As I mentioned yesterday, I spent three days in New York with my mom and my sister last week. I had been there a few times before, my mom once, and little sister never, which meant we had slightly different interests - I, for instance, wasn't necessarily wanting to go the Empire State Building. But it worked out well anyway!
I took the bus from DC to NYC. The Chinatown buses used to be the only option but now there are many, and they are all pretty convenient: they stop downtown DC, they let you off somewhere around Penn Station, and they even have free wireless internet on the bus! I took the Bolt Bus and it was comfortable. It also helped that it was the middle of the day on a Monday; not much traffic at all.
I find lodging in New York to be just ridiculously expensive. It seems silly to spend a lot of money on a small room so we decided to stay at a hostel, but a hostel that had nice, private rooms with some extra amenities: private bathroom, fridge, microwave, kitchen sink, wireless internet... The place was called Central Park Hostel and it worked out really well. It is on 103rd Street West, not far from Central Park. I have been told that ten years ago, you would not want to stay in that area, but now it is fine. It was very close to a Subway stop and I think it was a great, economical choice.
My family is not exactly gourmets, but we tried to enjoy some of the abundance of food that New York City offers. The most memorable meal of our short stay was at Risotteria on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. The restaurant caters to people who can't eat gluten, like my mom, who has Celiac Disease. Italian food is very flour based (mainly wheat), making it a difficult choice for Celiacs. Risotteria is heaven for people who can't eat gluten, as they offer gluten free options for pizza, pasta, panini and other Italianfoods - even their bread sticks are gluten free! (They also have salads and risotto, which is made of rice and therefore a safe choice.)
In Norway, it is relatively easy to find gluten free pizza in restaurants, but I haven't seen that much in the US. My mom was thrilled to order a thin crust authentic Italian pizza and loved it! My sister and I loved our risotti and we all shared some gluten free tiramisu for dessert.
I have never seen a restaurant with so much communication between the tables (granted, they were very close) - people were constantly sharing experiences and expressing their delight in indulging in pizza. We heard a lot of "I haven't had pizza in forever!" There also seemed to be quite a few regulars who sat at the bar and ordered their pizza. They even have gluten free beer!
The funniest thing, though, was when the lady on the table next to ours started speaking to us in Norwegian! Turns out she is originally from Norway but lives in Brooklyn with her daughter and American husband. She had recently been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and was just thrilled to have pizza again! Very much of a small world kind of experience.
Click here to read a cool article about the place, "For the Gluten-Averse, a Menu That Works."