New York City: A Local’s Guide

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As I squeeze into the tiny, albeit carefully decorated living room, Amy gushes with enthusiasm. “I love it here”, she beams, setting me down a decadent homemade peach tea, a warming welcome from the cold outside. “It’s the energy”, she explains. “The people, the friends I’ve made, we are all here for our dreams – even if they are a little bit crazy”, she laughs. We sip on our teas, talking like old friends even though we just met for the first time in person.
Amy’s hoping to be accepted into the New York City Ballet Company next year, having moved here from Minnesota six months ago. I got in touch with her after being assigned the task of finding the best spots to see in New York City, and we’ve been bantering over Instagram for months now. I finally made it here and she’s even more fun in person. We head out into the brisk cold to check out a few of her favourite places. Our first stop is Times Square. It’s currently 11 o’clock in the morning, but there’s no way of telling since it’s constantly busy. Amy tells me this feels like the centre of the universe to her, and sometimes she passes by on her way home just to remind herself of the “rush”. It’s definitely busy that’s for sure, and for a second I get lost in the honking of the cabs and the digital screens all vying for my attention. It’s overwhelming, yet somehow intoxicating. Some 39 million people pass by Times Square every year, and Amy tells me it’s known as the “Crossroads of the World”. We leave the adrenaline and noise and head across town to Amy’s favourite tea house. Cha-An Tea House is a welcome escape from the busy New York life, offering Japanese sweets, home-style dishes and an extensive tea selection. I take a Honey Phoenix Oolong Tea while Amy orders her favourite: a Flower Craft Green Tea. Although it’s quite packed, there’s an ambience to this cafe and I can imagine coming here regularly, especially during the long cold New York winters.
Our next stop is Lady Liberty herself. It’s just after lunchtime and that means peak hour for this patriotic symbol of the United States. Amy has pre purchased tickets, and after seeing the lineup, I’m so glad she did. We soak up the sparkling views of the harbour and New York City itself despite the crowds of tourists. Next up we head to Central Park for something to eat.  Amy takes me to a gorgeous little cafe, Kerbs Boathouse, located on Central Park’s famous model boat pond. Over lunch, Amy tells me that if you come here on weekends, you can watch races of model boats on the water. It can get pretty packed though so it’s best to come early. Central Park is huge, much bigger than I expected and I imagine you could spend the whole day here. One of our final stopovers for the day is a gorgeous little charm shop in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Charm is a boutique store where you can design your own jewellery, and if you have some time, even take classes. There is an endless amount of beads, jewels, charms and trinkets, and it’s the perfect way to create your very own souvenir or gift. I purchased a beautiful little New York State charm as a momento, and Amy takes a few supplies home. As the day comes to an end, we head for the Empire State Building. Amy tells me on the way there that the view of the New York Skyline is incredible, and she’s right. We arrive just after sunset and although it’s crowded, there is still plenty of space to get photos. It’s my favourite spot by far and the perfect way to finish off my whirlwind visit. As we head for dinner at one of Amy’s favourite Italian restaurants “D’Amore Wine Bar and Ristorante”, she tells me about other great places to explore. We discuss lesser known spots of the city, such as The Film Forum and The Bowery Ballroom. She tells me that there are endless things to see and always something new to try.

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