With Taylor Swift blaring out of my headphones, I arrived in the city that doesn’t sleep. Rather fittingly, I hadn’t slept. An eight hour bus drive from Virginia, with the person sitting next to you snoring unnecessarily loudly, is not a recipe for relaxation. But, undeterred, I set about trying to cram as many experiences as possible into one weekend in the Big Apple. Here are my top ten suggestions for a trip to NYC!
Rent has me a bit torn. Flawed, idealistic to the point of irritation and more 90s than a barrel full of furbies, at times it was tough to figure out why the show is so deeply embedded in the psyche of theatre-kids worldwide. Yet, just when you thought you have had enough, the show bursts in brilliance, breaking your heart into five hundred twenty five thousand, six hundred pieces. While the recent Just So Byre production had its issues, it is hard to deny the moments of pure emotion that tent-poled the show.
The daylight floods in through the factory size windows, as steam rises up in such a beautiful way it looks like intricate lace. Taking in whiffs of hazelnut and pumpkin, listening to the murmurs of freelancers and friends and faint orchestral music. I watch the baristas pour warm milk and the crowd take slow sips as I sit at the communal table, littered with coffee granules, at my favorite café, Toby’s Estate. My apartment in Williamsburg is nestled in the midst of some wonderful cafés. Over the years, I have spent a good chunk of my free time curled up in their couches, doing schoolwork and writing stories, and staring at the ceiling and passers-by when I can’t focus. It is no easy task to pick the best coffee shop in Brooklyn, given the high density with which they are strewn on practically every street. Williamsburg is a hub of cool cafés that exhibit the very distinct culture of the neighborhood. The cafés are laid back, alternative, vintage and rustic. Although a difficult selection to make, I’ve chosen a few to tell you about, based on quality and ambiance. If you ever find yourself in New York, these are the cafés you want to check out!
As I’m not always the best with words I found myself completely stuck for ideas about what to write about New York. It’s such a well-known place. Everyone knows what New York is like, or at least has an idea of what it’s like from the hundreds of films and tv shows set there! Plus, there will be tons of students here who know New York waaaay better than I do, or could ever, being native New Yorkers themselves. I really just didn’t think I’d be able to write anything new. Instead, here are some of the photos I took from my trip that sum up the experience I had in the wonderful city.
The question ‘How was your summer?’ causes oneself to completely assess their whole summer in the socially acceptable space of about two minutes. Therefore, what you choose to answer arguably says a lot about which two minute segment was the most memorable for you.
We all know that feeling, when you leave the library after a particularly long slog, bleary eyed with a stack of eros coffee cups balanced precariously on your laptop (because, when faced with the imminent death by revision, suddenly lap tops become less important) and in desperate need of some ibuprofen. All you crave is another caffeine fix, although you know after your 10th one you will never get to sleep. Whilst there are many eligible coffee shops in St Andrews where you could go to get your next hit, I want to take you away on a little coffee shop tour of the world to ease your exam woes. Whether you want to day dream you’re in the middle of New York talking to a particularly handsome barista about symbolism in Milton, or you’re looking for inspiration over the mercifully exam free summer, I can guarantee that there will be a coffee shop on here that will make you forget all about short loans and all-nighters spent wilting in the silent section, even just for a little while…
Over Spring Break I celebrated turning 21 by going to a country where turning 21 is still a big deal, America. As someone who had never left Europe, but has been exposed to American images and pop culture all my life, I had pretty high expectations. And the concrete jungle where dreams are made of didn’t let me down. Our home for four days, Hotel Edison, luckily found on deal, is amazing. Completely art-deco, it retains that old school charm, with a stunning lobby, original features, unique rooms and the most authentic feeling 1930s jazz bar. The Rum House really was a treasure in the trip; live music every night in a cosy bar with expertly made cocktails. It was clearly a hit with the locals too, as by the late evening it was always packed with New Yorkers and hotel guests. On our first morning, we were up bright and early and indulged at a very American diner. My plate was stacked high with (delicious) blueberry pancakes served with maple syrup and butter on the side. Really only one meal a day is necessary with American portion sizes. We spent the day exploring touristy Midtown. Times Square; Grand Central Terminal, which is like stepping through a time warp; New York Public Library, so ornate and an excellent shop; and MoMA, we only explored two floors of impressionism, cubism and early modern art but still saw some of the art world’s greatest treasures, and also paused for soup at the café, which may sound like an odd recommendation, but it was excellent and had a fantastic view of the city. Then just before sunset we went along to Rockefeller Center to get the view from the Top of the Rock. Opting for this rather than the Empire State Building meant that you actually get to see the Empire State Building, although the Chrysler Building was irritatingly obscured from full view.
I know the ‘real’ future is looming. A future of degrees, interviews, jobs, and most likely the normal – albeit wonderful – tedium of middle class life. But right now, I just want to travel. I want to see, smell, taste, feel, hear it all. I want to watch the Northern Lights dance above Norway and take it into my soul; make it a part of me. I want to see countless stars in an unobstructed night sky as I lay in the middle of the desert. I want to feel the rough, knobby roots of trees that cling to the stone in Cambodian temples, and I want to learn their strength; to learn how to hold on to something that means so much, and never let it go, even though everyone else did centuries ago.
This is intended to be more than just a review of “Inside Llewyn Davis”. The extent to which the New York 1960s folk music scene figures in and really defines this film made it seem natural to expand any discussion of its merits into a consideration of its source material. So, to get the basics out of the way first, it’s a great film. Do go to see it, particularly if you like the Coen Brothers and the music of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie et al.
A review of Bill Cunningham New York