While I’m still working through some health issues I’ve been thinking more about past trips I’ve taken. With all of the research for my SE Asia trip this winter I keep overlooking some great opportunities like the 8 hour layover I’ll have in Tokyo between my flights home. It’s a great opportunity to switch gears from reading about some of the more rural places I’ve visiting and focus on a big city for a change! Looking into how I can make the best of my short time in Tokyo I’m reminded about my crash course in New York.
My first visit to NYC was decided and planed on a whim.
1st wedding anniversary in Montreal
When my husband and I got married in 2006 all our money, of course, went into the wedding (not to mention we were already broke and I was still a university student at the time), so it goes without saying a honeymoon wasn’t in the cards for us. For our first wedding anniversary, again lacking in funds, we took a weekend road trip to Montreal with some friends. Close but affordable and with our anniversary falling so close to Labour Day it made it easy to take advantage of the long weekend.
For our second wedding anniversary not much had changed in the finance department so again I was left looking for a close but affordable long weekend away. We had already visited Montreal. We had had a weekend in Niagara Falls early on in our relationship. We knew we’d be driving and didn’t want to spend more then a day in the car so we narrowed it down and with NYC being an 8-10 hour drive from Toronto, and never having been there it seemed like the perfect fit.
I scoured for cheap accommodations in an expensive city and found Hotel Le Jolie in Brooklyn that looked clean, close to the subway AND hotel parking was included in the room price (not common in the big apple!) I booked it and we were off.
People talk about how awful it is to drive in Manhattan. Maybe after years of traffic and aggressive cabbies in Toronto but neither of us found it bad at all. The only trouble we had was actually on a sightseeing bus that hit traffic and was detoured because some big concert had shut down 5th Ave. Oh and the minute we realized our GPS didn’t get reception in Manhattan because the buildings blocked the signals and we ended up in Spanish Harlem before we realized where we were headed.
The subway – though dirtier then I anticipated* – was easy to navigate, walk able and worked great. It was about a 7 min walk from our hotel in Williamsburg to the nearest station and 30 minutes by train to get to Times Square.
With only 3 days in the city we narrowed it down to the things we wanted to see and do and frankly most of it was touristy type stuff. We rode the sightseeing bus from the South Street Seaport to Harlem and back. We visited 30 Rockefeller Plaza and had a tour of the SNL Studios. We ate some of the most amazing sandwiches in this little sandwich restaurant I found on a blog in TriBeCa. I – of course- had to visit the Anthopologie store in SoHo (this was before they opened retail in Canada) and my husband got lost in a vinyl record store just off Bleecker St. We also capitalized on the Museum of Modern Art free Friday and I was able to see paintings like Henri Rousseau’s The Dream in person for the first time.
A NYC Landmark
I have to say my favourite parts of Manhattan were the East Village, Tribeca and Greenwich Village – but if I’m honest I totally fell in love with Brooklyn. It felt so much more approachable and homey then Manhattan did and it’s patchwork of neighbourhood nooks and crannies had so much character.
On our last night in the city I managed to score last minute ticket to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre which was so exciting for us as we love live comedy and weren’t we surprised when we showed up and they announced the night’s last minute special guests performers Jason Sudeikis and Rachel Dratch doing a table read of a new script they were working on! This felt like a very “New York” experience and we both had an amazing time. After taking the late night train back to Williamsburg we scored some late night Vietnamese food at a hole in the wall that was still open and it was the perfect cap to our trip before hitting the road back the next morning.
*As a word of caution – bring hand wipes/sanitizer with you when exploring the city and when taking the subway. I had a scratch on my face and after taking the subway I touched my face before washing them. It became very red and swollen. During the trip home the next day it got worse. Back to Toronto I went straight to the Emergency Room as my eye had swollen shut and wound had turned black. I contracted a very serious infection and thankfully with aggressive medical attention and antibiotics I managed to escape with only a pea sized crater scar on my face – it could have been much worse!