Most of you know that I spent just over a week in NYC a few weeks back. I was so lucky to be flown to the USA by Dove for the brands 60th birthday celebrations, which were held over a four day period. Lucky for me, I decided to stay on for a few extra days with fellow beauty editor Lauren Nicol from Destiny Magazine. We only really had three free days, so we tried to pack in as much as we could, given the freezing weather.
Sleeping in the City that Never Sleeps
View from my hotel room at NOMO Soho
After leaving our super swish hotel – the Nomo in Soho, Manhattan – we made our way to Brooklyn where we had booked an AirBnB. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. Lauren and I had only rented a room, and we were paying under R800 a night (that was for both of us – great value!). As we got out or Uber onto Broadway Avenue (the busiest main road in Brooklyn) and saw the entrance to our “home away from home”, we kinda looked at each other with dread. In my mind all I though was “how am I going to sleep with all this noise?”
Well, what a pleasant surprise we got when we entered our apartment! Even though the entrance was on (what seemed like) the busiest road in Brooklyn – right outside a subway station – once we’d walked up the (four) flights of stairs to our top floor apartment, it was quiet and so lovely.
Our light filled room was spacious, had central heating, and a super comfy queen size bed. The whole apartment looked like it had been recently refurbished. The bathroom and kitchen had gorgeous fittings, and the lounge was super light and airy. There was free wifi and, lucky for us, the occupants in the two other rooms in the apartment were also women. If you’re planning a trip to NYC and are on a tight budget, I HIGHLY suggest you check out the apartment HERE.
The subway outside our apartment in Brooklyn
I’m completely obsessed with the New York Subway system. I’ll admit, the first time I used it was a tad terrifying – but luckily I had Lauren (a seasoned traveller) by my side. The energy, frenetic pace and crazy sounds of the subway are quite something to experience. Yes, we saw a few crazy peeps hanging about, but all in all, I LOVED using this mode of transport. My best was catching the train from Manhattan, and emerging from the subway to cross the bridge into Brooklyn.
Time to Get High, Naturally
I know, Lauren’s bod!! And she’s a mom, too #JustSaying
Have you heard about infrared sauna? Neither had I, until Lauren mentioned that she has a friend who works at an ‘urban sanctuary’ called Higher Dose. Said friend had very kindly organized for both Lauren and I to get dose’d and sweat our sins away.
An infrared sauna is a type of sauna that uses light to create heat, while a traditional sauna uses heat to warm the air, which in turn warms your body. Interestingly, sweat induced from an infrared heat source is comprised of 20% toxins, whereas sweat induced from traditional heating systems is comprised of 3% toxins. This is why infrared is 7x more detoxifying than traditional heat.
One can choose from the following LED colours, each having its own healing properties:
- Red – Energizes body and mind
- Orange – Emotional stimulant
- Yellow – Awakens mental inspiration
- Green – Healing
- Blue – Mentally relaxing and great to reduce ailment associated with speech, communication or the throat.
- Violet – Calming and purifies thoughts
Studies have also shown that of an infrared sauna session can burn upwards of 600 calories (all while you kick back and relax!) As the body works to cool itself, there’s a substantial increase in heart rate, cardiac output and metabolic rate – causing the body to burn more calories. I was interested to learn that just 45 minutes of infrared sauna is equivalent to a seven day juice cleanse, or running 3-4 miles.
Infrared wavelength is also the most effective wavelength for healing the epidermis and dermis. Infrared stimulates collagen production and reduces wrinkles and improves overall skin tone.
When we arrived for our sweat session – I’ll admit – I wasn’t feeling so well. I was very nauseous (I’d just skoffed a large, oil-ridden lasagne) and had a terrible headache (most likely due to the two glasses of red wine I’d washed the lasagne down with). To be honest, the last thing I felt like doing was a hot sauna. But, I put my big girl panties on, and decided to embrace the experience. And I’m so glad I did! Within about 6 minutes of hopping into the sauna, my headache was gone and I no longer felt ill. I couldn’t actually believe it. Lauren and I emerged from our sauna 45 minutes later feeling quite euphoric, and with proper GLOWING skin.
You can read more about HIGHER DOSE and see their costings HERE.
