How do you describe NYC in one word? Maybe vibrant, speedy, aggressive, stylish or modern? Overall, I think for a first timer, NYC can only be described in one word – overwhelming! There is a quick pace to NYC and at seems as though everyone is walking with a purpose. There’s also so much to see that it’s often hard to fit everything into one trip. My advice is that you see NYC in pieces. Start with the touristy stuff and expand from there to the little neighborhoods on each trip!
For all you first timers, I’ve made you a handy little map to get you through your first trip to NYC! It’s a collection of what I saw on my first few trips to NYC (some for fun, some for business). Here are some of my unique finds:
- NY Public Library – offers FREE tours! It’s also where the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals are housed! (Located in the children section)
- Right next to Bryant Park – also free! (Calling all Project Runway Fans!)
- Russian Vodka Room – I’m not sure if we stumbled into this place…or stumbled out of this place, but it was fantastic! Belly up to the bar and talk to strangers! I met a news reporter who was waiting to interview a famous hacker (they never showed up)! Ohhhh how I love you NYC.
- 2 Bros Pizza – As a true Chicagoan, I like my deep-dish, but I was on the HUNT for NY style pizza. Not saying 2 Bros is the BEST, but it was only $1, and you can fold it! Eeeekk! Also, if you go really late then you will find the BEST people watching. Seriously.
Travelers Tip: Make sure to sign up/follow NYC Food Gals! Their Instagram Site (@nycfoodgals) showcases yummy meals from all over the city!!
Have you been to NYC?? What are some of your favorite spots?? Make sure to leave comments in the field below!
There’s three things that December means to most Chicagoans: it’s absolutely freezing outside, there’s already snow on the ground (white or dirty black, both count here) and most of us are getting ready for full hibernation mode! Despite all this, I’d like to think that most of us are also really excited for the upcoming holidays (I know I am!). My multi-colored lights are lit and looped around my balcony, my Christmas scented candles are filling up my cozy condo with delicious scents of “Christmas Cookie” and “Gingerbread” and my little pup, Lilo, may or may not have her holiday sweater on (I promise that she picked it out herself)!
This is also the time that I get super excited about putting up my Christmas tree! It’s definitely nothing grand, standing at only 3ft tall, but it’s pre-lit and fake…so it’s efficient and doesn’t cause an automatic allergic reaction, which I consider a huge plus (Merry Christmas to me!). Another reason I love setting up my tree is I can finally display all my travel ornaments I’ve collected over the years, which leads me to a great piece of travel advice I will offer you…Pick one souvenir and stick with it!
The biggest question I get asked when people hear how often I travel is, “How can you afford all this?” It’s very simple, I don’t overspend. I budget where I can, and that includes all the tempting souvenirs that make your eyes glaze over when you’re walking through narrow streets or waiting in those endless lines at must-see museums. Don’t get me wrong, this was a hard lesson for me to learn too so don’t think I was exempt from falling prey to the beautifully displayed shop windows or the elderly man trying to sell me “locally-made” goods…we’ve all been there! But today is a new day for you! Pick something along your travels that means something to you and stick with it. For me it’s ornaments, but for you it could be collectable spoons, or shoes, or magnets, or a million other things. My sister buys Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Height’s’ book from every country in their native language. She’s a huge book lover and it’s one of her favorites, so it makes sense. She also buys ornaments, but since she’s my sister she gets a pass on two souvenirs!
Below are some of my favorite ornaments that are displayed on this years Christmas tree. Some are cheesy (Princess Sisi, Vienna-Austria), some were a splurge (Golden Pineapple, Oahu-Hawaii) and some were free (Wooden spoon from Budapest – free with purchase of paprika spice). There also seems to be a running theme of alcohol related ones, but no judging! Enjoy all the pics and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Wine bottle representing ‘Chardonnay Cottege’ wine trip – Paso Robles, CA
Traditional egg ornament – Prague, Czech Republic
Beautiful blue-topped buildings – Santorini, Greece
Golden pineapple – Oahu, Hawaii!
Yellow Taxi Cab – New York, NY
Representing the Alaskian pub crawl – Alaskian Cruise 2013
Evil Eye – Istanbul, Turkey
Princess Sisi – Vienna, Austria
Famous Water Tower – Chicago, IL
Drunk skeleton – Riviera Maya, Mexico
Gladiator – Rome, Italy
Wooden paprika spoon – Budapest, Hungary