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Amanda23 May 27th, 2006 06:43 PM

Trip Report - Adventures in New York City
 
I just returned from a week in New York with 2 of my girlfriends (all in our mid-twenties). What an amazing time we had and what a great place NYC is! We packed a lot in to our time and found that even with a whole week to explore the city, there was much we didn't get a chance to do...

Saturday, May 20 - we arrived in NYC and took a cab from JFK to our hotel in Tribeca. I must say our first cab experience was not a good one - the cabbie was seriously crazy, often driving in two lanes at once and passing people so narrowly it seemed the cab would hit other cars. After about 10 minutes we started to think he might be drunk because he also talked to himself a fair bit and left the radio on but not on any station, meaning all we heard for 20 minutes was static and fuzz until we finally asked him to turn the darn thing off, which thankfully he did. All our subsequent cabbies were far better than this, thankfully. But the first guy really had us worried!

We checked into the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Tribeca. I have to say this hotel was ideal in almost every way. It is extremely close to most of the subways (one stop right outside the front door and others within a few minutes walk). There are also many good restaurants within a few blocks of the hotel - more on those later. Our room was very clean and the maid service was exceptional. I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone who needs something basic, inexpensive ($170 a night for a room with two double beds) and in an interesting, less-touristy neighbourhood.

Because we didn't get in to NYC until 7:00pm and didn't arrive at our hotel until after 9, we didn't have any time to check out Tribeca that night. We did go down the block to Edward's (across from the Odeon on West Broadway) for dinner however. Great little restaurant with very good pasta!

Amanda23 May 27th, 2006 06:54 PM

Forgot to mention that Saturday night after Edward's we went to the Bubble Lounge, a champagne bar in Tribeca. While we are not big on champagne and had martinis instead, we really liked the atmosphere of the place and enjoyed spending a few hours there talking over very yummy kit kat martinis!

Sunday, May 21 - we woke up early to get ready for breakfast - we had brunch reservations at Balthazar for 10:30am. Balthazar is a great restaurant and the hazelnut sour cream waffles with warm berries were by far the best waffles I've ever had. We had to book Balthazar about a month in advance and it was worth it! Great experience and wonderful introduction to NYC.

After brunch we wandered up Broadway, doing a bit of shopping, and then headed down to Times Square to meet our tour bus. We did the New York Party Shuttle and really enjoyed it. Probably partly because it rained a bit that day and we were not on a double decker bus getting rained on but rather a smaller white bus enjoying free drinks and listening to our very, very knowledgeable and entertaining tour guide (I believe his name was Sam). Tour was about 5 hours and covered lots of sites. Very good way to get an overview of the city, and i think the tour was around $60 per person.

That night we had dinner at Diablo Cantina back in Tribeca (on West Broadway near Franklin St). We actually went to Diablo several times throughout the week because they had both great Mexican food and were also willing to change their big screen TVs to show the Western Conference Stanley Cup Finals. We're true Canadians that love our hockey and our team, the Edmonton Oilers, are playing in the finals so we really wanted to take in the game. We returned to Diablo to watch the Tuesday and Thursday night games as well and really came to love this little place. Lots of locals come in after work for drinks so we got to meet a lot of great New Yorkers.

Amanda23 May 27th, 2006 07:00 PM

Monday, May 22 - This was our big shopping day. We woke up very early and made our way down to Century 21 for 7:45 when it opened. I must say I was very excited to visit this store and it really did not live up to my hopes. It really was a colossal waste of time. Maybe if one had hours and hours to pour over the racks of strange, sometimes shapeless and often ugly stuff they had you could find a gem or two, but I just didn't have the patience for that. We spent about an hour there and then headed down to Soho and after up to 5th Ave to do some more shopping.

After our long shopping day we had dinner at Lupa in the Village. Lupa, while a bit cramped, had excellent food and a very fun atmosphere. We also booked this restaurant about a month in advance and I understand this is necessary because they book up fast. Very tasty and not horribly expensive (Dinner, including wine, came out to about $50 a person).

Amanda23 May 27th, 2006 07:07 PM

Tuesday, May 23 - In the morning we headed over to Battery Park to take the ferry to Ellis Island (another thing booked in advance, and we got the first ferry out that day). We did as some fodorites suggested and did not get off the boat at the Statue and instead continued on to Ellis Island. This proved to be great because most people got off at the Statue, and we were on the first ferry, so when we got off at Ellis Island there were very few people there with us. We did the Audio tour which was both inexpensive ($6) and fascinating. As we're all Canadian, none of us had relatives who came through there but I imagine the American and Canadian immigration experiences can't be completely different, so it helped us to understand what our own predecessors might have experienced when arriving in Canada a hundred years ago.

