The Vessel: NYC’s Newest Attraction

New York really does not stop. The city is always reinventing itself and making sure you keep coming back. This time the hottest spot is located in Hudson Yards, a brand new neighborhood in Manhattan – yes, apparently there is always room to fit some more buildings for the upperclass in this crammed island.

The area is not entirely finished, therefore it is full of construction sites. However, the giant sculpture called Vessel and the shopping mall are already open to the public.

Vessel, a giant sculpture in Hudson Yards.
Vessel, a giant sculpture in Hudson Yards.


The Vessel is a landmark that has been attracting both locals and tourists due to its innovative design and access to a cool view of the Hudson River and, of course, numerous skyscrapers! Not to mention the possibility of shooting many pictures to keep your Instagram feed fresh – I dare you to go there and not come back with one single photo!

Shaped like a beehive, it was designed by Thomas Heatherwick. The monument is a 16-story structure of connected staircases with 2,500 steps. There is also a curved elevator, making the site accessible to everyone.

Vessel, a giant sculpture in Hudson Yards.
Vessel, a giant sculpture in Hudson Yards.


The entrance is free but it might take you a while to get those tickets. If you want to book in advance, you might have to wait two weeks. Now if you’re in a hurry to check it out, they offer an option for the early birds: go to their website and wait in line. Due to its high demand, it can take up a long time (I waited an hour!). Also, you can get more than one ticket (I got 5, for my friends and I hehe!)


If you are somewhere close to Times Square, take the 7 train! It will take you all the way to the west side. It’s just one stop and a lot of flights up. It will be incredibly easy to spot the Vessel once you get off the station.

View from the floor, in the center of the Vessel.
View from the floor, in the center of the Vessel.


Aside from having fun climbing stairs, taking the best pictures and enjoying the view of the city from a new angle, you can also go shopping or grab some food or drinks at The Shops, a luxurious shopping mall. Nearby you can also walk along The High Line, once train tracks that were turned into a cool suspended park. But honestly the best part of visiting the Vessel is seeing how the Big Apple is always reinventing itself!

Would you like to visit the Vessel on your next trip to NYC? Leave your comment below!


Finding THE BEST Ice Rink in New York

There are more than 10 places to go ice skating in New York. However, not all of them are that perfect as you might have thought. Some are expensive, some are packed, some are both expensive and packed. I’ve been visiting ice rinks quite a lot lately – either as spectator, friend supporter or cautious adventurer. This is what I found out:

