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Living in NYC

Stories for Friends. Advice for Strangers.

Monthly Archives: September 2010

Moving to New York City has become so much more than I thought it would. Everyday I learn something transformational. Little bits of wisdom that simply would not have found me had I stayed where I was 10 months ago. As difficult as it was for me to leave a comfortable place that I called home, I had confidence there was something else waiting for me.

Next week, I will join the public relations division of Cornerstone Promotion. Cornerstone is a unique place where public relations and music intersect. I have no idea what to expect, but I do know that this exciting career move will reveal even more things to me about my future.

No matter how many times I go through this in my mind, I can not decide if this is a change in direction or simply adhering to the course I set out for myself a year ago. Either way, I welcome the change, and I am delighted to share it with you.


A few weeks ago, a reader commented on something that is very important to think about:

Write about adjusting to living in a new city and what it’s like to try and meet ppl/make friends. the twenties are a lonely time. in a new city, not knowing anyone here, i come home from work and watch tv each night. have u had success in finding third places? (work is 1, home is 2. 3rd places are those social, community-building spots to hang). 

For anyone living here or thinking about moving to a city like this, you need to understand that New York can be a very lonely, even isolating place. And I agree with this person, tha the twenties are a lonely time, too. I have to say that being married changes all of this a great deal for me, but I was alone when I first moved here. Over the next several weeks, I will address this subject in a series of posts on “Third Places.”

Thank you for reading.

If you have a 3-hour layover at JFK, I am sorry to say it’s not enough time to squeeze in much more than a piece of pizza. But if you find yourself in the city with a little time on your hands, you can pull off quite a bit in 24 hours. Next time you schedule a trip through one of our airports, opt for some extra layover time and try out my itinerary.

1. Visit Top of the Rock (twice)
There is nothing quite like seeing New York City’s urban sprawl from the 70th floor. You can buy one ticket for $30 that will let you go to the top of the GE Building twice in one day. Stop by in the morning, and head back after sundown. You can buy tickets at the building or online here. If you’re wondering if the view is better than the Empire State Building, it is.

2. Grab a Bagel and Eat it in Central Park
For the tastiest bagel I have had in Manhattan, head to H&H Bagels on the Upper West Side. Order your favorite flavor or something plain and bag it into the park. Don’t bother asking them to toast it, though. They don’t have toasters, and the bagels are perfect as they come. Note that there are other locations, and this is my favorite. Don’t eat at the one on the Upper East Side, unless you enjoy being disappointed. As you walk through the park, head east and make sure you check out the Central Park Zoo. You don’t need to go in, just look at the seals for free. If you happen upon the zoo at the turn of the hour, you can see the famous clock in action, too.

3. Experience Manhattan Shopping & Landmarks
Now that you’re done with your bagel and you have the park out of your system, you are in prime, classic NYC shopping territory. Stop by Bloomingdale’s first. It is at East 59th Street and 3rd Avenue. From there, you can head southwest and see an array of shops most people could never afford to buy anything from. You will catch Bergdorf Goodman’s famous window displays where 5th avenue meets the bottom of the park, as well as the beautiful Plaza Hotel. If you head further down 5th, you will also run in to the original Tiffany’s. It’s definitely worth a browse. All of this gazing should only take you about 2 hours.

4. Ride the Subway
Manhattan’s subway system is running on some sort of undisclosed schedule, so just go under ground and get on one. Don’t be afraid of how big the maps make the city look. If you’re lost, just get off and walk. It’s never that far, and you can always grab a cab.

5. Grab a Pizza for Lunch
You can not, in good conscience, come to this city without eating pizza. This not because of some cliche. It is because the pizza here is truly the best in the world. I have to warn you, though, that some of the worst pizza ever conceived by man can be found in Midtown. My recommendation is to just skip the neighborhood entirely (Yes, that means you won’t get to see the original Macy’s.) Picking a place to recommend here is really hard, because there are lots of good places. Since you are on a strict timeline, head down to the village to get the best slice in town. You can take the A/C/E to get there. Joe’s Pizza serves outstanding pizza by the slice for $2.50. Try it with an imported Mexican Coke, and don’t go overboard (this is just an appetizer). If you just can’t wait until stop #7, swing by Mamoun’s Falafel on MacDougal Street. Their falafel is good, and it’s only $2.50 as well.

6. Explore Greenwich Village
The creativity and energy sparked by this neighborhood makes it worth your while. I want you to walk through it and stop by Washingston Square Park to look at the fountain. You can also head down through SoHo to see one of the most beautiful shopping districts in the world. This takes us to our next stop – Chinatown.

