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The Best Gifts for the New York City Lover

They say New York is the city that never sleeps. They call New York “the big apple,” a concrete jungle, a feast of culture and life. But those who call Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs home… the heartbeat of this city is enthralling, addicting and… truthfully, soul enriching. Visitors who have also fallen in love with New York know its undeniable charm and grit. If you happen to be shopping for a lover of NYC, we’ve curated a list of some of our favorite items and gift ideas. Here’s our gift guide for lovers of New York!

Brooklyn Airline’s Tote

New Yorkers know the feeling well. “I Hate Leaving New York.” Brooklyn Airline’s cheeky tote bag will make New York lovers giggle.  Give your New-York-loving friend a laugh and this handy, screen printed gem of a tote bag so they can wear their favorite city with pride.

Contribute to the Greater Good with Social Goods

Based in NYC. Social Goods makes bold statements with their awesome designs and every purchase you make includes a donation to a nonprofit driving real change for the issue at-hand. And to better support the work happening on-the-ground, they offer the ability to connect directly with that nonprofit. From additional education and financial contributions to taking action in your community, you can continue to support in a number of ways thrugh purchasing from Social Goods! Some of our favorites are the New York Woman Tee,  the New York Woman Sweatshirt and the New York Tough Hoodie!

Lifestyle Goods by Lower East Side Artisans, New York x New York

New York x New York is the real deal and I absolutely love their products. From stickers to Ts to mugs, their logo makes a statement and we are here for it. Via their website:

“NYNY began in the Lower East Side in a small lounge on Eldridge St, it was one of the last remaining cultural outposts in a neighborhood that has been hit hard by gentrification (colonization). The party began as a way of connecting the past, present, and future of the city — a space for a New York-born generation, the kids of immigrants to the city, and for anyone tied to the community-centered experience we remember as hip-hop. The word was spread about the party through text message only, we trusted that if you got the password and the video flyer, then we could trust you to pass it on to the right people too.

As time has passed the legend has grown and the once underground party that brings you the real NY vibe now sells out shows wherever we go, from Miami to Hong Kong to Tokyo. Home to resident DJ GETLIVE! and superstar guest DJs from Clark Kent to Vashtie to Kid Capri. We’re staying active in 2020 — dropping apparel collabs and expanding our global brand platform with digital experiences. All while laying the groundwork for live activations as soon as the world is ready for us. Be a part of it — NEWYORK NEWYORK.

Joya’s Foxglove & Âmes Sœurs Candles

For New Yorkers, both native and new residents alike, our apartments are a sanctuary we curate carefully and intentionally. With smaller square footage, each and every item must have a purpose… and have something beautiful to offer. That’s why we’re obsessed with Joya’s candles. They’re gorgeous and their Foxglove candle has a delicious scent we love – think the perfect blend of citrus orange, salt meadow grass, oak, musk and jasmine. As is their Âmes Sœurs candle (which translates to “soul mates”) – the perfect addition to set a cozy, romantic vibe at home. And both are beautiful to look at to boot!

Baronfig’s NYC Softcover Notebooks & Copper Rollerball Pen

New Yorkers who love an old school notebook to write down their goals, dreams and keep themselves on track will adore Baronfig’s New York City Softcover Notebooks. The hand drawn illustrations of “commute life” in the city are adorable and relatable in the most humorous way! If you’re shopping for a cute set, we love their Copper Rollerball Pen to go with. City slickers know there’s know there’s nothing like whipping out a sleek and sturdy pen to use, no matter if you’re signing off on a receipt or signing your first book deal.

“New York In Bloom” Book

Only New Yorkers really get to see the city burst into life in all the seasons. But without a doubt, spring is something special in the city that never sleeps. That’s why we’re obsessed with “New York In Bloom” – the perfect hardcover photography book that highlights beautiful floral, botanical details found nestled in the city’s iconic architecture. It’s the perfect coffee table book for a New York lover’s living room.

Pretty City New York

New Yorkers and New-York-obsessed travelers alike will adore this photo journalistic look into the world of Pretty City New York.” We’ve been obsessed with Instagrammer Siobhan Ferguson’s photos of some of the world’ most famous cities in the world. Through the pages of this book, you’ll get a look into the hidden gems she discovers in the city that never sleeps. Think artisan boutiques, market scenes, quaint alleys and the nooks and crannies of New York that typical tourists may not be aware of. It’s sure to make you want to book a trip to the Big Apple!

