Special Six: Manhattan highlights

While returning home, after completing my APLP fellowship residency in Hawai’i, I had chosen to fly back to Colombo via New York. A close friend of mine had asked her sister working in NYC to host me at her apartment so I had a great base in midtown Manhattan to explore the city from.

Besides seeing iconic Manhattan landmarks such as the Empire State, Chrysler building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, UN headquarters and spending hours at the Met and Guggenheim museum, these were my special six experiences from my first visit to Manhattan.

  1. Home-stay at an apartment with an amazing view

I enjoyed staying at my friend’s sister’s apartment and experiencing views of amazing sunrises and sunsets over the East river.



I think I was actually quite content staying indoors, comfortably warm, enjoying the amazing view as well as reading the books I had brought for my NYC trip. I also enjoyed getting to know my friend’s favourite sister better.

2. Walking around the neighbourhood

It was quite frustrating that while I was staying in midtown Manhattan very close to so many landmarks that I had previously only seen in movies or online, the pain in my leg aggravated by the cold winter meant that I could only walk for very short distances with the help of a walking aid and I needed to take lots of breaks. This was highly inconvenient because walking around is the best way to explore Manhattan. While I did manage to enjoy a few short walks, I did not take any photos during these walks because it was a hassle to have to remove my gloves and juggle my walking stick and camera. A walking route that I particularly enjoyed was a short loop walk, between 1st avenue 34th street and 5th avenue 35th street, which meant passing by two places I grew quite fond of – St Vartan Armenian Cathedral and the Empire State building. St Vartan Cathedral drew me in several times and I really liked the peaceful atmosphere within the cathedral, especially as I was at an emotional low point during this visit.

3. Experiencing a Broadway show

The only thing that I had pre-planned and booked well in advance for my visit to New York City was a Broadway show. I had to treat myself to one show while there and my choice for my first visit to NYC was Phantom of the Opera at Majestic Theatre. The theatre district is packed during evenings and is a sight in itself. It was especially difficult getting a cab after the musical and I had to walk a block or two before I could get a cab to stop.

4. Enjoying a mojito at Havana Alma de Cuba and exploring Christopher Street

A friend and I had made plans to meet up for coffee, after Christmas, at her favourite neighbourhood in Manhattan. I enjoyed exploring Christopher Street with her trying out some of her favourite places. We started with coffee at the now closed Mojo café, then visited McNulty’s Tea and Coffee shop where I bought some Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee for home.


I had to walk into Sockerbit, a Swedish candy store, as soon as I saw the displays of godis, and it brought me back an edible piece of a country I consider my second home. The highlight of our walk though was enjoying a mojito at Havana Alma de Cuba, where we had popped into on an impromptu impulse.

We made a final stop at the Fat Cat jazz club. The place had not yet opened for visitors for the day but they let us walk around and see the venue. Since I was leaving the next day, I did not actually get to revisit the place and experience some live jazz music. However, I really liked the vibe of West Village, at least of the street that I explored.

5. Taking the Staten island ferry to see the Lady

I was meeting up with a former colleague living on Staten Island and was delighted to learn of the Staten Island ferry service, which gave me my boat fix for this trip, together with the pleasure of seeing the Statue of Liberty against the night sky.


6. Eating out in Manhattan

With my kind host leaving me freshly cooked lunches daily before going to work, despite my repeated requests not to bother about it, I had no choice but to eat in most of the time. I did try out a few cafes occasionally though. Of the few that I tried, I very much enjoyed The Wright restaurant at Guggenheim museum, a museum I also enjoyed very much.


Source: The Wright

What is your favourite Manhattan experience?

[I am linking this post to Wanderful Wednesday, hosted by Lauren on Location, Snow in TromsoThe Sunny Side of This and What a Wonderful World; and

Faraway Files #2, hosted by Suitcases and Sandcastles, Untold Morsels, Oregon Girl]

Wanderful Wednesday

Suitcases and Sandcastles

29 thoughts on “Special Six: Manhattan highlights

  1. How lucky to have a friend to stay with in Manhattan! And such a kind one too, cooked lunches, wow! I’m not even that nice to my husband 😉 I recently visited New York for the first time and fell head over heels in love with the place. My favourite thing to do was just to walk around, too. Luckily for me it was perfect walking weather (warm and sunny) so that’s what I did most of the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree I was very lucky that my friend’s sister was posted in NYC during the year I visited. If I visit now, I would have to find accommodation and probably outside of Manhattan. And, she loved cooking so that was a special bonus and very kind of her. I would like to visit again during summer and experience the city better as it was a bit difficult for me to enjoy it fully, due to the chronic pain in my leg with metal implants. I enjoyed reading your post on gluten-free eating in NYC.


    • Definitely, Van. By booking well in advance, I think the cost of a Broadway musical ticket was much cheaper than it would have been had I purchased it after arriving in NYC.


  2. So nice when staying with someone! I haven’t been back to NY since a family trip when I was in my teens. Would love to go back as an adult. There’s so much to discover and looks like you did a great job of it. PS I LOVE LOVE LOVE The Phantom of the Opera… I’ve seen it in Toronto, London and Pheonix 😀 I think I’m due to see it again!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You reminded me why I so love Manhattan. This place will never grow old or obsolete. There is so much to do and see there… Besides, it makes me feel so at home for some reason. It’s nice to have friends and acquaintances willing to host you in big city like New York. Hotels are so outrageously expensive there…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, indeed, NYC is expensive in terms of accommodation costs. If I hadn’t been visiting a friend in D.C, whose sister was willing to host me in NYC, I wouldn’t have visited the city that year.


  4. Oh, what a pity about your leg. I’m so pleased that you managed to see and do so much despite the pain. I also stayed at a friend’s sister’s apartment in Manhattan and managed to see so much in a week. It was a great visit. I think I liked Ellis Island the most.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved reading this, Ahila. You’re so true about staying with friends if it’s at all possible. I was lucky enough to stay in a friend’s apartment in Greenwich Village the first couple of times I visited NY – it gives you that local feeling straight away and makes the unfamiliar seem so much more familiar. I loved walking around in Manhattan so am so sad that you didn’t get as much of that as you would have liked. Great recommendations too! Thanks for linking up with #Faraway Files – we love having you:)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I saw Manhattan, I head to read this. Love the photos of the sen rising. Sorry your leg hurt, bc it’s true walking is the best way to get around Manhattan. But sounds like you still did some other great things like a Broadway show and cuban food. Can you believe I still have not been on the Staten island ferry? I’ve done the water taxi and Circle line, but not that one. #farawayfiles

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Corey. When I took the photos of the sun rise and sunset, I wished there had been a window that I could open instead of the glass walls, which caused the glare in a corner of both photos.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think hanging out in Manhattan with girlfriends and grabbing impromptu mojitos was a rite of passage long before the famous show. NY is the best place for random excitement in my opinion. Lucky you staying in a friend’s apartment and such a treat especially as they left you lunch! Amazing. Thanks for joining us on #FarawayFiles Ahila

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love visiting Manhattan. There is so much to do and see there. And each village has it’s own unique vibe. I visited the west side for the first time during my last visit and absolutely fell in love! You will have to return again soon and visit more of NYC! After all, you only really got a “taste” of all there is there!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We were just in NYC for a 6 hour layover this summer and took the Staten Island Ferry for a cruise by of Lady Liberty – I think it is a special experience! And seeing a show for sure! We took the kids to Radio City Music Hall years ago to see the Rockettes at Christmas! Cheers and thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles! Erin

    Liked by 1 person

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