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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Welcome to New York

Wafel Cart
Photo by myself, of a Wafel Cart on Broadway and Prince Street.

This bright yellow truck serves up a sinful lunch in Soho.


I wish I had a more mobile job. Right now, I'm just a tense three-toed sloth parked in front of a computer. If I were a bike messenger, I'd be super fit and I'd have photos to share from all over the place. As the weather gets better and the daylight longer, I'll start venturing out of my comfort zone. For now, these will have to do!

I was thinking about what I'd recommend for a visitor to see. I love having people over. There's nothing like seeing a place where you live through someone else's eyeballs.

So what would I recommend for visitors to this fine city?

1. Walk. Just plain walk.
Walk around and experience the streets, where life is. Start down in Wall Street. Work your way to the World Trade Center. Then journey through lovely Tribeca to Chinatown and have a big lunch. Wander through Soho and browse through the boutiques. Then wind up in a bar somewhere in the Village.

These neighborhoods are so different, but they're practically on top of each other. I can't imagine a better day.

2. Take a bus ride, and not a double decker.
I can see how the double decker can give you information about what you're seeing, but a simple bus ride can be pretty neat. I suggest the M5, which runs between the Upper West Side and The Village, via Broadway and Fifth Avenue.

You'll pass Lincoln Square, Columbus Circle and Central Park South, turning onto Fifth Avenue. Then you'll travel through midtown, passing Rockefeller Center and follow Fifth all the way past the graceful Flatiron Building, until you hit Houston Street. This route has a bit of everything, and it only costs two bucks!

3. Get thee a drink. Pronto.
There are several different types of cool bars, depending what you call cool. I've been out of the loop for a while, so my suggestions are dated.

There are the 'old New York' bars that I love, that have a certain something. Call it charm, or age, or patina. Chumley's in the Village comes to mind, as do Old Town in the Flatiron District and Walker's in Tribeca.

Then there are the cool bars in a different vein, which are one of a kind. These look like movie sets, while remaining low key. I'm thinking of Pravda near Soho (complete with Chocolate Martinis), the high-tech Brasserie in midtown, the pretty and the nautical Lure Fish Bar in Soho.

Then there are designer hotel bars, like those by Julian Schnabel (the the Gramercy Park Hotel) and Philippe Starck (The Hudson and The Royalton). Each of these is unique and fantastical - the over-the-top faux medieval of the the Gramercy, the yellow light of The Hudson, the people-watching layout of The Royalton.

This said, flip through the internet or a Time Out Magazine. Look up a bunch of places before coming. There are tons of places to choose from. It's like visiting a gaggle of your oddest relatives.

4. Go to the Park.
Visit one of the many parks on a weekend and have fun. Whether it's people and performer-watching in Central Park, strolling along the water in Battery Park City, or dodging roller bladers in Riverside Park, you're bound to enjoy yourself. Pack a picnic!

5. Ellis Island.
Without hesitation, Mark suggests visiting the entranceway for so many New Yorkers of the past. I've never been, but have heard great things. Exhibits include what people brought with them over the years and what they had to endure to be granted access.

6. Take the Ferry.
The ferry ride to Staten Island only costs fifty cents is free, and you get a fantastic view of lower Manhattan.

7. Eat. A lot. Cheaply.
You don't have to spend megabucks here, and you can get anything, including Ethiopian, Afghani, Turkish, Australian, European and all the various Asian cuisines.

Notice I don't mention any museums. There are tons of excellent museums for every interest, but I recommend that you get out and walk around.

Go shopping. Eat. Drink. Enjoy.

(Fellow New Yorkers, I'd love to hear your suggestions!)


Mom Knows Everything said...

♥Happy Valentines Day♥

Kitty said...

Hi Tammy!
Same to you, dear. I hope you had a lovely night!

Spandrel Studios said...

What a great list! I'm going to save this for the next time I'm in the city for work and have some time to sight-see (in my dreams).

Ha Ha Sound said...

A lot of good recommendations there. Although I'd point out that Chumley's is closed, with no re-opening on the horizon.

One thing I'd recommend is taking visitors to the Brooklyn Bridge right at sunset. The views gorgeous, and the light is fantastic.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Kitty said...

hey spandrel!
You'll have to come and stay the weekend! I promise you'll have a blast. It can be quite the playland.

I'm dismayed! Chumley's was so cute.

I was going to include Double Happiness, too but that's also closed. And whatever happened to Cedar on University Place?

Seems like you stay here a while and seeing places come and go is part of the process. It can be quite sad.

I agree with you. Walking the bridge is so fun and nice. Then walking the Brooklyn promenade and stopping for a snack.

Happy Valentines back!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Great recommendations Kitty. I'd also add a midweek breakfast at Balthazar to that list, too crowded on weekends. The Brooklyn Promenade has also been a fave of visitor's of mine, the transit museum over there is pretty good too.

Mike said...

I will have one wafel to go off that yellow truck. How nice is that. I wish I lived there sometimes.

How about the subway? I lived in Brooklyn in the 1970s. I remember taking the subway every week somewhere. I would take pictures of them if I lived there.

BrianC said...

I think Cedar is dead as well. Try "Florent" on Gansevoort (one of my faves), or "The Brass Monkey" on Little West 12th St. (for a cool Irish pub vibe with live Irish music on Sunday evenings). It's hard to make up one's mind in the West Village.

Spandrel Studios said...

Ooh, I have to second Fishwithoutbicycle's breakfast at Balthazar... One morning before I had to go to a meeting, I popped in and sat for an hour with my coffee and croissants. Put me in the perfect frame of mind.

But... I can't leave the place without stopping by the bakery and picking up some pain de seigle or multi-grain bread to take home (and their chocolate madeleines are sublime). Totally worth the carbs, if you're worried about those things.

Anonymous said...

I've managed to tick 4 out of your list.

But that's cuz I can't drink, I took the subway instead of the bus and I didn't have time to drop by Ellis Island.

I love all these colourful carts in NYC, it makes the city so much more interesting.

I miss it :(

Kitty said...

Penpusher, you'll have to come back soon!

The nice thing about bars is that you can sit and people-watch. Drinking is not necessary.

Some of the bars and hotel bars are just wonderfully designed, down to the bathrooms. (very often it's the bathrooms that people remember). They are complete experiences.

great to see you!

Fredrik said...

What a guide, so great! I can definitely see myself taking the long walk in NYC. Isn't Brooklyn bridge a classic? I've seen amzing pictures of Manhattan from below the bridge.

Ming the Merciless said...

Wait! When did they start charging money to take the ferry to Staten Island?!?!

As far as I know it's been free for over 10 years now.

Kitty said...

Ming, I googled the Ferry and read something about the fifty cent fare. It may even be more now?

(I got a pageful of text and that's what I had the patience to figure out)

ChickenUnderwear said...

The Staten Island ferry is free

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