There is something intoxicating about New York City for it’s a place I return to time and again and always find something new to do and see. It’s a 24/7 city where you can grab a bite to eat at any hour. I’ve been to great cities around the world and NYC consistently tops my list. I don’t live there, of course, and my stays are always short. While I appreciate the city’s mad pace I usually leave exhausted but always satiated. It’s the sort of place that fills you up.
I have only visited the city with ‘the girls” and we’ve had some crazy times. We usually arrive Friday morning and leave Sunday night. There’s always a bit of fantasy. Once a friend surprised us with a limo that whisked us around town (wine in hand) before dropping us off at the theatre, hair and makeup just right, best clothes on. Then there was the time we got stuck for a long time in the elevator of a fancy hotel and had to be rescued by NYC’s finest—their firemen (the hotel waived the cost of the room).
Christmas in Vegas with the girls
They say NYC has the best theatre in the world and I certainly support that. The venues are intimate and performances superb. When the show is over you join the after-theatre crowd in Time Square and are swept along with everyone else past the flashing neon lights, exhilarated. Some line up for same-day theatre tickets at a reduced price but I always reserve my seat in advance.
We don’t blow the budget on food but instead follow the path of the celebrities, frequenting places like Sardi’s with its walls covered with caricatures of the rich and famous. Or the Stage Deli that has over-the-top salami and roast beef sandwiches named after the celebrities who have been there. We always feast on the NYC classics—bagels and cheesecake—and hopefully manage to walk those excessive calories off.
We don’t go to NYC to shop. Sure, we had to visit Macy’s because of the Christmas movie “Miracle on 5th Avenue” in which the store had the lead role, and to Saks Fifth Avenue to see their infamous washroom. We did discover Century 21 with its three floors of bargains and where one year we bought much-reduced designer purses in outlandish colours. We always stop at the outdoor stalls for some cheap but spiffy sunglasses and occasionally a watch.
We shamelessly follow in the footsteps of the famous and a good way to do that is on the hop-on, hop-off bus. It’s a thrill to see where John Lennon and Jacqueline Kennedy lived, to pass by Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel and Dorothy Parker’s Algonquin. Who hasn’t heard of the city’s neighbourhoods, especially Harlem (the centre of African-American culture), Greenwich Village (for being bohemian) or SoHo (for its art scene). And how can you not stop and have a look at the legendary Grand Central Station.
Articles on other great cities
Celebrating my 30th in the great city of Chicago
Underestimating San Francisco (and what lies beyond)
The very doable Shanghai, China
When we’re not on the bus we walk for miles. Each trip we visit a museum or two and always stop by the Metropolitan Museum’s gift shop for souvenirs to take home. That’s on Museum Mile and from there we cut through to Central Park, that huge public playground that was developed in 1858.
Over time we have ventured out, riding the Staten Island ferry in New York Harbour, visiting the Statue of Liberty, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge for a breathtaking view of the city, passing the bull that is synonymous with Wall Street, going on the Sex in the City tour, visiting the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. One of the girls loves the talk shows and went to “extreme measures” for a good seat on “David Letterman” and “Who wants to be a Millionaire”.
I recall the first time I ventured into the city. I was actually with a man, my then husband. We were returning from Asia, from countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, and our concern was how safe it was to go from the international airport to the bus station in the centre of the city. (We were just about out of money and needed a cheap way to get up to Canada.) That’s the reputation NYC had back then: scary. Through a lot of effort the crime rate has fallen dramatically and today it is one of the safest large cities in the United States.
So all I can say is, I LOVE New York!
By Sylvia Fanjoy
Photo credits Sylvia Fanjoy
© Riding the buses 2012