24 Hours in New York City // All About MoMA

Sharing my 24 Hours Adventure in New York City // All About MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)
Sharing my 24 Hours Adventure in New York City // All About MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) NOT YOUR BORING OLD MUSEUM My brother's top 3 museums in New York City included MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), so when he flew in from Asia for a quick visit, we went to check out its latest exhibits. MoMA is one of those museums where, no matter how old you are or whether you're into art or not, you'll find something that excites you. And it starts the moment you enter into the main lobby area with these dramatic paintings hanging high above the help desks.  Artworks shown in photos: Mark Bradford, "Let's Walk to the Middle of the Ocean", 2015 (Left) & Brice Marden, "The Propitious Garden of Plane Image, Third Version", 2000-2006 (Right).

Sharing my 24 Hours Adventure in New York City // All About MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) BEYOND WALLS OF PAINTINGS What I love about MoMA is the variety of exhibits you get to see. This one here reminds me of similar display I saw at the Ampersand Hotel in London's South Kensington neighborhood. 

Sharing my 24 Hours Adventure in New York City // All About MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) AROUND THE WORLD This is another interesting exhibit where the artist, Alighiero Boetti, made up travel itineraries for his friends and mailed envelopes to each destination on these imaginary trips. As each one was returned to him, he continued to mail the returned envelopes to the subsequent destinations. Sounds silly, but it's fun to see how far these mails had traveled and the care they received as each mailman/mailwoman hand-wrote return notes in different languages from around the world. Exhibits shown in photos: "Viaggi postali (1969-70)" 

Sharing 24 Hours Adventure in New York City // All About MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) CHALLENGE THE NORM The top photo is from the "A Japanese Constellation" exhibit (through 7/31 only), showcasing works by Japanese architects who are heavily influenced and mentored by Toyo Ito, the award-winning architect. It's fun looking through these miniature versions. The bottom artwork is a copy of a poster originally published by Life Magazine in 1967. What's special about it is that, in 1968, MoMA curator Mildred Constantine asked local designers to add graffiti to thecopy to challenge conventional attitudes about the appropriate treatment of an artwork in a museum.  

Sharing 24 Hours Adventure in New York City // All About MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) AT THE HEART OF IT ALL...... Paintings still make up the heart of a museum. There are many that I like at MoMA, but  it won't be possible to show them all. Here are a few of my favorites.  Artwork shown in photos: Piet Mondrian, "Broadway Boogie Woogie", 1942-43, Jackson Pollock, "One: Number 31, 1950", 1950, Henri Matisse, "Dance (I) Paris, Boulevard des Invalides", early 1909, Georges-Pierre Seurat, "Evening, Honfleur", 1886, Mark Rothko, "No. 3/No. 13", 1949, Fernand Léger, "Exit the Ballets Russes", 1914.

Sharing 24 Hours Adventure in New York City // All About MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) BRING HOME THE MAGIC A must-do at MoMA besides the exhibits is to shop at their store. I've been a fan of their catalog for ages. I can't afford to buy them all, but below is my wishlist. Well, a short version of it because I'd want to buy them all. You can also shop online, but it's great to be able to touch and feel them in the store.  

Visiting Tips //

Give yourself at least 2 hours to get a taste of the exhibits.  To be honest, you can probably spend a day in there if you want to explore every nooks and crannies.  If you're short on time, try to check online and pick out some exhibits you really want to see and focus on those first.  Don't forget to set aside some time at the end for the MoMA Store!

Getting Here //

Address: 11 W 53rd St, New York (Between Avenue of the Americas and 5th Avenue).

MoMA is surrounded by a few subway stops, but I highly recommend spending some time walking through the streets of NYC to get to MoMA. The city blocks are short and there's so much to see at every corner.  If walking is not ideal, I recommend getting a cab/Uber as the subway system can be very confusing.

bye bye nyc...hello san francisco

My next goal is to visit the newly renovated SFMOMA in San Francisco.  The brand new structure in itself is a great piece of art.

This MoMA story is the last installment of my 24-hours adventure in New York City.  It's been lots of fun sharing the different things I did in NYC with all of you!  Thanks for all your comments here and on Instagram....and thanks for following me along!

