Day 7 in NYC: Central Park and Cupcakes for Dinner

Brrrr. It's cold here. The best way to beat the chill is to enjoy yourself while being chilly. Decked out in everything double (socks, pants, sweaters), I took advantage of yesterday's sunshine to explore Central Park. The most visited urban park in the United States, Central Park spans 840 acres and provides a sanctuary from the chaos of city life. The park was commissioned in 1857 as a result of a landscape design contest and by 1962 it was named a National Historic Landmark. I can see why; as soon as I entered the park from Merchant's Gate, I was enraptured by its serenity. Horse-drawn carriages promenaded along the paths. Lovers could be seen holding hands. Photographers were kneeling to get the perfect shot. It's an escape from the city with the city in view. It would be the perfect spot to clear your head at lunch on a workday or perhaps seek some exercise on a sunny weekend morning. Jan 29 Bundled Jan 30 Merchant's Gate Jan 30 Horses Jan 30 Double Suns Jan 30 Insta Central Park Jan 30 Central Park
Pleased with myself for embarking out on my own and being one with nature, I ordered cupcakes for dinner. H Bake Shop makes gluten-free desserts and they deliver! The chocolate mocha cupcake on the right was mine--it had cheesecake frosting and an espresso-cream centre!
H Bake Shop
Ta-ta for now. After a coconut macaroon for breakfast again, I'm in dire need of another walking expedition!

Day 6 in NYC: Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

Yesterday, I woke up to a beautiful, sunny Manhattan morning, the kind that makes you want to barge out onto the balcony and triumphantly embrace the new day. I simply couldn't resist. After Roger and I had our tea and oatmeal, I braved the 36th floor terrace and snapped a picture before retreating to the anxiety-free zone inside. (I'm a scaredy-cat when it comes to heights.) Jan 29 Morning My plan for the day was to explore the downtown Manhattan via the Gray Line Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour. I heard great things from friends and colleagues, so I put the $49 on my credit card for the 24 tour. The tour itself is a 2.5 hour loop, but you have the opportunity to hop off and back on again at 21 different stops. Jan 29 Typical My name is spelled differently in every city. In New York I am "Britiny." It's like Destiny, but British because I like tea. Obviously, my barista knew this. The first tour guide was amazing. So informative, witty, and entertaining. She talked a mile a minute, but took the time to formulate small quizzes to keep us engaged. Q. What does the red star represent in the Macy's logo? A. Roland Hussey Macy, the founder of the department store, had a star tattoo from his early days as a sailor. This also explains the frequently used term "Whale of a Sale." Yes, I was that crazy person on the bus furiously transcribing every word as it came out of the tour guide's mouth. I have fourteen pages of notes to prove it. The history of New York City is fascinating. So many firsts took place in this magnificent place. For example, did you know that Macy's was the first store in the world to have escalators? The wooden escalators are still functioning to this day and they actually work better than the modern-day ones. New York City's Carnegie Hall hosted the first North American concert - Tchaikovsky played in 1891. The first pizza parlour, Lombardi's, opened its doors in New York in 1897. The very first drinking establishment, Fraunces Tavern, is still serving customers since its early origins in 1719. I was a sponge for knowledge. The only thing I regret about the bus tour was having to take it in the winter. There was a transparent canopy over the observation deck and the dirty rain splatters on the plastic prevented me from taking any good pictures. I wish I could have taken pictures of Times Square, Little Italy, Tribeca, Soho, and Greenwich Village. Instead I will share with you some facts which I found noteworthy. Times Square uses enough daily electricity to power 6000 homes and even more on New Year's Eve. The Empire State Building, designed by William Lamb to the likeness of a pencil, took 410 days and 4400 immigrant workers back in 1929. Despite the Stock Market Crash, $40 million was spent on its completion. The first electric streetlights went up on Broadway Street in 1880. Wall Street is a walk-only street, for security reasons. Also, if you rub the horns of the Raging Bull statue out front, good fortune will bestow upon you. Tuition at New York University is $50000... per semester! Jan 29 Stock Exchange I hopped off the bus in Lower Manhattan to get a closer look at the Financial District and the World Trade Center memorial site. As you can see, I took a photo of the New York Stock Exchange, but didn't go in because I heard the lineup is long and the experience is over-rated. Nothing like it used to be before computers and automatic trade execution. I did; however, see the Freedom Tower. At 1776 feet, it's kinda hard to miss. Jan 29 Peace Tower My visit to the 9/11 Memorial site was overwhelming. Ground zero is a gut-wrenchingly sorrowful sight. Water cascades into the abyss of what used to be the World Trade Center and spectators come to mourn silently around it. Some place flowers beside the names of their lost loved ones. I was not personally affected by that sad day in September, but I started bawling and had to leave. My heart goes out to all the families. Jan 29 WTC On a brighter note, the huge discount designer store, Century 21, was right around the corner. I stopped in to buy some warm socks. Sometimes one pair just isn't enough when it's minus 10 degrees outside. I hopped back on the bus just in time to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. The Staten Island ferry was closed for the remainder of the day, which was okay because it gives me an excuse to visit again someday. The crowd was rowdy and the tour guide was not as informative for the second half of my tour. A lady was perturbed by the fact that she might miss an evening appointment (take a cab there?) and a man was equally livid at the tour operator for not disclosing the extra fee for the ferry (read the large disclaimer on the pamphlet?) Oh so silly. The tour guide spent more time calming these hooligans than teaching us scholarly folks. Boo to that. All-in-all, a guided tour is a great way to explore the city and learn about the culture. My word of advice is to buy the 48 hour tour (it's only $10 extra), that way you can hop off at EVERY stop, take pictures, go shopping, etc. without time constraints. I would have loved to go back the next day to delve a little deeper. I have my memories and tourist maps should I wish to do my own research. Pages and pages of them... Jan 29 Notes
Jan 29 Map
Can't believe I've been here for a week already! It's lovely.

