Hi.

Welcome to my blog! I document my experiences in travel including drinks, fashion, and food. Hope you have a nice stay!

That basically sums up my wonderful, 48 hour trip to the amazing New York City.

Although this post is slightly outdated by a couple of weeks and the season I decided I was still going to post my fabulous experience from the city that never sleeps.

We arrived early on Friday 12/18/10 to La Guardia Airport, by far one of the most crowded airports I have ever been to but maybe it's the size of it that gives you the feeling and illusion that it is crowded. Once we exited the airport we purchased tickets for the New York Transit Express for $29 dollars round trip from LGA to Grand Central Station.  I highly recommend taking this offer especially because you don't have to go through the hassle of transferring one train to another or paying $60 for a one-way cab ride into the city. So for a savvy frugalista the best way into the city of Manhattan is with the Express Bus. It is about a 35 minute ride into the city but could be longer depending on the traffic.

Once we arrived to Grand Central Station, you can smell the hustle and rumble of a city with so much history. Its a melting pot of flavors, scents, colors, and most importantly cultures. It is a city that I would long to live in for a couple of years but not one to have a family in. It is the place where you can get lost and love every block you are discovering. It is by far one of the only cities in the US that you can walk everywhere and truly enjoy it.

We stayed at the Hyatt right next to the Grand Central Station. It was a nice, clean, spacious suite. Even though we didn't see any bed bugs we did catch a roach in the bathroom the second night. Of course, I was disgusted by it because I have katsaridaphobia (i.e.: fear of cockroaches) but nonetheless that was the only bug we saw. But if you know anything about me, the moment I got home I vacuumed my luggage and washed everything that I took with me and bought. I wasn't going to allow little pests into my condo.

On a brighter note, we got a chance to do many of the things I had wanted to do just as I mentioned in my last post. Inside the Grand Central Station there was a Magnolia Bakery and I got a chance to enjoy some of the world famous (thanks to Sex and the City) cupcakes. I wish I could've gone to the original shop but it's all OK that's why there is always next time.

We purchased two cupcakes, a vanilla on vanilla and a vanilla on chocolate. We decided to hold off on eating these delicious cupcakes until our date at the Top of the Rock, but I won't let you wait till then...

The cupcakes were AMAZING...moist with tons of yummy vanilla bean frosting. Although I am not a huge fan of "tons of frosting" it tasted delicious. Definitely worth the $6.00 we spent on two cupcakes. A little pricey for my taste but it makes sense since they have received tons of publicity thanks to SATC.

Right after our cupcakes we took a stroll down Fifth Avenue and made a couple of stops at some of the stores. Finally sunset comes in, and we head over to Rockefeller Center. If you are ever in NYC during the month of December I highly recommend you going to visit the Rockefeller Center. That is where the annual and famous Christmas tree is lit up and a gorgeous ice skating rink that makes you remember all those wonderful Christmas movies based in NYC (Note: it takes about 2.5 hours in line to get the chance to ice skate at the Rockefeller center. I would recommend saving you pennies and heading over to Central Park). Once we arrived to the Rockefeller Center we went straight to the Top of the Rock so we can finally devour our delish looking cupcakes. We get to the top and sat down by a window with the view of the Empire State building. Great way to enjoy a cupcake, with your love and just absorb what NYC has to offer at night from a birds eye view. We went up to the 67th and 68th we didn't know there was a 69th floor! At the 69th floor you can take a professional photo with the backdrop of the Empire State. So we will have to re-do that the next time we go to NYC.

Post the Top of the Rock visit, we headed to take pictures of ourselves with the huge Christmas tree at the Rockefeller center. I am a person that loves Christmas so this was truly an amazing and happy moment for me. Here are a couple of shots we took while we were there...

Afterwards, we headed to Brasserie Les Halles on Park Avenue to have a late dinner but one that I was extremely looking forward to, since it's my favorite Chef restaurant (Anthony Bourdain). We had reservations for 930pm but typical New York style we didn't get seated till 10pm. So while we waited we had a round of drinks by the crowded bar and enjoyed the atmosphere. Once we sat down we started browsing through the mouthwatering menu that made me want to order everything on it! I ended up sharing the Encornets Grilles, Crudite de Fenouli with Marvin as an appetizer. It was exactly what we were looking to have as an appetizer some grilled fresh calamari with mixed fennel and tomatoes...delish! The sauce that they used to marinate the calamari drizzled into the mixed greens and it was just right. A little spicy with a bold taste. For dinner I ordered the Onglet a l'Echalote, it was a hanger steak with shallot sauce cooked medium well. It was so good that I ate it all! I couldn't imagine myself leaving one little bite on that plate, that's how you know when something was cooked well, when you don't want to take left overs home. After that full meal, we walked 14 blocks back to the hotel to digest the meal a bit since it was quite heavy for dinner but as you can imagine...so well worth it!

