Herman Melville, a fiery Leo and explorer of the high seas, knew a thing or two about adventure: “It is not down in any map; true places never are.” So if you’re staying put in New York City this summer and can’t manage to take that extravagant world tour, don’t sweat it. Instead of feeling blue, waiting for buses on Broadway while your friends are waiting for Bellinis in Bora Bora, take advantage of the burning city sun to fuel your rediscovery of all the beauty contained within your backyard. Wander the streets of New York and you will inadvertently circumnavigate the globe—from China to Hungary to India and back again.
Start your tour by “diving” south of the equator and dining like the Pope. Literally. During Pope Francis’s visit to New York City, rumor has it President Obama called on the United Nations to sift through the haystack of Argentine chefs in the Big Apple in order to pick one fit for a Pope. The chosen one? The chef of Buenos Aires Restaurant. One of the best-kept secrets in the East Village, if not in all of Manhattan, gregarious owner Ismael Alba will make you feel like you’re back at home with his family in Argentina at this gem of a creación.
Next up? Head over to Germany and Austria for a bite of strudel with your daily Munch and Klimt fix at the Neue Galerie on Fifth Avenue. Marvel at the golden Klimt canvases, the raw Schiele works, and the haunting Kokoschka portraits while waltzing from room to room and up and down the marble staircases of this stunning museum. Once you’re done with your visual feast, sit down at the museum’s Café Sabarsky for traditional pastries like the sachertorte or for a dinner and a performance of traditional German and Austrian cabaret volksmusikfrom the early 1900s. To embellish yourself like the mythical women in Klimt’s art, trek over to India and visit henna artist Madeleine Bühler-Rose at Mehndi in Nolita to have your hands adorned in painted designs.
To quench your thirst, hop over the English Channel to Two E Bar at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side, where you can indulge in an afternoon tea fit for Her Majesty. Tea and Sympathy in the West Village is also a great place to show your devotion to the queen. A classic English breakfast and a proper sticky toffee pudding are served up at this offbeat British outpost. However, if you don’t feel like sitting inside, catch a cup of tea on the go and head up to Central Park to get in touch with the Bard for a performance of The Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare in the Park.
If it’s a different type of tea you crave, hop onto your rickshaw and go down to Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown. This vintage dim sum joint with its retro red booths, golden walls, and low-hanging lanterns dates to the 1920s.
If you need to loosen up before dancing, get a taste of Mykonos at Souvlaki GRon Stanton Street, where one lick of the fishbowl will have you floating in the Aegean Sea. For something a little more Zen, have a few rounds of sake at the clandestine underground Japanese sake bar Decibel in the East Village.
To round up your trip around the world, roll over to Brighton Beach and ride the Cyclone by night. Stroll along the promenade, breathe in the briny air of the ocean, and stumble into Skovorodka for a late-night Russian snack. Have a sip of Stoli by the bar and listen to some karaoke-esque, blurred-genre live singing that will make you feel like the age of technology is blissfully not yet upon us.