Sunday, August 24, 2014

More of My New York...Love That City!

So, we're still discussing New York City.  There's a reason for that.  I've been to a lot of large cities around the world, and I must say that there's something addictive about New York.  The more you go, the more you know.  The more you know, the more you go.  It's a really cool addiction though, and I highly recommend it.  So, on with my tips.  I have some really good ones.  One of the last times I went into the city, I stayed over.  This is something that I had never done before, but I would definitely do again.

What's the secret?  There's this hotel in the financial district called Club Quarters.  I've never found anyplace like this.  We had a small suite for a great price and the view was really good.  You are surrounded by skyscrapers, but there's a great plaza across the street with some cool sculpture work that makes a pretty good view.  It's really reasonably priced and the amenities are fabulous.  They even hold your luggage before and after you check in and out so that you can run around the city some more without toting it all around.  This place changed my view of staying over in New York.  The financial district is mostly on the red line subway, but take a 2 or 3, not a 1.

So, what about the financial district?  Let's take a look at this one.  I hadn't before.  During the week, this place is full of people, because of the stock exchange.  They are everywhere, and the one time I was down there during the week, I felt like I was suffocating in an ant hill it was so overrun with people.  Not so on the weekends however.  It is true that the stock exchange is closed on the weekends, but Federal Hall is open and you can see where George Washington was sworn in.  The original Tiffany's is there with all it's amazing jewelry and glass work.  There is a police museum and a museum of finance that are open.  There's a lot of stuff to see and do.  The neighborhood itself is interesting.

My favorite spot in the financial district is Trinity Church.  That's right, that church in National Treasure.  This ancient church is one of the most beautiful buildings in all of New York.  It's stained glass windows, carved doors, vaulted ceilings, and marble carvings are really something to see.  There are several people there who can tell you all about the history of the building and why the tree roots are outside.  It' one of the oldest buildings in the city, and one of the best places to just stumble upon.

Just down the street from all of that is the waterfront.  Manhattan has put a lot of time into the waterfront.  The greenway that they have made goes everywhere and is over 30 miles long.  I have my favorite spots which are from the financial district to the Brooklyn Bridge and the South Street Seaport and the area from Ground Zero over to Battery Park.  They provide some great views and activities.  On the west side by Battery Park, the views of the sunsets are magnificent, and the food is also good.  You can take blue and green subways down there, but the best ones are the C and the 5.  This area is a great place to rent a bike and take a ride.  Citibike is a relatively new option in New York, but for $9.95 a day it's a bargain.  You can pick up a bike pretty much anywhere and return it anywhere with just a credit card.  But to ride along the waterfront, it's priceless.

The sunsets are worth it.  Promise.

Now, neighborhoods.  You must visit Chinatown, Little Italy, and Chelsea.  It's that simple.  Chinatown has all the shopping you'll ever want.  If you need a purse, watch, Iphone case, or sunglasses this is your spot.  It's cheap, you get to haggle and the stuff is nice.  You can also get all the crazy Chinese souvenirs you want if you want.  Take the yellow line, probably a Q to Lafayette Street for optimum entry to the neighborhood.  I recommend that you eat here, but not on Canal Street.  Lots of tourists don't leave that street, leaving the restaurants crowded and loud.  Take a look down those side streets and try out some of the little places.  The low prices and great food will both surprise and delight you.  Before you leave Chinatown, check out Columbus Park.  It's just south of all the hustle and bustle.  Here you will see musicians, dancing, tai chi, and mahjong.  The locals have really kept their traditions alive, and most tourists don't go to the park.  You'll find yourself in a world of real culture, with a lot of nice people who want to show you how they do things.  It's an experience that I can't recommend enough.

While in Chinatown you have to visit Little Italy.  It's right there.  Little Italy is another great place to eat and shop.  If you like to cook, they have some of the best kitchen gadget shops in all the city.  They also have Christmas all year round, and all the gelato you can eat.  In the summer, go on a Saturday night and eat outside in the street.  They block off Mulberry Street and all the restaurants spill out into it, with street performers to serenade you.  It's a special evening.

Not far north of One WTC is Chelsea.  Here is the home of another one of my favorite parks.  The High Line.  This place was made from an old elevated train.  It runs from the Meat Packing District through most of Chelsea.  It has it's own unique views and the wonderful Chelsea Market.  You can see things on this park that you just can't see anywhere else.  They even have a set of bleachers so that you can have a unique view of the city.  It's a great place to unwind and enjoy a beautiful day.  Here you will want to take the L line which runs across Manhattan, so it's unusual.  You can catch it best from Union Square.

Now, you're probably wondering if I do any shopping in the city.  Not much to be honest, but there is one neighborhood that I like to shop in.  Union Square and NYU has some great shopping.  They also have a great Citibike hub.  Take the green line, any number to this area.  This is home to two great stores.  One is Forbidden Planet.  That's for all you sci fi geeks.  I love this place.  You only get started with the life size Terminator in the window.  They have all the Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who stuff that you could ever want plus so much more.  Next to that one is The Strand.  This is the greatest bookstore I've ever been to.  They have everything and a lot of it is used and cheap.  Period.  You can't beat that.  You can try.  So, it's true.  I don't hit the expensive stores like Bloomingdales and Saks.  They just aren't for me.  I like the stores that real people shop in.  I don't like to spend too much time in Central Park, especially in the summertime.  It's crowded, people are cranky, and it smells.  I like all the kitchy little parks around the city.  I like to go where the people go.  I like to see what the city is really like.

I hope you've enjoyed my little stories of the city.  I will always take time to add more.  I love New York, and I say that everyone should visit there.  Just in case you don't live as close as I do and you have to take a train or fly in, just remember that you can always take the metro.  You can catch it just of the Sky Train at JFK and you can catch it in both Penn Station and Grand Central.  It's really the best way to get around.  There are many wonderful things to see in the city, so don't limit yourself to the things that you see in travel guides and on TV.  See the real city and you'll love it even more.

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