The journey of a lifetime – Highlights from our first US trip

Any visitor to the U.S.A. knows that, no matter their final destination, there’s a state or two you’re sure to find yourself in.

Fascination. Excitement. Eyes-wide-open bewilderment.

A visit to the land of Stars and Stripes will always be a memorable journey.

The journey of a lifetime - Highlights from our first US trip ● Cake + Whisky

A journey through complex history and diverse culture, of culinary delights and incredible street food, of one-of-a-kind experiences, building memories that will last a lifetime.

The journey of a lifetime - Highlights from our first US trip ● Cake + Whisky The journey of a lifetime - Highlights from our first US trip ● Cake + Whisky

Below are the moments from my first all-American journey that remain firmly etched in my memory.

Hope it inspires some future US travel, or brings back some happy memories!

The journey of a lifetime - Highlights from our first US trip ● Cake + Whisky

New York

1. The sky opening up the second we stepped out of the Subway from the airport, leaving us soaked to the bones within a couple of minutes.

2. Feeling insect-small when walking down the streets.

3. The views of the city from the ferries.

4. Eating the most epic sandwich of my entire life (the pastrami on rye) at Kazt’s Deli.

5. Seeing all the iconic buildings in real life.

The journey of a lifetime - Highlights from our first US trip ● Cake + Whisky

6. Admitting New Yorkers’ bagel bragging rights after one bite of Ess-A-Bagel’s sensational lox & cream cheese bagel.

7. The fascinating madness of Times Square.

8. $1 pizza.

9. Finding the cutest stationery store in Brooklyn.

10. Walking the Highline.

11. Witnessing the Gay Pride.

The journey of a lifetime - Highlights from our first US trip ● Cake + Whisky

Washington D.C.

12.  Waiting out a flood warning with the locals and chili fries at Ben’s Chili Bowl.

13. The sheer scale of the city – the timed street crossings give you two whole minutes to cross and they’re barely enough!!

14. My first ever visit to a Shake Shack restaurant.

Philadelphia

15. Late night grocery runs – American supermarkets are FUN!

16. Getting caught in the 4th of July madness.

The journey of a lifetime - Highlights from our first US trip ● Cake + Whisky

New Orleans

17. Jazz at the Preservation Hall.

18. Classic cocktails at the beauuuuutiful Carousel Bar.

19. Coffee and beignets with a local at Café du Monde.

20. The incredible colonial architecture.

21. Mufulettas at Grocery Central.

The journey of a lifetime - Highlights from our first US trip ● Cake + Whisky

22. The journey itself

Despite the horror stories you might read about in the press, travelling across the USA is actually quite enjoyable.

Thumbs up to fast-moving security lines. A big fat YES to not having to take your liquids or laptop out of your over-stuffed bag. My deepest gratefulness to all the comfortable cab and coach seats.

After all, it’s the little things that allow you to enjoy the journey, as well as the destination!

This post was written as part of this month’s #travellinkup, all about journeys –  figurative, literal, metaphysical, down the road for a PSL… If you want to join in the #travellinkup fun, pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th Oct.), then add it to the link up widget found on Follow Your SunshineSilverSpoon LondonAdventures of a London Kiwi or Eppie‘s.

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The journey of a lifetime – Highlights from our first US trip

NYC Day 4 – A day by the water [Brooklyn + Financial District + Statue of Liberty]