If you're curious about the other legs of my NYC adventure, click links below for previous posts:

Korea Town Beauty Shopping & Yummy Dessert @ Grace Street Cafe

The Food Edition @ Caracas Arepa Bar + Spot Dessert


24 Hours in New York City // The Food Edition

Sharing my 24-Hours adventure in New York CIty // The Food Edition. Shown: Spot Dessert.

I flew down to New York City recently to meet up with my brother, who flew in from Asia for a short visit.  How short?  It's literally 24 hours in total!  We both have our must-do list - His was museums and mine was k-beauty shopping in Korea Town (read about this part of the adventure here).  But there is one thing we both want and love and that is food!  Given our limited time, here are the two spots we hit in our 24-hours adventure in the Big Apple!

~ caracas arepa bar ~

At first glance, Caracas is not one of those flashy eateries on Manhattan.  If you aren't looking for it, you most likely would have missed it during normal hours. During my first visit many years ago, there was a long wait for a table, so we accepted the offer to sit at this tiny bar in the very back of the restaurant.  I was a bit taken aback at first because it was so dark and cramped, but as soon as the food came out, all my doubts were gone.  And I've been hooked ever since...

Sharing my 24-hours adventure in New York City // Caracas Arepa Bar in East Village. // HIGHLIGHT // Venezuelan-Style Arepa // HIGHLY RECOMMENDED //  Arepa, Yoyos, Cocada, Weekly Specials NYC has an endless list of good-eats that will take a lifetime to try them all, but there are few spots that I just wouldn't mind going back to over & over again and this is one of them! Also, since my brother is visiting, I want to made sure he had a chance to try something he wouldn't find in Hong Kong.  If you don't mind the poor lighting, sitting at the bar like we did got us seated right away. Otherwise, it can be a long wait for a table.
Sharing my 24-hours adventure in New York City // Caracas Aprepa Bar in East Village. The selection is huge, but we stick with some of my favorite ingredients - Avocado, grilled squid, chicken, plantain... Hot Queen // "Pulled CHICKEN sauteed with mixed peppers, purple onions & scallions over a spread of house-made herb mayo & AVOCADO slices". Chupe Caraqueno (Limited-Time) // "Chicken broth with shredded CHICKEN, potato, carrot, corn, AVOCADO, white cheese & a touch of cream". De Pabellon // "Shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese & sweet PLANTAINS". La Oriental (Limited-Time) // "Filled with sauteed SQUID, lots of garlic & herbs crowned with tomato & AVOCADO slices".
Sharing my 24-hours adventure in New York City // Caracas Arepa Bar in East Village. Besides arepa, these goodies are also worth ordering... Cocada // "Coconut milkshake with a touch of cinnamon".   *They forgot to mention the generous serving of coconut-flavored whipped cream on top. Yoyos // "Sweet plantains with white cheese, fried in a cinnamon plantain batter". *This a perfect mix of savory & sweet between the cheese & plantain.

Ordering Tips //

Do it tapas style and share among your party - That way, everyone will get to try different arepas + the delicious starters.  If you order the soup, get small for individual serving or large for sharing.

Getting Here //

Address:  93 1/2 East 7th St, New York (East Village). 

Closest subway stop is Astor Place, but if you're not familiar with NYC's subway system, I highly recommend taking a cab or Uber for convenience.

~ spot dessert bar ~

I was introduced to this East Village dessert hotspot a few years ago.  And I've been coming back to Spot every time I visit NYC because they are just that good!  The staff here is also exceptionally nice and patient even when this place gets super busy during the post-dinner hours.

Sharing my 24-hours adventure in New York City // Spot Dessert Bar in East Village. // HIGHLIGHT // Asian-Style Desserts // HIGHLY RECOMMENDED //  Everything!  I meant it when I say "everything" is highly recommended!  Good news is that they have a short menu.   I do recommend going there just before the post-dinner crowd arrives (before 8:00pm). Otherwise, the wait can be more than 30 minutes. We arrived a little before 8pm and got a table right away, but soon after that, a line was formed!
Sharing my 24-hours adventure in New York City // Spot Dessert Bar in East Village. We opted for Spot's two signature dishes... Golden Toast // "Crispy honey-buttered toast with strawberries & condensed milk ice cream". The toast is so crunchy and the condensed milk ice cream is just beyond words! Chocolate Green Tea Lava Cake // "Warm dark chocolate cake filled with green tea ganache, with green tea ice cream". This is matcha heaven for me! The cake is so moist and the g/t ganache makes it like no other lava cake.

