits, I initially jumped on the idea of visiting an elegant seaside town up in Massachusetts. I wanted to go to Nantucket at first, but we finally settled on the 300 year-old-town of Chatham, MA, right on the elbow of Cape Cod. It was the perfect weekend escape from the city!

One of the things I enjoy most about New York is how close it is to other cities on the East Coast. Taking advantage of this fact, Michael and I decided to drive up to Chatham (4.5 hour drive!). Although it was a long drive for after work, the scenery driving though Connecticut, Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts was absolutely breathtaking. Driving on highways completely enclosed by lush green forest and the Long Island Sound was the perfect introduction to the East Coast. Yet, I have to say the adventure part of this trip was getting the rental car and driving out of New York at rush hour! Let me tell you I’ll never own a car in Manhattan; it was miserable. But once we hit the “Welcome to Cape Cod” sign, I realized it was worth it!

As a small, quaint seaside town, Chatham was the perfect getaway. With streets such as Seaside Avenue and Main Street, Chatham is a picture perfect place out of 1950s America. With no chains around except a Bank of America and CVS, this small town was full with beautiful little boutiques, great seafood restaurants and beautiful baby blue hydrangeas lining the streets and white-washed cottages. Here are some of the fun things we did:

1. Seal Tour

Seals inhabit the whole coastline of Chatham. So it was only natural that we go on a boat tour to see these fun sea creatures! It was surprising just how many of them there were just relaxing in great patches of the harbor. Wildlife is a big attraction to Chatham.

2. Bike Tour!

How can you go to Cape Cod without taking a bike tour!? Renting bikes at the Chatham Cycle, we took an absolutely breathtaking 12-mile bike ride through the countryside of Cape Cod. With the ability to be active outside and just take in the scenery, this bike ride was one of my favorite parts of the trip!

3. Lobsta!

You can’t go to Cape Cod without having a lobsta. And lobsta is indeed good in Cape Cod. Having it twice over the weekend, my favorite meal was the lobster roll at a country club along the water. The lobster was fresh, light and delectable, melting perfectly in my mouth with each bite! and of course, in elegant, old Chatham, I accompanied my lobster roll with an Arnold Palmer!

Overall, my long weekend showed me just how necessary it is to get out of the Manhattan once and while during the summer. With the oppressive heat and trash, you almost need sometime away in the middle of nowhere to relax and get out of “city” mode. And Chatham did just that. I needed a couple days to walk around Main Street, go bike riding, be on the water and have a “typical” summer experience. But trust me, driving back into Manhattan, seeing the skyline from Queens, I had never felt so happy to be home in The Big Apple. Let’s just say you can’t take the city out of this girl!

– Harriet White

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Adventure Point: NYC Restaurant Week

Last week, I participated in a time-old tradition in New York: the 20th anniversary of Restaurant Week. In a city of beautiful restaurants, fashionable people and high prices, Restaurant Week gave me the opportunity to try some swanky restaurants for a prime price. Let’s just say this foodie was quite happy!

Now before I babble about my experience at trendy restaurants, let me explain what Restaurant Week is. Held twice a year, Restaurant Week is a 20-plus day event where more than 300 restaurants offer fixed-price menus for weekday lunch and dinner, giving New Yorkers an opportunity to try the best of the best of NY’s dining scene at a fraction of the cost. According to nycgo.com, this event is “a dining celebration and a pioneer in the dining industry.” And little did you know, New York was the first city to have hosted Restaurant Week in 1992 as a part of the Democratic National Convention. It wasn’t meant to be an annual event, but NYC residents enjoyed it so much, it became one!

Now, as someone who enjoys to wine and dine, I was anxious to try the variety and deliciousness  the New York dining scene had to offer. Here is where I went:

Gusto Ristorante, West Village

 

 

From the first two weeks of my time in New York, I had to wanted to try Gusto. Located in the West Village (plus), Gusto is a modern Italian restaurant. It’s the perfect place to go if you want a rustic, charming neighborhood feel with a trendy meal. As I love Italian food, for $35.00, I got eggplant cake with smoked mozzarella for an appetizer, steak with parmigiano and arugala and the tiramisu for dessert. Topped with a glass of Pinot Grigio, this meal was amazing! And luckily, because I went with my boyfriend, I got to try his meals too… zucchini risotto, mozzarella appetizer and a chocolate torte cake! Unlike some restaurants in New York, I enjoyed that Gusto actually gave you a sampling of some of their best meals, although the price was knocked off. I am not sure if I would have come here otherwise, so I was thankful for Restaurant Week! It really inspires NYC residents to get out of their neighborhoods and see what New York has to offer gastronomically!

