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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Untold New York Stories: Creative Culture Travel in the Big Apple

“New York, New York … It is still our favourite song! We listen to it when the Yankees play!”, Charles laughs in the hotel lobby of New York’s prestigious Roosevelt Hotel. Start spreading the news … I am leaving today … I wanna be a part of it, New York, New York. Dear old Frankie, you are by far my favourite haunting melody these days! I wanna wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep … Now sleep really is what’s sparse for me these days. New York is simply much too exciting. “I have a kind of love-hate relationship with the city myself”, fellow New-York-based travel writer Chanel, of CulturalXplorer.com, tells me. “It can be overwhelming at times, but also very inspiring.”

 

Inspiration is exactly what I am looking for. “I do not want to write the one millionth story about New York that has already been published”, I hear myself say.

Much rather, my focus is on the people’s stories and their individual highlights. The differences they make. The inspiration they create. It so happens, therefore, that I keep following the very mission of my #CreativElenaRTW creative round the world trip – even, or especially, in a world city such as New York. Food-Touring New York City has been one strong aspect in the design of my visit to New York, exploring Manhattan, Brooklyn and even Bronx’ Little Italy districts! Today, I shall tell you more about what else is there for you to enjoy in the Big Apple, encompassing both personal highlights as well as factual, relevant travel information in order to plan your stay in the city.

 

Beautiful Roosevelt Hotel. I have hit the Jackpot with staying in this luxurious, centrally located house that exudes an ambiance of historic glamour & stardom, yet is ultimately down-to-earth, refreshing and welcoming.

Going back to Charles. And Elio. Devon, as it is … You think a hotel with 1.015 rooms is impersonal? Think again. I have not found this to be case one single time around The Roosevelt Hotel here in New York City. Everywhere I went, on any occasion, with only the slightest question and concern, I have felt welcome and taken care of. Charles and the team at the restaurant made for great conversations and happy sharing of travel ideas: “Elena! So which food tour have you been on today? You are a #winelover! That’s excellent! Tell me more!” Elio & Devon have taken me around the building, the historic Roosevelt Hotel really a place to go visiting: “Many film sets have taken place here. Jennifer Lopez would have rushed out that door from the ball room in ‘Maid in Manhattan’. We also have lots of weddings & conferences here, as well as a great rooftop terrace bar. You wanna see it?” Let me tell you what I saw – most beautiful vistas of Central Manhattan, that is!

View over Manhattan from the Roosevelt Hotel's rooftop terrace bar. I LIKE it up here - must come back in the summer for cocktails at sunset ..!

View over Manhattan from the Roosevelt Hotel’s rooftop terrace bar. I LIKE it up here – must come back in the summer for cocktails at sunset ..!

 

Let's start the day ... with a hearty, "Full American" breakfast shall we? As spotted at the Roosevelt's Hotel restaurant.

Let’s start the day … with a hearty, “Full American” breakfast shall we? As spotted at the Roosevelt’s Hotel restaurant …

 

... whose friendly staff I immediately feel welcomed by!

… whose friendly staff immediately makes me feel welcome!

 

The beautiful entrance hall to the Roosevelt Hotel has me time-travel back into the 1920's ...

The beautiful entrance hall to the Roosevelt Hotel has me time-travel back into the glamour & glitz of the 1920’s …

 

... and especially this room on the upper level of the entrance hall ...

… and especially this room on the upper level of the entrance hall, home to countless film sets and I am sure many more magic moments …

 

Really enjoyed staying in my room too!

… really enjoyed staying in my room too …

 

... and thanks to the hotel's central location on Madison Avenue / 45th Street Manhattan, I did enjoy an early Sunday morning run in Central Park, virtually just round the corner ... WOW!

… and thanks to the hotel’s central location on Madison Avenue / 45th Street Manhattan, I did enjoy an early Sunday morning run in Central Park, virtually just round the corner … WOW!

 

Times Squares Selfie. Literally down the road from the Roosevelt Hotel ...!

Times Squares Selfie. Literally down the road from the Roosevelt Hotel …! There goes a lucky travelling girl!

 

The heart of the City ... New York's prestigious Victoria's Secret shop - and would I have found myself something here ...? ;)

The heart of the City … New York’s prestigious Victoria’s Secret shop – and would I have found myself something here …? 😉 #ShoppingInNewYorkCity !

 

My friend Christina Schwindhackl welcomed me to "her" workplace in the city, the beautiful "Met" Metropolitan Museum of New York!

