In New York


*Cue Empire State of Mind*


Day 1

Justin and I landed in the Big Apple at 6 AM and took our time getting to our Air Bnb. We tried going to a cafe to kill time since check-in was at 2 PM (Our host said we could stop by early), only the cafes we found were too small for us to bring our luggage.

We gave and decided to head to our home for the week only to find out there was no way to get into the Air Bnb. There were no instructions in the manual on the app and the host didn't give me any information. Not only that, he didn't answer no matter what form of communication I tried using.



Justin didn't get any sleep on our 6-hour flight (he was too tall and his knees kept pushing against the seat in front of him) and he was pissed. I took us to a cafe down the block, which had just opened a few minutes after getting there. The owners were kind enough to let us stay there for four hours while we tried figuring out a new place to stay.

Amidst all the stress, we found comfort in our refuge. The family owned African-Puerto Rican shop was a local favorite and a hub for their community. They accepted everyone that walked in like family and they busted out in song whenever the opportunity arose, which was every song. I don't blame them. If you're bumping Kendrick, J. Cole and Kanye, I'd do the same.


Eventually, I got in touch with my auntie, who was knocked out the entire time (she works graveyard shifts at the hospital) and we decided to book it to Brooklyn from Williamsburg. Unfortunately, we ended up in the wrong borough and Justin was running out of patience.

I tried booking a new location and ended up accidentally booking two. Goodbye $$$. Upon arriving in Brooklyn, seeing my aunt was like seeing water in a desert. I felt safe again. We told her about our situation and immediately she told us to stay with her.


And so we did. The rest of our week comprised of me trying to get refunds and getting our initial host to comply. It was the biggest headache but eventually, everything worked out.

Although we spent most of our day dealing with the situation, which ended up being a blessing in disguise, we couldn't waste any more time. We were dying to explore. So after a quick lesson in maneuvering through the city via train, our first stop was the Oculus.


Our minimalist cravings were satisfied. We then went off exploring the block around it: World Trade, the Westfield, and Ground Zero. Eventually, we ended up at Eataly (Thanks Internet and irl friends for the recommendation) and the cheese-lover in me was in love.


Since my aunt had food delivered for us, we decided to share probably the best plate of ravioli I've ever had. We also attempted to get dessert but the harsh winds made us crave otherwise. Instead, we got dessert near my aunt's apartment with the help of the sweetest Sephora cashiers.


We stopped by the Chocolate Room for well - chocolate. I wanted the entire menu but knew I'd die from a sugar rush so instead, I ordered a hot chocolate espresso (I was craving coffee but didn't want caffeine too late at night) and Justin ordered the Chocolate Layer Cake. I'm craving it all just typing this.

We headed back and watched Korean dramas with my aunt's sister when she came back from work and around 10 or so, my cousin Brandon from Rochester walked in.

The fun was just starting.


Day 2

Woke up early the next day since we had a lot planned and Brandon only had a few days to play tour guide with us. We went straight to Soho after a bagel breakfast brought to us by his mom. While Justin and him went street vendor shopping, I ended up copping the beret of my dreams for $10. (Currently been trying to find different colors for the same price but nada.)


We stumbled upon this beautiful Rolls Royce and asked the owner if we could use it as our backdrop. These are some of my favorite pictures from our trip.


Our next stop was the Kith store. I had no idea what it was as I'm lacking the proper street education, haha, but I could see what all the hype was about. Although we couldn't get our hands on their famous cereal bowls due to the line, it definitely piqued my interest.


We then found a one-way, which was perfect for pictures (as you can see below, we weren't the only ones doing so.) Embarrassingly enough, the Asians behind Justin didn't move when cars approached. *Insert eye roll emoji*

Nevertheless, we got the job done.


We poked our heads into more shops and ended up taking a break at a local bakery. I had their oreo cheesecake thingy (I really didn't know what it was) that killed me. It was amazing to taste but not for a dry-mouthed tourist. Definitely kept it for later.

We also tried visiting the New Museum, only to find that it closed as soon as we got there. Will be visiting there on our next trip!


After more walking, Brandon took us to Chinatown and to his favorite chicken-and-waffles joint. Seeing that we weren't hungry just yet, I wanted to poke my head into some of the neighboring independent shops.

Odd NYC had this artsy fartsy vibe I couldn't shake off. I asked if we could pull some products to shoot in. The cashier insisted I wear this Y Project jacket, which was just gorgeous in every way, shape, and form.


We probably waited for an hour or so before we could be seated at Sweet Chick. While we waited at the bar, we sipped a few beers (something my cousin apparently craves regularly), yelled over the music and eventually sang along to the music while watching the bartenders do intense bartending magic.

Funny enough, the bartenders and their regular guests were literally different interpretations of Seth Rogan, all in rolled up flannels. Maybe it was company policy. *Kanye shrug*

The food was amazing nonetheless, and you could tell we were hungry because this was literally the only picture Justin took.


Our last stop was DUMBO. We have yet to visit this place in the day but it was beautiful. Upon trying to document the sight myself, I tried climbing a few rocks with that tassel of a bag you've seen me swinging around only to get it caught in a bush of thorns. Who puts a bush of thorns in a park?!

My clumsiness lead me to getting my scarf caught in it too and we had to resort to my cousin's card knife to free it and myself. So far, he's only used it for fruits but now he can add branches to his list.


We then had to walk home, which felt like forever after walking for 12 hours straight. My cousin is the most intense tour guide ever.

Although we planned for our first half of our trip to be as touristy as possible, we didn't expect to go so hard the first few days. RIP my feet.


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Photography by Justin Quebral