The next day, we once again did a little bit of shopping while we waited for Marvin's best friend and gf to get into the city. Around 1030am we started our morning by taking a long leisure walk down Park Ave. towards El Cocotero Restaurant for lunch. We knew it was going to take us a while, so it would get us our appetite going for a big lunch! On our way down, we crossed by the Flatiron building where Old Navy decided to do a quick PR stunt for the holidays! It was a great idea...you grab everyone that is walking by and ask them to dress in these outrageous holiday attire and then have them stand, sit, or whatever on this 70's retro stage where you get your photo taken and have a "Tacky Holiday Photo." So of course, I convinced everyone to get this done because as the PR person that I am I wanted to go through the experience. We waited about 30 minutes but it was the best time ever! We got to see some creative photos, speaking of creative photos here is ours, to the right...it is quite hilarious!

Hallaca con ensalada de gallina
We finally made it to El Cocotero, it is this little quaint restaurant in a quite street. From the outside it reminds me of those shops in Merida, Venezuela with rustic window wood frames and ceramic roofs. You walk in and there is enough room for maybe 45 people to sit down comfortably. Of course, typical NYC, we had to wait about 30 minutes until a table finally cleared. The moment we sat down, me senti en mi pueblo, I felt like I was home. No hay nada como una polar, tequenos, arepa y una hallaca! Que cosa tan deliciosa!

Everyone trusted my judgment in the items to order so here is what we had:

  • An order of tequenos
  • An order of yuca frita
  • An order of hallaca con ensalada de gallina
  • An arepa: reina pepiada (four of them, one each)
  • An arepa: pepito 
  • A couple of Venezuelan beer, Polar and Dominican Republic beer, Presidente
  • A couple of chichas (which our friend loved so much that he ordered two and ended up spending more on that than on his meal!)

mi arepa favorita: reina pepiada
Cervezas de DR y VZLA
Now if you'd like to learn more of each dish listed above here is El Cocotero's menu where you can further read into what they have to offer as well as what each of the items above is all about. But of course, I took pictures of some of these dishes for your viewing pleasure. Of course after eating everything I mentioned, we all fell into a huge food coma to the point that we barely could walk. So we took the train and headed up north to Central Park to see if we can get a chance to ice skate..because that will help us digest quickly (or so we thought).

After paying for two train rides, because we didn't know which side of the platform to stand on (ha!), we finally made it up to Central Park. Central Park is that one place in NYC where you actually feel peaceful. You feel slightly connected to mother nature even though you never leave the hustle and bustle of the city. When we arrived there was a Christmas/Holiday themed fest in the park. We walked by it and smelled the hot cocoa being made, awesome art being created and got to try on some fun looking hats (see right).

After a long discussion to where the ice skating rink was, we finally made it and had to wait about 30 minutes until we had our ice skates on us! It was one the most memorable moments I will never forget. I always wanted to ice skate in central park, you see it in movies and it just makes you wish you lived in NYC or be in NYC during the winter to be able to do such a thing. The only negative thing about the rink is that it gets crowded and therefore the ice gets beat up really quickly which makes it difficult to skate...i prefer smooth ice but that's not possible unless you are the first person to get on the ice rink right after it gets cleaned. No matter what, we had a blast...of course we only lasted about 20 minutes actually on the ice because that's how long my ankles could tolerate those rentals.

Of course, my sweet tooth was craving a cupcake and right when I was starting to look for a spot there was a cupcake shop right next door to our hotel. Baked by Melissa offers a variety of mini cupcakes (tiny enie menie cupcakes). They are so tiny that you can eat them in one bite. It's hard to choose between Baked by Melissa and Magnolia's Bakery. Baked by Melissa is perfect for a sweet tooth person who is looking to just satisfy a craving but Magnolia's cupcakes are more for that special moment you just want to enjoy a nice moist large cupcake. So to each it's own! But of course I took pics of these fabulous cupcakes for all to enjoy (see right).

After a long day, we headed back to the hotel to experience the Martinez sisters holiday party. It was fabulous! Tons of Puerto Rican and Dominican food with tasteful drinks and fun moments. After the party, we tried to be fun young kids that can hang out at bars at midnight after being hardcore tourist during the day, but that was a huge fail! We were all falling asleep at the bar one way or another, it was like we were taking turns. Sad, that would've never happened 6 years ago, oh well! I'm getting old and loving every minute of it.

I must say this was one of my most memorable NYC trips. I had been there several times for personal and work reasons but this time I got to do everything I wanted to do and genuinely love every second of our short time there. I highly recommend everyone to go to NYC during the holidays and experience what I believe is the most magical city during that time of the year!

East Coast for the Holidays!

Una semana...until NYC!