After touring Ellis Island, we wandered over to the South Street Seaport to look around and then over to the Lower East Side to the take a tour of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. This was truly a high point for us on the trip and the tours this little museum offers are superb. It was also a great compliment to our morning at Ellis Island, as it continued the story of the immigrant experience in America for us.

After the tenement museum, we walked over to the famous Katz Deli to try a pastrami sandwich. Very, very tasty and very, very filling!

Dinner that night was at Diablo again to watch the hockey game....

SandyBrit May 28th, 2006 03:10 AM

Amanda23

Excellent report.

I agree some of the taxi drivers are insane. Last time we had a car serice going into the city and it was so much more relaxing.

Sandy

Scarlett May 28th, 2006 08:59 AM

LOL, great report, Amanda. Thanks for posting.
Re: Taxi drivers...are not NYC taxi drivers supposed to be insane? :D
We used to think that if they got us there in one piece, it was a good ride. My husband was the "lucky" one to be in a couple of taxi/bus collisions, I have never in all my taxi rides been in an accident.
Imagine what an Italian taxi ride would be like, I bet NY cabbies are tame compared :)

SamH May 28th, 2006 09:23 AM

Nice report and glad you had fun in NYC.
Do you think the Cosmopolitan would fit a single guy for a few days in the city? The price and location seem right.
I think a taxi ride is supposed to be an adventure. Try one in asia sometime.

Amanda23 May 28th, 2006 10:17 AM

Wednesday, May 24 - This was a very busy day for us. We were up early and headed uptown to go check out the Met. None of us are really into art but wanted to see this museum anyways, as we have heard much about how wonderful it is. We went in the morning, wandered around through the Egyptian Art exhibit for a bit (fascinating) and the Costume exhibit (also very cool) and then did a one hour highlights tour. The highlights tour was really great and left us wishing we could spend more time there, preferably with a guide. They know so much and ours really made us interested in the pieces we got to see. Understanding the history and social context of each piece made things so much more interesting!

After the Met we went and picked up some sandwiches at Dean and Deluca and went to sit and eat in Central Park. I think, being from Canada with its great expanses of parkland and superb scenery, we weren't expecting too much from Central Park. Boy were we surprised! Such a great array of different landscapes and very, very clean (no litter or doggie poo or anything, which I think we were expecting given the park's size and popularity). New York really has a gem with this park and it was sooo relaxing to wander around for a bit. The time really flew though and soon we realized it was time to go back to the hotel to get ready for our dinner and broadway show that night!

We had an early dinner at Cara Mia on 9th Ave (around 46th st). Pretty nice little restaurant (no Lupa, but still very good). They really get you in and out quickly due to the theatre times.

We went to see Doubt, a play I'd first heard of here on Fodors. We were not dissapointed we chose this instead of a musical! What an engrossing, thought-provoking and well-acted play this is. We all sat spellbound for the short hour and a half that the play is (no intermission). One interesting thing - it kind of seemed at times when Ron Eldard (who played Father Flynn) would give his monologues, he was staring right at my friend Robyn and I. It was kind of weird - I had to keep looking away! I'm not sure if he really was or but both Robyn and I mentioned it coming out of the theatre and were surpised to find that the other thought so too! Kind of interesting...

After Doubt we decided to go out, as we were all dressed up. We headed over to Chelsea and went to a somewhat-creepy looking bar called Serena. It wasn't long before some guy came up to us and said he'd take us to another, better club. We went with him and his friends to a place called Bed (which we'd seen on Sex and the City and remembered because there actually are beds to sit on instead of tables and chairs!). Had a pretty good night there and it was certainly very different from anything we are used to at home (in Edmonton if they did that people would get way too drunk watching the hockey games right now and puke on the beds, I imagine! :) )

Amanda23 May 28th, 2006 10:21 AM

SamH - The cosmopolitan would be a great place for a single guy to stay. We noticed a lot of people around our age staying there and the neighbourhood (Tribeca) in general seems young and hip. We loved Tribeca and would stay there again in a second. The few times we were up near Times Square we all said we were so glad to not be staying there (no offense to Times Square, it's very cool and all, but if I had to stay in a hotel near there I might go crazy!)