#5 Rockfeller Center
Probably the smallest, most crowded and expensive of all rinks in NYC. I know it’s magical, conveniently located in a very movie-like environment, but honestly there’s no need to spend $60 to $75 dollars on general admission. 
If you’re looking for VIP experience, be prepared to pay $175. With this luxury ticket, you’ll have access to a reserved skating time, complimentary skate rentals, in & out access to The Rink for the session, refreshments including hot chocolate, Nespresso coffee, bottled water and an assortment of freshly baked cookies. If you think you’re worth it, go for it!
The best part of ice skating in the  Rockfeller Center is checking out their huge Christmas tree!
#4 Brookfield Place
This ice rink is not very popular among tourists which could be a good thing if you’re looking for something less crowded. However, it’s not a good option considering there’s a time limit. They have fixed session times where you have to pay $15 for 90 minutes, plus $5 for skate rental.  
Now the coolest part about this venue is that they offer private skating lessons for men, women and children. The coaches? Oh, just two Olympian skates: Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov. No big deal, right? hahaha
#3 Bryant Park
Bryant Park’s ice rink is absolutely the best option in case you already have your pair of skates and is absolutely committed to going there more than once. Why? Well, it’s the only rink that provides free admission. But, of course, there’s a catch. Even if you bring your skates, you will have to pay a  20 dollar fee for sharpening them. After that, you’re good to go! If you’re just visiting, prices for skate rentals are $20. The Rink is open daily and on holidays through March 3, 2019.
If you just want to watch people jump, swirl and well, eventually fall, it’s okay. You don’t need to pay anything to hide from the cold in the Observation Deck!
After that, you can go shopping or eating in the Winter Village shops.
You can find ice rinks in Bryant Park (left) and Central Park (right).
#2 Central Park
This ice rink is massive compared to all the previous ones. But, you know, it’s Central Park. So it really doesn’t better the size because it’s always busy. Unless you avoid peak hours during weekdays or the weekends whatsoever. 
The Wollman Rink can be found on the east side, very close to the Central Park Zoo. It offers ice hockey, a skating school, party facilities, skate rentals, and lockers.
From Friday to Sunday and during Holidays adult pay $19, Kids: $6 and Seniors: $9. Plus you might need to add $10 for skate rentals. If you don’t want to skate, there’s a fee for spectators as well: $5. Ouch! 
All in all, it’ still such a picturesque and memorable experience! You might ask yourself: when am I going to have the chance of ice skating in Central Park again? Yep, that’s good enough to convince anyone. Bring your loved ones, thick socks and enjoy
#1 Prospect Park
Our winning ice rink has a great location for starters: it’s in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. But what really makes it the best option is that it’s probably bigger than the others. There are two rinks available (one indoors and the other outdoors) which distributes the number of people and it makes accidents and kids bumping into each other less likely to happen. It is also a lot cheaper compared to the other spots. 
It’s also the cheapest of all the rinks in this list. Adults and children pay $7.25; $10 on weekends. But attention:weekend pricing begins on Fridays at 4:00 p.m. Skates Rental in case you don’t have your own costs $7 and lockers are available for $3. 
More benefits: they offer programming and events such as Curling, Broomball, Youth and Adult Hockey, and Figure Skating. 
This is also a great opportunity to explore a charming park that is often neglected by New Yorkers themselves. So what are you waiting for? Talk to friends and family and make sure to put this ice rink on your plans.

Five New York Pizzas Worth Your Visit

If you know me just a tiny bit, I’m sure you heard me talking about pizza at some point. It might be part of my genetics, a real addiction or just a plain excuse to get some carbs in my blood. Whatever the main reason might be, I’m truly lucky to live in a city that has so many options of this popular Italian dish like New York City.

Even though I still need more time  – and money – to be able to afford all NYC’s pizzas, I can name five places that have already stolen my heart (not to mention my stomach and wallet). If you’re coming to the Big Apple, I highly recommend picking one of these places below:

– L&B Spumoni Gardens
Located in Brooklyn, this pizzeria has a squared Sicilian slice to die for. Aside from the pizza, you can find great gelato, nice staff and a long history. The family-owned restaurant has been in business for almost 80 years! Pizza pie is a good idea if you’re coming with a big party.

L&B’s Spumoni Gardens: long history and long lines

– Artichoke
Never in my life did I think I’d ever try an artichoke pizza, nor list it in one of my favorite spots. But you need to give it a try. It’s a distinct flavor, in a positive way, and the size of the slice is very generous. In case you’re quite resistant or absolutely hate artichoke, try the other toppings. They’re juicy, warm and tasteful as well!

– Luzzo’s 
If you’re a big fan of thin-crust pizza, Luzzo’s is the place for you. It follows a Neapolitan style and it’s actually made the time you get there in a coal-burning oven. It tastes incredibly fresh and light. I recommend trying one of their desserts as well. You won’t regret it!

Luzzo's in Brooklyn -  thin-crust pizza
Luzzo’s – Brooklyn. There’s also one in Manhattan.

– Joe’s Pizza
Most likely the most famous pizza in all New York City. A regular slice will do wonders in your mouth. I don’t know their secret, but all I know is that they don’t need much to work their magic. Many celebrities have visited Joe’s many locations. While you’re eating, you can spend some time checking out who has also been there. Photos of actors like Anne Hathaway, Owen Wilson or Bill Murray are displayed on the walls. Because it’s always busy, your food will surely come warm. Just a heads up: it’s cash only!