Brooklyn Based Fragrance Brand

Apotheke’s deep woody scent “Charcoal” is the perfect cozy scent for your home. We love the lotion and the liquid soap but the line also carries candles, diffusers and more, all made in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Soapworks

We’re absolutely obsessed with Brooklyn Soapwork’s streamlined skincare and handcrafted bar soaps! They pack allllll the skincare you’d ever need in a bar – meaning less waste and more sustainability and incorporate all the same premium oils you’d find in high end skincare lines. We happen to love that each bar is made with love in the good ol’ BK to!

A Simple NYC Tee

Nothing shows your love for the city more than a classic, simple and cute t-shirt touting its name! This special edition NYC Tee is made from organic cotton slub and embroidered with a custom New York design. But what really makes us proud to wear this comfy and adorable tee is that 50% of the sales go to the NYC Fund for Public Health in their efforts fighting COVID-19. It’s a fashionable way to give back to those who have directly saved lives in our city!

Adventures Close to New York City

For those who love the city but need a break from the hustle and bustle, we love love this Easy Weekend Getaways in the Hudson Valley & Catskills guide by Carly Fisher.

 

North America Travel Planning

A First Timer’s Guide To New York City

NYC is my forever home, and I’m so proud of my city. The hustle, the diversity, the beauty… I love it all so much. Every day I seem to discover a new side to New York, and I’ve been here for years! First timer’s in the city might feel overwhelmed by all there is to see and do in dear ol’ NYC – but today, I’ve gathered up my top recommendations. (After hosting many friends and family members, it’s always nice to have a go-to itinerary suggestions!) Without further ado, here is my first timer’s guide to NYC! Filled with must-do activities, some hidden treasures, my absolute favorite eateries, rooftop bars and photo stops as well.

To Do

Use The City Sightseeing Pass

If it’s your first time in NYC and you’re not keen on taking the subway just yet and not interested in wasting tons of money on expensive cabs and Lyfts all day, hopping on the Hop On / Hop Off bus on The Sighseeing Pass is one of the best ways to get around. ​​​​​​​

We know, we know… it sounds touristy, but it’s an efficient way to see majority of the city in a short time frame (especially if it’s your first time in the city). It also helps you get a the lay of the land. Just leave your bags with an NYC luggage storage company and start riding! This is super helpful, because you can mental notes of where you’d like to go back to visit and spend more time. The stops are in the most convenient locations and the buses run frequently too!

Head Downtown

Consider spending time in Downtown as the area has grown quite a bit over the years since 9/11. There are tons of things to do! Be sure to stroll along Stone Street and stop at the many bars and restaurants. Don’t miss out on check out the beautiful architecture at the Oculus (which also serves as a mall and a train station). Shopping at Brookfield Place is a treat… and afterward, I’d recommend heading to Pier 17 to catch stunning views of Dumbo and the water.

Rooftop Cinema

A movie night on the rooftop? Rooftop Cinema has a mission to transform nights at the movies to cinematic events like no other. Starlit evenings, cocktails, snacks, and a great movie selection… what’s not to love?

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

Best Observation Deck – Top Of The Rock ​​​​​​​

Getting an iconic shot of the New York City skyline is a must for first timers, if you ask me! Because you want a view of the city with the iconic Empire State Building in it, Top Of The Rock is my top recommendation of observation decks. Plus, it’s the only deck with epic views of Central Park.

Insider Tip: reserve tickets in advance because they sell out! I personally love coming to Top Of The Rock at 8am because it’s the only time you can get photos without crowds in them!

Runner Up For Best Observation Deck – The Empire State Building 

Just as beautiful as Top Of The Rock’s perspective, and you’ll get a chance to see the well-established and world famous Empire State Building from the inside out. Every inch of the building is filled with such history!

One World Trade Center 

No modern trip to NYC for a first timer is complete without paying homage to the One World Trade Center. It’s such an emotional experience learning about the history here… and the architecture is simply stunning. It’s a fantastic place to people watch and have a moment of reflection. I also adore the viewpoint from One World Trade Center because you can see both downtown and uptown views, Brooklyn, New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

P.S. I’d highly recommend coming to these places later in the evening. Observation decks are best to visit and photograph during golden hour/sunset!