Spice Market, Meatpacking District

 

So I might like the West Side, because I tried yet another restaurant there. But for Restaurant Week, I wanted to try a restaurant I absolutely was dying to go to but couldn’t necessarily afford. This was Spice Market. An Asian-Fusion (Thai, Indonesian, Japanese) restaurant, Spice Market is a staple restaurant in the NYC food scene. Trendy, exclusive and located in the MPD, Spice Market, under chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, was one of my top restaurants to visit this summer. So when I saw this restaurant was on the list, I almost died. It took forever to find a night where reservations weren’t completely taken, but when there is a will, there is a way. And I found my way into Spice Market.

Grabbing a Passion Fruit Sangria, I ordered the salmon sashimi, the Indonesian Fried Rice with coconut and the ginger cookie with condensed milk. Dying to try this meal, I was a bit disappointed in the quality. As you don’t have to order off the Restaurant Week menu, I tried my friend’s meal, and it tasted delicious. It was then that I learned the dark side of this event: some high-end places dumb down their food for those ordering off the Restaurant Week menu. Although it was disappointing, it is New York after all, and it didn’t surprise me that some restaurants wouldn’t care about those who were paying less. But for me, I at least got to go to Spice Market and get a glimpse of what trendy life is like in the MPD. And I learned the valuable lesson that New Yorkers really can be as stuck up as the world portrays them.

So in the battle between Restaurant Week restaurants, I think I’ll have to choose Gusto. Good neighborhood. Great selection on the menu. Charm. And you can tell they really enjoy people coming in and trying their food. And that’s the best part of Restaurant Week. Getting out and trying the versatility of food in New York! So if I have any advice for future interns in the summer, go to Restaurant Week! It is truly a culinary celebration!

-Harriet White

 

Multimedia Project: Exploring Classic New York

Exploring Classic New York  by Harriet White

The Big Apple. The City that Never Sleeps. The Center of the Universe.

Although there are many names for this majestic city, the feeling of being in New York is pretty inexplicable. If I could try to put it to words, it would be the sublime mixture of feeling on top of the world but while also feeling like one spec in a million among the great and grandiose population. New York is tradition. New York is stylish. New York is the freedom and “confidence of living in the center of the universe.”

But what would I know? I am, by definition, a New York transplant, soaking in every bit of the city and still standing in awe of the Empire State Building’s gleaming authority over the Manhattan skyline. So to get to know New York better, and I mean, the real, classic New York, I decided to explore the timeless experiences and landmarks that make this city tick. And reading New York Magazine‘s “Classic New York” article, this transplant had a perfect idea of where to start…

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1. A Drink at the Carlyle Hotel’s Bemelmans Bar

Drinking Martinis at an Elegant Old Hotel Bar….Media Moguls Breakfasting at the Carlyle…

Okay, so maybe I wasn’t drinking martinis but to kick off my exploration of classic New York, I decided to grab a quick drink at what I suspect would be Don Draper’s watering hole:  Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side.

As an art nouveau, old-money bar, Bemelmans typifies the Upper East Side atmosphere: elegant, exclusive and quite highbrow.  Dimly lit, the walls of Bemelmans are adorned with classic Madeline illustrations and the sound of Sinatra tunes flow brightly throughout the room, making the atmosphere feel more like a scene out of Paris than anything else. Named after the illustrator of the Madeline series, Ludwig Bemelmans, the Caryle Hotel, and in turn, Bemelmans Bar, are New York institutions, described as “a favorite haunt for New Yorkers for years” and “a civilized bar with white-jacketed waiters, a little Gershwin in the background and ice-cold Martinis” according to New York Magazine and Forbes.com.