There are several stores in Manhattan. This one in on Broadway, close to Times Square.

– Joey’s Pepperoni Pizza 
From the $1 dollar pizzas out there, I’d say this one is a smart pick. It’s my go-to spot when I am broke and craving a cheesy pizza that is both good and cheap. Can’t get any better than this, right?

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Must Visit: A Lighthouse in New York

We all know New York has a lot to see and do. But because most tourists (and residents) tend to just focus on staying in Manhattan, they sadly end up following the same itinerary. As a result, people miss seeing views like the picture above.

This photograph was taken in Fire Island, located 60 miles from the city. If you go by car (there is no public transportation), it should take you about 1h30 without much traffic.

It’s a perfect spot if you’re looking for a quiet and stress-free day. The path to the lighthouse alone is a great experience. Chances are you will run into some four-legged friends: deers. Just avoid feeding them. Apparently it’s common to see car accidents involving these animals as the place is surrounded by warning signs.

deers in fire island lighthouse
Deer friends in Fire Island

The exhibit center is free of charge, however if you want to go up the tower, aside from strong legs, you’ll also need  a little money to purchase tickets. The cost is $8 (USD) for adults, while veterans, seniors and children (12 and under) pay $4, members pay $2 and active military personnel enter for free.

After climbing 182 steps, you’ll have burned some calories and enjoyed a spiral ride. The view from the top is breathtaking (yep, physically speaking too). In case you miss Manhattan, you can even see it from afar.

There’s also a gift shop with cute souvenirs such as tote bags, magnets, keychains, paintings, bracelets, clothes and whatnot. Prices are not very expensive.

The monument can be found on the western end of the island. 

I strongly recommend visiting this piece of land. Whether you come on a cold or warm day, there’s always something to enjoy and appreciate. For more information:

Pros and Cons of Living in New York

First of all: yes, moving to New York has some misfortunes. Having been living here for over a year now, I’ve noticed that this city, often a symbol of freedom and opportunity, provides me a series of advantages – and some disadvantages, too. It’s like the old saying: “nothing is perfect” – even though NYC gets quite close!
+ Reading
I’ve never read so much in my life. My routine of commuting from Brooklyn to Manhattan allows me to spend a long time on the subway every single day. Therefore, what’s a better pastime than reading? I take a book or my kindle out of my bag and let the turning pages begin. Just now I am reading 2 or 3 titles at the same time. Yes, more than one because it really depends on my mood. On my way to the city I like to learn something new, while on my way home I’d rather pick a more motivational or relaxing book.
+ Exercise
I still haven’t joined Crossfit, Soulcycle or the gym. However, my day-to-day life here is pretty active. I gotta confess I’m addicted to checking my steps on the Health app. After analyzing how much I walk in comparison with my routine in Brazil, I came to conclusion that I move a lot more now. What might contribute is the fact that I barely use an elevator or a car (except on some weekends). Plus, NYC is a place to be experienced on foot. You see, explore and enjoy it much more just by walking on the streets.
+ Diet
I’ve never eaten so much organic food in my life! Even though it costs a few extra bucks, it’s amazing how accessible it is to find fruits, vegetables or meat without the best stuff (pesticides, antibiotics etc.). It’s easy to find stores that raise the healthy flag, such as Wholefoods Market or Trader Joe’s. I know there is fast food and one dollar pizza in every corner as well, but overall New Yorkers are very concerned about their eating habits and aesthetics.
+ Conscious consumption
It could be because I live in a small bedroom or because I don’t have a lot of money to fulfill my dreams of shopping on 5th ave. It doesn’t really matter the reason though. What really counts is that I buy way less food, clothes, accessories and beauty products in general. I have less items in my closet, and whenever I think of buying, I think twice if it’s worth the investment – okay, most of the times. Also something really cool is the number of thrift shops in this area.
+ Nature
It might sound like a lie, but people who live in the Big Apple love some getaway trips to the woods. My first time camping? Yep, it was here. My first rafting experience? Also here. Seriously, many locals love to explore nature. It’s normal to see some countdowns for the weekend or long holidays so they can go to upstate to practice some sports, rest or just breathe some fresh air.

