Within eight hours our trip had taken us from the rolling hills of Pennsylvania to the angular landscape of Manhattan Island. We drove into New Jersey intending to park the car and hop on a train to our hotel in Hell’s Kitchen, unfortunately our great intentions turned into minor frustrations when finding a long term parking proved more difficult that planned. Eventually we left the Civy at the Newark Airport and headed to the Island just in time for a rainy Friday night rush hour.
Walking out of Penn Station at 5 pm gave us our first stereotypical New York City experience, complete with umbrellas, taxi cabs and lots of jostling for sidewalk space. By the time we stumbled up to our hotel we were completely soaked, pretty embarrassing since the hotel we booked was gorgeous and would have been well above our means without some help from Hotwire. Our room was tiny, but the king-sized bed itself beat sleeping on the ground or our one night stay at a roadside Comfort Inn.
Our time in New York was limited (two and a half days) and with so many friendly suggestions it was pretty overwhelming trying to decide what to do and where to eat. So much so that we ended up winging it or using Yelp most of the time. Our first night out it was still raining so we went to a bar down the street called the Beer Authority, pretty tasty cocktails and the pasta dish I ordered blew me away. Our Saturday consisted of concert food and nine dollar beers, but more on that later. Sunday on the other hand became our totally touristy day.
We woke up bright and early (eleven am) and decided the best thing to cure our post concert headaches was brunch at the HK Cafe, where my eggs benedict craving was thoroughly satisfied. Unluckily for Neal, I noticed a flea market a block wide as we where leaving the cafe and obviously had to investigate. After dragging him around to a close to a dozen vendors his logic prevailed and I agreed that we should probably go see the Empire State Building since we only had 24 hours left in New York City.
On our way we passed by a huge street party celebrating Peurto Rican independence, which was apparently distracting enough for us to j-walk right in front of a few police officers. We made it to the Empire State un-arrested and headed up to the 85th floor observation deck. The view was as breathtaking as you could imagine, but the thing that surprised me was how quiet it was looking over the hustle and bustle of such a massive city.
Our next must-do was a visit to Central Park, and I have to say getting there was an adventure of its own since the New York subway system is a hot confusing mess. Every time we tried to take a train during our visit we ended up getting on the wrong line or going in the wrong direction. But then maybe it was just our inexperience with a real city’s transportation system (nope it was you New York, it really was). Anyways, the park was beautiful and enjoyably busy, not to mention massive as we walked the length of it later on looking for a restaurant. We passed by lakes, birthday parties, and hundreds of people exercising before plopping down on a rock next to some tennis courts. Some of us napped and others just people watched, either way we both enjoyed resting our feet for a while.
We ended off the evening meeting up with some Winnipeg friends and eating fantastic Thai food at a little place called Ember. I left New York the next morning knowing I would have to come back to see everything that we didn’t have time for this time around.