Sunday, June 13, 2010


For many years, New York City was at the top of my list of places I wanted to visit, but seemed far and inaccessible. It was on the other side of the continent, and extremely excited. Given that travel during my first 25 years of life consisted mainly of road trips, and New York was a four-day drive away (yes, I actually looked into it), it just didn’t seem practical.

As I write this blog entry, I am riding the train back from my third trip to Manhattan. (No wifi yet, but there are power outlets to plug in my laptop!) The first trip to New York came when I was on the East Coast visiting MBA schools and stopped there with my mom for the weekend. We saw all the tourist attractions – spending time at Times Square every night, walking through Central Park, seeing Mamma Mia on Broadway, watching the New York Philharmonic play at Lincoln Center, watching Brett Favre in action at a New York Jets game and playing “Heart and Soul” on the big piano at FAO Schwartz. Though it should have satisfied my NYC cravings, it only whet my appetite for more NYC.

Now that my experience in NYC has transitioned from staying in expensive hotel rooms to sleeping on couches in friends’ apartments, the things I see and do have changed. Yesterday, instead of riding the Staten Island ferry (and catching that long-awaited glimpse of the Statue of Liberty), my friend and I went to a BBQ festival and caught up with some of her old friends. In some ways, I miss the tourist parts of New York, but seeing it as an “insider” has its definite benefits.

For starters, transportation costs are cheaper because you spend less money on hailing cabs and instead take public transit. Public transit is probably one of the best advantages of having a friend in the city; I saved a fortune on cab fare by knowing exactly which train to take to and from the airport in Munich. While public transit is accessible to everyone, there are so many other options that I never would have discovered if not for my friends. (Like the PATH trains to New Jersey, which I just found out about this weekend.)

You also get to eat at the less-crowded, less-hyped, but amazingly good restaurants that aren’t “World Famous” or located in the touristy areas. Yesterday morning, I walked straight past the one-hour line-up to get into Carlos’ Bakery of Cake Boss fame. Instead, last night I ate the most delicious, moistest chocolate cake I’ve ever had in my life at this little bakery called Amy’s Bread. On Friday night, we had incredible Chinese food at the Peking Duck House in Chinatown. The wait was only 10 – 15 minutes, and my friend was surprised there even was a wait. If it hadn’t been for the engagement party in the back half of the restaurant, we would have sat right down. The food was also much more reasonably priced than Planet Hollywood or Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square.

There’s a line from a John Mayer song that goes “Didn’t have a camera by my side this time, hoping I could see the world with both my eyes.” That’s how I felt about this trip. My camera was in my purse, but it stayed there all weekend. Instead, I paid more attention to enjoying my surroundings and taking in the people watching. I’ll do the tourist stuff the next time I visit the city with someone from back home, but for now, I enjoy being almost a local.


MechaniGal said...

Lovely post Julie! I still haven't been to NY - trying to make it happen though :)

Atish said...

agree with sukanya... nice post tho disagree with the fact that you need a friend to find out about public transit. there's iPhone for that :)