New York City is not only an American city, it is a city of the world, based on American ground and obeys American law – not everywhere actually. But later.
America is a country of immigrants. There was a time where a lot of nations wanted a lot of pieces of this big pizza.
Some were more successful than others but most people stayed and some became so called ‚minorities‘ even though the US consists of such. Where is this more obvious than in New York?!
Of course the city is very American – just count the number of Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and SUV’s but it’s still a city of diversity.
Not only the tourists bring international flair over, there are areas in New York where you feel like being in a different country and I don’t mean only Chinatown:
Take the 7 train and go off at Flushing Street in the east of Queens. This area is also known as Koreatown.
Not yet so touristic and commercial like Chinatown in Manhattan it really felt like entering a different country.
Asian Restaurants, Shopping Malls, Food Courts, Bakeries, Jewelry shops, Grocery Stores, Pharmacies, Spa’s and everything you would imagine is there.
You can buy there the cheapest health and beauty products as well as everything else you would need at home such as a chinese cooking pot or a little shrine.
When I was wandering throught the streets I saw people sitting and singing in a building with big windows. There was ‚Buddhist Association‘ written on it. I asked the lady in front of thebuidling, what they were doing and she told me that they were praying together and if I want I could join them another day. So she gave me her number and since then she is sending me information about events and books about Buddhism. I am telling this, cause these things only happen if you dare to do the first step. So many doors have been opened for me through just asking. I have even been invited randomly to a famous artists atellier once.
The most amazing thing in Koreatown was actually the Food Court. There are about 15 different little shops next to each other and in the middle of the hall everyone is sitting and eating.
If you hide from the crowds in Chinatown and walk towards Centre Street you will find the Columbus Park.
After 5 dumplings for one dollar in the famous ‚Fried Dumpling‘ shop next to it we suddenly found ourselves in this park where Chinese people meet up.
They sing, make music and a lot of them gamble.
Gambling is prohibited in New York and the most ironic part is that they gamble right in front of the criminal court buidling but no one disturbs them or tells them to stop cause it is such an important game in their culture, that they wouldn’t stop playing even though someone would tell them to.
By the way, did you know that Chinatown is growing whereas Little Italy is shrinking?
This has to do with the high amount of Asian people still immigrating in the US whereas the Italiens are so mixed and well integrated in the American culture that they don’t stick all together anymore like most cultures do at the start of immigrating somewhere.
I know all these things cause we did a guided tour with Tom from Sandemann’s which I can highly recommend!
Little Italy and Little Greece in Astoria
Queens Astoria (Metro N/Q get off at Ditmars Blvd.) is mainly a Greek neighbourhood.
Most of the people you meet have a Greek family background. But you can also find a lot of Italiens in Astoria as well as Arabic and Indian people.
Where the Greeks are, there is also good food and you will find it in places like ‚Taverna Kyklades‘ which is well known and so popular that people are queuing up for a table for two hours or more.
There are many good Restaurants on Ditmars Blvd. in Queens and also great Coffee Shops where you wil get the Greek Frappé Icecoffee =).
For freshly made pasta go to ‚Cassinnelli Pasta‘ where you can even see how they make the pasta.
For Italian products like mozarella, fried eggplant, ricotta, espresso and many more go to ‚Rosario’s‘ right next to the Metro Stop Ditmars Blvd.
The Hipster Movement is spreading out from Brooklyn to Queens and you can already find some very nice coffee places in Queens such as the 60 Beans Coffeeshop on Dimars Blvd.
Another great food place you should definitely visit in Astoria is Sal, Kris and Charlies Deli – the so called Sandwich King of Astoria.
Take the 7 train to 82th street and find yourself in a vibrating neighbourhood with South American vibes.
I went to a little food shop where you could select hat you want on a counter.
Nobody spoke english and I didn’t speak spanish so I just pointed on what I thought looked good and with a smile and some speaking in our own language without actually understanding each other I had the best corn pancake ever.
This place here ‚Yogurt Berry‘ seemed very popular to me since there were so many people inside and it had an tripadvisor button in the window. But go and find out yourself ;).
There is south american food everywhere and then little shops with products from Peru, Chile and Brazil.
The Southamerican culture is one I never really had contact with so far. (Update: I was in Panama and Costa Rica and absolutely looooved it <3)
Therefor I loved the new encounter and soaked up the new sounds, voices, smells and the atmosphere of this new place.
It is like travelling through the world. You just need to get off at the right Metro stop and you’re there.
There are so many more places like this in New York, which I need to discover. I will write soon about new countries in this amazing city!