Monday, December 19, 2011

Coffee... and more Coffee (and Tea)

Guess what opened up today in my neighborhood!


Yeah, I know. There goes my money... I mean, what a great new studying spot!!!!

Apparently, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is a big hit out on the West Coast, so I was psyched to check it out when it finally opened in my neighborhood.

credit: (Susie)

I found the interior to be really beautiful, with a great atmosphere and good music. It also smelled really nice (you know that new store smell?).

I bought a White Chocolate Ice Blended.

Too bad it was 30 degrees out tonight. I was freeeeeezing by the time I finished, but it was worth it! (I'm not so into hot drinks, for those of you wondering why I didn't get one).

They also have great looking wraps, salads and sandwiches from Pomegranate in Brooklyn, and delicious looking baked goods from Butterflake bakery in Teaneck.

I guess the Upper West Side has a new hot-spot!
See you there!

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is located at the corner of 86th and Amsterdam.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Interesting Fruits and Weird Fish

I unintentionally went on an adventure. It was so cool!

Two friends were visiting me for a couple of days, and they needed to catch a bus downtown. Of course, I offered to accompany them.

We ended up in... CHINATOWN!!
(yes, they took the Chinese bus - quite an adventure in itself).


If you ever want to remain in New York City, yet feel like you've dropped into another country, definitely go to Chinatown.

My first venture into Chinatown was a few years ago when I did Grand Jury Duty in the NYC Criminal Court building a few blocks away. I didn't venture too far in.

But I found myself there once again a few weeks ago, and so I decided to explore!

Throughout American history, the Chinese have been subject to a lot of discrimination with immigration and labor rights. For example, the only racially based legislation that the US ever established was the Chinese  Exclusion Act that remained in effect from 1870-1943. So they began their own community in lower Manhattan.

Today, Chinatown is a huge tourist attraction, boasting various interesting eateries, shops, cheap trinkets and faux designer goods, as well as unusual fruits and vegetables and really weird fish.

I took a walk down Grand Street, possibly the busiest part of Chinatown, and dropped into a few shops along the way.

Look at that over there! (in the picture above)... I see something soo exciting!!! On the right... Look closer. See them?

I love persimmons... they are super delicious, and they are sold in abundance in Chinatown!

Along my walk, I stepped into a store that caught my eye. Looked interesting.

But then I looked closer.

(I made the picture smaller because I don't want you to have fish staring straight in your face).
And these fish were not even the worst of it! I saw some fish that I didn't even know could be consumed! Weird.

Anyway, I really just explored one teeny-tiny part of Chinatown. I hope to make my way down there again sometime soon and visit the really awesome parts of the little community. Anyone care to join?

Be sure to check out for more information about Chinatown.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

"Seasons on the Terrace"

I posted a few weeks ago about how much I absolutely love the changing seasons in New York.

I've been meaning to post this video for a long time - all about the changing seasons in Central Park. It is incredibly beautiful and very well done. What a treasure we have in New York! I really should go more often.


P.S. I so badly want to go ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park this winter! Who wants to come with me?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Surprise in a Planter

A few days ago, as I was walking home from work, I passed by a small building in my neighborhood that I pass at least once a week. 

But as I passed by the building that day, I noticed two people standing over a planter right outside their front door, i.e. a mini garden for people in the city who can't plant an actual garden, often used for decorative purposes. As I got closer, I started to smell something amazing. It took me a few seconds to figure it out.

Fresh herbs!!!

It's not everyday that you find wonderful fresh herbs in a planter on a New York City street! 

To make a short story even shorter, being the curious young lady I am, I asked them all about their planter, why they plant it, how often they pick it, what they grow, who they are, what they do...

And as a lovely treat at the end of our conversation, they gave me a fragrant bunch of fresh thyme to take home!

What a nice surprise :-).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Beautiful Fall Foliage

Fall has finally arrived! The leaves are changing colors and falling off the trees, getting ready for the cold winter months ahead.

I absolutely love experiencing the changing seasons here in New York - there is a certain charm about the first leaves off the trees, the first snow storm, the first daffodils peeking out of the ground, and the first day of pure, warm sunshine and a bright blue sky.

I took a walk through Central Park this past Friday, and I got to experience the majestic colors that are out in full force. Allow me to share some of my experiences with you:

I absolutely love the contrast of a huge tree against a pale blue sky with a beautiful building peeking through the branches.

 I saw this on my walk over to Central Park. I just love how the purple leaves hang off the iron bars and cast beautiful shadows on the grey building.

