You’re in New York for the first time ever. You’ve got 4 hours and an appetite for everything. Where do you start?
Fortunately, I’d planned a tour with Geovanni, a guide from Tours by Locals. Food tours are one of my favourite tourist activities while travelling and Geovanni came recommended as a foodie and architect, so fitted my requirements well and truly.
He met my globe-trotting friend and I at Brooklyn dock where we had just arrived early that June morning after crossing the Atlantic on QM2. Geovanni came with a car and driver, unfortunately not his usual tour guide duo, so it made for an interesting ride for him navigating one way streets and the onward drive out to JFK.
But my requirements were met, to sample typical NY food away from the tourist routes, a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and whatever else we could get to see in four hours.
The first food stop after leaving the Brooklyn cruise terminal was the area known as DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), to a small bagel shop, La Bagel Delight. It had to be a cream cheese bagel for me, further enjoyed on a walk down to Pebble Beach for a photo stop.
Geo was a non-stop verbal expert on NYC, with insider knowledge, fun personality and a passion for his city. It was hard to eat bagels, listen to Geo and watch and take in the atmosphere of this vibrant city.
When we were walking by something ordinary or a landmark he would fill us in on something you never would have known was connected to where we were standing at that moment.
The driver dropped us off outside The Oculus, the new major transport hub designed by Santiago Calatrava – the Spanish architect behind several iconic structures around the world, which was opened last year as part of the newly built World Trade Center complex.
It features a striking and unusually shaped spiky exterior and all-white marble cathedral-like interior, with an almost spaceship-like futuristic feel in its shopping mall area. It does resemble a dove taking flight.
We walked through this white marble structure, with no time for shopping, as I wanted to spend more time at the adjacent 9/11 Memorial. This was built to honour the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The names of every victim of the attack are inscribed in panels alongside twin reflecting pools, spanning nearly an acre with the largest man-made waterfalls in North America.
Then we had a walk towards One World Trade Center (1WTC) built on the site of the Twin Towers which were destroyed on 9/11.
1 WTC has a total height of 1,776 ft. (541 m), an intentional reference to 1776, the year the United States Declaration of Independence was signed.
It can be classed as the tallest building in the USA, and currently the fourth-tallest in the world.
It did make me feel giddy looking up towards the mast on the top.
The driver picked us up once again and drove on to Chelsea Market. Just off West 15th Street in the uber-hip Meatpacking District, a foodie’s paradise, design-lover’s dream, and shopper’s sanctuary, all housed in one historic building.
The building, which is a full block long and a full block wide, was once a factory owned by the National Biscuit Co. Today, its exposed brick walls and passageways pay homage to its delicious roots by housing more than 35 vendors who sell goods ranging from fresh produce to artisanal cheeses to lobster.
We stopped for tacos at LOS TACOS No.1
LOS TACOS No.1 was created after three close friends from Tijuana, Mexico, and Brawley, California, decided to bring the authentic Mexican taco to the east coast.
The authentic taste comes from family recipes and from fresh, simple and tasteful ingredients. No places to sit, just a hectic street food area.
Again no time to shop and we were bustled on to the next foodie venue……pizza, not just any pizza, Artichoke make the yummiest and gooiest pizzas to have on the hoof.
I loved vodka pizza, all creamy on top, no hint of vodka though!
Due to heavy traffic and road works our allocated four hours were almost up, so Geo navigated us from Manhattan, through Queens and on to JKC where we had to leave him. My brain was a little overloaded with information and tummy was full of delights. I left Geo with a wish to one day come back to this wonderful and exciting city and spend more time on my outstanding wish list of places to visit.
My next post will be about driving up to Connecticut and discovering a quiet and elegant part of New England – Southbury CT.