Five Days in New York

Photo Credit: Rob Brink

I haven’t visited New York City in twenty years. I was in university in Ottawa when three friends and I hatched the slightly insane Times-Square-for-New-Year’s-Eve plan while working the night shift over the Christmas holidays. None of us had been before. “We’ll rent a car” we said. “We’ll drive down.” “How hard can it be?”

When we reached Albany, we realized that no one had made a hotel reservation. (Oops!) From a pay phone, I booked the last two rooms available at the Howard Johnson’s near Times Square. That was our idea of calling ahead.

Of course we got lost driving into Manhattan. (All of those bridges!) We were four wide-eyed Canadian kids, barely out of adolescence, with a rented van and a poor sense of direction. We had no sense of the BIGness of New York… how we four were like bite-sized appetizers for such a city. The curious thing is that we were not at all freaked out. We were in the BIG APPLE and just as happy as we could be.

As we pulled our bags out of the back of the van, a bell hop in a bright red jacket said, “Hey, miss! Your bag’s open there. You gotta be more careful cuz you are in New York City now!” (It was a lesson that I never forgot!)

We watched the ball drop in Times Square as one year rolled into the next. I spoke to a couple of police officers and they seemed like Super Heroes to me. I ate a hot dog with mustard and relish on a street corner as the whole world rushed by in a blur of navy suits and yellow taxi cabs. I walked and I walked and I walked. I loved New York. (Don’t worry. Nothing bad happened.)

And now, two decades later, I’m going back.

DP starts his Masters on the west coast this summer and so I’ve found myself with time to spend and travels to plan and, although I was not expecting this particular invitation, New York called my name and I said, “Yes. Yes!” I’ve booked my trip (flight AND hotel) for the middle of July after most of our worldly things have been sent on a slow ship to Bangkok, after the end of the school year, after the good-byes to kindred spirits, after the flight to Canada (my ancestral home), after I’ve caught up on my missing sleep (is that even possible?)… after so many afters. But before the intensity of life in Bangkok begins. Before the traffic, the head-sweating, the new job. New York will exist in the land… in the space… in the time in between.

Tell me, lovely readers, how shall I spend my five New York days? What should I do, see, eat? Where shall I walk? What are your favourite corners of New York City? Please leave me a comment below.


  1. We seem to be just ahead of you this year! Bad timing on our part! The three of us are heading up to NYC this weekend to catch a Yankee game (probably not quite your thing…) and hit the Museum of Natural History (can't get enough dinosaurs!). We are having a "kid weekend" so not sure we can be much help..but as always I am looking forward to hear what you loved about the city. Isn't it a magical place? I love it there!

  2. Ellen's Stardust Diner – the wait staff there are all up-and-coming (wanna-be) Broadway actors and actresses so as you have your meal (it is not fine dining – it is, in fact, an honest to goodness diner) they SING. They sing very well and it's very fun. Once in awhile they pass the tip bucket – which the staff use to take a singing or acting lesson, or maybe even to help pay their rent. While I was there someone made the point that in every broadway show currently playing in NYC, at least one actor or actress used to work at this diner.Travel Tip: No matter what airport you fly into, DO NOT take a taxi. The airporter bus service is extremely good and a bargain. I paid $12, plus a tip for the driver who hefted my luggage, to go from La Guardia to Grand Central Terminal – you buy your ticket right at the stop outside the airport and you don't have to wait very long for a bus. The bus drivers drive like taxi drivers anyway so despite the fact that it's a larger vehicle you still get to where you're going in no time. My hotel was a mere two and half blocks from Grand Central so I walked, but you can take a quick cab to your hotel from one of the bus drop off points. Airporter buses from the two other airports are a bit more expensive than the $12 from La Guardia due to the extra distance, but all are a bargain in our time. (Taxi fare to the Times Square area from the Newark airport is in the $70 range.)You will have a great time. Be prepared for LOUD!!

  3. @MeredithI'm not convinced that your trip with Jack will be that different from mine! (I actually love watching baseaball at a stadium! Perhaps it doesn't show.) I hope you had a great weekend! Happy belated birthday!@CJYou are a veritable encyclopedia of good stuff. I will definitely be eating (and listening) at Ellen's Stardust Diner. I love the airport bus service tip too. A penny saved… Thanks for your lovely recommendations!

  4. I second Ellen's…but not for the food which is dreadful. The singing though is wonderful and the whole thing is a great show. We loved the roller skaters in Central Park – what a great collection of people. And there is a fun little place in Greenwich Village called Peanut Butter & Co. which only serves peanut butter sandwiches – a great place for lunch. We rode the Staten Island Ferry (free!!!) for the great view of the Statue of Liberty. I can't wait to see what you enjoy.

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