– Transportation
Despite the fact that the subway runs 24/7 and it covers a great deal of the New York map, it’s quite hard to live here and not have a relationship of love and hate with MTA (the company responsible for the city’s transportation system). There’s always an issue such as delays or changes – whether it is because of signal failure, fire, accident, repair or police investigation.
– Laundry
Oh boy, how I miss my washing machine! Those were the days I didn’t have to worry about having clean underwear. Because most of us live in tiny apartments, we aren’t lucky enough to be able to wash our clothes at home. So every now and then I have to carry dirty heavy loads to a laundromat. With such a busy life that we lead over here, doing the laundry becomes a real waste of time (and money).
– Friends
Maybe this is only a problem of mine, but I believe making friends in New York can be quite complicated. There’s a lot of people around here? Yep. However, people are worried about their issues. It seems to me that the majority of them already have their own group of friends and are not really interested in changing or adding new members. Actually, meeting new people is much more about networking than making friendships for life.
–  Wind
Ask anyone who lives or has visited the city in the fall or winter and they will tell you exactly the same thing: “the worst part of New York is the wind”. Since the map of Manhattan is designed like a grid, ventilation between the streets and avenues occurs pretty smoothly. What could be an amazing thing in warm days, turns into a giant freezing fan in the cold days. Bundle up to protect yourself is the norm during those times.Wanna know more about NYC? Follow me on instagram!

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Vantagens e Desvantagens de Morar em Nova York

Primeiro de tudo: sim, morar fora tem seus inconvenientes. Vivendo em Nova York há mais de um ano, consegui notar que essa cidade, símbolo da liberdade e oportunidade, me proporciona uma série de benefícios – e alguns malefícios também. É como diz o velho ditado: “nem tudo é perfeito” – mas NYC chega quase lá!

+ Leitura

Nunca li tanto na vida como nos dias atuais. A minha rotina de ir para Manhattan e voltar para o Brooklyn todo santo dia me permite passar muito tempo dentro de um metrô. Desse jeito, pego um livro ou o meu kindle e mando ver na leitura. Agora mesmo estou lendo uns 2 ou 3 livros no mesmo momento. Sim, mais de um porque depende do meu humor. Na ida gosto de aprender algo diferente, e na volta prefiro ler algo mais relaxante ou motivacional.

Livro no metrô de Nova Yorl
Sempre carrego um livro comigo no metrô!

+ Exercício

Ainda não faço Crossfit, vou para academia ou entrei para a modinha do Soulcycle. Entretanto, tenho uma rotina muito mais ativa. Viciada no aplicativo Saúde do meu celular, é discrepante comparar o quanto eu ando aqui e em Recife. O que pode contribuir para o maior número de passos é que mal uso elevador e nem ando de carro (com exceções em alguns fins de semana). Aliado ao fato de NYC ser um lugar para ser vivido a pé. Você vê, explora e aproveita muito mais a cidade ao andar nas ruas.

+ Dieta

Nunca comi tanta comida orgânica na vida! Embora, às vezes, custe um pouco a mais, é incrível como é muito acessível comprar frutas, verduras e carnes sem hormônios. É fácil encontrar supermercados que levantam a bandeira do saudável, como Wholefoods Market ou Trader Joe’s. Tudo bem que tem fast food e pizza de um dólar em toda esquina também, mas geralmente os residentes daqui são bem preocupados com a saúde e a estética.

Olha quem tá no Youtube!