A Walk in the Park
A stroll through Central Park was high on my list of activities. Unfortunately for Lauren, our friend Anastasia, and I, we decided to undertake this stroll when it was – 2 degrees celsius outside! The sun was shining, the skies were clear and blue, but SHIT, it was FREEZING. I’ve never experienced cold like that, ever! I was so bad, Lauren’s skin even got burnt from the cold (thank goodness for Sisley’s Sisleÿa L’Intégral Anti-Âge – a comforting, ultra rich balm moisturizer that soothed our skins when nothing else could)!
But, even though it was freezing, the walk was beautiful and made bearable by moments of hysterical laughter and interesting conversations about magic mushrooms, butter infused coconut coffee (it tastes REAL good) and how to really keep your feet warm in the cold (Uggs, obvs).
Freezing Cold Face
One of my biggest highlights was visiting the MET Museum, otherwise known as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The great thing about the MET is that you pay a donation to gain entrance – it could be $1 or $10 – you decide. Getting the chance to see some of my favourite artworks (that I spent years studying) in real life was an unbelievable experience. The sheer scale of the museum is mind blowing. We spent four hours there, and only managed to see about a quarter of the art.
Highlights included seeing Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Cypresses 1889, which I wrote an essay on for matric art. I also got to see one of my all time favourite artworks by impressionist Claude Monet, called Waterlilies 1919 – pic below.
I dragged the girls around hoping to spot some of Goya’s ‘Black Paintings’ (which I’ve been obsessed with since my teens), but sadly we only saw his early work, which is a lot more light and frivolous. Anyway, just seeing these magnificent artworks was food for my soul.
A typical Brooklyn townhouse
I was so glad Lauren & I decided to stay in Brooklyn, as oppose to Manhattan. While in Soho in Manhattan with Dove, we experienced the true uptown vibe. Brooklyn is different in that it’s more gritty, urban and has bit of an edge. But, it’s also less frenetic than Manhattan. We were within walking distance of Williamsburg – a very hip part of Brooklyn. In this part of the city you’ll find the coolest vintage stores, bespoke cosmetic shops (there’s also a Space NK), organic and vegan eateries (and a great Wholefoods), and a vast array of Mexican and South America speciality cuisine restaurants.
On our last night in Brooklyn, we stumbled upon a Mezcal & Tequila Bar (yeah baby!). The barman was super cool and explained to us that Mezcal has been around in Mexico a lot longer than tequila. He also cautioned us against drinking tequila with a worm in it, explaining that this is NOT a Mexican tradition, and is in fact a very Western thing. Who knew??
Mezcal is meant to be drunk from clay cups, such as the one pictured above
Super cool graffiti I spotted walking the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Shop Till you Drop
When it comes to shopping in NYC, the choice overwhelming, so brace yourself. Broadway Ave in Soho is a great place to start. You’ll find Bloomingdale’s, along with the usuals like Zara, Nine West, Aldo, TopShop, Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Michael Kors and Banana Republic (read affordable). There are also some super cool stores you’re probably never heard of like Uniqlo and All Saints – pop in and check them out. There’s a HUGE Sephora to satisfy all your beauty needs and a few pharmacies that have the MOST unbelievable selection of beauty products at great prices. You’ll also find Prada’s magnificent flagship concept store on Broadway. In Soho there’s a Rick Owens store (where a pair of sneakers cost R7500), COS (pricey, but still affordable European label) and Isabel Marant (Expensive and very French).
Of course, no NYC trip would be complete without a visit to Macy’s. Everyone was telling me to go check it out “it’s on another level, Candice” I was told over and over again. To be honest, I wasn’t blown away. I’ve wandered through many international department stores (like Galeries Lafayette) and, in my opinion, they’re all pretty similar. Yes, they are HUGE and have floors and floors and floors of merchandise. However, I wonder if the average shopper doesn’t get overwhelmed by the sheer scale and choice. But that’s just me – give me side street littered with quaint shops and eateries, and I’m happy as (a bit like Williamsburg in Brooklyn).
I really fell in love with NYC and can’t wait to return again – next time with my hubby and daughter in tow. It’s most certainly a city you HAVE to visit, at least one in your lifetime.