When Koen and I were in London, we visited Fergus Henderson’s restaurant St. John. If you have the opportunity to visit, you have to try their most famous dish – toasted with roasted bone marrow and parsley salad. So delicious!
For our last full day in New York City, Koen and I wanted to visit a museum. We only had time this trip to fit one in, so after a lot of thought we decided on the American Museum of Natural History. Last year we visited AMNH and loved it. This time we also wanted to take in the special exhibitions – Dark Universe at the Hayden Planetarium, IMAX: The Great White Shark, and Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs. We started our day with breakfast at Gather in Park Slope before taking the train to the Upper Westside to AMNH. Luckily at the museum you’re allowed to exit and reenter. So we visited the Hayden Planetarium first for the Dark Universe show and then headed to Shake Shack for lunch. I did not want to leave NYC without visiting Shake Shack! After lunch we visited the last two exhibitions – the IMAX show and the Pterosaurs exhibit. We ended the day in Park Slope. First we had dinner at Beet II and finshed with wine at Brookvin. A great last day!
After the wedding, Koen and I had a couple of days to explore NYC. Last year we didn’t have time for Coney Island because it was too far from where we were staying, so we wanted to make sure to go this trip. I am so happy we planned it in. Coney Island is unbelievably beautiful and iconic. It was like walking onto a movie set. The sunny weather also helped! Because we were staying in Park Slope in Brooklyn, traveling to the bottom of the borough didn’t take too long. We started our day at the NYC Aquarium. Then we walked along the boardwalk until we found the original Nathan’s Famous that opened in 1916. If you don’t know, the hotdog was invented in Coney Island in 1870, so of course we wanted to have hotdogs for lunch! After lunch we went back to the boardwalk for a cocktail to-go, which we enjoyed on the pier. In the photos you will see the amusement park, but it is only open on the weekends after the summer holiday. Because it wasn’t so busy, we had a nice, relaxing day!
Koen and I were finally able to visit Ellis Island! We really wanted to go last year, but because of Hurricane Sandy, the museum was closed. Koen and I visited Ellis Island with Christina and her family, Ashley, and Meredith. This was a special visit because Christina’s father’s father and grandfather (so her grandfather and great-grandfather) entered the United States via Ellis Island and both of their names are commemorated on a plaque. Koen and I visited the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp recently, which is about leaving Europe for the United States, so we felt like we came full circle visiting Ellis Island and learning about entering the US.
I thought it was such a great idea when Christina told me that she wanted to make the bouquets and boutonnières herself for the wedding. I’ve never thought about buying flowers to arrange myself, so I was interested in visiting the Chelsea Flower Market to see what a wholesale flower market has to offer. The Market opens very early – at 5AM which is usually when professionals such as retailers and event planners stop by and closes at 11AM. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. When I think of a market, I think of the ones that take place during the weekend in Antwerp. At the markets I’m used to, vendors set up tables and kiosks outside in an open area and sell their product. But the Chelsea Flower Market is basically one street filled with flower shops that specialize in certain type of plants, aka roses, exotic, potted, orchids, etc. You can browse outside the shop or in their freezing interiors (if you visit be sure to bring a sweater!) in order to find the perfect pieces to make your arrangement. We spent over an hour visiting every shop to find Christina’s dream flowers 🙂
After the Chelsea Flower Market we headed over to Brooklyn to Prospect Park for the rehearsal. Christina and Rafael were married in the Japanese Garden of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Such a lovely spot! That evening we celebrated with a rehearsal dinner at Lil Frankie’s for a delicious Italian meal. I don’t have any photos from the rehearsal dinner but maybe I’ll find some later!