Ordering Tips //

If you're coming here after dinner like we did, I recommend ordering 1 less dessert than the number of people in your party, for example, order 2 to share among 3 people.  These desserts are pretty rich and heavy!

Getting Here //

Address:  13 St Marks Place, New York (East Village).  There are 2 other locations.

Closest subway stop is Astor Place (less than 1 block from the stop), but if you're not familiar with NYC's subway system, I highly recommend taking a cab or Uber for convenience.  And if you stop by Caracas first, you can walk over here (less than 5 minutes).

~ it's all about the food ~

One of the great things about New York is the extremely wide variety of foods you get to try.  You can go super high-end or budget-friendly.  And what I love is that you also get to choose between fusion and authentic cooking or both, whatever you prefer.  

What are some of your favorite good-eats from your travels? Do share with me here!

Thanks for stopping by!

If you're curious about the other pegs of my NYC adventure, click links below to previous posts:

Korea Town Beauty Shopping & Yummy Dessert Tasting @ Grace Street Cafe

All About MoMA (Museum of Modern Art)


Hidden Gems Of Boston // Brunching at McCabe's

Spa-aaahhh Time With Bliss Spa Boston

Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: Inside the facial treatment room.
Bliss Spa in Boston, MA:  Wall decor inside the ladies' waiting room.
Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: Wall decor in ladies' locker room.
Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: The "Spaaaahhh" entrance.

I started going to Bliss Spa in San Francisco back in 2005.  I don't remember how I got to know about them, but it really doesn't matter because it was love at first sight!  I've had many spa "trial and error" experiences and realize that I get what I pay for - I once had an allergic reaction to an extraction done (probably due to un-sanitized tools) and once had a manicurist cut too deep into my cuticles and resulted in major bleeding.  Needless-to-say, I've since learned to be very selective when it comes to spas!

With Boston being my adopted home these days, this Bliss location has become my go-to spa.  It's relatively small, but the high-ceiling design ensures that there is plenty of natural light coming through the space, giving it a very welcoming vibe.

Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: Lobby Area.
Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: Lobby Area & Product-Testing Station.
Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: Entrance to the fabulous ladies' locker room.

some tips to ensure you get the best spa experience

I know that with Bliss' pricing, it is a splurge.  Since I don't go every month, I try to "reasonably" justify the visits by dividing the cost by 3 (I usually go once every 3 months) and it's essentially one less eating-out dinner per month.  I know I'm fortunate that my budget allows for this splurge, and I think the most important thing is that you find a spa you love and your skin loves and that the place is clean, has a responsible staff and offers you amenities to substantiate what they charge you

With that in mind, I am sharing below the 6 things you should look out for when checking out a spa.  Being able to verify these things will help you make your "justified" spa choice and will ensure that you walk out of the place completely happy and worry-free!