My friend Christina Schwindhackl welcomed me to “her” workplace in the city, the beautiful “Met” Metropolitan Museum of New York!

 

Up to 30.000 visitors a day make for the museum having added more rooms to accommodate all exhibits, as you can see here.

Up to 30.000 visitors a day have urged the museum to grow, adding more rooms to its former outer facade which can still be seen on the right.

 

Grand Central too is a place I really enjoyed, literally out the door of the hotel ... I once stood here well over 15 minutes, just soaking up the atmosphere of this beautiful, historic station building right in the heart of New York City.

Grand Central too is a place I really enjoyed, literally out the door of the hotel … I once stood here well over 15 minutes, just soaking up the atmosphere of this beautiful, historic station building right in the heart of New York City.

 

From Grand Central to famous George Mendes’ Aldea Restaurant, to Ironbound Newark: #Winelover goes #Portugallover!

“I am happy to put you in touch with dear chef Francisco, of Burger Bound in Newark, for you to explore the Portuguese food scene while in New York”, Sonia Nolasco tells me upon my last visit to Porto earlier this year. My love affair with Portugal, the people, the food, the country, the language, still on a high, I immediately agree to my friend’s proposition. There are about 75.000 (!) Portuguese in this part of New Jersey, only about 20 minutes by train from downtown Manhattan. I end up feeling entirely welcome and “home” here thanks to the warmth & heartful soul of the beautiful Portuguese people, speaking Portuguese all night, sharing travel stories from Portugal and of course hanging out with Francisco Rosa, who at his “Burger Bound” restaurant has reinvented American burger cuisine with a (Portuguese) twist, serving me fries complete with parmesan & truffle oil, as well as delightful bolos de bacalhão … oh I could go on. (If you want me to, read more about Portugal here!).

So nice to meet you out here at Burger Bound Restaurant in New Jersey, dear Francisco - a great spot for any traveller wishing to explore this part of Newark, New Jersey.

So nice to meet you out here at Burger Bound Restaurant in New Jersey, dear Francisco – a great spot for any traveller wishing to explore this part of Newark at only 20 minutes by train from downtown Manhattan.

 

I spoiled myself with this visit to famous, Michelin-star-awarded Portuguese restaurant "Aldea" run by George Mendes ... and so should you: Delightful, tasty, modern interpretation of traditional Portuguese fare. Loved it !!!

I spoiled myself with this visit to famous, Michelin-star-awarded Portuguese restaurant “Aldea” run by George Mendes … and so should you: Delightful, tasty, modern interpretation of traditional Portuguese fare. Loved it !!!

 

Creative Culture Travel in New York City. Try icing your own cupcake at Magnolia Bakery, learning more about urban winemaking at Brooklyn Winery & enjoying a real, traditional Thanksgiving Cooking Class at Home Cooking New York!

Would you believe this? “Well, we are a winery … but we actually do not have a vineyard. We are right inside New York City, as you can see, so …!”, Brian smiles, amused at our puzzled faces. I must admit that I have never heard about urban winemaking, let alone ever been to an urban winery such as this one here at Brooklyn Winery. “All our grapes come from three different locations in Upstate New York, California as well as Long Island in New York”, local owner Brian explains, with the annual volume of production reaching up to 80.000 litres. “We are neither very big nor very small, a good-enough size I believe given the market we serve. All our grapes come here in perfect conditions, even from across the States, to be processed, stored and bottled here. To ‘harvest’ the urban environment we are in, we have also developed an event location, bar & restaurant popular with company events, weddings, and many more.” Interesting, to say the least. I can tell my new friend & fellow travel writer Chanel, the “CulturalXplorer”, is as much intrigued as I am. Together, we have come to this part of Brooklyn, New York, to take a closer at what makes wine in urban spaces – true #winelover that we both are!

Tasting wine in this urban environment at Brooklyn Winery is a first time, exciting move for me ...

Tasting wine in this urban environment at Brooklyn Winery is a first time, exciting move for me …

 

We go behind the scenes to see the actual wine production, here the filtering of the young wine right after its fermentation in this stainless steel tank ...

We go behind the scenes to see the actual wine production, here the filtering of the young wine right after its fermentation in this stainless steel tank …

 

I can tell Chanel likes what she sees, being her first time at this kind of tasting too!

I can tell Chanel likes what she sees, being her first time at this kind of tasting too!

