New York City. The center of the universe…
And yet somehow, I’d never managed to get there until now! This always surprises people. I’ve traveled around the world more than once, been to over 20 countries and literally spent the last 4 years living just on the other side of the border – but I’d never been to New York? What?! I know, I know – ridiculous.
But I’ve finally made it and the verdict is in: New York City – you are amazing!
Of course, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and saw the Empire State Building, and I could easily go on and on telling you all about DUMBO and Chelsea and the shiny brass balls in the Financial District. But what makes New York great is so much more than the combination of it’s iconic sites. So, today’s post will be about my New York; the observations I made and experiences I encountered during my weekend-long love affair with one of the world’s most celebrated cities.
1. It’s Energy is intense
This was the first thing I noticed. New York City is bathed in this dazzling energy that has a palpable vibrancy to it. You can feel it humming in the air all around you. It’s invigorating and exciting and seems to just radiate out from its core.
2. Yes that smell is pee
In New York the streets aren’t dirty. The streets are filthy. Honestly, I just assumed that every surface was covered in pee. Dogs just let it go, right there on sidewalks because lawns and green spaces are non-existent. I must say, this shocked my apparently soft Canadian sensibilities.
3. The PIZZA
My friend Marissa took me to Artichoke Pizza for my first New York slice. It was unreal! Now, I’m not crazy for pizza and it is rarely my choice meal, but damn New York does it right (not like that terrible atrocity they serve in Chicago…)
4. Its the city that never sits!
No one seems to sit down. You grab a coffee to go or a bagel from the street. Everyone just rushes around. Street benches are a rare commodity and finding a place to rest became a bit of an adventure.
5. Midtown is the worst
I very quickly realized this was not the place for me. Time Square is chaotic and full of tourists; see it and get out, in my opinion.
6. It is still healing
Last September it was 15 years since the world stood still and watched the towers come down. While that might seem like a long time the tragedy is still very raw for a lot of New Yorkers. I met several people who told me about their experiences and revealed that they still refuse to go up into any of the city’s tall towers.
I spent a fair amount of time sitting at the 9/11 Memorial listening to the water falling from the North Fountain. It was a very surreal and sobering experience for me. I remember 9/11 very distinctly. Everyone does. Being there at Ground Zero and seeing all of those name made the devastation of that day so much more real and absolute.
7. New Yorkers are so friendly!
On my second night I decided to take myself out on Broadway date. It was an evening show and I’d literally been walking all day and was desperately seeking a seat, so I went on the hunt for a wine bar where I could sip a nice white and recharge. After about half an hour of aimless wandering amidst the skyscrapers I gave up and turned back towards The Ambassador Theater.
And then I saw it.
A glorious sign that read “Happy hour – Half Price Wine” it was like a sign from the gods!
I hesitated at first because it looked semi fancy, but then decided the wine’s half price, how expensive can it be! So I pulled up a seat at the end of the bar. One chair over there was two lovely ladies enjoying a charcuterie board and cocktails. The next thing I knew they were offering to share their cheeses with me! Obviously, I took them up on their offer and then spent a very pleasant hour chatting with them. It was wonderful and unexpected (and delicious).
8. Go beyond Broadway
I’m not saying “Don’t go to Broadway” no – please do, Broadway is amazing – but this is the city that literally has everything on offer so branch out! Marissa took me to see some improv at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade in the East Village and it was fantastic!
9. TV mislead me
On 2 things in particular: Manhattan and Lady Liberty. Manhattan is ginormous! It is so much bigger than I ever envisioned; I felt like I’d run a marathon at the end of each day from all my exploring! And on the opposite spectrum let’s take a moment to discuss just how small the Statue of Liberty actually is. At just a mere 92 m tall she looks so tiny! So, OK that’s the equivalent of a 22 story building – BUT compared to the behemoth of a city behind her she looks like a toy.
10. High Park is just nice
I love big parks and this one had always been on the top of my list. I literally landed into one of the biggest metropolises on the continent and headed straight there! But I didn’t fall in love like I thought I would. I liked it, sure, but I don’t think I quite found it’s magic. Thought it still made for a wonderful afternoon of exploring!
13. I adore Greenwich Village
Where Central Park failed, Greenwich Village more than made up for. I learned all about the area’s fascinating history, saw the Friends apartment and fell in love with Bleeker Street all on a fantastic walking tour by Free Tours By Foot! Definitely check them out.
11. The High Line is so cool
Talk about innovation. The mere fact that NYC has had a railway line that cut right through buildings is already pretty neat. Repurposing it into an urban park was pure genius!
12. A Salty Pimp is delicious
If there is one thing American does right – it’s their junk food: Dolce de leche, soft service, salted caramel = delightfullness in a cone. Try one from Big Gay Ice Cream – your welcome 🙂
So, overall I had an absolutely incredible, whirlwind weekend in New York. It very quickly made its way onto my top 10 cities list and I cannot wait to get back there, binge on pizza and get to know it in more depth!
Thank you for reading! Leave me a comment about your New York experience.