Brooklyn Bridge

Sitting at 6,000 feet long, the Brooklyn Bridge has become just as recognized as the Manhattan skyline… and it’s simply not to be missed. No first timer’s guide to NYC would be complete without a recommendation to see the Brooklyn Bridge for yourself. Seeing the bridge early in the morning is an incredible experience. Minimal crowds, cool air and a stunning sunrise – it’s a photographer’s delight.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

Little Italy

Little Italy is perhaps the most charming of the Manhattan neighborhoods This Italian immigrant haven has transformed over the years in Lower Manhattan, but it’s retained its traditional flair and commitment to the families, restaurants and businesses who brought it to life.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

Williamsburg

Take a trip to the other side! If you have the time in your itinerary, I’d highly recommend exploring Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. P.S. a trip to Williamsburg’s William Vale is the perfect vantage point to get a look at the Manhattan skyscrapers from the riverfront.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

The Vessel

New to the NYC skyline is the modernist structure you’ve probably seen scattered around Instagram… the Vessel! Created as part of the Hudson Yard’s Redevelopment Project, this climbable landmark is the perfect place to people watch. The sculptural, honeycomb-esque design is truly unique against Manhattan’s skyscrapers and it’s the perfect backdrop for some photos too!

Dumbo

Once home to the ferry landing, Dumbo has become such a trendy part of NYC! I have a soft spot for it’s cobblestone streets, chic converted Brooklyn warehouses and up and coming cafes and restaurants. You’ll find people from all walks of life here, including many photographers soaking in the beauty.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

Where To Eat & Drink

Au Za’atar

Au Za’atar has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants in the city! Their Lebanese/Middle Eastern menu is so special. Fresh ingredients, homemade recipes, an inviting space and a great vibe – I couldn’t recommend it more and their table side shawarma makes it such a fun experience!

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

Supermoon Bakehouse

Famous for its cruffins (a delicious mix of croissant and muffins) – Supermoon Bakehouse puts a twist on traditional pastries and then some!

Mexicue

What once began as a Mexican BBQ food truck is now a full fledged staple in the city! Tacos, tequila, lots of interesting combinations of Americana/Mexican staple foods… it’s simply a great spot to meet up with friends.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

Eggloo

Hong Kong’s famous egg waffles right in the heart of NYC! Their ice cream concoctions are so much more than just photogenic, they’re incredibly delicious.

The Loeb Boathouse

The Loeb Boathouse is one of my all-time favorite spots in New York City. The restaurant is set on the most peaceful pond where you can watch the row boats go by while having a drink outside on their patio or lunch/dinner inside of the restaurant. It’s my go-to destination to take New York first timers to get away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.

Queensyard

Queensyard has one of the best views of The Vessel – and its British inspired menu is top notch! It’s the perfect mash up of English classics with an American twist. It’s an excellent brunch spot!

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

Mister Dips

An airstream trailer serving burgers, fries and soft serve ice cream? Yep! You read that right. Only in New York! Mister Dips is parked at the William Vale hotel, a 15,000 square foot public outdoor park overlooking the Williamsburg waterfront. It’s the perfect little spot to enjoy the weather, catch a view of the water and catch up!

Sadelle’s

Come here for one of the best bagel experiences in the city! Sadelle’s is a New York establishment with lots of history. A first timer’s trip in New York without a delicious bagel would be a sin.

Van Leeuwen

Vegan ice cream that actually tastes even better than the real thing (trust me). Van Leeuwen must do some kind of magic to create such delicious flavors!

Brooklyn Bagel

Another exceptional spot for a New York bagel! This time with a dash of more color and pizzazz. Brooklyn Bagel’s doughy goodness is hand rolled, kettle boiled and the perfect combination of chewy and crunchy. It’s a great breakfast spot!

Black Tap

The best burgers and milkshakes place! Black Tap has such a cool vibe. Their Soho menu is top notch and in a great location too! Be sure to order one of their infamous Crazy Shakes.

A First Timer's Guide to NYC

I hope you enjoyed this first timer’s guide to NYC! There’s no place quite like New York, that’s for sure. Be sure to check out more of our NYC posts!

