[box]In the latest instalment of My Travel Style we interview Koren Leslie Cohen of City Gal on the Go. Koren lives in New York and shares her insider knowledge about New York City restaurants, neighborhoods, events and attractions. City Gal’s travel section also provides travel inspiration to turn your wanderlust into a reality! You can follow her on Twitter with @CityGalKLC.[/box]
Koren, what inspired you to set up your blog City Gal on the Go?
I had been practicing law for a while, and I really needed a creative outlet. I love to travel and I love exploring New York City; I also love to write and take photographs. My blog started as a personal blog under another URL and then morphed into City Gal later in 2012. It’s been a really great way to meet new people and explore new parts of New York City.
Your blog is about New York City, tell us what you love about the Big Apple…
There is so much to love about New York. It has amazing energy. You have access to anything and everything here, and even after living in New York for years, there is always something new to discover. Opportunity is endless if you are a hard worker. There is amazing street art and history is everywhere. Most people you know are just a short taxi ride away. New York is also incredibly diverse – no matter who you are or what interests you, you can find like-minded people in New York. With that said, New York can also be a difficult place to live at times. You can almost never get a taxi in the rain, the subway is impossibly hot in the summer, apartments are small, rent is expensive and the population can be a bit transient. But, as the song says, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!
Where are your favourite places to shop in NYC?
New York has so many amazing places to shop. When I want something nice and expensive, I head uptown to one of the four Bs – Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel or Barneys. When I’m looking for a discount department store, I head to Century 21 downtown. When I want a mix of upscale commercial stores and boutiques with a little more character, I head to Soho. I also love consignment shopping in the East Village and Lower East Side. Finally, one cannot forget about sample sales, where you can score designer items at deep discounts.
What things would you suggest to do on a first-time trip to New York?
This is such a difficult question to answer, as New York City is so large and there is so much to do and see. I would make sure to combine the touristy stuff (Top of the Rock, Central Park, Times Square (ick!), Rockefeller Center and Fifth Avenue) with local spots. Greenwich Village, the West Village and Soho are fantastic walking neighborhoods with cobblestone streets, small cafes and unique shops. I also love the Lower East Side, which is a little grittier, but is home to so many yummy restaurants and old Jewish delis. If you have time, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and explore Brooklyn. New York City has some beautiful neighborhoods and is so much more than skyscrapers and busy avenues. So many people visit New York and never get a feel for how the locals live.
What inspired your love of travel?
I grew up with parents who were avid travelers. We weren’t really a beach or cruise type family. My parents took us to Israel, Spain, Greece and other countries on a regular basis, and also inspired us with gifts from their travels to Asia and other global destinations. In college, I lived in London for a while and was able to travel Europe extensively. It’s part of who I am, and I am my happiest and most authentic self when traveling.
If you could hop on a plane right now, where would you go and why?
I have been dying to go to India. I love the colors, the food, the history and the culture. I also love those destinations where you simply can’t escape the fact that you are far from home (not just geographically, but culturally).
Describe your travel style for us…
Stylish comfort. Even in 100 degree weather or freezing cold, I still want to look presentable. This means striking a balance between comfort and style. I almost never travel with sneakers, instead opting for comfortable and stylish boots or flats. I’m also a big fan of anything you can layer (scarves, cardigans, light jackets, etc.) and anything that has a dual purpose (i.e., a dress that can be worn with sandals during the day or stilettos at night). Learning how to pack efficiently is an art! Of course, I also modify my style to fit the destination and purpose of the trip.
Can you name 3 essential items you pack in your suitcase?
I almost never travel without leggings, a scarf, some sort of fashionable footwear and a cross-body bag (I know you asked for 3, but I couldn’t decide!). I love leggings because they are great for long plane rides, but can also be paired with a cute tunic when you want to look stylish but comfortable. Scarves are great because they’re an easy way to layer and stay warm while also dressing up a simple outfit. The shoes I pack depend on the season. For cooler weather, I’d pack a pair of comfortable but flat leather boots that can survive a little rain and snow. In the summer, I love Tory Burch leather thongs (especially the gold ones!) – they’re surprisingly comfortable and add a little glam to simple leggings or a sundress. For the spring and fall, I always pack a pair of fashionable flats that are comfortable for walking long distances. I love cross-body bags because they are easy to carry and free your hands for other things. Wearing a bag across your shoulders is both functional and fashionable, and prevents your belongings from being stolen if you’re in an unsafe or crowded area. My favorite cross-body is the Rebecca Minkoff Morning After Clutch.
What technology items do you take for blogging on the road?
I never travel without my iPhone and my Nikon DSLR. Depending on what part of the world I am in, how long I am traveling, and how much I want to carry, I’ll either bring my MacBook Pro, iPad or both. I’m a big fan of Apple products.
Do you have any upcoming trips planned?
I just got back from Colombia a few weeks ago. I have nothing booked just yet, but am in the process of figuring out where to next! I am constantly checking flights, prices and dates, even to places I have no intention of visiting. It’s what keeps me going the rest of the year!