I see this tree every year and always find it so charming sitting there all alone, so skinny and seemingly forlorn, yet covered in leaves of such a fantastic pale yellow color.

As I walked towards the Bridal Path where I took my walk, I noticed some beautiful colors by the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir...

The water was such an enchanting bright blue that day. And across the reservoir was a cluster of trees in various majestic hues.

Another view of the reservoir...

Along the Bridal Path - These carefully manicured lawns with trees seem to be spray painted just the right color to bring out even the smallest detail.

 Sadly, because of the early snow storm last weekend, Central Park lost over 1000 trees.

 Another tree contrasted against the sky and a building peeking through its branches (now can you see that I love this type of image?)

This is my favorite picture by far! It's the "other side of the reservoir" that I displayed above. Look at the colors! The beautiful, striking, amazing colors!

How unbelievably amazing it is that we have trees that change colors! It makes life so interesting and exciting. What an incredible world we live in.

And finally...

If you can get out to see this in real life, please do! If you have any pictures to share, please send them in and I'll be glad to post them.


Here are some stunning images sent in by a friend of her backyard. Thanks!!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

History on 53rd


Can you guess what this is??

It is one of the coolest things I've seen in NYC.

I'll give you a hint: November 9, 1989

No, still don't know? How about this: East and West

Okay fine, I'll tell you.

This is a piece of the BERLIN WALL!!

How cool is that!

Located on 53rd between 5th and Madison Avenues, this piece of the Berlin Wall is just one of many that were distributed throughout the world after its fall.

The Berlin Wall was a symbol of the Cold War, and its fall on November 9, 1989 represented the demise of the Communist Regime.


The history of the Berlin Wall is a bit complicated, but in a nutshell: 
During the Cold War, Berlin was divided into two parts - East Berlin was under the Communist regime and West Berlin was not. With the wall as a barrier, East Berliners had absolutely no contact with the modern, more advanced West Berlin. When the wall came down, East Berliners who had been so used the the backwards Soviet way of life, were finally exposed to the modern world.

Here is a great site with more information about the Berlin Wall.

Be sure to check it out! It's a real piece of history!!!

Oh, and there are some fantastic water-fall like fountains there, too :-).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ghosts in the Library (or Studying Around Town)

I know that many of my readers are students like me who spend a lot of time studying. The nature of studying is to find a quiet place where you can study undisturbed. I've shlepped my notes to random places around NYC and have discovered some great places as a result.

I think the #1 studying spot for anyone in a big city (or small for that matter) is Starbucks. I know it's not an original place, but still... nothing beats Starbucks!


I am lucky to have a Starbucks directly across the street from my home, and I frequent it on a regular basis to do my school work. The best time? Early in the morning, or late at night. I tend to avoid mid-day because I can never find a seat.

If I find myself studying later than 10pm (when my Starbucks closes), I head uptown to Columbia University where they have a Starbucks open until 2am.

Recently, a friend directed me to the New York Public Library Rose Main Reading Room on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue. (The library with the lion statues on the outside):


This room is exquisite!! I tried to find the best picture I could that would accurately show its elegance, but as with everything in life, you have to experience it in person to get the full effect.

The Rose Reading Room is the length of two city blocks, and weaves together old-world architectural elegance with modern technology. Long oak tables and brass lamps, marble arches and pillars, and the best of all - an amazing mural on the ceiling! Of course, there is free public wifi.

The room underwent a multi-million dollar restoration in 1998. The effects are magnificent. Although the quiet atmosphere is highly conducive to studying, its beauty and detail captivated me so much that I found myself getting distracted. Only once my eyes were satisfied was I able to focus on my work.

The first scene of the famous movie Ghostbusters was filmed in the NYPL Reading Room. Check out this hysterical spoof in the Reading Room by the brilliant group Improv Anywhere:

I think it is so cool that we have this spectacular room in the middle of the big city. It is definitely a haven from all the noise and dirt outside.

This library is located right next to Bryant Park, so you can head out there if you need a change of scenery.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Music in a Dark Tunnel

The Scene:

On the E train home after a long day in school. I am settled comfortably in my seat with a school book on the 1920s (history class). The train is relatively empty.

I see an older man walk into the car, and take out a violin from a carry-case. He begins to play the most beautiful music; his skilled fingers catch every note to perfection. Beethoven, Haydn... and other pieces I recognize.

At the end of his performance, when he comes near me to collect, I ask him where he is from.

"Dominican Republic," he says.

And where was he trained?

"All over the world, but mostly in Germany."