As I mentioned in my last post – Christina got married last! And you can’t get married without a big party to celebrate the last days as a bachelorette. We started out at Di Palo’s to pick out delicious cheeses, meats, antipasti, etc. for a picnic in Central Park. After lunch we headed to the Central Park Loeb Boathouse for a coffee and then rented boats. Luckily we had two guys and two boats 🙂 After rowing, we visited the American Museum of Natural History, exploring Christina’s favorite sections – seeing meteorites, dinosaurs, etc. Before leaving the Upper West Side, we went for a drink at Dive 75. At dinner our number of people doubled! Because I don’t live in NYC, I turned to Christina’s now-husband Rafaël for advice. We needed a restaurant Christina loves that can hold 14 people – Nyonya, a Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown, could not have been a better choice! Christina’s colleagues were working during the day and were able to get to the restaurant before us to set up something embarassing for Christina. It couldn’t have been better. Christina always makes funny faces in photos, and her colleagues made masks of all of her different faces haha. After our dinner, we headed to Asia Roma on Mulberry Street for karaoke!
For the second year in a row I was able to celebrate my birthday in New York City! Christina just happened to be getting married September 14th in NYC, so Koen and I made sure to plan my birthday (September 9th) into the agenda. Unfortunately I didn’t think it out very well, because we arrived on my birthday and we were exhausted. We still made it out to Cocoron, a Japanese soba noodle restaurant in Chinatown, for dinner and to Molly’s Cupcakes, the best cupcakes in NYC located in Greenwich Village, for dessert. After our cupcakes we headed back to Park Slope in Brooklyn, where we were staying for the week, to sleep off our jetlag. Unfortunately our hosts were sick and at their parents’ place most of the trip 😦
Day 13 was our last full day in NYC because we needed to head to the airport after lunch the next day. So we spent our last real day eating my favorite lunch again from the trip – Banh Mì from Saigon in Chinatown, and then heading back to Midtown to buy presents. I also wanted to visit the Ralph Lauren stores on Madison Avenue as well as his daughter’s candy store, Dylan’s Candy Bar. As a thank you to Christina for letting us stay with her so long, we spent our last evening seeing Mamma Mia on Broadway! The next morning we needed to pack and get our things together. For our last lunch we decided to go back to San Gennaro’s for steak and mozzarella sandwiches. Luckily we planned a lot of time between leaving Christina’s apartment and our flight. It turns out the exact time we wanted to head to the metro station was during the huge parade for San Gennaro! The crowds were gigantic and we were both with two suitcases trying to fight our way through. Then we had to talk to the police officers to try and convince them to let us cross through the parade because if we had would wait another hour it would be too late. So rather than taking 5 minutes to get to the metro station it took us 30 minutes – but we made it! At the airport we decided to have one last burger from the Shake Shack! Now we are both looking forward to going back to NYC in September!
Heading into our last days in NYC, we knew we had to try a bagel from Russ and Daughters. Christina and I left to pick up bagels to bring back to the apartment but we hadn’t realized our trip coincided with Yom Kippur. There is always a long wait but we arrived the day before the holiest day of the year for Jewish people. So it was packed! But luckily a kind stranger gave us his tickets and we didn’t have to wait more than half an hour – but some people were waiting more than an hour to place orders! But I have to say it was worth the wait (plus I had good company)! After lunch we headed to Little Italy for the grand opening of San Gennaro – the oldest and biggest religious street festival in NYC. We heard there was a cannoli eating contest and we had to check it out. We’ll never be able to unsee the contest, but at least I can check off attending an eating event from my bucket list. I lost my craving for cannolis so we headed to The Butcher’s Daughter for kale chips and fresh juice. We were invited over to Queens for dinner at my friend Greg’s place, but of course I forgot to take photos!
Now that we had explored a lot of Manhattan, we decided on day 11 to meet up with some friends in Brooklyn. We met up with our friend Matt in Brooklyn to see another side of NYC. First we explored Williamsburg, walking around and stopping at the park to look at the view of Manhattan and the Williamsburg Bridge. Matt also took us to Five Leaves where I of course ordered a Brooklyn beer, because it was only fitting. For dinner we headed to Bushwick to meet Danny at Arepera Guacuco and I tried arepas for the first time! After dinner we met up with my friend Meredith for drinks in Bushwick.