Monday, January 6, 2014

A Tale of Two (Bipolar) Cities Part 5

Well, it was a new year and we were still alive. That was good news.

We visited a cleaned up Times Square for some pictures, walked around Broadway, and did a bit more shopping now that we had figured Macys out. We had a delicious sushi dinner and started to feel relaxed now as we wandered the city. The highlight of the trip for me came when we settled into a lounge bar that featured live jazz and sat down for a real New Year's toast with two tall flutes of prosecco. That's when I felt at ease and happy about the new year. I sank into a chair and we talked about the year ahead, the things we wanted, the things we hoped for, the plans that we would make. And those plans included: another trip to New York City.

Try as I might, I can't hate New York City. I feel, in a lot of ways, that I got kicked around and had some rotten luck; that I wasted a lot of time and acted like a small town simpleton and got treated as such. I still feel like a poor, dowdy, not cool enough loser, but I'm a loveable loser and I can't hate an icon. I feel like we got our butts kicked, but maybe that's the way it had to be. Maybe you really have to take the bitter with the sweet, the bad with the good. And maybe you need to know better next time.

So here are my tips for travelling to New York City:

1- Plan. New York City will overwhelm you with choices, so make a plan, reserve things in advance, and only plan one thing a day if possible. It takes time to get places, there are lines, there are crowds, and cabs don't appear as if by magic, even though there are a lot of them. Don't be overly ambitious; traffic and congestion is a way of life and things can get shut down quickly due to weather or threats.

2- Cross streets. Bring addresses with you that have cross streets. It's a big city with long streets and cabbies won't necessarily know.

3- Don't give up. If and when crap happens, or you get in a bad situation somewhere, don't give up and sit in your hotel room. Dust off, laugh about it and keep going. There are always more options and it's a 24 hour place, so it's never too late to salvage some part of your day.

4- Go with someone you love. I could not have endured the rough moments or imagined loving the best moments of this trip without my best friend at my side. So choose your travel companion wisely.

My final day was spent trapped in Laguardia airport, waiting to see if the winter storm would knock out my flight home. Thankfully, it did not. The airport has a purely functional 90s look to it and is not a great place to be trapped. There weren't a lot of diversions around, although it did have a burger bar that we were grateful for. There are few things in life that can't be fixed by a good burger and beer. The New Yorker Hotel did give us a final one finger salute as we left the city, advising us to take a $100 cab ride to the airport when there was a $13 shuttle a block away. Thankfully, we found the shuttle and missed at least one opportunity to get robbed before leaving the city. It's a small victory, but like I said, I'm a small person and I'll take it.

Will I be back? Likely, yes. Will I do a lot of things differently when I do? HELL YEAH. Do I regret this expensive, rocky, chaotic, up and down trip? Hell no. Because when people ask me what I did for New Years, I'm finally going to have a story to tell.

Or two.

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