7. Brave Chinatown
I normally wouldn’t recommend this, but anyone giving this city a shot needs to know what Chinatown is all about. Go there, try to buy a knock-off Omega for $10 and grab some dumplings for the road. They are cheap and delicious. Don’t bother trying to find the “best place.” Just duck in somewhere and order.

8. See the Financial District
The buildings in south Manhattan are beautiful and impressive. Make sure you stop by the September 11 Memorial and see the massive hole the buildings left. The New York Stock Exchange is also worth standing beneath.

9. See New York from the Water – There is something that happens when you see Manhattan from one of the rivers. Personally, I would choose the East River over the Hudson, partly because I don’t like the sight of Jersey. Brooklyn has a beautiful character, anyway. You can take a water taxi from Pier 11, just a short walk from the NYSE.

10. Take a Break for a Good Brew
It’s late afternoon at this point, and you must be tired. Whether you’re into coffee or beer, a brewed beverage is in order. For coffee, try Think Coffee in Manhattan. Or, if you want to jump the gun and head over to Brooklyn, go to Gorrilla Coffee in Park Slope. For beer, let your nose and your eyes be your guide. There is no shortage of places to drink in this city, but finding one that doesn’t stink is tough. There are several wonderul beer gardens that boast a wide selection of German ales. In Manhattan, it’s Zum Schneider in the East Village.

11. Take a Cab -They are dangerous and thrilling, sometimes smelly, and always fun. Jump into the street with a hand in the air, and several people will fight over you. It’s pretty fun, and they take credit cards, so your dwindling cash isn’t an issue here. Ride the cab across town to stop #12.

12. See Some Impressive Art
Skip the museums. There are two options here, both with the weary tourist in mind. If you love the theater, a trip to this city would not be complete without seeing a show on Broadway. Don’t bother with discount tickets – they’re a pain, and you’re on a timeline. Drop some serious cash on the show of your choice. When you come out, you will get to see Times Square at night, and you will be close to the Top of the Rock again. If you’re not into the theater, catch an IMAX movie at Times Square. You’ll get the same much-needed rest.

13. Visit Lincoln Center at Night
Lincoln Center is the cultural art megacenter of New York City. head up to 65th and Broadway and behold the complex at night. The light and the impressive fountain make it a breathtaking sight.

14. Eat a Nice Dinner
Ok. You’ve been to the Top of the Rock twice. You’ve run around Manhattan like a crazy person. Depending on your constitution, you may be hagard and road weary at this point. That’s nothing a steak won’t fix. Get on a train to Brooklyn and try out Peter Luger. I have never been there, but it’s supposed to be the best. Plus, you will be near Williamsburg. It’s the perfect place to spend your last few hours experiencing some New York nightlife. Eat too much meat and get a cab up to Willliamsburg. When you’re there, I want you to find a speakeasy and get a drink you can’t pronounce. You’ll need to do your own recon on that, but if you’re in the area give me a call and I’ll help you out.

15. Wave Goodbye from Brooklyn Heights
The view of Manhattan from the promenade in Brooklyn Heights is breathtaking, especially at night. Go over there in a car service (I’ll tell you why in a minute) and put your eyes on that skyline. Snap a picture or two and head back to your car. If you trust a cab to get you there, I can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to catch another one to get to the airport. Don’t come crying to me if you miss your flight. Have your car service take you to the airport. It should cost about the same amount to JFK or LGA from Brooklyn Heights. If your flight is out of Newark, change it.

I hope you enjoy your full day in New York. Follow this itinerary and you’re bound to get some sleep on the plane. Any questions? I’d love to hear them.

Important Travel Notes:

Bring Cash – Lots of places just don’t accept the fact that we are a plastic society. Somehow New York missed the memo. With the taxes here, it doesn’t surprise me that half the places you will go are cash only. Make sure you have some.

Ask For Help – New Yorkers do not mind helping tourists out. If you’re lost, don’t stand in everyone’s way with a puzzled look on your face. Just ask the person closest to you.

The Bus Only Takes Quarters – If you plan on taking the bus back to La Guardia, or at any point in the trip, you will need exact change unless you have a metro card. That’s 10 quarters per ride. Bring a change purse, I guess.

I like the ring to “101 Posts,” anyway. Hello my friends and readers. Please forgive me for neglecting this blog and for prolonging the wait for the post you chose. Our lives are more or less inverted at the moment, and much of my fun writing time has been diverted to bill paying time.

I have not abandoned this blog, nor have I forgotten that some of you are waiting for some custom-tailored info on New York City! Stay tuned, and I will let you know when it is ready.

A little teaser: My wife Amber and I are collaborating on the 101st post.