We spend our last day in New York on the water.
NYC city guide | East River Ferry to Brooklyn | Cake + WhiskyWe found out about the East River Ferry just as we were about to head to the Subway. But, well, as it happens, a cruise to Brooklyn was a lot more appealing than getting down into a smelly, stuffy tube station…NYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskySo up on the boat we went, leaving Manhattan and the UN Headquarters behind.NYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNot only was the boat a much more weather-appropriate mode of transportation, but you truly get a hell of a view for your buck!NYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyBridge after bridge, the waves slowly led us towards the financial districtNYC City Guide | Brooklyn | Cake + WhiskySoon after, we landed in Brooklyn, where we walked along Brooklyn Bridge Park until we got hungry and raced off to the legendary Grimaldi’s
NYC City Guide | Grimaldi's pizza Brooklyn | Cake + WhiskyThe queues testify of how famous this family-run restaurant is with locals and tourists alike. NYC City Guide | Grimaldi's pizza Brooklyn | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Grimaldi's pizza Brooklyn | Cake + WhiskyBut considering they served us that beauty of a pizza, can you really blame them? NYC City Guide |Brooklyn Carousel | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Brooklyn | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge | Cake + WhiskyFuelled up, we walked up and down the street, in and out of shops (including the more than adorable Dabney Lee stationary store!) while chattering happily.NYC City Guide | Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge | Cake + WhiskyAfter beating around the bush bridge for hours, we finally decided to cross it. NYC City Guide | Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge | Cake + WhiskyIt was on my ultimate New York bucket list (just like every other first time tourist to New York) and I must say it did not disappoint. NYC City Guide | The Financial District and World Trade Center Memorial | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | The Financial District and World Trade Center Memorial | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | The Financial District and World Trade Center Memorial | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | The Financial District and World Trade Center Memorial | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | The Financial District and World Trade Center Memorial | Cake + WhiskyFeeling as small as insects, we wandered around the financial district, marvelling at each of those giants of iron and glass.NYC City Guide | The Financial District and World Trade Center Memorial | Cake + WhiskyThe World Trade Center Memorial was probably the most emotional part of this whole trip. The contrast between the towering skyscrappers and the two massive hollow fountains marquing the locations of the two World Trade Center Towers is truly heartbreaking.
NYC City Guide | Staten Island Ferry & The Statue of Liberty | Cake + WhiskyWe topped the day with another cruise aboard the Staten Island Ferry.NYC City Guide | Staten Island Ferry & The Statue of Liberty | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Staten Island Ferry & The Statue of Liberty | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Staten Island Ferry & The Statue of Liberty | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Staten Island Ferry & The Statue of Liberty | Cake + WhiskyA first trip to New York wouldn’t really have been complete without a look at the Statue of Liberty, would it? 

NYC Day 4 – A day by the water [Brooklyn + Financial District + Statue of Liberty]

NYC Day 2 – Walking the Highline (+ Pride Parade 2015)

After having spent much of the morning going through airport security and sitting in planes and buses, we were keen to explore more of New York. As soon as we arrived, we ditched our bags and we were off again!NYC Pride Parade 2015 | Cake + WhiskyWe started our exploration with a taste of the day’s big event: the Pride Parade!NYC Pride Parade 2015 | Cake + WhiskyTaking place on the day following the countrywide legalisation of same-sex marriage, the atmosphere was cheerful to say the least! NYC Pride Parade 2015 | Cake + WhiskyFollowing crowds of rainbow-dressed people, we slowly made our way south and to the Highline.Walking the Highline NYC | Cake + WhiskyA popular destination for families and friends alike, the 1.45 mile-long linear park is build on a former railway of the New York Central Railroad. Walking the Highline NYC | Cake + WhiskyWalking the Highline NYC | Cake + WhiskyWith trees and flowers all around, it’s the perfect place to take a much needed nature break!
Walking the Highline NYC | Cake + WhiskyWalking the Highline NYC | Cake + Whisky… But you can also choose to marvel at the views… New York skyline to the East…Views on the Hudson River from the Highline NYC | Cake + Whisky… and the Hudson river to the West!Walking the Highline NYC IAC Building | Cake + Whisky… Not to mention some of the coolest buildings in the whole of New York! (here the ICA building, which reminds me of Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum)!
Walking the Highline NYC | Street Food Ice Cream sandwich | Cake + WhiskyAfter a little while, we came accross a small street food market, where we treated ourselves to the most delicious of ice cream sandwiches.Walking the Highline NYC | Street Food Ice Cream sandwich | Cake + WhiskyFuelled up, we continued our exploration… Walking the Highline NYC | Cake + WhiskyAfter a bit more walking and a lot more chatting, we reached the end of the Highline. Walking the Highline NYC | Meatpacking district | Cake + WhiskyAnd found ourselves at the very centre of the trendy Meatpacking District.
Price Parade 2015 NYC | Cake + WhiskyPrice Parade 2015 NYC | Cake + WhiskyPrice Parade 2015 NYC | Cake + Whisky… just like every single person who took part in the parade earlier! We left the tempting sweet treats and devilishly long queues behind and went for a walk through the small streets of the Village instead. 
NYC The Village red brick building | Cake + WhiskyWe zigzagged through the area for a long while but we failed to find the Friends buildings despite all of the efforts we put into this quest.