+ Compras conscientes

Deve ser porque eu moro num quarto pequeno ou não tenho dinheiro para alimentar os sonhos de compras na quinta avenida. Não importa o real motivo. O que conta é que eu compro bem menos comida, cosméticos, acessórios e roupas. Tenho menos peças e quando compro penso duas vezes se vale a pena o investimento. Ah, quase ia esquecendo: acho massa a quantidade de brechós! Vez ou outra gosto de ir em um para dar aquela velha garimpada!

Um parque tão legal (ou até melhor) que o Central Park: Prospect Park. 
Sério, os novaiorquinos amam a natureza!
Um parque tão legal (ou até melhor) que o Central Park: Prospect Park.
Sério, os novaiorquinos amam a natureza!

+ Natureza

Pode parecer mentira, mas quem mora na grande maçã adora fugir da cidade e se enfiar no mato. Minha primeira vez acampando? Foi aqui. Minha primeira vez fazendo rafting? ? Foi aqui também. Sério, novaiorquino ama explorar a natureza! É normal ver as pessoas contando os dias para o fim de semana chegar e poder ir para as montanhas fazer esportes ou apenas relaxar.

– Transporte

Apesar de o metrô funcionar 24 horas por dia, e atender quase todos os buracos de Nova York, é muito difícil morar aqui e não ter uma relação de amor e ódio com o MTA (empresa responsável pelo sistema de transporte da cidade). Basta dar uma olhada no aplicativo. Sempre tem alguma linha com atraso ou parada – quer seja por falha de sinal, acidente ou reparos.

– Lavar roupa

Ah, a saudade que uma máquina de lavar faz! Por viver em apartamentos muito pequenos, quase nenhum novaiorquino tem a sorte de poder lavar suas roupas em casa. E aí é preciso carregar uma carga pesada de roupas sujas para a lavandeira todo mês. Com a vida corrida que se leva aqui, lavar roupa se torna uma verdadeira perda de tempo (e de dinheiro!).

Selva de pedras: sempre linda de ver, mas às vezes é difícil de viver.
Selva de pedras: sempre linda de ver, mas às vezes é difícil de viver.

– Amigos

Talvez esse seja um problema meu, mas acredito que fazer amigos seja um pouco complicado. Tem muita gente? Tem. Mas tá todo mundo preocupado com o próprio umbigo. Parece que “geral” já tem seu círculo de amizades e não está muito disposto a mudar ou aumentar. Conhecer pessoas novas é muito mais sobre networking do que criar laços para vida.

– Vento

Pergunte a qualquer pessoa que mora ou já veio no outono ou inverno e elas vão dizer exatamente a mesma coisa: “O pior de Nova York é o vento”. Porque o mapa da ilha de Manhattan tem um desenho de grade, a ventilação entre as ruas e avenidas é muito maior. O que pode ser maravilhoso em dias mais amenos, torna-se em um verdadeiro grande ventilador congelante nos dias frios. Haja camadas para se proteger!

Quer saber mais sobre morar fora? Baixe o meu e-book Morar Fora – Guia Para Zona de Desconforto com dicas e relatos que abordam a vida no exterior. E me segue lá no instagram para saber mais!

Easy Guide To Buy Cheap Broadway Tickets

I have good news to share: you don’t need to be rich to see a musical in New York. What you really need is to be a little lucky or very persistent! Just yesterday I bought tickets to see Frozen from the orchestra for only 30 dollars! How did that happen? Well, I won the Broadway lottery!

We all know theater is quite expensive around here, but it’s one of those things in your “I gotta do this when I visit NYC” list. Now just because it’s costly, it doesn’t mean you don’t get a chance to do it. Like I said, winning the lottery is one of the options, but there are many other ways. It only takes a little time and a few bucks to find a good play and a decent seat!

Broadway Times Square Gotta go
If you love musicals, don’t worry: there’s always a cheap way to see a Broadway show!