As one would suspect, I strutted into Bemelmans with confidence, steering my nose high and barely pouting my lips; let’s just say I tried my best to channel Grace Kelly. Sipping on martinis and appearing as indifferent as ever, the crowd at Bemelmans was the creme-de-la-creme of New York from wealthy socialites to business tycoons.  Paying $15 dollars to simply sit in the bar, it was clear Bemelmans was a place to see and be seen. Overhearing conversations of society parties, business plans and scheduled surgeries at Lenox Hill, I got a small glimpse into New York’s upper crust. And sipping on a $20 glass Pinot Grigio at the bar, I felt pretty much a part of the elegance and exclusivity.

In the scheme of classic New York, Bemelmans represents the New York elite; the exclusive, society crowd that stays quite north of 40th street, lunches at Fred’s at Barney’s and attends the Met gala. This was the glamorous New York I often dreamed about when I was younger, and I finally got a real taste of what it felt like to be one of the lucky ones, at least for an hour. And I have to say, Frank, I liked it quite a bit.

http://youtu.be/zTZNLgDXURQ

http://youtu.be/FpJlmeaIamk

2. Top of the Empire State Building

“The Skyline…Empire State Building’s Observation Deck when Tourists Forget to Turn off the Flashes on their Cameras…”

“I want you to meet me on the top of the Empire State Building”

These are the classic words we often remember when thinking about New York. Whether Cary Grant or Tom Hanks claimed these lines, a whimsical reunion at the top of Manhattan is the ultimate New York image. With this, I decided one of my classic experiences had to be sitting in awe of Manhattan from the top of the Empire State. And who knows, maybe Cary Grant would meet me there.

Although the top of the Empire State Building can be considered quite a tourist trap, I visited the landmark with the understanding of figuring out why it is such a classic image rather than a tourist location. And may I say, at first, that was quite hard, as my first classic New York feeling was scorn for tourists.

What they don’t tell you in the movies is that you have to wait quite a bit of time in line before you can reach the 86th floor. Feeling like herded cattle amongst a bevy of Midwestern tourists and foreigners, I thought to myself often throughout the line: Did Meg Ryan have to wait when she met Tom Hanks up here on Valentine’s Day?

But despite how I got there, I finally reached the magical top of Manhattan. And yes, it was just as magical as I thought it would be, so much so that you could hardly hear people talk on the deck as they stared in awe of New York City from the tip of the island all the way to Washington Heights.

Erected in 1931, the Empire State Building characterizes old New York, the pre-World War II era where men clad in full suits strolled the streets in top hats and New York was still The Wonder City. Sitting at the top of the Empire State, I felt a combination of nostalgia for that era and a sentimental feeling of being at a place where great “cinema” men had performed their grand romantic gestures.

Although the Empire State Building often gets thought over as a tourist spot, I learned from my time at the top that it represents the classic New York that is romantic, old and increasingly nostalgic. And I bet if you stood at the top, cradling the observation binoculars and staring down at the beauty of New York, you’d feel it too.

3. The Wooden Escalators at Macy’s on 34th

“Macy’s Santa…”

Naturally, in my search for classic New York, I visited the iconic Macy’s Department Store, one of the largest in the world. My goal was to finally ride the Macy’s wooden escalators and take a trip back into time.

And back in time, I definitely went. Walking into the department store, I didn’t feel necessarily different or particularly New Yorkish until I reached the wooden escalators. A piece of history stuck in the present, these escalators date back to 1902 when Macy’s moved to Herald Square and were considered quite modern and revolutionary for its time. But let’s just say they certainly don’t sound like it. As you can hear in the video, these antiques makes quite the cracking noise as you ride them, giving them an extra level of charm. They are reminders of what Macy’s used to be: the elegance and excitement of shopping at a department store, taking the modern escalators and possibly visiting the “livestock” floor. They are time capsules of turn-of-the-century New York, an era when New York was beginning to be seen as the “new metropolis” and the seeds of the modern city were beginning to be set with Herald Square and the founding of Times Square.

Like the Empire State Building, Macy’s on 34th street plays to the idea of old New York, to the traditions and to the nostalgia. We think of the holiday season, Miracle on 34th Street, the Thanksgiving Parade and the magically old quality of New York. Or at least that’s what flowed through my mind as I took the escalators up to the 8th floor, closing my eyes to hear perfectly the cracking of the wood as it rotated through its cycle.