As the sky tuned pink, we decided to call it a day and were considering our dining options when we came accross Dos CaminosDos Caminos Mexican restaurant NYC | Cake + WhiskyWe managed to get a table on the sun-filled terrace and admired the light go from white to golden while perusing the menu. Dos Caminos Mexican restaurant NYC | Cake + WhiskyWe started things off on a high with the Bacon and jalapeno guacamole.Dos Caminos Mexican restaurant NYC | Cake + WhiskyDid I mention there was pork crackling onthere as well? #BorderlineGenius
Dos Caminos Mexican restaurant NYC | Cake + WhiskyFrom then on, it only when from good to best with the Chorizo Mac n’ Cheese (a personal favourite). Dos Caminos Mexican restaurant NYC | Cake + WhiskyMore cheese than mac, just as it should be! Dos Caminos Mexican restaurant NYC | Cake + WhiskyDos Caminos Mexican restaurant NYC | Cake + WhiskyWe also shared a plate of the goat taccos which were the juiciest taccos I’ve ever eaten in my whole life. Dos Caminos Mexican restaurant NYC | Cake + WhiskyThe accompagnying rice & beans were delicious as well but made us achieve satiety a bit quicker than we had expected.

We skipped dessert and walked home with very full bellies and a big smile on our face, chatting happily about the great day we had just had and how excited we were for the next one… before falling in a food-induced coma the second we passed the doors!

NYC Day 2 – Walking the Highline (+ Pride Parade 2015)

First timer’s guide to NYC

{Day 9074 – We landed in NYC under the biggest, brightest sun. We took the (freezing, welcome to air-conditioned land!) Subway from JFK into the city and the second we stepped out, the skies open and in the space of 5 min, a downpour drenched us to the bone. And so began our first American adventure…}

Never sleeping, always rising, New York is a place like no other.

The sort of place that makes you dizzy from looking up so much and all the possibilities in front of you when you first visit.

What to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making Memories

There’s so much to do, so much to see, so much to eat, SO many landmarks… Anyone’s first time in New York is a highly-anticipated, yet incredibly stressful-to-plan trip.

If you don’t know where to even begin, this first timer’s guide to NYC is a good way to tick all the New York City boxes.

What to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making Memories

See

See the skyline

Just landed in New York City? Walking the Manhattan skyline is the best way to get a sense of this crazy city.

Yes, by the time you’ve been to the Chrystler building, the Flat iron building, the Empire State and the UN Headquarters, your feet will be tired, your neck will ache, and you’ll feel like a teeny tiny insect but it is worth is.

What to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making MemoriesWhat to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making Memories

Get bedazzled by Times Square

Another classic sight – and not one for the faint-hearted.

With crowds from morning til night and enough ad screens to give anyone palpitations, Times Square is insane at the best of times!

Which is exactly why you must go -no matter how crowd-averse you are- there’s no better representation of the country’s crazy over-the-top-ness.

What to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making MemoriesWhat to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making Memories

Take a peek at Grand Central

A couple of reasons for this:

  1. It’ll only take a few minutes out of your itinerary.
  2. It’s the prettiest train station there ever was (I mean, CONSTELLATION CEILING, what more do you need?).

Chew chew!

Stroll through Central Park

No natural landmark in New York City is as iconic as Central Park and no trip to NYC is complete without a stroll through some of its 843 green acre.

If the weather is nice, the lake is a good place to start… or you could sail a boat in the fountain, Gossip Girl style, or go straight for Wonderland instead…

What to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making Memories

See the Financial district and the World Trade Center Memorial

With loads of surreal-looking skyscrappers and a very skewed sense of perspective and space, New York’s financial district is a confusing place.

But one that’s essential to visit in order to understand how money shapes the city, and pay tribute to the victims of the historical event that’s changed everything.

What to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making Memories

Do

Walk, walk, walk

If you know me, you’ll know I firmly believe that the best way to see a city is to walk it.

Admittedly, NYC might not be the most walk-friendly place in the world. Because LOL, it might look close on the map but noooooop, blocks add up very quickly and that’s how you end up clocking 20,000+ steps a day, every day.

Well, at least I now understand why New Yorkers swear by wearing functional trainers everywhere.

And, also, yes, you deserve that burger/pizza/bagel/all of the above.

