Vegan in NYC for work? No problem! NYC by night for a working touristYael Tamar
On the days that are especially long, the shopper in you may be worried you’ll miss the shops.
But behold… Most shops like Gap, H&M, Forever 21, etc. around 34 St. (Penn Station) don’t close til 11 p.m. Check out this PETA guide to cruelty-free mainstream shop shopping!
If you’re a salsa dancer, then on a Monday night, head to Taj, in Chelsea, which is a bit off the radar (or off the official schedule), but with live music, it totally rocks. Need vegan dance shoes, head to MooShoes on 78 Orchard St (+1 212-254-6512).
If you don’t dance salsa you can check out meetup.com for meetup groups around veganism that hold weekly meetings and a bunch of events throughout the week. Here’s an awesome event that was held really nice rooftop bar, The Delancey, on Delancey Street, where about 200 vegans and vegetarians gathered for a meetup.
If you like Jazz, check out After Midnight, a highly acclaimed Jazz show on Broadway. I am so fond of Jazz that even my daughter’s middle name is Jazz and so of course I couldn’t miss it.
I should have probably mentioned by now, I have a tradition that at every abroad location, I do four things before anything else. (1) Salsa, (2) Jazz, (3) scuba diving and (4) a modern art museum. That explains the odd choice of jazz on Broadway. Plus the amazing reviews that show has received…
Well, scuba diving is not an option in NYC, but on an early afternoon, after your work meetings, you can venture out to go to MOMA (Museum of Modern Art)! This is by far my favorite museum in NYC, up there with the MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art).
By now I should have probably mentioned that I am almost a New Yorker. I lived here for three years studying at Hunter College, on 68th and Lexington Ave. So I have been to MOMA and many other museums and landmarks. So by now, I am just interested in having the most fun time and exploring the best aspect of NYC: its people. I try to talk to as many people as possible, making jokes while buying a MOMA ticket is one example. “Do you have any discounts for international rock stars?” I asked the guy behind the ticket counter. “Are you one?” he asked in return? “No, but it would be nice to know.” This got me no discount, but a few laughs.
While I was at Hunter, I was a real Manhattan snob. I refused to go to outer boroughs. And now, traveling between the coveted New York City and the mediocre Long Island, I am thinking of the gap between NYC and the rest of the world, even if the rest of the world is just half an hour away. I guess the best way to sum up this sentiment is a phrase you see several times a day while in transit in NYC (and almost anywhere else in the world). This philosophical phrase that can mean so many things should really be the motto of any traveler down there.
Here’s another piece of wisdom I saw while walking around in the city:
My favorite floor at MOMA is the post-impressionist and expressionist 5th floor, which is pretty much the only floor I go to. I am not a fan of much of modern art, I have to say. I appreciate it for its effort, glance over it and move on. The best part about MOMA is the guided tour. There is a short 1.5 minute message from a curator on selected paintings and each of them creates a new perspective for you and just blows your mind. Plus at the next museum, you will be able to impress your family and friends with your ample knowledge and understanding of the art works you learned about.
Here’s a photo of tourists taking photos of Starry Night by Van Gogh. This is the most popular painting in the museum and there’s always a small crowd gathered around it.
It’s probably so enticing because Van Gogh was in an insane asylum when he painted it. Or at least I like to think so. We crave insanity, subconsciously, that state of carelessness and strife to do what one really is born to do. Van Gosh let himself go, but we still haven’t. At least we have MOMA to admire one’s courage to pursue their talent.
Speaking of travel and art admiration, I was on the subway seated in front of a guy with a painting in his hand. All through the ride he was lovingly gazing at the painting, so I thought he must have just bought it. I was curious but was waiting for the right excuse to come over and look at it. Soon two guys entered the subway facing the painting and started talking to the guy about it. I stood up and joined them. The painting was very busy with loads of scenes going on with various futuristic subjects. The guy claimed that he saw all of those in his dreams and that he had no idea what they represented. I asked him if he was Native American, and he confirmed. His name is Louie Luna, and I tried to find him on Facebook, but couldn’t. Here’s a glimpse of his painting:
After MOMA, I went to the financial district because I have not seen the new 9/11 Memorial. And boy, was it grand! This is by far the most perception-shuttering, awe-inspiring and just plain impressive memorial I have seen! I was stunned and starting crying.
The memorial consists of who giant waterfalls in place where the two buildings stood up, with the water cascading into a giant drain in the middle of each one. Around the waterfalls, the names of the fallen were inscribed on a marble contour.
Walking around the financial district is kind of fun too. I love the architecture there! And I love talking to the policemen :). Tip: just ask them how to get to Wall St. to get them talking.
After that I went to yet another Meetup – a Foodie tour of the East Village! It was 6 of us sampling foods from the 7 best restaurants in the Village while learning about its history. We started at Astor Place Cube, which was one of the very few street art pieces left from the the beautification efforts of New York City municipality in the 60s. About two built men (or six average-built foodies) can spin it around 360 degrees!
There is a rumor that someone lives inside the cube going out at night through the little hole you see in the photo, but apparently it’s just an urban legend.
The tour was fabulous. The food was pretty awesome. I learned about this mosaic artist who went rogue back in the 80s and decided to beautify street lamp poles and after someone complained and alerted the authorities, they thought it was kind of neat and commissioned him to continue doing his art around the city. Here’s an example:
Another cool landmark is the Yiddish theater stars right on 2nd avenue. I had no idea there was a Yiddish theater and that it was quite big!
I’ll make a separate post about this tour, but for now, just marvel at the food photos!
My favorite restaurant out of the 7 was Quintessence, a raw vegan spot.
After the tour, I made my way to a friend’s home in Forest Hills, Queens, where we spent the night chatting and smoking Nargila. A cool thing I noticed on my way over there is an “alphabet” train transfer:
On the morning before my flight, I had a meeting scheduled at an amazing cold-pressed juice bar.
Apparently, these juices are made in a way that minimizes processing via a process of cold pressing over a long period of time. I was explained that regular juice looses its quality almost immediately while these special juices remain potent for up to two days. Plus they are delicious! And they didn’t lie. For a price of $10 per 0.5 liter bottle each, I enjoyed a beat/ginger/etc concoction and another one based on fresh coconut water. I also had a bagle of sprouted buckwheat with soy cheese and some other sprouts, which was just divine. Sorry, all the people who like “normal” food for breakfast. I hope you are still with me here.