Listening to the escalator, I realized instantly that this was New York: the mix of old and new, the nostalgia and the feeling of being somewhere important whether now or in the past. Yep, that’s New York, alright.

http://youtu.be/HpRw13hL_9Q

4. Oysters at the Grand Central Oyster Bar

“The Oyster Bar…”

“Before the 20th century, when people thought of New York, they thought of oysters” – Mark Kurlanksy

Despite the glitz and glam of modern New York, the heart of the city is in its status as a great harbor metropolis. And one great mark of this harbor status is New York’s obsession with oysters. Early settlers in New York from the Indians to the Dutch ate oysters found at the estuary of the lower Hudson. With 350 square miles of oyster beds, oysters boomed in the late 19th century, giving New York the title “the Big Oyster.” Learning this, I went in search of oysters, not in the Hudson but at the landmark Grand Central Terminal Oyster Bar.

Nestled deep down in Grand Central, the Oyster Bar, a restaurant described as a New York landmark since its opening in 1913, is the perfect place to get a taste of classic New York; not the apple but the oyster.

As a landmark, you would think the Oyster Bar would be swankier, but it is a simple restaurant/bar with large signs displaying the oysters of the day. It’s clean cut New York, none of the trendiness of that new New York. Having never had an oyster before, I was nervous to try it. But in the name of exploring New York classics, I ordered a duo of Wellfleet, MA oysters, a small oyster perfect enough for an oyster newbie.

Dousing my oyster in cocktail sauce and lemon, I took the plunge and ate the slimy sucker! Fresh as could be, the Wellfleet, MA oyster was delicious with the perfect tart flavor of the lemon and cocktail sauce. From that first plump bite, I could tell why oysters used to represent the wealth and excitement of New York.

Sitting in the basement of the iconic Grand Central terminal and noshing on a couple of oysters, I felt like a quintessential New Yorker, privy to certain knowledge about the city that others didn’t know. I mean, how many people really know that New York used to be called the Big Oyster? It’s the secrets that make New York tick. And the Oyster Bar, hiding deep down in Grand Central, is just one of many New York secrets. I guess the world really is New Yorkers’ oyster…

http://youtu.be/y1KISf-9jvs

http://youtu.be/58C4lxHw41c

5. Riding the Cyclone at Coney Island

“The Cyclone…The Waterfront…Brighton Beach”

When I was younger, my grandmother used to tell me about how her mother came to the U.S. from Greece via Ellis Island. Residing in New York for a bit before heading to Chicago, she visited the famous Coney Island during her stay in the 1910s. And it was there that she had her first American hot dog. I grew up listening to this story, thinking of Coney Island fondly and as a  landmark.

Except Coney Island is not a classic Manhattan landmark but a classic New York landmark as I’ve come to discover. Nestled in southern Brooklyn, Coney Island represents the old, eccentric, quirky part of New York where hot dogs were a hit and carnivals were still valued. If you can imagine, Coney Island used to be a resort town where people would vacation and walk along the beautiful boardwalk. Although the boardwalk is still beautiful, you get a sense in Coney Island that something beautiful and thriving has faded there. It’s history, not present. Even riding the Cyclone, you feel as if you are stepping back in time and remembering what it must’ve been like for people in the early 20th century to ride this, overlooking the waterfront. Plus, you can feel the history in how the ride jerks you around (Yes, classic New York basically broke my back).

The best quality of Coney Island though is the eccentric quality of it. From the bizarre dancers on the boardwalk to the colorfully old rides, Coney Island feels almost surreal, as if you’ve entered a 19th century circus overlooking the Atlantic. People are allowed to be unusual, the Cyclone can rule, Mermaid Avenue is a street and hot dogs are the staple; this is not reality.

But for not being reality, Coney Island offers a special experience: a glimpse of real New York. Not the trends or Manhattan or the exclusivity of the Upper East Side, but real borough New York. It’s not glamorous, but there’s a real charm to it.