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN VISITING A NEW SPA #1 Cleanliness of the Space 1. Yes, I transform into Inspector Gadget when I am at the spa!  It's better safe than sorry. 2. Plus, it's worth this time investment to ensure that I can truly enjoy my experience worry-free and that I can make a particular spa my go-to.   3. You don't need to get down on your knees to inspect, but look for obvious signs - clean bathrooms/locker rooms, no leftover nail clipping on/around nail stations, clean work station surface, fresh sheets in treatment rooms, clean uniforms worn by the staff, clean hands of the staff, etc. 
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN VISITING A NEW #2 Know Where The Tools Are Coming From   1. Just like when you visit your dentist, you expect all the cleaning tools to be freshly sanitized.   2. You should demand the same at the spa! 3. And if the staff is hesitant or unwilling to tell you how they clean the tools, you should run the other way. 4. For nail care, I would also like to see the tools come in a sealed bag and my nail technician rip open the pouch right in front of me.  For facials/body treatments, I like to use the time when my esthetician leaves the room for me to undress to do some inspections. 5. Don't be shy about asking the staff to change out the tool kit if you spot anything suspicious.  You have every right to do that!
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN VISITING A NEW SPA #3 Know What Products Are Being Used 1. You know how we spend so much time researching skin care products that suit our skin needs?  Same care should be done for your spa treatments.   2. The spa should have a wide product selection that can cover different skin types or skin conditions...you don't want the wrong things put on your face, right! 3. It's also important to do some research on any "trendy" treatments to see if the ingredients used may cause your skin to react.  An example is seaweed body wrap - Seaweed contains high concentration of iodine that is beneficial to some, but can cause breakouts for others.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN VISITING A NEW SPA #4 Communication From Your Esthetician 1. A responsible esthetician always asks about your current ritual to flag any possible reaction to products used during treatment. This is particularly important for facial/body treatments.  2. An example from my recent facials - My esthetician asked if I had used retinol-based products few days prior because a peel that she would use might cause reaction if my skin had any retinol on it.   3. A good esthetician also checks on you throughout the treatment to ensure you're not having any discomfort. 4. The bottom line is this - An esthetician who takes the time to understand your skin needs and to ensure your comfort is someone who doesn't mind making adjustments to your treatment to ensure that you get the best experience.  And a spa that encourages its staff to take such care is all about giving you the best services that you've paid for.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN VISITING A NEW SPA #5 Pushy Sales People? No Thanks! 1. I want to be fair to the spa staff who truly cares about their clients as they make recommendations.  I love them and would take their reco any day. 2. I do watch out for the ones who push hard for products I already know are not good for my skin or those who suggest I get a facial frequently knowing that I already have a robust daily skin care ritual.  3. Reason 1:  The experienced staff has the skin type/skin condition knowledge and wouldn't steer you toward mismatched products.  4. Reason 2:  As a general rule of thumb, if you maintain a good daily skin care ritual (like the one I recommended in my last post), you really only need a professional facial once every 2 to 3 months.    
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN VISITING A NEW SPA #6 Generous Offerings of Snacks and Drinks 1. I always joke that I can live in a good spa waiting room forever, but all jokes aside, part of going to a spa is to rejuvenate your body, so having a small offerings of snacks and drinks should be part of the experience.  2. Some people may get dehydrated from massages or any heat-related treatments, so a spa that doesn't skim on the drinks is a place that cares about giving you an overall good experience.  No one wants to say "I pass out at the spa"!  3. Also relating to massages or body treatments, it's best not to go in with a full stomach.  I'm often starving by the time I'm done, so having small bites to snack on in the waiting room really closes out the experience on a positive note. 

my Top picks for bliss pampering

Bliss checks all of the above and that's why they have my loyalty all these years. In case you're interested in checking it out, I want to share what I like and why I enjoy going there so much.  I'll start with a few of my favorite treatments that I've been getting since day one.

MY TOP PICKS FOR BLISS < FACIALS > Fabulous Facial 1. The Basic:  This is a "basic" facial that includes your usual cleansing, exfoliating, masking and extractions.  But don't let my "basic" description fool you - You'll also get extras like a good rubdown on my neck, chest, arms and feet!   2. Perfect For:  Regular upkeep and those who are very good about getting a professional facial regularly. 3. Recommended Frequency:  Once every 3 months. Triple Oxygen Facial 1. The Basic:  Building on top of a basic facial, you'll also get a targeted peel, energizing enzyme pack and 3 forms of skin brightening oxygen, including their famous O2 spray.  2. Perfect For:  Special occasions (getting that glow for a dinner party) and those wanting heavy dose of skin brightening. 3. Recommended Frequency:  Once very 6 months (assuming you do a basic facial once very 2 months).
MY TOP PICKS FOR BLISS < NAIL CARE > Hot Cream Manicure 1. The Basic:  Consider this their basic manicure, but there's nothing basic about it.  Your hands get prepped with a hot cream soak to get your skin nice and moisturized.    2. Perfect For:  Regular nail care, special occasions, vaca-prep. 3. Recommended Frequency:  Whenever you like! 4. Staying Power: Assume normal wear, mine stays wiht no chip for at least 4 weeks, sometimes longer. No Joke! Hot Milk and Almond Pedicure 1. The Basic:  Your feet gets a pre-pedi soak in steamed whole milk and almond oil.  Followed by a softening scrub before applying nail color. 2. Perfect For:  Regular nail care, special occasions, vaca-prep. 3. Recommended Frequency:  Whenever you like! Or once every 2 months (to benefit from the soak and scrub for smooth skin). 4. Staying Power: Same as mani.
MY TOP PICKS FOR BLISS < OTHERS > Brow/Lip Waxing 1. The Basic:  Bliss uses their signature "Poetic Wax" which has a nice aromatic scent.  It's strip-free and absolutely painless! I'd only let a Bliss esthetician touch my brows!  2. Perfect For:  Any occasion. 3. Recommended Frequency:  Whenever you like! Blissage Body Massage 1. The Basic:  Considered their signature massage, which also includes an awesome warm wax foot wrap and comes in 3 duration options.  2. Perfect For:  Loosening those knots; those who get massages regularly and those without any special injuries/pain. 3. Recommended Frequency:  Whenever you like! 

