Thursday, January 9, 2014

New York city #4 - our final US day, including the Empire State Building, Tenement Museum, Moby's vegan restaurant, and the bottom tip of Manhattan

It feels a teeny bit embarrassing to conclude my American travel posts 4 months and the following year after our return to Australia. Nonetheless, today I am doing just that! This post provides the 12th and final recap for our 18 days in America, and the 4th recap specific to New York City. (The previous posts can be found on my travel page.)

Smoggy Empire State Building views

Our final US day was really and truly our final US day, because we flew out at 11pm at night. Having a whole day of sight seeing before getting on a plane and travelling across the world is rather an odd thing to do. It certainly makes the day seem full!

We started with a visit to the Empire State Building, with advance purchased tickets in hand. There are lots of warnings around about the queues, and there certainly were queues, but we didn't find them to be too bad (and we arrived at 10am, so not very early). The route up is rather maze-like though, encompassing two lifts and several winding sections of barriers where queues presumably do build up at times. The experience is worthwhile in an "I've done that" kind of way, and I recommend it as a quintessentially tourist activity!


After the Empire State Building, we caught the subway south to the Lower East Side. In a very booking organised kind of day (unlike us), we'd arranged to take the Tenement Museum's "Hard Times" tour. The museum is based in one of the old tenement buildings of the Lower East Side, where immigrants of the late 1800s and early 1900s lived, worked, and very often struggled. The tours are a mix of period architecture and possessions, with oral history accounts from those who lived in the area and their descendants. The tours are well reviewed and deservedly so, although they are quite pricey and there is a certain sense of "perhaps I could have read a book to find this out". Still, I admire the way the museum has been set up and think it's a concept that more places could benefit from.

Tenement Museum

Before our museum visit, we had lunch at Teany (or TeaNY), which was founded by the musician Moby in 2002. It is just around the corner from the Tenement Museum and offers an extensive vegan and vegetarian menu. As I only came across it the evening before, when searching for food options near the Tenement Museum, we felt fortunate to have identified it and be able to visit.

One of the problems of an extensive veggie menu is having to make a choice between competing items. (Admittedly, it's not a huge problem!) With some nostalgia for the grilled chicken salads I enjoyed years ago, I ordered their vegan 'chicken' salad and an almond milk coffee to drink. There is an extensive tea menu and if I wasn't focused on staying alert until our 11pm flight, I would have tried that instead of coffee.

The building with pink is Teany.

To my disappointment, the chicken salad differed from my imagined strips of grilled faux chicken and instead included diced, mayonnaise covered chicken equivalent. Mayonnaise is second only to cheese in my list of disliked foods, and sadly soy mayonnaise is no more appealing than the regular sort. The rest of the salad was enjoyable (with varied vegetables and chickpeas) but it wasn't the lunch of my dreams. I should have ordered the chipotle veggie burger or one of the many vegan desserts instead!

Vegan 'chicken' salad.

Mr Bite had the Mediterannean baguette ("with roasted red peppers, tomato, arugula, basil pesto and olive tapenade"), which he proclaimed good but not excellent. The cafe was a relaxing spot to sit and I would like to return and redeem my order one day.

Teany interior.

After the Tenement Museum we walked south-east to hit the East River, where Manhattan's bridges to Brooklyn can be found.

Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.

In stark contrast to current NYC temperatures, it was a warm day and we were glad of the breeze off the water, as well as the shade from the overhead roads that run along the river's edge, connecting with the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.

Brooklyn bridge.

We continued walking down to the lower tip of Manhattan, where we caught the Staten Island ferry as a free and restful way to see the waterfront areas of lower Manhattan and Staten Island - and the Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry.

Post boat ride, we made a hurried tour of the financial district, including the Freedom Tower at the old World Trade Centre site, before getting the subway back to the upper west side where our bags awaited us (the owner of the apartment we rented kindly stored them over the day). We then got the subway back down again and all the way through Brooklyn out to JFK airport. A long day, but a good one to finish on!

Freedom Tower.

TeaNY is located at 90 Rivington St between Orchard St and Ludlow St, Lower East Side, New York City. They are open for brunch and lunch. 
Phone - (212) 475 9190 

The Tenement Museum is located at 103 Orchard Street, Lower East Side, New York City. It is open daily from 10am-6pm. Tours are required to see the tenement buildings and can be booked online at http://www.tenement.org.
Phone - (212) 982 8420.

16 comments:

  1. So many places to visit!...Now tell me Kari what is vegan chicken anyway?

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    1. I had envisioned tofu, but in the form it came, I have no idea!! I think perhaps it's not for me :P

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  2. If it makes you feel any better, my personal record is posting the last travel update 14 months after I've returned to me home country, and I still have one final Cedar City post that stretches back to July. xo

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    1. Ah, but you have many more places and days to fit in :-) That does make me feel better though!

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  3. Ugh, 11pm flights are the WORST. I've had a few and after a day of sight seeing you wind up feeling so grimy. In Hong Kong last time we stayed at the YMCA and they let us use their fitness centre showers before we went to the airport! It made a huge difference! We went into the gift shop at the Tenement Museum but decided not to pay for the tour. There is so much to see in NYC though that a guided tour would really help to make sense of some of it!

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    1. I so desperately wanted a shower! I tried really hard to find somewhere we could go for one but sadly didn't manage it. I used lots of wet wipes instead :P The Tenement Museum gift shop is actually great in and of itself so I'm glad you did see that!

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  4. What a lot you fitted in to that day - hope it helped you sleep on the plane trip home. I would love to go to the tenement house tour - I just love that sort of history. I remember the staten island ferry trip though our photos are more remarkable in retrospect because it has the twin towers in the background (you can tell it is many years since our last trip). The iconic sights of any city are always amazing to see with your own eyes no matter how many times you have seen them photographed (or perhaps because of how many times you have seen them photographed)

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    1. You're very right - the sights are so well documented and familiar in an abstract way, and being there is still so remarkable. Your photos with the twin towers in the background are ones to treasure! I never made it to NYC before they were gone so those are images I have from pictures only.

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  5. I've never been to the Tenement Museum! I'll have to drag the.boy there because he is super into NYC history. And I hate mayonnaise also. That would have totally ruined the salad for me!

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    1. If you're into NYC history, definitely do visit! I'm glad I have a friend in mayonnaise hating too...so many people inexplicably like it :S

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  6. my theory for life ------ better late than never ;-)
    Its probably nice to reflect and look at the nice memories!

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  7. Sounds awesome, I'm glad you had fun!

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  8. If you ever return to NYC, I highly recommend Pure Food and Wine on Irving Place. It is a raw vegan restaurant that even the most meat-loving person would enjoy- the food is that good :) Also, if you are in the mood for Pizza, Pala Pizza on Allen street has the best vegan (and gluten free) pizza I have tried.

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    1. Brilliant! Thanks so much for the recommendations :-) We did get some great vegan food on the trip and I loved NYC's Candle Cafe, but more ideas are always welcome. I'll have to return to try them out!

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