Journal North America

A Love Letter To New York from Nora

It’s a strange thing to live out of a carry-on and backpack, filling the days in between flights being homesick for places I’ve never been to – for far off islands with turquoise waters and impossible sunsets setting into orange sand dunes. I’ve lived airplane ticket to airplane ticket for the last 4 years, marking time with passport stamps and suitcase wheels lost to moving sidewalks, moments measured by a compass rather than a clock. Ten consecutive days was the longest I had spent in one place. And then I came to New York.
I was initiated into city life by taking a pigeon wing to the face, and by watching the guy I was on a first date with stride across the bar to kiss another girl within an hour of meeting me. This was what everyone had warned me about – the brutal city that would rip your heart out and throw it in front of a speeding cab. The city of garbage lined streets, the smell of trash spilling out from alleyways and occasionally masking the stench of urine wafting up from hot asphalt. The over-sized rats that dart in and out of subway tracks, an occasional distraction from the honking and the crowds and the relentless loneliness.
And yet, New York, I love you. And I don’t mean that in the colloquial way, but in that ridiculous all-consuming inconvenient can’t live without you kind of way. As Simone De Beauvoir so aptly put it, “there’s something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.” And it takes a certain kind of unconditional love to love living here, despite the potholed streets and absurd prices and the guarantee of noncommittal heartbreak and rejection.
Because in two subway stops, you can travel through twelve countries. From the cannoli lined storefronts of Little Italy, to the rainbow facades of Chinatown and all of the winding alleyways in between that promise adventure. Where every single subway ride is the most random sampling of humanity, people of all walks of life confined to a single space if only for the briefest moment. Where my morning coffee on the fire escape is imbued with dreams emanating from passerby’s skin in an almost tangible, completely irrational way. Because everything about New York transcends rationality.
In my very first blog post in February 2016, I wrote: You see, no one has ever given me a reason to stay in one place. If and when someone does, I’ll know it’s real. I’ll know that I’ll be able to happily call a place home, because sometimes, home isn’t four walls or the familiar curve of your favorite pillow. It’s wherever another soul calls you to return to day after day. Until then, my heart yearns for the unfamiliar and distant corners of this tiny planet that each and every one of us calls home.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that a city could imbue me with the desire to stay put and the impossibly foreign concept of homesickness. Because when I’m not in New York City, my mind wanders to the views from Rockefeller Center onto the circuit board streets dotted with cabs and food vendors, pink sunsets against mirrored skyscrapers tinged with the unwavering resilience of every human who calls this city home.
Food Hotels North America

Hotels We Love: LUMA Hotel Times Square, New York City

Located on a quiet street between two opposite worlds: the peaceful Bryant Park and the energetic Times Square, LUMA Hotel Times Square is the new modern and tech savvy hotel in town.

photo courtesy of LUMA

The perks of staying in a brand new hotel like LUMA are many. First off, the rooms are strategically equipped with USB outlets in every corner that a digital nomad like myself would need them! The brand new building in the heart of Manhattan, also offers something that is quite unheard of in majority of NYC hotel rooms: Double King Sized beds. Perfect for families who want to stay in one room together. The rooms are all quite spacious for New York and are super modern and clean.

And don’t let the Times Square location fool you into thinking that you may not get enough sleep due to noise. Quite the contrary, thanks to the black out shades, comfortable beds and location of the hotel: far enough to avoid the loud noises of Time Square yet close enough to admire the views.

photo courtesy of LUMA

#DTinsiderTip: Definitely book a room with a view since the other side of the hotel is facing a brick wall which may not be ideal for most people, especially if it’s your first time visiting NYC.

Additional touches that we appreciated:
Etro amenities
Nespresso machine
Speedy and free wifi
Friendly service

Ortzi
The hotel’s restaurant, Ortzi absolutely did not disappoint. We were tried a couple of the many delicious crudos on them menu, a burger with onion jam (amazing) and delicious lamb chops full of flavor. The service was great: attentive and timely and the bar seating makes for great people watching during lunch.


 

#nastasiainNYC

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

I was invited as guest by LUMA Hotel Times Square. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Advice Australia / New Zealand Solo Travel Travel Planning

What Traveling Solo With A Newborn Taught Me

What Traveling Solo With A Newborn Taught Me

One of the things I feared the most when deciding to have a baby was that I would lose my freedom, my own sense of self.  I mean, motherhood is exactly glamorized in the most positive way sometimes. I was scared of the “mom” label. Did that suddenly mean I would go to the supermarket in sweatpants, with a screaming baby who I would yell at all day.  Would it mean I was confined to my house, leaving behind my wanderlust and desire to see the world? Were my best years behind me?

When my first child Nathan was born, I was determined I wouldn’t be one of “those” moms.  I decided I would just carry on with life, with a baby in tow. I always knew I wanted to have kids, but I wasn’t one of those overly maternal people.  I never crumbled into ooohs and ahhhs when a young child was around and wasn’t one of those people who everyone said “aww you will be such a great mom one day.”  But I really had no idea how much you could love something so little and grow so selfless overnight. Literally overnight.