Not your ordinary spa

While the facials and manicures are awesome, what I always look forward to is what I think sets Bliss apart from other spas I've visited.  I always make sure I tag an extra hour to my appointment just to be able to enjoy this little gem, which is their amazing ladies' locker room and waiting room facilities.  And here's why...

~ 6 reasons I love bliss so much ~

REASON ONE // The housekeeping staff always keeps the ladies' locker room clean and neat (I mean, just look at those perfect rolls!!).

REASON TWO // An abundance of Bliss skin care and body care products!

Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: An abundance of Bliss skin care and body care products inside the ladies' locker room.

REASON THREE // The eucalyptus steam shower (The heavenly combination of eucalyptus-scented steam + Bliss hair and body products + rainshower = Bliss).

Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: The eucalyptus steam shower inside the ladies' locker room.

REASON FOUR // The wall decors are to die for.

REASON FIVE // I can live in this waiting room forever.

Bliss Spa in Boston, MA: Inside the waiting room.

REASON SIX // Last but not least, the amazing service from an experienced crew performed in an ultra chic and clean environment.

something unique at every bliss location

In case you're interested in visiting a Bliss on your next destination trip, there are currently 21 locations across the U.S. and internationally.  Majority of them are located inside the W Hotel.  And if you know someone who lives at the W Residence, there is a 10% resident discount (Only selected W Hotels have W Residences).  What's so cool about these locations is that each one has a little uniqueness to it.  While you can expect consistent service level, there's always an element of surprise when you walk into a different Bliss.

~In the U.S.~
Bliss Spa in the U.S. (From top left) // Chicago, Atlanta, Hoboken, Soho NYC, 49 NYC, Dallas, Hollywood, Scottsdale, San Francisco, Fort Lauderdale, South Beach, Washington D.C..

Bliss Spa in the U.S. (From top left) // Chicago, Atlanta, Hoboken, Soho NYC, 49 NYC, Dallas, Hollywood, Scottsdale, San Francisco, Fort Lauderdale, South Beach, Washington D.C..

Bliss Spa Around the World // Barcelona-Spain (row 1), Doha - Qatar (row 2 #1), London - U.K. (row 2 #2 + row 4 #2), Hong Kong (row 2 #3), St. Petersburg - Russia (row 3 + row 4 #1).

Bliss Spa Around the World // Barcelona-Spain (row 1), Doha - Qatar (row 2 #1), London - U.K. (row 2 #2 + row 4 #2), Hong Kong (row 2 #3), St. Petersburg - Russia (row 3 + row 4 #1).

The Boston Bliss is located inside the W Boston at 100 Stuart St, Boston, MA, on the mezzanine level.  For other location details, visit Bliss Spa site.

I hope you've find the 6 tips in this post helpful in finding a good spa or in re-examining the one you've been going to.  I also hope that you've enjoyed the visual tour of Bliss.

What is your favorite local spa?  Would love to hear from you!  And if you're visiting Boston and would like some recommendations for estheticians at the Boston Bliss, let me know and I'll be happy to share.

Thanks for stopping by!