American Museum of Natural History

Breakfast at Gather - 2 cups of coffee, a lemon muffin, and an egg and kale sandwich with caper mayonnaise

Breakfast at Gather – 2 cups of coffee, a lemon muffin, and an egg and kale sandwich with caper mayonnaise

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!

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Chelsea Flower Market and Rehearsal

Chelsea Flower Market

Chelsea Flower Market

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!

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Christina’s Bachelorette Party

Beginning the day with a picnic in Central Park!

Beginning the day with a picnic in Central Park!

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!

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Birthday in New York City

Birthday cupcakes from Molly's Cupcakes in Greenwich Village

Birthday cupcakes from Molly’s Cupcakes in Greenwich Village

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 😦

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New York City: Revisiting our favorite spots

One last Bahn Mì from Saigon in Chinatown

One last Banh Mì from Saigon in Chinatown

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!

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New York Day: Brooklyn (Williamsburg and Bushwick)

View of Manhattan from Brooklyn

View of Manhattan from Brooklyn

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.

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New York Day: Katz’s Deli & The Met

The Famous Katz's Delicatessen

The Famous Katz’s Delicatessen

By our 10th day in NYC, we had already seen quite a bit – so we slept in before enjoying lunch at the famous Katz’s Delicatessen, founded in 1888! Everyone knows the famous scene in Katz’s Deli from the movie When Harry Met Sally. There’s sign hanging in the restaurant if you’re interested in sitting in the same booth! After our HUGE lunch, we headed to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The collection at the Met is overwhelming. In general, it’s so amazing how much art is at your fingertips while you are in New York City. Koen and I will be back in NYC September 2014, and we’ll definitely head back to the Met! If you’re on a budget, admission for the museum is based on donations. So if $25 is too much, you can give what you can any day of the week. After our trip to the Met we met Christina when she got off from work for Mexican food.

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New York Day: My birthday, Natural History Museum, Zabar’s, and more cupcakes

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History, Theodore Roosevelt Equestrian Statue

I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday during our trip to New York City! We decided to save the American Museum of Natural History for the occasion. I had no idea the museum is so big! Luckily you can leave the museum and come back, so we spent a couple of hours in the morning exploring before taking a break to have lunch in Central Park. After spending a few more hours at the museum, we went for a birthday cupcake in Soho followed by a delicious Italian dinner from Di Palo. To end the evening, Koen, Christina, and I went for cocktails at Apothéke, a speakeasy in Chinatown.

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New York Day: Dim Sum at Jing Fong, The Frick Collection, Staten Island Ferry, Di Palo’s and more cupcakes

Sunday breakfast - Dim Sum at Jing Fong in Chinatown

Sunday breakfast – Dim Sum at Jing Fong in Chinatown

On Sunday, I had dim sum for the first time! To take advantage of Christina being off from work, we started the day with Dim Sum, followed by a visit to The Frick Collection, where on Sundays from 11 – 1PM you can pay what you wish to visit, and then a beautiful ferry ride from Battery Park to Staten Island (which passes Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and also happens to be free). When we arrived back in Battery Park, we went to Nathan’s for hotdogs and corndogs. Christina had to go back to work, but Koen and I enjoyed the view of the Statue of Liberty and the nice weather. My birthday was the following day, so we stopped by Di Palo for delicious Italian treats and wine. And of course, a birthday dinner isn’t complete without dessert, and we went for a walk to the Little Cupcake Bakeshop in Nolita for cupcakes.

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New York Day: Banh Mi, Nike, Chelsea Market, Markt, and the Guggenheim

Koen and Christina in front of the best Vietnamese sandwich restaurant in Chinatown!

Koen and Christina in front of the best Vietnamese sandwich restaurant in Chinatown!

On Saturday, we planned our day around visiting the Guggenheim Museum. Because we were trying to save money, we visited the MOMA on Friday, because entrance is free between 4 – 8PM and the Guggenheim on Saturday between 5:45 – 7:45PM, because you are able to pay what you want. Christina was also off from work, so she took us to her favorite Banh Mi restaurant for lunch, then to a Nike exhibit she worked on in the Meatpacking District, followed by a tour of the Chelsea Market, and then to a Belgian restaurant for biertjes and frietjes.

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