I felt this most when I rode up the first drop of the Cyclone. Going up, I got the perfect view of the crystal clear Atlantic Ocean and behind me the skyline of Manhattan and the view of borough New York. This combination of images showed me just how complex New York is, with so many worlds existing into one. Coney Island just represented a small section of that New York, which is so gritty, surreal and old. Coney Island might be fading, but it is a clear image in the idea of classic New York. You can’t get this experience anywhere else, especially when it comes to the hot dogs. Although my great-grandmother wasn’t a fan, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs were divine, perfectly juicy and the perfect cap off of my trip to the surreal and utterly classic Coney Island.

http://youtu.be/BylEWNVtV_4

http://youtu.be/-VzuBAQlW6k

6. Eating a Pastrami Sandwich at Katz’s Delicatessen

“Corned Beef or Pastrami on Rye… Katz’s”

Food is deeply embedded in the idea of classic New York. Food makes New York tick. But what makes New York tick even more is a hot pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Delicatessen. And although I was skeptical, it was one of the most divine meals I’ve had so far in New York.

Pastrami was introduced to New York in the late 19th century by Jewish immigrants in the Lower East Side. Although there is a debate about which deli served it first, Katz’s is one of the first delis to serve hot pastrami (and corned beef) on rye. So naturally I went to Katz’s to check out what this sandwich was all about, as nothing is more New York than one of these sandwiches.

Katz’s is a simple deli where you get a ticket, walk up to the counter and order your sandwich. Packed on a Saturday afternoon, I waited in line, feeling anxious about the meal. What even was pastrami? I was convinced I wasn’t going to like it but knew that I couldn’t explore classic New York without a bite of this sizzling sandwich. As I approached the counter, I told the waiter my order, and he began slicing the pastrami, giving me a slice to taste test. Grabbing the meat, I slipped it into my mouth only to realize how absolutely delicious pastrami was! How did I live here three months and not eat this before?

Grabbing the enormous sandwich off the counter, I anticipated the idea of eating at least a pound of this smoky, chewy and absolutely delicious sandwich. Being conservative, I only asked for a bit of mustard to accompany my pastrami and rye. Sitting down, I took the first bite. Trying to attack this monster of a sandwich, I had pieces of pastrami falling out of mouth. Let’s just say it wasn’t an elegant meal. But that’s the thing, it isn’t supposed to be. Katz’s represents a part of classic New York that was built by Jewish immigrants. With parts of the menu written in Yiddish, you get a clear sense of this heritage at Katz’s, which I hadn’t experienced before. This wasn’t elegant or romanticized New York; this was the real roots of New York: the immigrants and the culture they brought with them. They crowned pastrami and corned beef sandwiches as an art form, and Katz’s celebrates this art form. It’s simple deli food, and I can say one of the best meals of my New York experience. I now understand the phrase that there is nothing more classic in New York than a pastrami sandwich; it encompasses a whole subculture that made the real New York what it is today. I didn’t have what she’s having, but I took a true bite of classic New York…

http://youtu.be/EY82LSElvcY

http://youtu.be/tfdeyJe-gXI 

 Wrapping it Up

Venturing through the different lenses of classic New York, from elegant to surreal to even the Big Oyster, I got the real sense that nostalgia is the typical feeling of classic New York. Wherever I went from Katz’s to Coney Island to even the Empire State Building, I felt nostalgic, reminiscent of another time and thinking of how I was standing somewhere that was so important both in the present and past. I was surprised to find just how many worlds exist in classic New York, so much so that it is hard to define classic New York. With New York Magazine listing hundreds of random phrases as their compilation of “What is New York,” I understand now that it’s simply indescribable. I guess that’s just what makes it New York.

Finally the Tour Guide Around New York

On Saturday, I got to play a new role: tour guide around New York. Yes, it is true, I finally know my way around New York enough to have played guide to my older brother, who was visiting from Boston. Coming in for a brief six hours, Nick wanted to get a taste of classic New York. Unfortunately, it was raining, so we couldn’t go to Coney Island, the Statue of Liberty or even the Top of the Rock. So I decided we’d grab an overloaded pastrami sandwich at Katz’s (as a part of my multimedia project) and venture up around Midtown to give him a taste of the center.