The best pick: Broadway For Broke People

This is my go-to website for picking a musical. It has all the information you need: shows, theaters, opening or closing dates, performance schedule and all the actions you can take to purchase the cheapest tickets available.

Broadway Roulette

This one is pretty cool! Go to their page now and cross off 4 shows you would NOT like to see. Fill in the gaps with your info such as name, phone, type of shows you prefer (play or musical) and the day you want to attend. Tickets range from $49 to $59 and you’ll pay a $9 service fee.

The company will choose a play and a seat for you. The only thing is you’ll have to be open minded and accept what you get. Or pay extra $5 for ticketflex – which allow you to request to change the date or reassign your tickets to a friend until 2 PM the day before your show.

Get ready for Broadway week

Every year New York provides a semiannual event which allows you to buy two tickets for the price of one. Meaning, it’s a great opportunity to see 2 shows with 50% discount! It usually occurs in January and September but sales start earlier. Plan your trip accordingly!

Hamilton Broadway Tickets
Hamilton is one of the most popular – and hard to find cheap tickets – musicals in NY.

Download the musical apps

Some shows like Hamilton or Harry Potter and The Cursed Child run the lottery on their own app. You’ll be asked to create an account to try your luck. Other applications also do the job of looking for bargains for you such as Telecharge, TodayTix, Linctix or Hiptix.

For the old school peeps!

If you or someone you know aren’t much into tech, it’s okay. There are options for non-tech lovers, too. In these scenarios, you must head to the theater in person to try General Rush or SRO (Standing Room Only). If they have any room available, admissions will be sold for a lower fare. Just make sure you get there early and good luck! 🙂

One more option: TKTS

Located in three addresses, buy tickets for the same day in one of the TKTS booths. Avoid Times Square if you don’t want to deal with long (yet not so slow) lines. My advice is to go to the South Street Seaport or Lincoln Center locations as you get to see other awesome neighborhoods of NYC. Locations:

TKTS Times Square: 7th Ave (212) 912-9770

TKTS Lincoln Center: 61 W 62nd St (212) 912-9770

TKTS South Street Seaport: 190 Front St (212) 912-9770

Do you know any other way of getting good deals for NYC Broadway Tickets? Share in the comments below! 🙂

Can You Really Find Cheap Hotels in New York?

Whenever someone asks me about visiting New York, I tell them that the most important thing is to start saving some good money since the most expensive chunk of their trip will be spent on accommodation. Everything else is manageable: there is a variety of inexpensive restaurants, shops and entertainment. Sadly, hotel rooms here are no joke, especially if you want to stay in Manhattan.
Flashback to 2011: It was my first time visiting NYC. My friend and I stayed for 20 (yes, TWENTY!) nights at The New Yorker Hotel – a dreamy location as it is close to literally everything, including Penn Station and Times Square. Now, this was when Brazilian economy was booming.  The following times I came back I ended up sleeping at friends’ homes or rented a room through AirBnB. So it’s safe to say I avoided hotels as much as possible because, honestly, I just couldn’t afford them. 
If you are on the same boat like I was, don’t panic: there is always a way. Find an AirBnB room in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island or even New Jersey. Depending on the area you pick it can be easy to find your way to the city. 

Here are two more options: couch surfing for the adventurous at heart or hostel with private or shared rooms. I have friends who stayed at a hostel in the Upper West Side and they had absolutely no complaints. HI New York City Hostel is in a good neighborhood, train runs nearby and, on top of it all, breakfast is included. 
However, if you have the financial means, try to book a hotel in Manhattan or Brooklyn (Williamsburg). Some tips to help you find a good deal: avoid Times Square region as it might suck you in and never let you go. Believe me, I love that crazy, crowded, noisy place but it can be a hell of a trap. There’s a lot to see beyond those big screens and fancy billboards. Plus they can cost you an arm and a leg. 
Following you will encounter a list of hotels worth your money. However, everyone has different expectations and opinions so I would advise you to read reviews online to make sure this is the right match for you.

