I turned 24 last week! I’ve been celebrating all week with an overdose of sweets and sugar because one of my best friends flew in from Australia to celebrate our one-day-apart birthdays! It’s her first time visiting New York so we spent the week touring the hotspots and getting all the best food the city has to offer. I had a traditional Chinese birthday dinner with my parents ahead of my actual birthday where they blessed my 24th year – important in Chinese culture due to the 12 year zodiac – with money and a huge cake. I then had not one but TWO birthday parties with my friends where we had big-fam dinners, $4 cocktails, and desserts.
Unfortunately my eating capability was limited because I had just gotten my two bottom wisdom teeth taken out. It’s funny that the oral surgeon asked me how old I am since judging by the x-ray of my teeth he guessed I was 18. My wisdom teeth weren’t even developed enough for me to know they exist, but because they were impacted I had to get my gums sliced to literally dig out the teeth (TMI, sorry ha). Amazingly, I only took painkillers on the first day and the swelling went down by day 4! I still have a lot of trouble eating even now, because chewing and cold drinks hurt and using my first molars takes a lot of effort. I’m very thankful that my friends celebrated with me though at times I had to watch them eat what I couldn’t, and I’m thankful that they patiently wait for me to eat slowly. <3
Here are some highlights from the week!
The first day after my friend flew 21 hours in from Australia was actually the one-year anniversary of my baptism! I didn’t want to make it a big deal so I didn’t write a 2-page Facebook post as I did last year, but we somehow ended up wandering into St. Patrick’s Cathedral. My friend is Catholic so we gave candle offerings and prayers. We toured Koreatown, Times Square, and Rockefeller Center.
The following day we did make it over to New York University and the fountain where I was actually baptized, so we did short reenactments just for fun. Then we toured campus as well as the neighboring area Soho before I had to get dinner with my parents.
The cake they got for our birthdays was from Magnolia Bakery! It’s super popular and world-famous because it is super super delicious! Not to mention rather expensive. There are six locations in New York and branches in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Honolulu.
On my birthday, we took the Staten Island Ferry – which is free – to pass by the Statue of Liberty then headed back to the Financial District where we visited my former workplace and the pier. I found a candy store with stuffed Pusheens! We also bought matching dresses in one of the boutiques there as well!
I’m wearing it here. We wanted to dress up retro just for fun so here’s my 1950s housewife look. We had the first party with my friends, after which some of us stayed to get cocktails. I then treated my friend to THE BEST dessert in New York, Snowdays shaved cream. Every bite of this just melts in your mouth. For someone who couldn’t eat anything that night it was more amazing than the mashed potatoes and ice cream in my system all week.
After the birthday celebrations were over, we spent each of the rest of my friend’s days in New York touring a specific section of Manhattan. Day 1, we visited my high school, Battery Park, Freedom Tower, the Ground Zero Memorial, Brooklyn Bridge, and also NYU’s Brooklyn campus. Day 2, we checked out the Museum of Natural History and Central Park then went up to the top of Rockefeller Center to see the cityscape at night. Day 4, we visited Fifth Ave and The Plaza Hotel, and I also saw my first Broadway show in my 11 years as a New Yorker! Day 5, we visited Chinatown and The Highline. Each of these days I logged close to 10 miles of walking, which was very beneficial to hatching my Pokemon. It was great because I hadn’t gotten out much this summer to play that game due to my intensive class and wisdom teeth surgery.
I really think I had too much dessert this week since it was much easier to eat than actual food. Here’s one of my new favorite places called Spot Dessert Bar. I have a friend who works here so he gave us a discount on the delicious and huge tapas pictured below.
If you noticed I skipped Day 3 in my recount of the touring, I had a wisdom teeth checkup appointment that day and let my friend tour the city on her own. It was hard to communicate with her since she needed Wi-Fi to reach me and ended up missing most of my second birthday party with my friends. At least we were able to all make it to NY Frost Factory together and get this shaved cream below. I prefer Snowdays.
We also tried Eggloo, a famous waffle & ice cream place in Chinatown. I had visited it once before with my friends but it was April and so cold that I didn’t eat the ice cream. Let me tell you though, this was almost as delicious as Snowdays. It required fast eating because the waffle is hot and the ice cream is just sitting on top.
Other than my newfound appreciation for the amount of dessert New York has, I have a new appreciation of parks. My friend had not expected the amount of parks that the city actually has. Here is Washington Square Park viewed from a building at New York University. It has a nice view of my baptism fountain and the arch, as well as the Empire State Building.
Rockefeller Park below is a huge part of my high school days because it’s located just outside and we were allowed to play there during lunch time. Now it’s just a Pokemon hotspot. It has a nice view of New Jersey right across the Hudson River. You can also see Freedom Tower from here.
Central Park of course is a crowd favorite, and not just for the Pokemon, though the entire park is a goldmine. It’s the only park which I think is actually not man-made due to the growth of the trees and the lakes.
However I didn’t know there’s actually a memorial to John Lennon here called Strawberry Fields. There was a guy there playing Beatles songs on the guitar, which was rather nice.
Lastly, Bryant Park really caught my attention this time and not because I caught five Growlithes there. Okay, maybe I just went there for the Pokemon. But it’s pretty and the New York Public Library fences it so beautifully!
My friend and I were not gonna pass up the chance to be princesses and visit The Plaza Hotel. Everything in there is super fancy and there is actually an entire shopping center with desserts in the basement! We were mainly interested in getting drinks there like fancy ladies, though we were underdressed – I had sneakers on for the walking – and they assumed we were under 21.
Was it worth it for my $12 non-alcoholic pineapple juice? It was fun!
That night I saw my first Broadway show, Cirque du Soleil: Paramour. It’s less mainstream than other Broadway shows. I didn’t really like the plot – I thought it was kind of obvious – but I do think the circus acts and the singing were really great! I’m hoping I’ll eventually get the chance to see the more traditional ones like Lion King.
The last highlight of my friend’s New York bucket list was The High Line, a park built on top of an old unused railroad line. It has lovely views of the streets below it because the railroad is elevated. I’ve never visited it before though my friends have been going there for photoshoots for ages. It’s a very very long park that follows the railroad for 20 blocks and cuts through a lot of the modern looking buildings on the west end of the city. I didn’t expect it to have such a beautiful view of the sunset!
Who knew I could spend a week touring my own city and find out that there is still so much to see?