Sunday, June 4, 2017


Watching the Manhattan Skyline go by from the ferry

I spent a week down in New York City as part of the final stages of processing my work visa for China. I needed to come down here to go to the Chinese Consulate to apply for the visa, which I finally just received on Thursday, after about three and a half months of organizing all the paperwork. There is one more document I'm waiting on, and then I'm off to Nanning at last!

The nice thing about visiting the consulate here was the opportunity to do a lot of sight-seeing while waiting around for the visa to be processed. Below are some of the highlights:

The first day I arrived was Memorial Day, so my friends took me on a big walking tour of Manhattan. We started off at the MOMA, New York's modern art museum. It was extremely crowded, but otherwise a really great experience and I loved seeing all the Picasso, a couple of great pieces by Frida Kahlo, Dali, the famous "Starry Night" by Van Gogh that was much smaller than I'd pictured. It was well worth the trip. 

Rockefeller Square with a huge inflatable ballerina towering over it
Totto's amazing, if non-traditional, Japanese ramen

We walked by Rockefeller Square which had a giant inflatable ballerina out front for whatever reason, and made our way over to Totto Ramen for lunch. It was definitely the best ramen I've had thus far outside of Japan. But a note to the wise- go to the little non-descript shop next door to the main Totto Ramen. They are owned by the same people, but the shop on the left is the "American style" ramen made with a very non-traditional chicken broth, and the one on the right is Japanese style ramen. We didn't noticed the one on the right until after eating, but to be honest even though chicken broth isn't very authentic, it was still really tasty, with great noodles, pork and a fun atmosphere. 

Times Square

We started our walking tour after that, passing by Times Square, which in my opinion just looks like any random intersection in Shinjuku, then down to Union Square, where we stopped in at The Strand bookshop. It reminded me a lot of Powell's Books in Portland, although maybe smaller? I loved wandering through it and checking out the tables of recommendations in the front room.

Union Square

The Rose Main Reading Room in the New York Public Library

The next day I visited Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. I absolutely loved the library, it was gorgeous and the staff were really friendly there. The murals on the walls and ceilings were beautiful.

Walking through the High Line park to Greenwich Village

The Stonewall Inn bar

I walked through the High Line, which is a former raised train track that has been converted into a park. It's June now so the flowers were in bloom and there were really great views of the river and the city. It ended down in Greenwich Village, so I wandered around there thinking of one of my favorite poets, Edna St Vincent Millay, who once lived there. I visited the original Stonewall Bar where the Stonewall Riots occurred back in 1969.

The beach at Coney Island

The following day we went out to Coney Island to wander around the beach and dip our feet in the water. It was a really nice day but not too crowded, so it was a great time to hang out with some good beer by the ocean.

On Thursday we walked through all of Central Park, which took hours. It is impressively huge, although surprisingly it doesn't even make the top 20 list of world's biggest city parks. I really enjoyed it though, as there are a lot of famous sights throughout the park, a lot of things to do there, and also plenty of quiet little corners where you can take a break from the urban rush. We popped out of the park for a bit to get a snack at Amorino Gelato, which was amazing - they even shaped it to look like a flower on top of the cone.

View from the East River Ferry

Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge

Friday, my last full day in New York, I caught the East River Ferry from it's starting point on 34th street in Manhattan. It only cost $2.75 and offered great views from the open air deck on top of the New York skyline and bridges. A lot of tourists do the free Staten Island ferry by the Statue of Liberty, but I feel like I got to see more with the East River Ferry. I got off at the Brooklyn Bridge stop and wandered around Dumbo Park a little bit before crossing the bridge. The bridge was super crowded, which took some of the fun out of the experience, but it still had a great views and was worth the trip. I passed through China Town on the other side but wasn't too impressed with it compared to other China Town's I've seen (like the incredible one in Yokohama, Japan.)

Best NY tour guides

I had so much fun with these guys

Probably the best part of this trip has been staying with one of my Chilean friends who I used to work with in Santiago and who has been living in Brooklyn recently. It was really good to catch up with her and her husband, and to have a little taste of Chilean culture again. We even had a completos for dinner one evening, which are Chilean style hot dogs covered in avocado, onions, tomatoes, ketchup, mayonnaise, etc (basically more condiment than actual hot dog, but very tasty). It's been great remembering all the things I miss from Chile, especially the people!

New York has been really fun, but I'm looking forward to spending a little more time with my sister and nephew next week, and then finally making it to Nanning, where I can see Anna again and some old friends from Pohang, and get started on our next big adventure.

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