January 20, 2018

New York City, babyyyyy!

It’s always been a dream to visit the Big Apple, and last week, it happened! 

It was a surprise Christmas present from my wife, and it was SO unexpected! Just a few days away from the kids; stay with a friend and take in all we could in a few short days.

It’s hard to say what I liked best (all of it) and it’s hard to say why we chose to see the things we did, as selecting one place to sightsee meant having to cross another off the list. There is just too much to see and do and eat and watch.

That being said, here’s a few of the highlights. Trevor Noah, the freshly minted host of The Daily Show, was performing his first-ever stand up comedy gigs at the storied Radio City Music Hall, and we got to take in his first night! An astounding mix of stories and laughs, mixed into a routine of perfect cultural relevance for what is going on these days socio-politically in the US.

The Frick Collection is an inexpensive way to find yourself inside one of New York City’s Fine Old Homes. Henry Clay Frick built his home at the corner of Lexington and 71st avenue, right across the street from Central Park, in the early 1900’s. As a business man, he was obviously ruthless, building his empire off the backs of Pittsburgh steelworkers, an existence that eventually got him hated in that city, and precipitated his move to New York. And yet, he was a collector of fine art and collected it with a view that, after his death, his home would become a publicly accessible museum, that others may see these amazing works of art. For me, to stand in such a grand home, and to see this private collection of Vermeers, Rembrandts, Van Eycks and more, so up close and in the quiet of a house… so wonderful. Sorry, no photography allowed, so you'll have to go for yourself! 

New York and its metropolitan surroundings are home to more than 23 million people, and a lot of those people use the subways and cabs—which are as iconic as anything else—to get around. So it was fun to be in the mix with these things for a few days, navigating the bizarre schedules of some of the subway lines, shoulder to shoulder with the locals who couldn’t figure it out either!

hidden delights like the Bethesda terrace underpass await you in Central Park

some big statue in the the harbour. 
Radio City Music Hall

The weather was warm but wet with socked-in clouds on our first full day in NYC, so we didn’t get a sense of the towering buildings until the next day. Once the sun came out, it was pretty awesome to see the huge buildings. Catching the skyline view from the Staten Island ferry was a great thing to do, with the added bonus of gliding by the Statue of Liberty… with the added, added bonus of the ferry being free of charge : )
Grand Central Terminal

Traipsing through Grand Central Station, reading the embossed quotes in the pavement of great authors on the leadup to the New York Public Library, wandering stretches of Central Park, ducking into a few shops in SoHo, taking in some of the exhibits at The Met, encountering some delicious food and drink… the list goes on.

In summary: I would go back in a heartbeat.

It was especially nice for us to stay with a friend who has lived in NYC for years, and really gave us a good sense of what’s what in New York City. An insider’s guide made for easy planning, and we were spoiled in that sense.

I’ve always been drawn to big cities. I find great allure in buildings that touch the sky, in busy sidewalks and the melting pot of cultures that are so often found in those places. I’ll admit, the incessant honking in NYC, that got old, fast… get a grip people, it won’t make the traffic snarl go away so maybe just flip on the radio and chill for a bit?

Brunch in Brooklyn
If you go (errr, in winter):
Prospect Park in Brooklyn is a beautiful spot
      Pack for all weather! The temps swung 20 degrees in one day, from muggy with warm breezes to below freezing with frigid winds dropping the temperatures even more.
·         DO find a show to take in. So much variety, and some reasonable ticket prices to be found.
·         DO take the subway, just to experience the system, but
·         DON’T be surprised when your train magically changes routes /gets discontinued. Just get off at the next station, consult a map, and try again. Better yet, go street side at that point and
Brooklyn's quirky and fun Superhero Supply Co.
·         DO spend time walking the neighbourhoods just for the sake of seeing what you can see.
·         DO include the Staten Island ferry in your plans. It’s free, and offers such a great view of the famed Manhattan skyline.
·         DON’T be afraid to leave Manhattan! For example, we stayed in Brooklyn and spent some time over there. Lots to see: parks, museums, wonderful restaurants, historical sites, great walking.

I’ll leave it there… we only spent two full days and two partial days, so I ain’t no expert, after all!

Here’s some videos for you if you want to take in the sights and sounds of NYC! Thanks again to my lovely wife for this amazing surprise getaway! 

NYC Vlog part 1: https://youtu.be/wj5iGZzcSyw

NYC Vlog part 2: https://youtu.be/MMzckbnDkxk