One of the best things about returning to a favourite city is revisiting your favourite places and activities. While it’s easy to go to New York over and over again and never do the same thing twice, there is something wonderful and comforting about finding the familiar in a strange place. My recent trip to New York was a blend of old favourites and new discoveries.
The familiar: Fuerza Bruta
The first time I went to New York in 2009, my friend Janet and I went to Fuerza Bruta, a music-dance-performance art experience that blew our minds with its energy and sensory overload. I talked about it for years, so much so when I was planning this trip I mentioned it as a possibility but could only describe it as “You just have to see it.”
So we went and I was completely blown away a second time. It was just as I remembered, but this time, we were right in the middle of everything. I found the best way to enjoy Fuerza Bruta was to not try and figure it out, or overthink it. I enjoyed it the most when I just experienced it.
The discovery: Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island, a little sliver of land between Manhattan and Queens in the East River, is one of this trip’s discoveries and surprises. At approximately 3 km (2 mi) long, the island is a nice afternoon trip away from the noise and hustle of Manhattan. Today, the island seems quiet and unassuming, but its history is fascinating. Since European contact in the mid-1600s, Roosevelt Island has been the subject of minor skirmishes, the site of a prison, then a prison hospital, then a lunatic asylum, then a smallpox hospital, the ruins of which can be visited today. It’s been known as Rockwell Island, then Welfare Island, and since 1971, Roosevelt Island.
Getting to Roosevelt Island is half the fun. The F train gets will take you there underground, if you have a fear of heights, otherwise, take the Roosevelt Island Tramway. You can use your Metro Card and it gives you a soaring view of Manhattan, the East River and some of Queens.
The Island is has lovely walking trails along the water, which is the perfect place to catch their blooming cherry trees. Given its relatively small size, the Island is easily walkable, but if you want to conserve your energy, catch the Roosevelt Island Red Bus, which runs in an easy-to-find loop around the island. Be sure to have change on you, though, the fare is $0.25 cash per ride and the Red Bus doesn’t take Metro Cards.
The main sights are situated at each end of the island. On the northern end is Lighthouse Park, visible, but currently closed to the public due to flood damage. The lighthouse is still a lovely sight and can be seen easily from behind the fence.
Hop on the Red Bus and head south to see the ruins of the Smallpox Hospital, which appears to be in the middle of a restoration.
If you have time, Southpoint Park is a great place to sit and take in the view of Manhattan. From the southern part of Roosevelt Island, you can see the United Nations, and the tops of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building.
Look the other way, and you can see the iconic Pepsi sign on the bottling plant over in Long Island City, Queens.
Before long, you’ll join Roosevelt Island residents and hospital workers on the return jaunt back to Manhattan. I’ll gladly count myself among those who love Roosevelt Island and can’t wait to find a reason to return.
The familiar+: Section 2 of the High Line
I visited New York for the first time shortly after the High Line opened to the public in 2009. I was dazzled by the strange and beautiful park that runs through the Meatpacking District and Chelsea on an abandoned rail corridor, and committed myself to coming back as the park grows northward. The longer and much more complex Section 2 opened to the public in 2012, and I was excited to finally see Section 2.
The original section of the High Line took visitors through streets and buildings, the new section takes you up and over a small forest, and offers up more seating options and plenty of public art. I’ve found going early in the morning is the best time for solitude and lots of available seats, but afternoon strolls will let you see more activity (and tourists) and evening strolls will give you lovely sunsets and let you eavesdrop on first dates.
Eating on the run: street food and food trucks
My friend and I were so keen to see and do as much as possible, many of our food stops were on the run, when inspiration struck or when a fun idea presented itself. On Sunday morning, after a long walk on the High Line, the Village and SoHo, our blood sugar was dropping fast. We made it as far as Chinatown and Little Italy before a snack became the top priority. Turning a corner, we were given lots of sweet options, trays and trays of street cannoli.
Our cannolis were just a fraction of the delicious street eats we found between Manhattan and Brooklyn I’ll have lots more to say about my amazing food truck finds in the next couple of weeks, stay tuned!
New York, New York is my kind of town, and I can’t get enough of it. Not only do I have more NYC highlights to share from this trip, I liked it so much, I’m going back for more this week. In all seriousness, I got tickets to Saturday Night Live through SNL’s ticket lottery, so I’m taking full advantage of it and making a return trip to New York faster than my wildest dreams could have conjured!