Las Vegas | New York

Las Vegas | New York

While in Las Vegas for the best man’s bachelor party, we frequented the New York-New York hotel and casino a few times — mainly because it was next to our own hotel, the MGM. Perusing the aisles of a hotel made to look like the city I once called home felt, nostalgic.

While anyone without an inclination to suspending their disbelief would recognize the American colonial architecture as nothing more than a facade, I simply could not help myself but to achieve a close aesthetic distance. I was instantly transported to the streets of another life.

I smiled at the exposed brick, the fire escape ladders, and the multitude of apartments above restaurants that extend their outdoor seating into the crowded sidewalks. It was nice to be back for an instant. Except that I wasn’t, of course, for there is only one New York — only one living, breathing, conniving, New York. Even then, the similarities were remarkable, so I took some pictures to compare them to those from my time back east.

═════ Manhattan Skyline ═════

═════ Statue of Liberty ═════

═════ Grand Central ═════

═════ Brooklyn Bridge ═════

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Tell me, what do you think? Do you see the similarities? Have you ever been to either of these places?

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

Las Vegas | New York Coffee

Las Vegas | New York Coffee

An underground trip, a journey across the desert, the arrival in Las Vegas, a series of competitive events, a night of golf, and a lazy river later, it was time to refuel. Some of us went to the MGM buffet, the rest of the party went to Shake Shack. But more importantly, coffee was overdue.

If you have not been to Las Vegas, you may not know that the MGM hotel (where we stayed during this trip) is next to the New York-New York — a hotel and casino designed after New York City. Incidentally, this was my first time at the New York-New York since living in New York City for a few years. As such, I could not resist visiting for a cup of joe.

Review: The first thing to notice about this cafe, and hotel for that matter, is that it truly resembles New York — but more on that later. However, the coffee itself was not necessarily New York-like. In fact, it had an uncanny Seattle familiarity. That is because it tasted exactly like Starbucks’ Pike roast. So much so that, while I did not see a “we proudly serve Starbucks coffee” sign, a blind test would suggest this to be the case. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just not great.

At $4.75 a large cup, it is evident that you are paying the Las Vegas strip location premium — that, or they modeled their pricing after New York City. Price aside, this cup is acceptable. It is not dreadful, but it most certainly is not memorable. It’s just ok. Like I said, it’s effectively a cup of Starbucks’ Pike. The Ramdolfi Score: 5/10.

Upon acquiring this cup of coffee, I nostalgically gazed at the signature architecture around me before returning to the bachelor party that was still finishing their burgers. I found myself smiling. It was the stage from another life, but that’s a story for another blog.

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Tell me, have you ever been to the New York-New York? Have you ever been to New York, New York? Are you ever transported to times past by the sight of familiar places?

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

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From Los Angeles to New York, and Back

From Los Angeles to New York, and Back

Story time! A few years ago I left my native Los Angeles to move to New York. Most people would probably love that opportunity; in fact, most people would likely jump on that boat in a heartbeat. I however, reluctantly accepted a job in Manhattan, took a one-way flight, and started a new life in the East Coast.

Upon arriving in the city that never sleeps, I quickly realized that I hated it. Not to sound ungrateful for the opportunity, but it is known that Angelinos tend to hate New York, and New Yorkers tend to hate Los Angeles. Having had lived long enough in both cities, I can absolutely understand why, the lifestyles are vastly different. But that’s a story for another time.

So there I was, a young urban professional in the city that people would kill to be in — and all I wanted to do was leave. Sure, I wanted to make things work, but I was also ready to move back to LA in an instant. With that in mind, I sat down to think, why do people want to move to New York?

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It was a serious question. I had never had any desire to even visit New York, let alone move there. So why then, are so many people obsessed with that city? I thought that if I could answer that question, I could take advantage of my stay for as long as it lasted. Google search after google search, I began to learn just how much New York had to offer. That’s when I realized how ignorant I really was. Museums, parks, landmarks, cuisine, and of course, Broadway. New York had it all — except for Walmart.

Equipped with a new mindset, I set out to make the most of my time in New York. It was challenging at first, specially given my socioeconomic status at the time — I did not know anyone and I could barely afford to eat. But with perseverance and some resourcefulness, I quickly turned things around. I could write a book about my years in New York, but for now I’ll just say that: I set myself the goal of going to Broadway once a month for as long as I lived in New York (after all, I thought I may only be there for a month or two); I saw over 40 Broadway musicals and plays.

I loved New York. I still do! I just don’t live there anymore. But that mentality of taking advantage of my stay because it may not last forever, truly enabled me to make the most of my time in New York.

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By contrast, at some point along the way I realized that prior to New York, I had missed out on all of the fun things to do in LA — because I took it for granted. At the time, I thought that since I was not a tourist, I would always have access to everything LA has to offer. But then suddenly, I didn’t.

Thankfully, the love of my life brought me back to the best coast, I mean, West Coast. Now, I intend to utilize the lesson I learned in New York here in Los Angeles, which effectively boils down to one thing — to live my best life. As such, I look forward to all of the touristy LA things that people come to the city of angels for and more.

Tell me, would you be interested in learning what are the best things to do in LA? Perhaps the best things to do in LA for couples? Or maybe even the best things to do in LA for locals?

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(Featured Image by: Igorelick)

Noah’s New York Bagels

Noah’s New York Bagels

Today I review Noah’s New York Bagels’ coffee. I wish this was a review of Noah’s bagels instead of Noah’s coffee, because those bagels are just about as good as it gets in Los Angeles. In New York, not so much, but on this side of the country they’re great!

I love that Noah’s venues are designed after New York’s architecture and subway style. It really does feel like the East Coast. In fact, if Noah’s was half as small, I may actually believe I’m back in the city that never sleeps.

Review: It took me a minute to separate this cup from my love of Noah’s bagels. Their website states that “all of Noah’s Hot Brewed and Espresso coffee is small batch craft roasted, from the top 1% of the world’s beans and 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified.” I’m not sure what that means in terms of taste, but I can attest to the fact that their coffee is good. Not great, but definitely good. It is comparable to Starbucks’ flagship Pike roast, which places this cup right in the middle of the Ramdolfi Scale — not bad for a place whose main business is bagels.

At $2.40 a large cup, I think this cup is acceptable. I know, not my highest coffee praise; but again, this is not really a coffee place. Perhaps if the coffee was $1.00 a small and $1.25 a large as sold in every bagel cart in Manhattan, then I would be sold based on the experience alone. The Ramdolfi Score: 5/10.

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

New York City

New York City

Upon graduating from UCLA, I packed my bags and moved somewhere I had never even visited before: New York City. Bouncing from Spanish Harlem, to Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy), to the Upper West Side (Manhattan Valley to be precise), my journey was an unimaginable adventure. The photograph above is from my early days in the city that never sleeps.