On day three in New York, we continued our Big Bus tours, cruising to the Statue of Liberty and exploring the fancy side of town. We lunched on the Upper East Side, at one of the most amazing and elegant vegan restaurants, saw a Broadways show and had a cheeky late-night premium burger in Hell’s Kitchen. All in all, a pretty great day.
River Cruise to Lady Liberty
We had to get up pretty early this morning for the NYC Sightseeing River Cruise, which was part of our 2 day Big Bus pass. For breakfast, I went to a little hole in the wall bagel store near our apartment, which I can’t remember well and didn’t photograph. From memory, it was a pretty average. After, that we took a car down to the South Street Seaport in the Two Bridge area, where we took the Hornblower Cruise. It appears that this has been changed to a port off Hell’s Kitchen now.
The cruise went for about an hour and took us along the East River, passed the end of the Hudson River and into the Upper New York Bay. We got amazing views of the Financial District, Brooklyn, Governors Island, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. During the cruise, there was a recorded commentary and we could explore the top deck and the inside cabin. There wasn’t anything very exciting to eat or drink, just snacks. So I happy we had breakfast first.
This cruise didn’t get too close to the Statue of Liberty, but it did provide a great opportunity to take photographs of the entire island. It was pretty surreal seeing the lady of liberty in person. I did see many people exploring the island and I don’t regret not visiting it. I think we got a better view of the statue from the cruise than we would have below the statue.
Uptown and Harlem loop tour
Next, we took the Big Bus Uptown loop, which we got on from Bryant Park (20). It took us up through Time Square and the Broadway district, where we could see the outskirts of the Rockefeller centre. Then up to the Columbus Circle (southern left point of Central Park). From here we got off and onto the Harlem loop, which took us through the Upper West Side and up to Harlem. Harlem is a pretty hip area, with an amazing history, particularly for African Americans. As we passed through the Upper West Side, our guide pointed out the celebrities residents of the massive apartment building and important churches. The bus then took us back down to Columbus Circle, where we took the Uptown loop again up as far as the MET Museum. Here we got off to explore and have lunch. We didn’t have time to see the MET today, but I did return a couple of days later on my own.
Upper East Side
The streets on the Upper East Side as exactly how I imagined this fancy New York neighborhood to be. The buildings were all perfectly maintained with trees lining the narrow streets. It was much less crowded and very private, so I can see why it would be an ideal place to live in this bustling city. There are plenty of places to eat at this end of town closer to Central Park and in between the quieter streets.
One of the highlights of my trip was visiting Candle 79, which is a seriously great vegan restaurant on the Upper East side. It was top of my must-eat list for New York and it was highly recommended by Alicia Silverstone. It is a high-end vegan restaurant, serving organic, local and seasonal food. The menu items are well thought out and there was a small army of chefs in the kitchen producing all the amazing food that was coming out. It doesn’t matter if your not vegan or vegetarian and I guarantee the food will still wow you.
We sampled a few different dishes and I can say it was all really great and everyone was very happy. I had the Wild Mushroom Crepe with summer vegetables, tempeh, spinach, garlic truffle aioli. Marco had the Burrito with chilli-herb grilled seitan, caramelized onions, sautéed greens, chipotle black beans, brown rice and ‘mozzarella’. And Sally had the Spaghetti & White balls with truffled tomato sauce, roasted garlic, spinach, cashew parmesan. O just sampled what she liked. We also ordered a couple of desserts, including the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bliss (chocolate & peanut butter mousse, salted peanut-caramel crust, berry coulis) and the Cannoli (chocolate chip-vanilla cream filling, coconut ice cream, chocolate drizzle). If you didn’t know the deserts were vegan, you wouldn’t off been able to detect a different. They were just fantastic.
After such a big day we took a break in the hotel and prepared for our big Broadway show. I bought the tickets to Aladdin months before for Sally and I. They were pretty expensive, I think about $200 AUD. This is the only show we booked in advance. However, we did put our names down in the Broadway lottery every day, so we all got to see another show each, at a discounted rate. At the time, many of the shows prices were being driven up by bots buying tickets and then reselling them on other sites for four times the price. This was very unfair because many of the shows were quite empty.
So when I left the apartment, O was fast asleep on the bed with Marco. I prayed everything would be well because this would be the first time I ever left her. Sally and I walked up to the theatre. The show was held in the gorgeous New Amsterdam Theatre and we had pretty great seats. There was a bar with Aladdin inspired drinks and shop with merchandise, but it was all pretty pricey. When the show began I was blown away, it was spectacular. Remember this was back before the film came out. The show was very close to the original movie and was a true live-action rendition stage. Then, halfway through the show, I began getting messages from Marco. O had woken up and freaked out that Mama wasn’t there. He could not calm her down and was begging me to just come outside the theatre for a quick hug. There was no way I was going to leave this amazing show and jeopardise my first few hours of freedom. I said no way, deal with it. In the end, he gave her a shower and she fell back asleep from exhaustion. They managed, which was the most important thing.
Late night burger
After the show, Marco wanted to get some dinner, so we all took a walk to Hell’s Kitchen to try the famous Five Napkins Burger. I believe this is one of the only places Marco had on his must-eat list. Five Napkins is a high-end burger joint, with four locations across NYC, and are renown for their original 5 Napkins Burger. It contains 10oz Angus beef from Aspen Ridge, Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions and rosemary aioli on a soft white potato bun. We all got the original with fries, I just omitted the cheese. These burgers were pretty amazing and tasted exactly how you want a juicy beef burger to taste. All the ingredients were high quality, but I think it was the caramelized onions that won me over.
Now all of our tours were completed, we had the freedom to explore some of the places we saw on the bus and explore a few new things that weren’t covered. Tomorrow we head to Lower East Side, the West Village and catch up with a friend.