Amanda23 May 28th, 2006 10:30 AM

Thursday, May 25 - We slept in a bit Thursday due to being out late and getting a bit drunk the night before. We got up eventually to go uptown and look around for awhile before heading over to NBC studios because we had audience tickets for Conan O'Brien. We decided to wear our Edmonton Oilers t-shirts (given that it's playoff season and even more relevant now that they've made it to the Stanley Cup Finals as of last night!) to Conan to show some Canadian hockey pride. We sure got lots of attention with these shirts! (probably not hindered by the fact that we're three pretty cute girls wearing matching shirts, of course). But all over that day we had people making comments to us on our shirts or if they were hockey fans or Canadians (who are all hockey fans!) they would give us a thumbs up or stop to talk to us about our team. Really, really fun day for us.

Conan O'Brien was a definite highlight for us as well - Jennifer Aniston was the guest (as well as a guy from Lost and a comedian) and we had great seats (2nd row right in front of Conan's desk) so our Oilers shirts got on TV twice! (Jennifer was talking about Chicago and asked if anyone was from there and these two people in front of us were so they shot over to them and behind them you could see our shirts, kind of cool). It was also very surreal for us to be that close to celebrities. We don't see a lot of them back home and we all really like Jennifer Aniston so it was really fun.

After Conan we went back to Tribeca and to Diablo again to watch another Oilers game. At this bar again we got piles of attention from staff (who we'd gotten to know a bit by now) and other bar patrons, several of whom it turned out were Oilers fans as well. It was a fun way to end a very fun day.

Abby43 May 28th, 2006 12:12 PM

Hi Amanda-
I live in NYC and work in Tribeca so I really liked your report. I think you and your friends covered a lot in the city and it sounds like heaps of fun! I've never been to the Cosmopolitan Hotel but I pass it every day and it's a great location for some good restaurants and esp. the subways. You are near every major line in the city. Tribeca is also a great area to walk around and then take the subways quickly uptown. I'm glad you had fun and it makes me more motivated to do some sightseeing in my own city!

Amanda23 May 28th, 2006 04:06 PM

Friday, May 26 - our last day in New York! We started the day out by taking the subway over to Brooklyn and walking the Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan. The cloudy skies didn't make for very good pictures, but we enjoyed the views anyways. Then we went for lunch in Tribeca at Kitchenette with a friend of mine who lives in NY and works nearby. After lunch we headed over to Canal Street for some shopping. What a hoot!

That night we had tickets to a Yankees game (one of my girlfriends is a big Yankees fan) which was a fun experience. Afterwards we trained back to Manhattan and went out to a couple of bars (one called Glass and then to Bed again), rolled into our hotel around 4am and then got up at 5am (only an hour of sleep! crazy) to go to JFK for our flight home.

I can't say enough good things about new York. I adored Tribeca and in general found New Yorkers to be some of the friendliest people I've ever met. Everyone was amazingly nice and people were constantly stopping to ask us if we needed directions whenever we'd stop to pull out our map. I think we expected them to be a bit snobby (there is that stereotype I think) but they are just awesome. We hope to come back again!

rogfam May 29th, 2006 03:16 AM

Amanda, as a native New Yorker I'm so glad that you and your friends had such a great time. Don't wait so long to come back!

coolbluewater Jun 2nd, 2006 11:20 AM

Glad you had a great time--just wanted to suggest that the cabbie may have had an earpiece on and been talking on his cell phone. (Though talking to himself is also a possibility!). I've been caught many times responding to my cabdriver when he is, in fact, chatting away to a friend. Hee hee! Come back soon!

michelleNYC Jun 2nd, 2006 12:18 PM

Great report, Amanda. Good for you for staying in Tribeca and having such a fantastic time! Come back soon for a visit!

Suerich68 Jun 2nd, 2006 12:23 PM

Nice report, Amanda. You really got a lot in.

Taxi hint - and I take a taxi nearly every day - when a driver gets seriously crazy, just tell him you're going to throw up all over the back seat. It works every time.

kangamom Jun 2nd, 2006 12:29 PM

Great trip report! It sounds like you did your research and it paid off! Glad you had a great time.

rncheryl Jun 2nd, 2006 12:52 PM

I think it's time for a refresher trip to NYC for me!

GoTravel Jun 2nd, 2006 01:03 PM

What a great trip report!

One point about Century 21, you really must block out several hours of your day and be prepared to dig. I've gotten some amazing bargains but I spent a lot of time getting them!

michelleNYC Jun 2nd, 2006 01:27 PM

Agree with GoT... plus, I've noticed that there are much better items in the Fall and Winter.

coolbluewater Jun 2nd, 2006 07:19 PM

The shoes are good at Century 21, and easier to shop than the clothes IMHO.


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