NYC in a Nutshell

Overall my first visit to the Big Apple was pretty fun. It’s the first place I’ve traveled where I’ve thought I could definitely live there for an extended period (5+ years) and be quite content. Most other places I get the feeling I’d be over them and longing for home within 6 months or so.

Anyhow, for those curious about what I got up to while I was there, here’s the rundown:

Touristy Things

Top of the Empire State Building – not unlike a ride at Disneyland, they hide the lineups. It took an excruciatingly long time to finally get to the top, and getting down was just as painful. But the views while up there were lovely!

Theatre on Broadway – We got half-price tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square and went to see RENT. I laughed, I cried, I still don’t get rent-heads.

Times Square – This is where we stayed. Personally, I hate it. It’s just excess for its own sake, without any thought or theme, and full of annoying tourists.

Union Square – Shopping! I managed to bring home a few trinkets, and think I could quite happily live near DSW and Filene’s basement. Also, it’s right on the edge of Greenwich Village, an area of town I felt really comfortable in (mostly because the inhabitants and atmosphere reminds me of home).

World Trade Centre site – Underwhelming. It’s a big construction site. Mostly like what we see in Vancouver on an hourly basis, as we pass yet another condo going up. Also, like Times Square, swarming with annoying tourists. It just felt wrong to me that there are groups of people in their white sneakers and matching T-Shirts, smiling for the camera in front of the mesh construction fence. There was just no reverence for the significance of what happened there. I think I’d like to return after the building and memorial pond are done to see if the atomosphere changes. Sadly, I suspect it won’t.

The Food

Definitely the best part of my visit, and more for my record than yours (so I can find these places again when I go back):

Cafe Spice Indian Bistro. Awesome noodle dishes in a funky atmosphere.

Tuscan Steakhouse on Restaurant Row – conveniently just a few blocks from our hotel.

Bobby Van’s Steakhouse. Where the “petite fillet” was a whopping 16oz, and the South African Lobster Tail was bigger than my hand. My dining companion’s T-bone was the size of a smartcar. We were both bested by our dinners, and ended up in protein comas after that one.

Scarlotti Italian Bistro on 47th. Couldn’t find a link, but being close to our hotel, it was a good standby for tasty, easy pasta.

Tia Pol – we had an assortment of Tapas and a suckling pig. Oh. My. God. Best meal of the trip.

Blue Water Grill – located in Union Square, this place is supposed to be one of the best seafood restaurants in the city. Frankly, I was disappointed. My Swordfish was dry, the Broccoli Rabe was completely oversalted, and trust me when I say that if you come from a place with reputedly the best sushi in the world – just don’t bother ordering it anywhere else. But a lot of my dinner companions were thrilled, so it might’ve just been what I ordered.

Blue Fin Restaurant – this was the restaurant in our hotel. I didn’t have breakfast there, but those of us who did said it was exceedingly expensive for what they got. I had dessert and drinks. While my smores cake was forgettable, it was pretty cool sampling Madeira from 1966, 1907 and 1875 (the 1907 was the clear favourite).

The Digs

Just a quick note about where we stayed: the W Hotel Times Square. It was uber trendy and cool, and also frustratingly useless. Listed as one of the conference hotels (which is why we stayed) it was like living in a nightclub for a week, where the setting is ultra cool and getting anything done is the height of frustration.

The in-room internet didn’t work (despite paying for 6 days worth on the first day), the bathroom doesn’t have a fan, the bathroom walls are frosted glass (so when sharing 2 to a room, if someone has to get up in the middle of the night to pee, you can’t turn on the light or the whole corner of the room lights up like a lamp).

The business centre is more for show than actual use (they had a trendy jar of pencils, sharpened just so, but no pens! also, a funky stapler but no packing tape) and despite advertising it as a 24h full-service business centre, managed to lock the elevators to the 5th floor at about 9:00pm, trapping my colleague and I down there until we used our cell phones (nobody answered the house phone on the floor) to call up and beg them to unlock it.

Also, the entirety of the staff are trendy gay men (which, I don’t care, just do your job already), who are far more concerned with how they look to eachother and the club crowd coming and going than actually showing up at the front desk, answering the phone, or opening a door when I’m laden with bags (does a *doorman* even have another duty?).

But, their claim to super comfy beds and luxurious sheets was bang on. Damn. I want a set for myself!

I missed…

Running in central park. Between work and the rain, it just wasn’t happening.

Exploring more around SoHo. I tried, but I got a little lost at my attempts to navigate the subway, plus I was already exhausted from the week and laden with packages from earlier shopping.

All told though – I’m looking forward to getting back to the city to explore some more, and am seriously entertaining notions of living there some day. As long as I’m not living at the W.

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3 thoughts on “NYC in a Nutshell

  1. Darren

    Your night club metaphor is dead on. I stayed in a W hotel in Seattle earlier in the year, and I had to shout to be heard at the front desk. The techno-hiphop-trance music was about 30 decibels too loud.

  2. Derek K. Miller

    I went to a meeting at the W in Seattle and noticed similar things: lots of eye candy, poor usability on most things. I’ve heard the rooms are similar, but I didn’t go to any of them, just the meeting areas. I suspect the W is overhyped. Similarly, the Opus in Vancouver has a microscopic lobby, with little room to hang out and remarkably uncomfortable seating.

    I’d prefer a Holiday Inn anytime.

  3. Crissy

    I totally understand how you feel about being able to live in NYC for an extended period. I too have a city like that – Paris. It’s my home away from home, and I just LOVE it there. Mark my word, I WILL live there one day! It’s nice finding a city that you’re at ease in, isn’t it? 🙂

    Any idea when you’ll get to go back?

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