View from Pod Hotel Times Square taken by @hemy_lee (Left). The New Yorker Hotel (Right)
Hotel 31
I have a friend who stayed here with her daughter during winter and she had a mostly positive experience. Despite being an old building, it is decent and comfy. They have choices of private or shared bathrooms. Great spot: near Madison Square Park (aka Shake Shack).
Location: 120 E 31st StNew YorkNY10016
Contact: 888-950-5062
Hotel Pennsylvania 
I also know a friend who stayed at this very controversial hotel. He did not have any major problems until New York was hit by a blizzard and needed to stay longer. While trying to extend his reservation, he said the staff wasn’t very helpful. Other than that the room attended his needs. The surroundings of the establishment is very busy and train is around the corner.
Location: 401 7th Ave, New York, NY 10001
Contact: 212- 736-5000 (Good luck! hehe)
Pod Hotel Times Square 
If you really want to stay near Broadway, check this out. In the summer, a couple of friends booked a queen-bedroom apartment here. They landed pretty late and as the hotel didn’t have any clean apartments available, friendly receptionists put them in a more expensive room with a great view to the Empire State Building. It was just for one night but I’m sure it was a wonderful way to start their holidays. Overall it’s not that much of a low-cost hotel: a small room for two adults is around USD 170. This is what you get for picking Times Square!
Location: 400 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036
Contact: 844-763-7666
Pod Brooklyn Hotel
A cheaper alternative of the hotel above, except that it’s is in Williamsburg. They have complimentary walking tours of the city and there’s a rooftop bar.
Location: 247 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Contact: 844-763-7666
Pod 51 or Pod 39 
I’ve considered booking at both of these hotels so many times because they’re good value for money as well as perfectly located in excellent parts of the city. Sadly, I never did. But I dedicated so much time reading their reviews that I am hopeful you’ll have a good time! 
Location: Pod 51 – 230 E 51st St, New York, NY 10022 / Pod 39 – 145 E 39th St, New York, NY 10016
Contact: 844-763-7666 
The New Yorker Hotel
The only hotel I’ve ever stayed in New York. The bedroom was small, yet cozy. The location is absolutely amazing: everything is within walking distance. Looking for food? Across the street you can get Starbucks, McDonalds, Pizza, Five Guys and Chipotle. Pharmacy? CVS or Duane Reade also on the other side of the road. Entertainment? It’s right by Madison Square Garden or a 10 minute walk to Broadway. I hear shopping is your thing? No problem. Head two blocks east to buy whatever you want in stores like Macy’s in Herald Square. 
Location: 481 8th Ave, New York, NY 10001
Contact: 212-971-0101

Avoid Times Square area where hotel rates are exorbitant
Other alternatives:
An average room in the Big Apple costs around USD 200 a night. I put together a list with names below this budget. However, keep in mind that rates may vary according to the season. Summer and Christmas time tend to have higher figures. Additionally, I’ve never stayed nor I know someone who has stayed at these places. So do your homework: read a lot before making your reservation.
The Orchard Hotel 
YOTEL New York 
Comfort Inn Times Square West
The Americana Inn
Blue Moon Hotel
The Paul NYC
Z NYC Hotels
Pod Brooklyn Hotel
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You Should Visit This Park in New York. No, It’s Not Central Park!

Tourists often neglect a very vibrant area of New York City: Union Square Park. This is where I often go on the weekends since it is surrounded by shops, restaurants, art, street market, students and, at times, protesters.

Located between 14th and 17th street, this is the place to go shopping, see unique creatures or grab a quick bite. All I can say is: you won’t regret sparing one day of your trip to explore such an eccentric part of Manhattan!