First, I took Nick to Times Square, giving him a taste of the flashing lights of the city that never sleeps. Funny enough, this was one of my first times walking straight through Times Square, and I quickly realized it was one of my least favorite parts of Manhattan. Nick and I trekked through large crowds of people, feeling like we were more likely in the circus than in The Big Apple. Although tourists love New York, the crowds of them in Times Square is almost unbearable ( See! Don’t I sound like a true New Yorker now?) And as any older brother would do, he tried to embarrass me, making me take a picture with a chicken who charged a $3 tip. Yep,as I mentioned, Times Square isn’t my cup of tea in New York.

Seeking refugee from the lights and chaos of Times Square, Nick and I took a small walk to my favorite New York landmark, Shake Shack. Sharing a malt, I was able to show Nick some classics of new New York and share some of my own finds on the island. The half chocolate, half vanilla malt is the best!

Afterwards, we ventured to the Rockefeller Center (my first time), and we tried to get into a NBC studio tour. One way I knew I was still a bit of a tourist in this town is that I didn’t think that the tour would be booked days in advance. And little did I know it, it was. So instead of catching a glimpse of Matt Lauer (and Cody), Nick and I ventured up Fifth Avenue to the what I consider classic New York: FAO Schwarz! This was one of my favorite stops of the day, getting to see the original store off Fifth and seeing all of the old toys. It made me desperately want to visit New York at Christmas, imagining what FAO, Bergdorfs and the Plaza would look like doused in snow. But in reality, it is summer, and I was sad to learn just how many kids weren’t at FAO, but out at Apple. At that moment, I felt a very New York feeling: nostalgia.

Although Nick and I had quite the random day of exploring New York (mostly due to the weather and museums closing early on Saturdays), I enjoyed the confidence of knowing how to take Nick around and which streets to turn on and which subway to take; I wasn’t lost, and I wasn’t a tourist anymore. Seeing as this is one of my last posts in New York, it just goes to show how far I’ve come this summer and what I’ve learned. I might be an angrier walker on the street now, but I had a blast exploring New York, the United Nations and meeting new friends. If only it could be May again…. oh, hell, there comes that nostalgia thing again. I guess I am just a real New Yorker now. Or at least here’s hoping!

-Harriet White

Adventure Point: Walking The High Line & Adventures at The Standard

One neighborhood I have been fascinated by since coming to New York has been the Meatpacking District. Trendy, sleek and very downtown, I decided one afternoon to finally visit The Standard and walk The High Line fully. On beautiful Sunday afternoon at sunset, this fashionable adventure was simply one of my best moments in New York.

Annie, Jaime and I started off this visit to Meatpacking District at the famously mod Standard Hotel at the Biergarten. Before visiting the hotel, I had heard how exclusive and fashion The Standard was. So after one failed attempt at getting into Le Bain, I tried one more attempt at having an afternoon amongst New York’s glitterati. Being transported to Germany, the three of us grabbed a pint of Licher Weisse (light wheat beer) and sat at the open-air benches at the Biergarten. Tempted to eat a pretzel or sausage, I was pleasantly surprised to learn just how low key the Biergarten was. Although most people were trendy, downtown folk, the atmosphere still wasn’t uppity or exclusive. It was simply about having a pint on a hot Manhattan day.

Already nestled underneath The High Line, the three of us decided to walk the full length of this “park” to finally see what modern New York is about. Starting at the second entrance, we started walking along the super-sleek walkway, admiring the different food trucks and luxurious gardens and lawn chairs that decorated The High Line. As I mentioned in my previous mini tryst to The High Line, I was pleasantly surprised of how beautiful the walkway was, even capturing the industrial aspect of New York’s west side.

Although I wouldn’t consider The High Line a park, I would say it has the same appeal as The Cloisters. Not too far from the steel and heat of Manhattan, it is still a nice getaway, getting to overlook the Hudson and see some green for once! And some of my favorites of the Line was the ability to see classic parts of New York at a completely different angle, as seen by my photo of the Empire State Building. To me, The High Line represents modern New York. Our children will think of The High Line as we think of Central Park or the Statue of Liberty, so it was interesting seeing classic parts of New York through a modern lens.

Another fun part of The High Line was seeing all of the different apartments that line this beautiful walkway. I wasn’t sure if I would want to live along this quite public “park,” but nevertheless, the buildings were beautiful and quintessentially west side modern. This was the new New York. Looking at these accommodations, I realized just how places like Upper East Side brick stones and apartments overlooking Central Park were going out of fashion in good ole’ Manhattan. Urban renewal was the new style of New York.