 

And so do Brian (on the right) and winemaker-in-chief ROB (left), who are happy to provide us with this tasting. Liked

And so do Brian Leventhal (on the right) and winemaker-in-chief Conor McCormack (left), who are happy to provide us with this tasting. Did like the “Old Vine Zinfandel 2012 Lodi, California” … a lot!

 

Speaking (more) wines, make sure you stop at "Frankly Wines" on

Speaking (more) wines, make sure you stop at “Frankly Wines” on 66 Broadway Street, Manhattan. #Winelover friend Wendy Crispell, who I happened to meet at the Digital Wine Communications Conference in Montreux, gave me this good tip for sampling great wines from around the world in New York City, including – would you believe it! – two wines from my very own hometown in Strass, Lower Austria! 😀

 

Last but not least, I would like to share two amazing #foodlover tips with you! One of them is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, at a place called Magnolia Bakery where they let you try your own hands at a “short icing demo”, creating your unique souvenir cupcake in the wake of this creative travel activity. It gets even tastier once we spread out to a whole meal & cooking class, such as the one I took with Jennifer’s Home Cooking New York. Now this is quite an unbelievable story, and I do say that the angels are probably smiling right now … I so happen to be “On The 6” (like Jennifer Lopez!) on my very first day of being in New York City, turning around to ask a charming lady for directions. This charming lady, of course, happens to be the very Jennifer we are talking about. She asks me, “Well, where are you going?” – “Oh, I am scheduled to go on a Food Tour in Brooklyn with Urban Oyster Tours … I need to change here at this subway station, I am told – is that correct?” – “Yes, that’s perfectly fine. So hang on a minute, that is interesting: I run a cooking school here in New York City and we have a Thanksgiving Cooking Class scheduled to take place on … Monday, next Monday! Would you like to come?!”
YES OF COURSE! I cannot believe how lucky I am. A Thanksgiving cooking class! The very thing, THE cultural highlight & holiday meal on every American’s annual family calendar. And I am here to learn. And share. And pass on the inspiration through my travel blog, book writing & Social Media channels … so there you go. You have all made me, very happy here in New York City! Creative Travel at its best. 😀

Love it: Local lady Leona teaching me how to ice my very own cupcake here at Magnolia Bakery in New York City!

Love it: Local lady Leona teaching me how to ice my very own cupcake here at Magnolia Bakery in New York City!

 

Leona has been at her job for many years already, having first started as a nanny for one of the owner's children ... but finally discovered her true passion & art: Making beautiful cupcake icings at prestigious Magnolia Bakery!

Leona has been at her job for many years already, having first started as a nanny for one of the owner’s children … but finally discovered her true passion & art: Making beautiful cupcake icings at prestigious Magnolia Bakery! Today, she is here to help me & CulturalXplorer Chanel make the most of our stay here in New York City.

 

Chanel too is really good at this ... Leona and her become friends in no time!

Chanel too is really good at this … Leona and her become friends in no time!

 

It gets exciting as we start "cooking things up" later that day, at Jennifer's Home Cooking New York cooking school ...

It gets exciting as we start “cooking things up” later that day, at Jennifer’s Home Cooking New York cooking school …

 

Many cooks create (!) the broth ... cutting up vegetables for our chicken soup turned gravy base later, to create the perfect Thanksgiving meal!

Many cooks create (!) the broth … cutting up vegetables for our chicken soup turned gravy base later, to create the perfect Thanksgiving meal!

 

We actually roast a chicken that day, as a whole turkey would take three times as long and feed just three times more people ... Jennifer gives us lots & lots of useful cooking tips that can be applied to many more dishes - a wonderful and inspiring cooking class indeed!

We actually roast a chicken that day, as a whole turkey would take three times as long and feed just three times more people … Jennifer gives us lots & lots of useful cooking tips that can be applied to many more dishes – a wonderful and inspiring cooking class indeed!

 

Really love the cranberry sauce we made, the mashed sweet potatoes, the delightful crispy chicken ... and the new friendships that have come through such natural an experience as cooking together:

Really love the cranberry sauce we made, the mashed sweet potatoes, the delightful crispy chicken bathed in home-made gravy … and the new friendships that have come through such natural an experience as cooking together: Thank you every one for joining in!

 

Check out even more #foodlover travel pics from New York City on my Flickr Photo Gallery:

 

Disclaimer: Thank you to all our partners & travel destinations who have partly or fully supported us on this creative-culinary research trip in New York City. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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2 Comments

  1. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer

    It was certainly a fun day with you in NY Elena! Hope you have a wonderful journey and (hopefully) see you in Spain in 2015!

    Reply

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