Thursday, June 18, 2009
This is one of my favorite places. Period.
Ahhh, Central Park. And exponentially more fun when the sun is out. I went running this past weekend in Central Park and between the dogs, babies, cyclists, and other people just dawdling around, it is true people-watching experience. This photo is one of the best I have taken. I want to be a part of it. New York, New York!
As I have emphasized before, NYC is one of my paramour cities. This past weekend, we did a quick getaway. No husbands or babies invited. MarciaGarcia and I got in late on the brink of the weekend and what better way to combat flight delays and thunderstorm warnings then with a refreshing cocktail at one of our favorite little pubs in midtown Manhattan? You know what other pics you won't see? What happens after pints o' plenty. I love this little place called Perfect Pint. We found it years ago by accident and now we commit to the visit. They happen to have a great jukebox and the perfect amount of floor space for impromptu dancing. While Beyonce has never been one of my favorites, I sure got a kick out of Put A Ring On It that night.
There is a common misperception that New Yorkers are rude. Incorrect. If anything, perhaps they have little sympathy for idleness. Maybe some of the tourists, with their brash behavior, make the natives restless.
I am certainly not a native, but even some of the other visitors we encountered made me shake my head and bite my tongue. If you are visiting NYC or any city for that matter, how about a quick overview of things you should and should not do:
When you are trying to get your bearings, by all means ask. If you need to look at a map, do it. NYC is a very big place and can be overwhelming to a lot of people even after visiting once. Where is a great place to study your map? Not in the middle of the sidewalk, especially in Times Square where every tourist goes. Do you know how many other people are using that sidewalk? Thousands. Scooch on over to the side hence you learn what a new york "shiver" really is.
When you are braving the subway for first few times, familiarize yourself with the layout. However, do not think the best place to look at the subway map is in the middle of the stairs heading to the subway. People have plans. Stopping on the middle of the stair case is something you shouldn't do in your own city, let alone in New York. Over five million people ride the subway in NY everyday. Move to the side.
When you are on the subway, notice the quiet. For so many people, there is relatively little ruckus, albeit a few kooks here and there. Why should you notice the quiet, because then you will ascertain the subway is not a good place to call Aunt Mel and tell her all about your big subway trip. Because you can barely get reception in certain places, you will inevitably talk louder. Refrain. People do not like it.
When you are at the hotel, and ever eager to go to your room, stand to the side of the elevator. When it hits the lobby floor, it is likely packed. All of the people inside would love to come out. Do you know why they are delayed? Because you are standing in front of the door shoulder to shoulder with your spouse. With your family in tow. People should not have to say "excuse me" to exit the elevator. This is common sense given that there are elevators in some capacity in virtually every city but yet, I saw it all weekend long.
Of course you should ask people to take your picture. I know more than anyone how many pics this family has of only one of us with our son on our travels. I love asking people to take our family pic and most people are happy to do so. I took multiple pics of people this weekend. You know who to ask for a helping hand? Someone who already has a camera, or someone else that looks like a tourist, or someone casually lollygagging about. Do not ask the man in his Yves Saint Laurent suit hustling by with his cell phone plastered to his ear. He appreciates the constant boost to the NY economy, but he doesn't want to stop and take your picture.
NYC is a metropolis of good food. Take your family to somewhere other than TGI Friday's while you are in New York. If economics are a concern, there are hundreds of restaurants in the blocks around Times Square that will feed you all like Kings without emptying your wallet. Refrain from the chain restaurants. I went to Juniors once out of sheer desperation. It was horrid. If you are looking for neighborhood gems, go to http://www.opentable.com/ and search on the neighborhood of your choice for recommendations, best kept secrets, and restaurants geared for groups.
Do not ask if the "designer" purses in Chinatown are real. If you really could buy a Prada bag for $50.00, do you think they would sell them at Bergdorfs and Saks for $900.00? There is a reason you are getting a $50.00 option. But by all means, enjoy that option. I saw a darling little blonde girl carrying her fake pink Chanel bag with a smile as big as the Hudson. And believe me, the first time I went to NYC, I was all of 15. I saw those piles of pretty bags and asked my Dad if that Gucci bag was only $10.00, shouldn't I have own to take home. He assured me, I should not take the Grucci bag home. Upon closer inspection, I understood. And he took me to Macy's for a SwatchWatch instead.
Bring cash. While all of the yellow cabs in NYC are now required to have credit card machines, that rule doesn't apply everywhere. You don't want to be stuck without cash in New York. Ever.
Wander. Now, you want to mind your location and time of day as you would anywhere. But some of the gems of New York are in the neighborhoods where residents live and play. You can familiarize yourself with the layout of Manhattan before you ever leave. This quick guide will help.
And bring your walking shoes. Of course, you know I recommend both of my favorite walking shoes but regardless, don't plan on walking around NYC all day in unsensible shoes. You will walk more than you know, and I have been with people who made poor shoe choices and ended up barefoot at the end of the night. I don't need to tell you the vast reasons barefoot on the streets of NYC is never, ever good.
If you are looking for a more authentic experience, these few suggestions may help. And really, don't forget your camera. There are incredible pictures just waiting to be taken. A few more form my previous trips.