Once again, we successfully guided a new visitor all over Manhattan. Husband’s cousin just left us after her first trip to the Big Apple, and I think it was a success. Before her visit even started, I was already thinking about how I’d have nothing to blog about because once again we would be repeating ourselves and doing the same ol’ tourist trap after tourist trap routine.
We have been so busy doing everything NYC has to offer this year that I think we have prematurely become jaded New Yorkers. New York is starting to look dirty, too crowded, rude, greedy, and egocentric. I find myself dreading popular areas, avoiding people with cameras and backpacks, and even judging everyone by their shoes. I knew I’d have to act as a tourist this last week, so I had to figure out a way to get un-jaded quickly.
I decided to be extra opened minded during each day. My plan was to really look for that special story, and that blog quality adventure lurking around the corner. I kept my eyes peeled and searched for the beauty, the excitement, and the quirkiness hiding in the subways, crowded stores, and tiny restaurants. It worked too, even better than what I thought, because what I found was beautiful!
I remembered that some of New York’s most popular spots are perfect for people watching, sight seeing, and great memories. If I could ignore the crowds and try to forget the smells of the sewers and the trash, I could appreciate the views. Thanks to Husband’s camera skills, he was able to capture the beauty in most of these moments, the moment of pure New York bliss.
Take Grand Central Station for instance; the place is full of people in a hurry, tourists taking pictures, or me trying desperately to start a flash mob. (I start dancing each and every time I walk through here and NO ONE has yet to join me… except my Mom and Dad when they were visiting, but that doesn’t count.) After walking through here 50 times, it just looks dirty and the people all look annoyed.
In order to get a fresh look at this landmark, I simply walked up the steps of the new Apple Store (which I’d previously avoided), and peered over the large room to people watch for a while. I took the time to notice the stories happening around me. There was a Dad taking pictures of his two little girls, two men excited to see each other and greeting one another with a big hug. There was young couple, obviously visiting and trying to navigate around the station. There were even a couple soldiers that could have been coming or going, and hundreds of other people rushing around like busy bees. I tried to imagine each story as they walked by, and really began to appreciate the “welcome home’s” and the “farewell’s happening at the famous train station.
Another stop was the Staten Island Ferry. I have only ridden this free ferry, which gives a nice view of the Statue of Liberty, one other time. Still, I was not looking forward to my second trip. The Ferry is crammed, most people are packed like sardines on the right side to get a view of Lady Liberty, and the inside is full of the unfortunate people who have to commute back and forth from Staten Island to Manhattan each day; and they all look pissed and cranky.
Because I have already had the chance to see Miss Liberty so many times before, I did not care about fighting a crowd for a view. Instead, I bought an iced coffee, found an empty seat next to Zoey, and spent the boat ride chatting about important political facts. For example, did you know that the Republican vice president candidate, Paul Ryan, does P90X? Even the guy next to us joined the conversation to inform us that he went to high school with Paul Ryan. At this point the crowd around us had dispersed a little ,and we could take in the beautiful day. Given the right attitude, and a good seat, the ride across the river isn’t so bad.
Next, is Roosevelt Island. Roosevelt Island is a skinny little two-mile island in the middle of the East River. There is a tram that goes from the Upper East Side, across the water, and over the island. We often take our guests on the tram because it’s a really nice view, and something besides a train ride, but once the tram lands in Roosevelt Island there is little else to do.
However, we recently learned of a park at the very Northern tip of the Island. We decided to give it a shot, and took the .25-cent bus to the top of the island and began walking around the little park full of birthday and family gatherings.
Isn’t this a lovely way to see the city? It’s such a rare view of the East Side. I guess this little island does have a little to offer after all.
Right after Roosevelt Island, we trekked over to Rockefeller Center to go up to the Top of the Rock. The “top of the rock” is the observation deck at the top of Rockefeller Center, AKA 30 Rock. It is 70 stories high, (competing with the Empire State Building observation deck at 86 floors high). Surprisingly, Husband and I have never done this before. We’d already done the Empire State Building, and just never felt compelled to pay the $25 to go to another observation deck.
Now, that I’ve done both I can tell you that Top of the Rock is soooooo much better! There is tons more space, 3 different levels for viewing, comfy couches for relaxing, and it looks cleaner and better than the Empire State Building. Not to mention, you get a great view of the Empire State Building, which you obviously cannot see from their own observation deck.
Lastly, we went to the 9/11 Memorial. To visit this memorial you have to make a reservation and go through lots of security; it’s quite a hassle. Lucky for me, Zoey did not make me a reservation; she was not aware that I would be off of work by the time that they went. So, as the three of them went into the Memorial, I took my Nook and went into the fancy W Hotel across the street.
I wasn’t sure if there was anywhere for me to actually sit and wait here, but I took a chance and followed the signs by the elevator that said “Living Room Bar and Terrace- 5th Floor”. I confidently walked through this swanky bar full of oversized couches, multiple throw pillows, and floor to ceiling windows, picked up a free cucumber water and found a comfy seat. The view was gorgeous and no one seemed to care that I cuddled up in a window seat, read, and never ordered a drink. It was, in my opinion, the best way to view the 9/11 Memorial.
So, there you have it, a fresh look at the city that never sleeps. Like people, if you take the time to get to know the places you dislike, there’s a good chance you’ll find bits and pieces of that place (or person) that you love, or at least appreciate.