I am going to write about my trip to New York. Many people travel to The Big Apple and I figured maybe someone would read this and use it to plan some sight-seeing, and revise their budget. Mireille and I decided to take a trip to New York City in March of 2016. New York is the city we always see on TV, from Law and Order to your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, New York is almost an Atlantis of some sort; too many things go on there for it to be real, at least from this Northern Ontario troglodyte.
We flew Porter through the entire way which is something I would highly recommend. Getting through customs presented no issues and we found ourselves waiting in the lounge rather than waiting in line. Considering Porter’s kick ass FREE cookies, I consider this trip off to a good start. The flight itself was rudimentary and had no real issues. We landed in Newark and had to take a train from the airport to Penn Station. The ride was intense enough. Some guy got apprehended by Jersey police after an argument with train staff. Maybe it was New York police. In any case, there are plain clothes officers there. Mim said she could hear that accent forever. Mim tends to pack like she is moving out and a wheel broke on her luggage. I had to alternate carrying and wheeling this hobbled 50lb monstrosity around nine city blocks to the hotel on a busy street.
We had tried checking in to the Millennium on Broadway to no avail as we arrived early. The hotel itself is conveniently located a block from Times Square. Thankfully, they had a spot to drop off luggage which was a relief. We had lunch at Carmine’s which is an Italian restaurant known for large portions. Every menu item could serve 3-4 people easily. Suffice to say I walked in and waddled out. The waiter upsold us hard, so if you do go to restaurants, specifically request tap water or you’re getting Pellegrino and as a result, shelling out more green-O (Ugh,sorry).
To burn off this meal, we decided to walk around as we were set in downtown Manhattan. I am not one for stereotypes but New York was remarkable: the angry truck driver yelling at construction workers in a thick accent was the best, right out of a movie. People in costumes constantly walk about Times Square looking for onlookers to get a picture with. So, we did. We got a picture and then we were almost mugged. I gave them five bucks (Canadian currency, try to buy anything with that, dickheads), and left.
After checking in and taking a brief break, we then went to a comedy club called the Comedy Cellar. We saw comedians such as Jim Norton, Darrel Hammond (SNL), and one of my favourite comics, Joe Machi. The place itself was in an area called Greenwich village, an area in the lower west end of Manhattan and widely known for its artists and as the epicenter of the modern LGBT movement. As you move south of Times Square, the neighbourhoods look much more wholesome. The array of neon lights bombarding you with the hottest trends dissipate into your typical pub signs, brick buildings, and hole-in-the-wall shops. We then went to Planet Hollywood to grab some food and the worst martini Mim ever had. We then returned to the hotel to clean up and get ready for a more touristy day.
I was a bit hung over so it was naturally a late morning. We had breakfast across the street at a place called Connolly’s, an Irish location with many taps of beer. What a great breakfast. The coffee was unreal. Mim had this crispy, possibly deep-fried, bread-crumb crusted French Toast while I had your typical breakfast with Irish bacon. Irish bacon is a mix of bacon and American bacon (see what I did there?). It is much more lean, thin, and maintains all the great taste.
We did a Big B bus tour which was great because it can drop us off wherever and has many pick up points, rendering the need for a cab all but for emergencies or after hours travel in which case, just use the subway which is easy enough to use. It was included in the Porter travel package we got so we might as well use it.
On our little tour, the MC pointed out various interests and facts about places we had passed, one being the crash landing in the Hudson River. We decided to get dropped off at the Brooklyn Bridge. Television doesn’t do it justice, it’s amazing. It had some construction on it but it had neat little shop tables as you walk up. After walking about the bridge, we walked to the nearby 9/11 memorial and the new World Trade Center. Despite a sunny day with tourists and salespeople aggressively selling tours to various landmarks, the area had a sombre feeling to it. There were two obsidian memorials that outlined where the previous towers stood. Each block had the names of everyone who passed away that day in addition to the bombing in 1993. Little flags and flowers were sometimes wedged into some letters of the names of the fallen. Typically, there would’ve been a waterfall which emanates from each side of the obsidian border that drains into the center of each memorial; however, since it was windy, the waterfalls were off and it was just a slow-moving of water creeping to the drain. It made it feel more tense for some reason.