Day 5 in NYC: Coconut Macaroons for Breakfast


My trip to New York City would not be complete without fulfilling one of my greatest desires: to enjoy an authentic French Macaroon outside of Tiffany's... preferably for breakfast. Over the past few days, I poured over internet sites looking for a gluten-free, peanut-free alternative to the classic confection. Unable to find a suitable option, I walked the city streets in hopes to find a hole-in-the-wall bakery to make my dreams come true. I found a baker who makes gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free, egg-free treats, but of course, she bakes with almond flour. Naturally!

Instead of giving up completely, I discovered another way to bring cheer to my day. I treated myself to lunch at a French restaurant and ordered two coconut macaroons to go. I really do love coconut macaroons.

I have now consumed a full 400 calories of sugar, coconut flakes, and more sugar and yes, it was worth it every bite. Of course, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of ohmygoodness, I shouldn't eat all of this at once, but those thoughts were silenced quite quickly. I shall justify my indulgence with a brisk afternoon walk. That's what life is all about, right? Everything in moderation.



Day 4 in NYC: Exploring the Upper West Side

Oh how I love the Upper West Side! Yesterday we took the subway from Columbus Circle to 79th Avenue and Central Park West. In retrospect, Spandex leggings were probably not the best choice for our stroll uptown, but Roger told me I would be sweltering in my first choice of outfit: a layering of three shirts paired with wind-blocking shorty shorts under my pants. Thankfully, we maintained a somewhat stylish look by combining our indoor clothes with warm wool mittens and hats, courtesy of my Nana.

Fave Sweater

First stop of the day: The Museum of Natural History. Shown below are a few photos from our educational day. Asteroids, ancient artifacts, moon rocks, precious gems, DNA samples, butterflies, dinosaurs, volcanoes, you name it... the museum has it all!

Outside of the Museum

A nice gentleman captured our first museum experience together. We definitely look like tourists.

Museum of Natural History



Dino eggs!

Dino Egg

Outside of the Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway.

Solar System

Some words of wisdom.

Theodore Roosevelt

This little Buffalo reminded us so much of Tunders. We had a momentary burst of love for our pup back at home.

Buffalo Tundra

Roger being a blowfish amongst the blowfish.


Roger being a sea lion amongst the Sea Lions. He's lucky I find sea lions most endearing, even at their most boastful and gregarious.

Sea Lions

Ancient art of Central America.


Cross-sections of petrified wood.

Petrified Wood

Following our museum tour, I became enamoured by mid-rise buildings of the Upper West Side. Established in the mid to late 1800s, the primarily residential area is home to cultural hotspots such as Columbia University and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. A few steps into our sightseeing journey, I was overwhelmed with the desire to escape to New York, become a playwright, sip lattes in artsy coffee shops and go for morning yoga in Central Park.

79th Ave

After perusing The Museum of Natural History, we finished off our day with a lovely late-afternoon brunch at Spring Natural Kitchen. Roger had Mayan Eggs with black beans and tortillas and I had the biggest all-Organic chicken salad with fresh veggies. The restaurant atmosphere was quaint and cozy and despite it being 4 in the afternoon on a Sunday, we could spot friends engaged in cocktails and conversation. Oh, how wonderful a life! We wanted to walk through Central Park on our way back to the Condo, but the biting cold postponed our plans; instead we took the subway back downtown amidst die-hard Rangers fan in every possible combination of red and blue.

Organic Lunch

We made it back to Columbus Circle just in time for tea!
Columbus Circle
There's so much to see and do in New York City. Although I've squeezed in a lot over the past four days, I'm beyond thankful that I have the rest of the week to cross more attractions off my list!