Inevitably when you return to visit a place where you once lived, things will be different.
I spent five years finding my way around Manhattan before I quit my PR job to travel the world. Hell’s Kitchen was my up-and-coming neighborhood, filled with cuisine from around the world & a gritty vibe — but not quite trendy. I worked at 55th & 3rd and eventually got the hang of the subway. (At least the ACE line.) I had a gaggle of wonderful friends, coworkers I loved and plenty of projects to keep me busy. My teeny tiny apartment that I shared with 3 other folks was at the same time ridiculously small and all I really needed.
In October, I decided it was time to go back for a visit. It had been way too long, and I missed my favorite city.
For just 3 nights in town, I sure had a lot of plans:
- Meet my college BFF’s new baby in Hoboken
- Visit the new WTC & the memorial
- See Aladdin on Broadway (thanks, Tieks!)
- Eat at all my favorite restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen
- Celebrate my ex-roomie’s birthday with karaoke
- Wander around in Central Park & see the changing leaves
- Spend $200 in NewYork.com gift cards on new NYC experiences
I started strong in Hoboken…
Took the PATH Train back to the new World Trade Center…
On to Times Square to see Aladdin on Broadway courtesy of Tieks by Gavrieli. (Note: the dancers wear Tieks for several of the big production numbers – how cool is that?!)
On to the business of eating at some of my old favorites… Delta Grille, 5 Napkin Burger, Lime Jungle… unfortunately I had more restaurants on my list than meals to eat, so I have to save some of the best for next time.
My time as a New Yorker was filled with karaoke, so I was excited to revisit that side of myself on this trip. I was dismayed to learn my old Hell’s Kitchen karaoke haunt was no longer having karaoke night – WHAT?! But it’s NYC, so with a little Internet research, I was able to celebrate my old roomie’s birthday in Midtown West with some beautifully sung (in my opinion) showtunes in a private karaoke room. Fortunately, there are no photos or videos of that particular NYC happening…
Up next, Central Park…
Rather than plonking down an exorbitant amount of money for accommodations – NYC just isn’t cheap, especially on a 3-day weekend – I bunked in far more glamorous and comfy digs, with a family I once used to babysit when I was a poor publicist. They’re situated near the Museum of Natural History and Central Park, so I spent lots of time at both locations.
And my last big items on the old NYC To Do List was to figure out how to spend $200 from NewYork.com, an online resource for booking shows, sightseeing adventures, hotels and more in New York City. I wanted to do activities I’d never done before and to see the city in a new way, so I went to NewYork.com, agonized for days over the hundreds of possibilities, and ultimately reserved 2 tickets for:
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck
- Marvel’s THE AVENGERS S.T.A.T.I.O.N. in Times Square
- Circle Line Sightseeing – Harbor Lights Cruise.
Well, Top of the Rock was a bust. We waited so long to see if the weather would clear up that by the time we arrived at the check-in desk, the wait to head up to the observation deck was over an hour. So those tickets are in my desk awaiting the next visit.
My traveling companion is a huge Marvel fan, so we decided to check out the Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibit in Times Square. Sure, its interactive displays are mostly geared toward kids… but sometimes grown women like me date grown men who wish they were Captain America, and so you end up at the superhero attraction rather than the MOMA. In reality, I enjoyed the whole experience – it was more fun than I expected and I learned more about the Hulk than I ever imagined there could be to know.
My favorite experience from the NewYork.com list was the Circle Line Harbor Lights Cruise – it did not disappoint! I can’t recall ever taking a cruise from Midtown West all the way past the Statue of Liberty and up to Midtown East around the island of Manhattan. The cruise departs at sunset, so you get to see the whole city light up. It’s really a wonderful way to get a feel for the layout of imposing Manhattan.
It seems so sparkly and compact when you look at it from the deck of a boat.
So what did I learn from my quick 3-day Columbus weekend in New York City?
- My old apartment is SO SMALL. How I lived there with 3 other people is beyond my comprehension. My 20s were an interesting time!
- Three days isn’t enough to see everyone I need to see, do everything I want to do and eat everything I want to eat.
- Hell’s Kitchen is so different! So trendy, so hip! There are boutique hotels everywhere, and even more delicious restaurants than there were when I left.
- The new World Trade Center & memorial left me speechless.
- Hoboken is alright. I get why people live there. The PATH train is the jam.
- Karaoke never gets old. (My traveling companion begs to differ.)
- I’ll never stop loving New York City, no matter how challenging a place it is to live in/visit. It’s simply the best.
Very special thanks to NewYork.com for the gift card that allowed us to have some really fun new experiences in the city I love so much. Check out the site if you’re planning a visit!