Wow! It takes a lot to impress me when it comes to Subway performers (or solicitors), but I loved his music! Not everyday do you have skilled violinist make a private concert in your Subway car!

Anyone have any experiences with Subway performers?
What was the best/worst one you've seen?
What do you love/hate about Subway performers?

Post in the comments!

Side note: I just found this video online while searching for Subway performers -- weird, but I saw these same guys the other day, and this was filmed 3 years ago! (It's very nerve racking to see these guys perform like that on a moving train!!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

NYC Nightlife :-)

There is something special about New York City at night.

At night, as the city lights come out in full force, the city turns into a magical kingdom.

My favorite time to experience the city is at night. I visit my fountain at night, I take walks at night...Last night, I went grocery shopping at Fairway at 10:30 at night. It's the BEST time to shop, in my honest opinion. No pushing through crowds or waiting online forever. Just a nice, peaceful shopping experience.

Michael Huitt is an Upper West Side photographer who takes the most wonderful photographs of New York City, and many of them are at night! I don't know a thing about photography, but these are some of the most beautiful images I have ever seen!

Brownstones along 71st Street.

The 72nd Street 1, 2, 3 Subway station. 
I love this photograph so much, I made it my desktop background

I think this is Columbus Avenue at 73rd Street.

75th and Columbus at Midnight. 

59th Street and 5th Avenue.
I know this is not nighttime yet, but I absolutely LOVE the way he captures the sunset. Totally not traditional, yet incredibly captivating.

I've only shared a handful of his magnificent images. Click the link to check out the rest of Michael Huitt's New York City photography

Thank you Michael Huitt for permission to share your work in this blog!

Monday, September 19, 2011


**Please note: this is not about Otters! Read the entire post, and you will understand :-).

I was on the A train a few weeks ago, and as we passed by the 14th street station, I saw the cutest thing ever!



I've been meaning to write about Tom Otterness ever since I saw an instillation of his public art in the water off of Roosevelt Island, and most recently in the 14th Street subway station.

Tom Otterness is an incredibly creative American sculptor with a fabulous name and a unique sense of style. I'm sure you've seen his work before around the city. He tends to create sculptures that touch on political issues, such as low-wage workers fighting against the capitalist machine in a new, strange city.

The exhibit at 14th street is called "Life Underground."


I would not want to be here during rush hour, because this little man is hogging a valuable seat.

Otterness has art all over New York City. Check out this playground! Who wants to come with me to play on this slide? Doesn't it look like fun?!


It is so cool to find Otterness in the most random places. Check out his exhibit called "The Marriage of Real Estate and Money" in the water (of all places!) off of Roosevelt Island:


I'm sure this exhibit has deeper meaning, so if anyone with more time wants to research it for me, please post your findings in the comments.

Check out this behind the scenes tour of Tom Otterness's studio in Brooklyn, courtesy of my favorite blog Scouting NY.

 I LOVE public art. It makes you stop, think and smile in the middle of a hectic day.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What does it take to be a tourist in NYC?

What does it take to be a real tourist in New York City?

I was walking on 42nd street today, and decided to try being a real New York City tourist.

I do consider myself a tourist in my own city because I check out places that regular New Yorkers are too busy to check out, but today I acted like a tourist!

So, what does it take?

1. While walking on the street, stop short - causing everyone walking behind you to trip and make sharp to turns to avoid hitting you - and point out a random thing on top of a building/on the sidewalk/in the street.

2. Walk really, really, really, really slowly.

3. Wear t-shirts that display your country of origin.

4. Take really random pictures of the most boring, random things, like a subway station:

or a police officer and a bus:

5. Of course, how can you be a tourist in NYC if you don't take a picture of an advertisement on a tall building!

6. Be sure to stand in the middle of the street to take a picture of traffic:

Enough with taking pictures...

7. On the subway, stare at the subway map with a majorly confused look on your face, and point to different locations while having an animated discussion. Don't forget to gesture wildly!

8. Or, sit on the subway and study a Subway map as if it's a complicated math textbook.

(Shout out to my dear friend N - guess what! I took a picture of this guy and he didn't realize!! You're allowed to do that if it's a public area).

9. Have loud conversations with your friends on the Subway and in the street.

Yes, I know this is a little sarcastic, but I had fun :-).

If you have anything to add, please post in the comments!!! I will add anything suggested to the list!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Relaxing Evening in Central Park

I live in an apartment building, which means that I don't have a backyard. But the truth is, I really do have a backyard, and it's much bigger than the backyards of my friends who live in suburbia.

Yes, I'm talking about the beautiful Central Park!