PS. If you don’t have that much time/drive for such long walks, commit to walking the High Line – it’s so pretty/cool/relaxed down there!

What to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making MemoriesWhat to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making Memories

Jump on a ferry!

Once you’ve gotten up close with all the landmarks, it’s time to get some perspective and see them all from a distance… and the best place for this is from the water!

The (free) Staten Island ferry is the most famous of them all (and give you a chance to get a peek at Lady Liberty), but the best views in my opinion are from the East River ferry, linking 34th street (by the UN headquarters) to Brooklyn.

What to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making Memories

Cross Brooklyn Bridge

One of the most insta-famous bridges -and just as pretty in reality, it’s the perfect follow-up activity to a trip on the East River ferry (see above).

With some time saved up in the middle to look for Dan Humphrey, obviously.

What to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making Memories

Eat

The Reuben at Katz’s Deli

The iconic Jewish deli – yes, the one where *that* scene from Where Harry met Sally was shot…- and just the place for a Reuben sandwich the size of your head. That also happen to be the best damn Reuben I’ve ever had.

Cheap as chips too (one sandwich is plenty to share, so about $20 for two with drinks).

The sort of place you’ll plan an entire return trip around.

205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002, USA

What to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making Memories

The eponymous dumplings at Vanessa’s

Good, cheap dumplings with a side of that horrific service we’ve all sort of come to expect from cheap Chinese spots… so get those dumplings to take away!

118A Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002

Dollar pizza

The NYC must-eat and the cheapest meal there is.

Every pizza slice spot does more or less the same thing so trust the queues to find the good ones!

Hot dog at Gray’s Papaya

It’s one of New York’s simple pleasures. (A New York Times backed simple pleasure, that is).

2090 Broadway (Btwn 71st & 72nd St), New York, NY 10023 

What to see/do/eat on your first time in New York City ● Travel ● Making Memories

Ess-A-Bagel’s cream cheese & lox bagel

Good bagels, LIFE CHANGING lox. Seriously.

831 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022

Anything I’ve missed? Already compiling notes for a return trip (mainly for that Reuben & lox bagel tbh…)

First timer’s guide to NYC

New York, New York

So, we’ve just done something a bit crazy. We’ve just purchased tickets to go to the US at the end of the month. We’ll be there for two weeks and will be visiting New York, Philadelphia, DC and New Orleans. Busy schedule, as you can imagine, and very little time to plan for it!

So I’ve done the only reasonable thing to do in those circonstances and I’ve been Pinteresting (totally a word) like crazy since then. So here is a first draft of what my New York bucket-list looks like. (all pictures’ sources available here)

Cake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationCentral Park, Brooklyn Botanical Garden & Brooklyn BridgeCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationBig Gay Ice Cream came highly recommended! Cake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationThe Chrystler Building, Central Park (again), the Statue of Liberty (obviously), the High Line & pretty buildingsCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationThe MoMA, Chinatown and some cute signsCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationWest Village, The Guggenheim museum, Jack’s Wife FredaSt John the Divine Cathedral and some staircases too…

Anything I’ve missed but really REALLY shouldn’t? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

New York, New York

New York, New York

{Day 9056 – Planning a multi-city trip to the US in just a couple of weeks? Bring. It. On.}

So, we’ve just done something a bit crazy. We’ve just purchased tickets to go to the US at the end of the month. We’ll be there for two weeks and will be visiting New York, Philadelphia, DC and New Orleans. Busy schedule, as you can imagine, and very little time to plan for it!

So I’ve done the only reasonable thing to do in those circonstances and I’ve been Pinteresting (totally a word) like crazy since then. So here is a first draft of what my New York bucket-list looks like. (all pictures’ sources available here)

Cake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationCentral Park, Brooklyn Botanical Garden & Brooklyn BridgeCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationBig Gay Ice Cream came highly recommended! Cake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationThe Chrystler Building, Central Park (again), the Statue of Liberty (obviously), the High Line & pretty buildingsCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationThe MoMA, Chinatown and some cute signsCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationCake + Whisky | NYC bucket list & inspirationWest Village, The Guggenheim museum, Jack’s Wife FredaSt John the Divine Cathedral and some staircases too…

Anything I’ve missed but really REALLY shouldn’t? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

New York, New York