The harbour-front was our next destination to hit up a cruise tour. We got there early so we had a drink at the Industrial Kitchen. I had a James Monroe. That was awful, it sounded good but whatever. The cruise was great, we boated by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. It is smaller than it looks on the television. The cruise was windy and cold but that’s to be expected in March. It was sweater weather, which in Timmins, comes around June. We took the tour bus back and changed. The concierge directed us to Bobby Van’s as we were craving a burger. It was a fancy looking place and we got a lovely corner table. The burgers were massive and I was only able to eat the burger. The golden shoe-string fries we’re spared. I was exhausted from the day’s activities so Mim and I looked up some stuff to do the next day and we fell asleep, instantly.
Woke up a bit earlier this time and ate breakfast at the same place because I needed more of that Irish bacon. The Big B bus tour was again utilized and we went to Macy’s and the Empire State building. The Empire State was gorgeous on the inside but we had difficulty justifying the 62-dollar elevator ride. I declared I had seen enough to check this off the list, backed by the cheering emanating from my wallet.
I forgot to mention we ate lunch at Cranberry’s which was a two-minute walk from our hotel. Delicious. The thing I would recommend for any prospective travelers is to save your money and spend your money on dinner. There’s no point to have a pricey lunch when New York offers some solid delis and breakfast joints. It helps stem the hemorrhaging of money the instant you leave the hotel. We hit the subway and ended up in Brooklyn by accident. My bad. We got on the right train and got to Central Park. This place is massive so I’ll let the pics do it justice. A few pints were had at the Tavern on the Green and we walked through the park to get picked up by the bus again.
Times Square again. What a zoo. A declaration at this point was made: while Times Square is a must for any visitor, avoid it like the plague after you’ve had your fill. While it is awe-inspiring, the shoulder-to-shoulder contact is constant, especially on the weekend. Our best experience so far was in Greenwich Village and the Comedy Cellar. It really felt like a local area/neighbourhood rather than a tourist rodeo. It was okay once they clear and block traffic. We had a few drinks at a small, packed bar called the Rum House. We had some good conversation with a few locals over some delicious cocktails. The thing about New York is that it is so remarkably like larger cities in Canada. The locals hold open doors, say sorry a lot, and have mannerisms similar to Canadians. Maybe I am just naïve, maybe all big cities in the States area like that but it was like I never left Canada. The assholes were other tourists who get upset when they bump into you, face deep in their maps. On our way back to the hotel, we hit up another comedy club after haggling for cheaper tickets.
Waking with another hangover, we walked it off and did some more shopping. We had lunch at Opie é Pin back in the Village. It was really good. Mim felt a bit off after though so we travelled back to the hotel for a nap which my head (and liver) loved. We arranged our dinner reservations at Benjamin’s Steakhouse. Our concierge lied to them and stated it was our anniversary so they squeezed us in. As we walked toward the dining area, pictures of celebrities and political figures were on the walls. People like Kanye West and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ate where we were going to eat! Cool to brag about…. We split a massive baked potato and then enjoyed some beautifully cooked steaks. Steak from that point on was ruined until I had bacon wrapped moose backstrap steaks. The owner gave us regards for our “anniversary” and complimented our meal with some champagne on the house. I feel a bit bad but the bill was a bit easier to look at after. The trip ended after that as we had early flights out in the morning. It was a fun long weekend. I highly recommend it although I’d spend a week and do the whole city rather than Manhattan. Even the weekend wasn’t enough as we did not explore most of the North End. There’s so much to see, just prepare your budget and start stowing away some American currency when the dollar is comparable. Manhattan is loved by tourists and it knows it!