Another interesting aspect of The High Line was the modern art displays. In addition to various murals on apartments nearby, I was fascinated to listen to a contemporary performance art piece with a man simply reading animal names. Although I enjoyed the different flow of art, I thought this was peculiar and a very west side aspect of this New York “park.”

But the best part of this adventure was getting to see the sunset on The High Line. Although the classic New York experiences such as the Empire State Building and Central Park are amazing, I have to say that The High Line is one of my favorite places in New York, capturing the new direction New York is moving toward, especially with the idea of repurposing old landmarks and buildings. To me, The High Line is not a park but a semi-relaxed oasis in the middle of bustling Manhattan. And with ice cream sandwiches, fusion taco stands and sleek lounge chairs, it is the perfect blend of Manhattan and nature. And let’s just say that’s my favorite part.

– Harriet White

Adventure Point: The Cloisters

If you need a retreat from Manhattan, The Cloisters is the place to go. And funny enough, it is in Manhattan. Located at the top of the island near 190th street, The Cloisters is a medieval art museum housed in a medieval-inspired building built in the 1930s. Overlooking the Hudson River and nestled in a bed of greenery, The Cloisters is the perfect place to relax, enjoy nature and go on a long walk in medieval New York.

I decided to go The Cloisters one weekend because I simply needed an escape from the heat and steel of New York. I will say though that the adventure part of my trip was staying on the A line until 190th street. Before that weekend, I hadn’t even taken the subway past 86th, so I was curious what Manhattan would like beyond Central Park, and I couldn’t even believe how long the trip took!

One peculiar part of the 190th street subway station is you have to take a large, cargo-esque elevator up to ground level, only to be greeted by greenery and stairs leading up to Fort Tryon Park (Sounds like England right???). I was completely in shock, walking around a park that looked like upstate, Hudson Valley New York rather than Manhattan. In fact, it even looked more like the Secret Garden than any city park. This was the perfect solitude I needed, and it only proved how many worlds exist on this island.

Although I didn’t go around the Museum ($25 is ridiculous), I was able to walk around, observe the architecture and take in the fresh air and greenery of The Cloisters. Let’s just say that in a neurotic New York this trip was one of my most relaxing experiences in The Big Apple.

If I have any advice for the next week and half, it is to go to The Cloisters. Although I was apprehensive at first, this serene getaway is the perfect place to  reflect on the summer and see just how beautiful New York can be beyond the skyscrapers, fashionable people and delectable food. So when you’re thinking of venturing to Coney Island this weekend, just remember that The Cloisters has less tourists and is just a little piece of eden on this bustling island.

– Harriet White

Trial by Fire

Coming to the end of my three-month internship with the United Nations, I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone, if they can, should have an internship in New York. Besides the whole galavanting about the best city in the world, here is the reason why:

As an intern in Chicago and Brussels before this, I was always given plenty of work and opportunities. My views were heard, and I enjoyed my work whether it was financial writing or public affairs. But something is quite different about my internship in New York: I don’t necessarily feel like an intern. Perhaps this is United Nations specific, but I am given the same level of work as anyone else in the office whether it is attending conferences to writing proposals to even re-designing one of the program’s websites. I am given a level of responsibility that I was never really given before in my previous internships.

The one downturn to this responsibility is it is truly “trial by fire.” No one necessarily gives you direction in New York; you have to be able to learn quickly and be able to do almost any task given. And although this “trial by fire” period has been tough, I am not sure if I am ready to return to school. After seven months of being an intern, here and abroad, I like working and seeing my ideas grow into reality. New York was tough at times, but I have to say I wouldn’t have gained the same level of knowledge or experience anywhere else.

So if I have any advice for future New York interns, it would be to work hard and not worry about the “trial by fire” period. Do your best, and know that New York is giving you more experience than you would’ve gained anywhere else. It’s all a part of the New York experience; no one is going to give you an easy time. And as I said in my first blog post, aren’t we all The Devil Wears Prada intern at some point during our stay in New York? You might not want that type of environment forever, but the experience is invaluable and who knows… you might just be the one testing interns with fire one day.

– Harriet White