Why Union Square? Because it is an economical, cultural and political location as it gathers all sorts of establishments and people. But more than that, it’s close to everything and incredibly easy to get around. The park is sort of in the center of the island: move south and take pictures at the Washington Square Park. Now, if you choose to walk north, you’ll stumble upon the popular Flatiron Building, Eataly and Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. All the way to the West, you’ll see the Whitney Museum of American Art. On the opposite side, you’ll find East Village – a great neighborhood to explore the local nightlife. 

So here’s what I think you should do:

Start your day with some shopping at the farmer’s market, buy a book at Strand Bookstore or Barnes & Nobles or go thrift shopping at Goodwill or Beacon’s Closet. If you are an athletic kind of person, make a stop at Paragon Sports! But if you’re looking for great brand deals, find Burlington’s store or Nordstrom Rack. Walking left towards Sixth avenue, you can shop at Marshalls, Bed Bath & Beyond and TJ Maxx. Need some new electronics? Best Buy is right there.

If it’s food you’re most looking forward to, don’t worry: I am your person. There are all kinds of options in Union Square. Fast food? Taco Bell, Wendy’s, McDonalds, Joe’s Pizza. Craving sugar? Max Brenner Chocolate Bar for the best hot chocolate (try the Italian one), or Ben’s cookies for dessert. On a diet? Wholefoods Market is right there! Full of healthy options including a salad bar if you want to have a nutritious lunch or dinner. Head east and find Vanessa’s Dumplings for incredibly cheap Asian food. Some tasty Italian pasta?  My pick is Al Vicoletto. 

To end your day on a high note, go for drinks at a petite pub named Park Bar, watch a movie at Reagal Union Square or simply do some good people watching. You’ll be amazed to see how interesting – or crazy – new yorkers can be.

I know there’s a lot to explore and planning a trip to New York demands a lot of work if you want to avoid the obvious. But I’m very surprised many people never include this lively  part in their itinerary. So don’t make this mistake and I’ll see you in Union Square!

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The Best New York Ice Cream Shops

We all know New York is a place for foodies. Famous for having all types of cultures and cuisines spread all over its five boroughs, there is a lot to to try here. Of course you will need to eat some of the best NYC’s pizzas, bagels and cheesecakes. Nonetheless, you ought to include one more item in your craving list: ice cream. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold or hot outside, this is an opportunity for the books. I chose three new yorker shops located in different parts of the city so your odds of finding them are higher and your excuses of not eating them are lower. I know, I’m quite an ice cream ninja guide. You’re welcome!

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
Made from scratch in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, this amazing ice cream now found in every corner began its path ten years ago in a “buttery yellow truck on the streets of NYC”. On their menu you can find classic, vegan and current special flavors. Prices are pretty much standard but the serving size is definitely generous. Aside from buying on their shops and food trucks, you may also order online or grab a pint in grocery stores.

Ample Hills Creamery
This Brooklyn-made ice cream is to die for! Now found in many parts of New York, its factory is based in Red Hook. My advice here is not about which flavor you should get, but which time you should visit it: try to avoid peak hours as this shop is usually very busy. In case you do encounter a long line, be patient. I swear it’s worth the wait! Also, if you want to kill time, write down some unusual suggestions of flavors. If they love your idea, it can be added to their list. Check online for permanent and seasonal locations!

Ample Hills Creamery in Prospect Height

Il Laboratorio Del Gelato 
Whether you prefer ice cream or sorbet, this business doesn’t joke when it comes to offering a long list of flavors. Just take a quick look at the incredible variety on the company’s website. Yep, it will take you many trips to try them all. Interested in visiting? Well, one of its addresses is in a very lively neighborhood of Manhattan: East Village (188 Ludlow St). Across the street, you can also find another popular foodie destination: Katz’s Delicatessen – a sandwich shop landmark . But if you feel like getting ice cream and savoring every bit of it in a more relaxing environment, head to their other branch near Washington Square Park (56 University Pl).