Street lights, big dreams all looking pretty.

I'm a city girl. I think we've already established that. But as I was in a taxi along 34th Street this afternoon with the windows rolled down and the sounds of the city all around me, I began thinking about all the things that I love about this magical place.

For starters, I love a good park. As parks go, Central Park is the absolute best. I love jogging at sunset with all the sweaty, spandex-adorned New Yorkers. I love seeing the blossoms open on the trees and explode the park with purple glory. I love getting Nuts-for-Nuts on the corners from the little man who doesn't speak English. I love seeing all the duck-couples waddling around the reservoir like they're talking about what they're going to do for dinner or what they'll name their ducklings. I was telling my fiance how beautiful it is to see nature juxtaposed with the buildings that surround the park. In the spring especially, it's stunning.

I also love the mix of cultures that you find in NYC. You can't walk 9 blocks without feeling like you've traveled to a different city or time period. The lower west side is filled with great places to shop and eat. At midtown, you've got your typical tourist-y things: Empire State Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central, etc. The upper east is filled with quieter areas, ridiculously expensive restaurants, and classy museums (the Guggenheim, the Met). As you move up towards Harlem, there are fewer renovated buildings, more playgrounds, and a few shady subway stations. Every area has something to offer.

I'll show my inner fat kid again, and talk about restaurants. Now, my budget doesn't really allow me to go out to eat often, so when I do, I do it right. I love the cute little Chinese restaurants near NYU just as much as (sometimes better than) the upscale cafes on 5th Ave. One of my personal favorites for breakfast is Sarabeth's (on 5th) - they know how to do pancakes. For dessert, nothing beats Pinkberry. It's just sweet enough, just big enough, and just caloric enough for me. For lunch, Hale and Hearty or Energy Kitchen are excellent. Don't even get me started on cupcakes. :)

Tourists come here to shop. And, if I had money, I would live here to shop. New York is where I bought my purse, my wedding dress, my make-up, and my sunglasses. It's where I can find everything from a new leather jacket for half the price to a Vera gown for half of what I (don't) make in a year. Downtown, half the fun is in the hunt. It's very fortunate for my bank account that I don't live on the lower west side. It's also very fortunate that I didn't realize I live a block from H&M, Victoria's Secret and Sephora until three weeks ago. When I start making money, I'm going to sneak in to NYC at least once a week to eat, shop and go for a run in the park. (Shhh...don't tell Blake)

I love the city when the sun rises. I love the way it smells around dinner time. I love the change in seasons. I love the rush of the subways. I love the surplus of coffee. I love the little dogs who check each other out on street corners. I love the women in fur coats. I love the men in skinny jeans. I love the historical buildings. I love the tourist traps and local dives. If I was of age, I would love the clubs.

Watch out, New York. I'm not done with you yet.

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