The morning’s first port of call was Levain Bakery, known for their door-stop sized cookies. The shop front is tiny – blink and you could walk right past it – but the queue out of the door and people taking their Instagram snaps give it away. We indulged and bought a double chocolate chip, an oat and raisin, and a chocolate peanut butter cookie before heading a couple of blocks to Central Park for a cookie picnic. The cookies were everything you could wish for – crunchy on the outside, but soft and gooey in the centre with no scrimping on the chocolate chips or peanut butter pieces.
We well and truly needed to walk off our cookies, so we had a wander around the lake, over a couple of the bridges just to take everything in. We walked up Belvedere Castle for the views before making our way to Bethesda Fountain, where they filmed the fountain shots for the opening credits of Friends.
We finished our walk via the Mall and along past the Dairy which has a little gift shop, and the famous carousel.
Still needing to walk off our cookies, we continued our wanderings to the Lincoln Center, one of New York’s prized classical music venues and an impressive collection of buildings huddled around a grand plaza.
We followed Broadway down to Columbus circle to see the statues there at the entrance to the Park, and then further on via West 57th past Carnegie Hall to one of the iconic “LOVE” sculptures on the corner of West 55th and 6th Ave.
At this point (around 3pm), we figured we had done enough walking to offset the cookies a little, and to earn ourselves some lunch, so we walked to Zucker’s bagels, near Grand Central Station. The grills had been turned off by this point, so hot sandwiches were off (apparently they turn off the grills at 1…which definitely still sits strongly within lunchtime if you ask me). It didn’t matter though because we could still order bagels and I went for the Zucker’s Traditional with smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, red onion. Who knew that tomatoes, red onion (which I normally don’t like raw) and capers absolutely belong on a salmon and cream cheese bagel?! I’ll just say this – I’ve never tasted a bagel so good.
Our last stop on our walk was to nip in to the New York Public Library – we totally resisted the temptation to run up the stairs as if we were being closely followed by a huge tidal wave… Film references aside, the library is truly beautiful – the recently restored Rose Main Reading Room is definitely worth a look to see its spectacular ceiling.
In the evening, we went to see the New York Rangers’ ice hockey game at Madison Square Gardens where they were playing the New York Islanders. We got there fairly early to get our seats and avoid the crowds, and got to see the players warm up which was awesome. They had a really cool light show that they projected onto the ice before the game started. The game itself was a grind for the Rangers as they were slow to really get any momentum and a score at half time of 3:1 to the islanders made for a tense second half. They definitely went into a new gear in the second half, but had just given themselves too much to do and eventually lost at penalties. It made for a really entertaining game for us as impartial spectators though!
After the game we grabbed a burger from Shake Shack for dinner as it turned out there were issues on the subway going downtown – now there’s a surprise. I can’t say I fell in love with the New York subway… Anyway, it was late and we decided to hang out at Penn Station with a delicious burger in a soft bun with even better crinkle cut chips – I can’t even describe how crispy and light they were! I still probably prefer a Five Guys burger, but Shake Shack fries win the best chip award for these little beauties. Their house lemonade caught my eye too – the flavour of the day being strawberry and mint lemonade. So refreshing and a perfect accompaniment to the meal.