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Report 1704: News Flash!!! Four Canadian Tourists Visit New York City

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Summer 2009

Trip Description: Four Canadians and their first visit to New York City - arrival on Friday August 28, returning home on Tuesday September 1.

Destinations: Countries - North America; Regions/Cities - New York City

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Art Trip; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 3-4 people

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Page 1 of 6: Origins, Planning and Arrival

photo by Doug Phillips

Matt Lauer & friend at the NBC store at Rockefeller Center

My wife and I live only about an eight-hour drive from New York City in a rural area of Eastern Ontario, but the logistics of a trip confounded me until very recently. I didn't want to drive in the city; the train was way too time-consuming; airfare was a bit pricey; a bus-tour was, well, a bus tour. I have been known to observe that it is easier to get to Paris than New York. However, a couple of years ago our son Steve spent a few days in the city, solving the transportation issue by parking in Newark, New Jersey. I mentioned this to our neighbours Gerald and Joanne a while ago and forgot all about it.

A few days after our return from our June trip to France (see TR 1685 "Cinq Femmes et Moi." Travels in the South of France) Joanne called and said they were available to go to New York for a few days at the end of August. Oh.

I took a chance and booked a hotel featured on Travelzoo; bought a guide book; asked for some advice (three recommendations each) from my friends on Slow Travel. I only had two goals in mind before I did much planning. I wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (I was reading David McCullough's book "The Great Bridge") and I wanted to see Van Gogh's Starry Night at the Museum of modern Art (MoMA).

Please don't expect any great insights or unique experiences in my account of our four days and nights in New York at the end of August 2009 - but I have attempted to provide some practical suggestions and recommendations for first-time visitors like ourselves. We stayed a few steps from Times Square; had one day of poor weather; got around on foot, in the subway and by cab; visited many of the tourist sites and likely missed just as many. We got an early start each day, were back in our hotel room by 11:00pm, and enjoyed the experience tremendously.

Here's what happened:

Leaving home at 7:00am on Friday morning and following Google Maps directions, we crossed the border at the Thousand Islands Bridge, drove down Route 81 to Scranton PA and cut across to New Jersey, arriving by mid-afternoon. Our directions led us to the Edison parking lot next to Penn Station in Newark. We bought NJ Transit return tickets to Penn Station in New York City ($7.00 each), boarded a train, and had a 20-minute ride into Manhattan. We walked up 11 blocks, and checked into our hotel, the Millennium Broadway between 44th and 45th streets a few steps from 7th Avenue and Times Square shortly after 4:00pm. I had been a bit concerned about the quality of our accommodations because of the low price and a few negative reviews I had read on one web site. But everything was OK - big room, great location for a first-time visit, hotel in good condition, friendly helpful staff. We paid $743 for four nights, taxes included.

After unpacking, we walked around Times Square and a few of the neighbouring streets before heading up 7th Avenue for an early meal at the Carnegie Deli. I realize that only tourists go there, but that's what we were and we enjoyed the experience - but we did not plan a return visit. If you go, and I am not suggesting that you do, I have a very important piece of advice - share. After our meal we continued walking a few blocks north until we reached Central Park. We walked around the park for about an hour, fending off solicitations for carriage and bike rides most of the time. I thought we were walking towards the west side of the park, but we became disoriented by the winding roads and pathways and ended up at 72nd street on 5th Avenue. Ah well, we're probably not the first people to do that.

Next: Rain, rain go away.

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