Friday, October 12, 2012

NYC -- As a Tourist


  You have five days in New York City. It's your first visit. What do you do?

  I probably should have given that question a bit more thought before I boarded my flight for Newark this August. As it was, I can't say I prepared for my tour of NYC very well. But I knew I'd find my way. And I figured, whatever I did, it would be nothing short of amazing.

  So I hardly had an itinerary. Instead I had a rough list in my head of things I wanted to see. But really, I had no game plan set for when
I arrived in the Big Apple.

The High Line.
  First and foremost, I wanted to get a lay of the land. So I took to the streets on foot. Once I understood where I was, and started to see where some of the attractions were, I was surprised by how close everything seemed to be. I knew Manhattan was not a large island, but I guess I had to see it to believe it.

  So what did I do? Here's a quick run down of the highlights: 

My Favorites:

- the High Line: It's a former elevated railroad line that has been transformed into an elevated park on the Lower West Side. The park runs for over a mile, and allows you to quickly get away from the traffic and clutter of the streets below. After walking the park, I stood and watched commercial being shot from above.

East Side Waterfront. Had to stop mid-run for a picture.
- East Side Waterfront: After a long afternoon of sightseeing, I really wanted to get a run in before dark. So I joined in what seemed to be hundreds of New Yorkers who had the same idea. It was quite refreshing seeing so many people out, enjoying a late-summer evening run. It was a beautiful run along the water, with views of Brooklyn and the bridges in the distance. 

The Bronx: New Yankee Stadium.
- Baseball game at Yankee Stadium: The Yanks had an afternoon game versus the Orioles (perfect, given the playoff match-up we're watching this week!). Since I didn't want to spend three-plus hours watching baseball, I hadn't necessarily planned on actually attending the game. But given the drizzly weather, it turned out to be a perfect activity for me.

  It wasn't raining hard enough to postpone the game, but it definitely wasn't weather I would have been out sight-seeing in! So I sat under the cover and watched Jeter, Cano, Ichiro, and the rest of the Yankees beat Baltimore.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.
Views of the city from inside Central Park.
- Central Park: I visited Central Park numerous times during my five days in Manhattan. Twice as a runner, and a couple other times just enjoying the paths. Any runner who visits NYC has to go for a run in Central Park. Since it was hot and humid August, I planned one run for the morning. Unfortunately, I had to take a short subway ride to the park entrance.

  After an exhausting run, that found me dripping with sweat, I had to get back on the subway to get home. I don't think I've ever sweat so much in my life. I tried not to touch anything, or drip on anything (or anyone!), as morning commuters stared at the sweat pouring off my head. It was then I realized I probably should have finished my run towards home.

  I found the park to be a refuge among the madness. Where you're able to find a little peace and quiet in the everyday hustle and bustle. If I lived in NYC, I think I would spend a lot of time in Central Park. It's a pretty amazing space, with baseball fields, open grassy fields, a swimming pool, a reservoir, a zoo, and quiet. I think you could visit it everyday for two weeks, and never repeat you're route.

- Grimaldi's Pizza: The famous pizzeria had a lunch-time lineup outside its door 10-15 people deep. I was hungry, hot, and tired. So I kept walking. But then I thought to myself, 'this might be your only time in Brooklyn, you have do this!' So I got in line and waited.

  Close to 40 minutes later, I found myself seated at the bar looking at the menu. To my dismay, the menu clearly said 'no orders by the slice'. So I was forced to order an entire pizza, for myself! Luckily, I could take the rest to go.

Brooklyn Bridge & Manhattan from Brooklyn.
  The pizza was delicious. And worth the wait! The staff was incredibly friendly, and I enjoyed every bit of my experience at Grimaldi's.

  After I finished my two slices, I packed the rest in my bag, and made my way to the Brooklyn Bridge (nothing like walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with 3/4s of a pizza in your bag on a 90 degree day!!).

On the Brooklyn side of the bridge.
- Brooklyn Bridge: I took the subway from Manhattan into Brooklyn. My plan was to spend some time in Brooklyn Heights, have a delicious lunch, and then walk the bridge back into Manhattan. It was perfect.

  I loved the views from Brooklyn, and then again, the views from the Brooklyn Bridge. There is a pedestrian/cycling walkway in the center of the suspension bridge that is above the traffic below. While you do have to be on the lookout for cyclists whizzing be, it's nice not to have to worry about cars as you make your way across the bridge. While simple, it was one of my favorite activities while in New York.

- Statue of Liberty: Like Central Park, you can't visit NYC, and NOT take a trip to Liberty Island. It was one of the few 'tourist' things I planned on doing. But it was here where I got my fill of frustration with tourists as well.

I made it off the ferry, & loved seeing Lady Liberty!
  To board the ferry for Liberty Island you first have to wait in a tremendously long line, and go through airport-like security. While waiting in line (again, in the heat and humidity), one pushy tourist, with a stroller, took things a little too far.

  If I wasn't at the end of my rope by his constantly running into the back of my legs (with his stroller), I definitely hit my limit when he ran over the toes of my white shoes (several times) on purpose, while looking directly in my eyes. It's as though he thought by getting past me, he would somehow move to the front of the endless line.

  The second now-comical event with a fellow tourist took place on the ferry. I don't quite know how to describe this encounter, other than saying a French girl sat ON ME. And didn't move for several minutes. I was not happy. I think I'll just leave it at that. :)

  I loved seeing the Statue of Liberty up close and personal. But the trip took a lot longer than I had expected. So unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for me, given my first two tourist stories) I had to cut out the stop at Ellis Island.

Other Sites I Visited:
-Empire State Building
-Walked 5th Ave.
Looking up the Empire State Building.
-Flatiron District
-West Side Waterfront
-W. 4th Street Courts
-Battery Park: the Southernmost tip of Manhattan, with views of the Statue of Liberty.
-Grand Central Station
-FAO Schwartz and the BIG Piano
-Radio City Music Hall
-Times Square
-Ground Zero Memorial
-Union Station: a little quirky. Reminded me of downtown Portland. 
-Madison Square Garden: Would love to take in a game there one day!
-Baked by Melissa: bite-sized cupcakes that are to die for. Near Grand Central.
-Lexington Ave. Street Market

World Trade Center Memorial.
  And no, I didn't go to a Broadway show. So sue me. :)

  I wish I could have visited everything. But you only have so much time, and so much patience as a tourist. Not to mention everything costs money! So you have to put a value on things. What are the places you MOST want to see up close and personal?

Next Time

  Of course, there are several places I wish I could have explored a little further, but only got a chance to do a 'fly-by' this time around.

    Had I planned a little more in advance, maybe I would have jumped on a tour, or researched seeing a show or two. Guess that will have to wait til my next visit.

The streets.
  Now that I've visited NYC, I find myself watching the background of TV shows filmed in Manhattan, looking for sights and streets I recognize from my short time there. It's fun trying to picture that place on the map, or remember what I did or saw when I was in that very spot.

  But I had a good enough time taking in the handful of sites I did see, and experiencing the atmosphere of NYC to garner a return trip. Hopefully to be made sometime in the near future!

  In the meantime, maybe YOU should tell me the things I missed!



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