NYC: Day one PART 1

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

I decided to break up the NYC trip by days/sections to make it easier to read, so I don't bombard you with too many photos, haha. This isn't the first time that I have been to NYC, but it's certainly a different experience all on its own. The last (and first time) I went was way back in high school during a trip excursion, so it has been awhile! Here's a throwback photo I took:

Much like last time, I started off the trip by taking a bus. My boyfriend and I took the Greyhound bus Friday night, which lasted till early morning of the next day. I think it's really the luck of the draw in terms of how comfortable the bus seats are or the type of people you so happen to commute with. Our bus ride to New York wasn't the most accommodating one, as the seats were semi-hard leather seats and we had the unfortunate incident of someone blasting their ethnic music on the bus and only stopping when my boyfriend asked them politely to stop. Maybe I am more tolerable of different scenarios when it comes to sleeping, but I got an "okay" amount/quality of sleep. My boyfriend on the other hand, suffered from poor sleep.

We started our day by familiarizing with the subway, as we would be travelling on it a lot for the next couple of days. I never took it in my previous trip, so my inner design geek was overjoyed to be able to witness one of Vignelli's work firsthand — the wayfinding system of the subway.

It was also interesting to be able to compare Toronto's subway system to NYC's. The most obvious difference is how vastly expansive NYC's subway is compared to Toronto, making it much more accessible and efficient. On the other hand, there are little quirks about the TTC that I found enduring and more accustomed to as opposed to NYC. 

For one, our Metropasses are much more durable. The Metrocard in NYC is hardly even cardstock paper, making it susceptible to wear and tear if you're not careful with it. The black strip on the card is especially important, as a simple dent would deem the card unreadable and you'd have to mail the damaged card to the company to get a new one (or tell the information kiosk about your situation if you're just travelling for a couple of days, and hopefully they'll give you a new one/replacement card).

As a tourist, I made sure to be prepared by Google mapping all my routes and saving the directions on my phone for easy access, which makes for easier travelling. Not everyone does that, so I can understand the confusion that takes place when you look at the signage with only very limited knowledge of where your destination is. Back in Toronto, the subway stations would also specify which orientation the trains are headed towards: Southbound, Northbound, etc, which NYC subway stations don't do. I think if their subway stations had that, maybe there would be less confusion?

Also, the maps in the subway stations are much further down the passageway than the ones in Toronto. It makes it a little frustrating if you want to check where you are and you'd have to wander around not knowing where the maps are. In Toronto, they stick basic maps on the first columns you would see when you first descend into the subway train area, which makes for easy checking.

Anyway, I think my wayfinding designer geek side has done enough blabbering :P

We first headed to the Queens area because my boyfriend has been pretty excited in trying out the Jollibee's in America (as a comparison to the one back in his home country).

Top: Jollibee Chickenjoy Combo with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Bottom: Peach Mango Pie

I'm not super particular about fried chicken unless if it was horribly salty, so I enjoyed my meal at Jollibee's like I would at say, White Brick Kitchen back in Toronto. The mashed potatoes was a little lack lustre in the 'wow' department, reminiscent of the processed taste in Popeye's. The gravy sauce on the other hand, gets a thumbs up as it was not overly salty and it made the mashed potatoes much more tolerable. I was content when I was finished my meal, so I saved my peach mango pie till much later in the day. In fact, I had almost forgotten about it as the day went on! I munched on it sometime between lunch and dinner. Frantically slurping on the falling contents aside, it was a nice snack to have. It wasn't too sweet and the outer shell was surprisingly crunchier than your McDonald's apple pie outer layer. 

Since I was busy carrying my luggage in the morning (we hadn't checked in at the hotel yet), I didn't get a chance/forgot to take a picture of the outside of the fast food joint, and I also regrettably didn't take a picture of the surrounding streets. The view was very Batman/Gotham-esque, which I found pretty cool.

Next stop was Brooklyn, where a childhood friend of my boyfriend's joined us for lunch at Smorgasburg.

Smorgasburg is a food tent event that happens every weekend in Brooklyn. We definitely don't have that back in Toronto, which I'm a little jealous of.

For lunch, we each had a Ramen burger, which consisted of buns made entirely out of Ramen noodles sandwiching a beef patty with some barbecue sauce inbetween.

Overall, the burger was good. A little small for $8, but still a good experience. It wasn't something that wowed me out of my mind, so if I had the chance to go to Smorgasburg again, I would definitely try something else if given the choice to.

Oh, I forgot to add that I never realized how hipster Brooklyn was! I wasn't going to take pictures of random strangers, but just the vibe I got from that part of the city was interesting. From the restaurant signage to the graffiti to the people I saw walking on the street, it definitely reminded me of a familiar culture.

Next, we headed back to downtown Manhattan to check in early at the ROW NYC Hotel. When I first stepped inside, I immediately liked the modern decor it had, from the chainmail curtains in the upper lobby, the glowing lights behind the check-in desks, the super fast elevators with oddly convexed interiors to the the Mac computer station set up for anyone that needed to use a computer.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Day 1...

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