So rather than jump on my mission to naively prove that I could be my own person, and have a baby, it changed to taking him everywhere because I just loved him so much that I wanted to share him with everyone.

What Traveling Solo With A Newborn Taught Me

In New Zealand, we are lucky enough to get paid maternity leave.  When Nathan was born, it was 12 weeks of paid leave and now it is 22 weeks (going up to 26 weeks in 2020)  This bonding time is amazing to have, so I decided to use this time to visit my parents who lived in the USA.  So at 8 weeks old, I took my first trip with a newborn baby, solo, on 24 hours of travel. To be honest, people thought I was crazy.  But my husband was going to meet me there later on and come back on the plane with us, so I figured, “if it’s a nightmare on the way over, at least I’ll have help on the way back.”

So how is flying with an 8 week old baby on your own?  Totally doable. As a mother of 3, looking back, it was a piece of cake.  But at the time, it was still pretty good. My number one piece of advice is to have a baby carrier of some sort, so that you can have your hands free.  I have an Ergobaby soft shell carrier (which means no metal frames) and it can be used as a front pack and a backpack. He snuggled in there through all the security and customs in our connecting flights and loved the movement from walking between terminals.

As much as possible, I tried to keep him on schedule with feed times and sleep times, similar to at home and he was no more unsettled than he would usually be.  I got a bassinet on our 12 hour international flight from Auckland to San Francisco and it was awesome to have somewhere to put him and get an hour of sleep here and there.

Perhaps the first thing I learned on this trip, was how much empathy other people can have, and how easy it is to go the extra mile and make such a difference to someone.  Let me give you some context… New Zealand has a real “tall poppy” syndrome, meaning we hate when anyone thinks there are better than someone else. We think everyone is the same no matter what.  And naively before travel, I would have seen parents with small children, and barely have given them another look. Now though, I can’t help but look for ways to help them. Whether it is to pick up a bag, hold the door, give a kind word of support, I feel such empathy for these other parents who are basically juggling ticking time bombs and trying to hold everything together.  

I never expected extra treatment for traveling with a little baby, as I am just like everyone else, but it was just the little things that made a difference.  The family line through customs, the extra glass of water when you usually had a pay for a bottle (on a cheap airline), the priority boarding etc. They sound like little things, but they made so much of a difference.

While we were in the USA, we took a trip to New York City.  Another one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time. It was just after New Years, it was 1F (-17C) in the middle of a blizzard, and we took our 8 week old on holiday.  I mean, what were we thinking? Well, we rugged up wee Nathan in winter gear, in a sleeping bag in the stroller, with a weatherproof cover so he was toasty and warm and we pushed him around the city sightseeing.

Again, people were so incredibly nice.  We were in a store on 5th Avenue and store clerks offered us space in the changing room if we wanted to feed him.  We went up the Rockefeller Centre Building to get a view across the city, and the lovely people there offered us to skip the queue since we had such a little one.  On the way down the lift, they offered an alternative exit that wouldn’t be so busy. I just had no idea that people could be so helpful. Perhaps it was always happening around me and I was too self-centered to noticed.  I mean I don’t think I was a narcissist by any means, but I never had any reason to wonder about the parents, nor any context on how to help them. Everyday people were going out of their way to help little old me, traveling around a foreign country, with a baby I was still figuring out how to program.

These beautiful acts of altruism have continued as our family has grown.  With three children, we hike around New Zealand and show them the beauty of our surroundings.  On a recent 7.5 hour hike up to Little Mt Peel,(where I took all three kids by myself), members of the local tramping club, held my kids hands as they traversed a ridgeline.  They slowed their own trek down through this narrow section, just to give us a hand.  

So here I was, trying to prove to the world (or myself) that I could travel with a baby and life could be amazing… but that actually wasn’t the lesson at all.  It was opening my eyes to the kindness and the love from other people. It was learning in practice how a little kindness can go a long way. It was understanding that, in the context of the tall poppy syndrome, that sometimes, other people are more important, and that’s okay.

Now when I travel, I look for opportunities to pay forward that kindness, because I just know how much it helped me.  I offer to hold or look after a child while their mum goes to the bathroom, we bring extra small toys and encourage our kids to share them while waiting, and we try to offer kind words of encouragement and support to those that really need it.   

As I stand in the sausage shaped queue with little chatterboxes littering the air with their thoughts, I don’t just ignore and carry on.  I think of the community I have joined, I understand how we are all one people and I bend down and look into their eyes and know its not about me, it’s about all of us.

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