A few nights ago, I decided to venture out to my backyard and have a little picnic dinner. I packed up some food, a drink, napkins and eating utensils, and I was on my way.

My favorite place to make a picnic is at the Ross Pinetum - a quiet little area near the Great Lawn with a cute playground and lovely picnic tables nestled beneath magnificent pine trees. 

The Pinetum is home to over 425 Pine trees representing 27 species, creating a miniature Pine forest!

credit: Flickr user WallyG 

There are parts of Central Park where you still feel like you're in the city even though you're surrounded by trees and grass. But, there are other parts of Central Park where you feel completely lost in an oasis of greenery and can't imagine how a city exists a few hundred feet away. The Pinetum gives me that feeling; it  is incredibly peaceful, relaxing and beautiful.

Interestingly, a few steps away from the quiet Pinetum is the Great Lawn, the center of activity and excitement in Central Park! It is so easy to go from quiet oasis to noisy activity...

On this rolling 55 acres of beautifully manicured grass, there are a number of baseball diamonds, where on any given night you can watch an exciting amateur baseball game. Families bring their blankets and make picnics by the trees, and Frisbee tournaments are all the craze, as well! 

The Great Lawn was originally the Croton Reservoir, constructed in 1842, but was drained in 1931 when a water tunnel was built making it obsolete. 

I love being out with so many other New Yorkers, enjoying the warm summer evening in Central Park. We all share the park - it is one giant backyard. There are thousands of New Yorkers in one beautiful place - walking dogs, enjoying the scenery, listening to music, taking a hike... and just escaping the hustle and bustle of city life.

Central Park is one of the most wonderful places in NYC. Please comment!  And let me know if you would like me to mention any area in Central Park that you visited and fell in love with.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"The Jungles of West 28th Street"

At 5:00am, as early morning deliveries are made to stores all over NYC, a special load of merchandise is delivered on West 28th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.


I was going to write all about the Flower District in my next post, but my favorite blogger did it for me!

Check out this AWESOME description of the New York City Flower District:

"The Jungles of West 28th Street - Exploring NY's Flower District"

And check out his website while you're at it. He has really fantastic posts about secrets hidden in plain sight in New York City.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

AC + Subway Station = A Relief!

If you have traveled on the Subways during the summer, you will understand when I say that the stations are stifling hot!!!

The Subway stations in NYC are incredibly difficult during the summer. As I stand on the platform praying for the next train to arrive soon, I pace back and forth on the platform so I can create a small wind to cool me down. 

Subways stations are at least 10 degrees hotter than the street, primarily because there is no circulation, and also because of the exhaust from the Subway cars.

Last week, I discovered the one and only air conditioned subway station in New York City!

42nd and Lexington (4, 5, 6, 7 trains) is located beneath Grand Central Station. A brilliant person (to whom many New Yorkers are forever grateful) decided to pump the air conditioning that cools down Grand Central into the Subway station below.

The station does not have an "air conditioned" feel, but it most certainly is bearable! And if you stand in the right spot, you can get the impact of the air conditioned air from the vent. 

Happy traveling!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Secret Water Tunnel!

I decided to take a little detour on my way home from school today. Instead of transferring from the F train to the D and then to the 1 train, I decided to walk from the F train stop to the 1 train stop. (If you didn't understand that, that's ok. You need to be a seasoned New Yorker to understand Subway lingo).

As I walked down 50th street towards Seventh Avenue, I noticed a really cute little seating area in between two buildings!

Wait, what's that thing straight ahead? (Look closely at the picture, and you'll see what I'm talking about).

It looks like a tunnel... let's check it out a little closer:

It is a tunnel!

But a very unique, amazing, secret, WATER TUNNEL!!!

Located between 6th and 7th Avenues, this water tunnel is slim passageway through 48th to 49th streets.

As the water cascades down the slate wall over the tunnel, it splashes around the glass, creating a breathtaking and serene space.

It takes just a few seconds to pass through, but the tunnel has an unbelievably captivating effect. As I stood in the tunnel, I did not hear the cars honking, garbage trucks roaring or construction workers drilling... all I heard was water. It is an enchanting experience which lasts only for a second as you pass through.

All that's missing is fish swimming about in the water :-).

I love watching people pass through the tunnel and gasp in amazement at the effect. One guy was minding his own business, and as he passed through the tunnel he looked up in surprise. His eyes lit up, let out a laugh, and said with excitement, "this is so cool!"

Just another awesome secret in the middle of the fabulous New York City!

The Water Tunnel at 48th Street
48th to 49th Streets, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues