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Do you live where you were born and raised? Given the transient nature of life these days, and perhaps because the United States is such a big country with so many possible “hometowns,” it’s likely you don’t. I was born and raised in New York City and frankly, I don’t get back there nearly enough. And feeling like it had been way too long between visits, I recently spent 5 days there. Wow, not only did I have a fantastic time, but I’m leaving there feeling proud to be a New Yorker. What a great, vibrant, amazing place!
I know that every article and blog post about NYC will tell you what to see and do, and in fact we have quite a few Boarding Area bloggers who call NYC home and do a great job covering the NYC scene, so I’m just going to mention two wonderful sites to see that don’t come up on lists. I’ll also suggest a coffee place that has locations throughout the city. And how can I not mention my trip to JFK from Manhattan on the subway??
I walk A LOT when I travel, and NYC’s 23 square miles provides plenty of walking opportunities. I averaged about 11 miles a day walking, so please, get out on the streets and walk. It’s the BEST way to see and experience the city!
One of my favorite places to walk is Riverside Park. The people who live by and use Riverside Park probably won’t like me spilling the beans, but this park is wonderful. It spans 4 miles and the views of the river and New Jersey are wonderful, there are wooded paths as well as paved paths for walking or running, lots of dog parks, plenty of benches for enjoying the park or hanging out and reading, tennis and basketball courts, as well as fields for soccer and baseball. I really enjoy this place! Check out the VIRTUAL tour of the park!
If you’re on the upper west side of NYC for any reason, and I would suggest that the Children’s Sculpture Garden, on Amsterdam and 111th Street, is definitely a reason to go uptown; don’t miss this garden and park. And even though it’s called the Children’s Sculpture Garden, it’s not what you think. In other words, it’s not necessarily for children. The artwork and sculptures in this park were done by children, so that’s the meaning of the name. I found the artwork to be creative and thought-provoking, and the space itself very conducive to sitting and relaxing and taking in both nature and the sculptures. And I can’t help but wonder where all those children are now so many years later. Please do make a visit to this unique site!
I’m not going to write a whole blog piece like I do for my Bean Around The World series about coffee in NYC because frankly, the scene is way too big for me to have visited enough places in a few days, and also, I was awfully busy eating my way around NYC and didn’t drink as much coffee as I usually do :)
However, I did find a coffee place that I thought was worth mentioning. It’s called Oren’s Daily Roast Coffee. Coffee in NYC is pricey, but Oren’s was well-priced. For instance, a small cappuccino was $3.70, but they pull a long shot, so it wasn’t too milky. It was just right! The staff at Oren’s was friendly (they remembered my beverage) and I liked both the look and the vibe of the shops. They also have a coffee loyalty punchcard, which I always favor. I tried another place a few times called Joe’s but I prefer Oren’s, so give them a try and see what you think.
When I wasn’t trekking my 11 miles a day around NYC, I was using the subway. I was very curious to see, after not having visited NYC in a long while, what I’d think of the subways. I’ll admit to thinking I was going to be disappointed because either they’d feel edgy or dirty or just plain not a pleasant experience, but I’m happy to say it was just the opposite. I use public transportation whenever I travel, so I’m no stranger to getting on any city’s metro and mixing it up with the locals. I used the subway every day and it was great. I thought it was well-priced, much less crowded than I was thinking it would be, for the most part clean, and heck, if I can negotiate the Penn Station subway stop and the 42nd Street one as well, I can do anything and feel like superwoman!
The trickiest subway trip I took was going to JFK by subway. I started in the upper west side and had to make my way to midtown to transfer to the E train towards Jamaica and JFK. I left myself two hours to get to JFK. All was going well until the announcement came on that my local train was being turned into an express train and was going all the way to Chambers Street. That’s WAY down town and not anywhere near where I was heading. This turning a local train into an express train happened a few times! After getting off at the next stop it took a while to figure out what to do, but I ended up at 42nd Street. Wild scene there on a Saturday! But I did manage to find my way to the E train, and I even got on it going in the right direction :)
The second to the last stop is the AirTrain for JFK. It’s pretty obvious where to go, especially because there were lots of other people with luggage, so I just followed the crowd. The AirTrain reminded me of the kind of tram that many airports have to shuttle people between terminals, only it started from outside the airport in Queens.
This whole adventure cost $5.00 for the AirTrain and then $1.50—$2.75 for the subway depending on your age. It took 2 hours but that includes all the subway confusion. In retrospect, I was glad I had left myself 2 hours because it left me feeling relaxed about checking in at JFK and spending a bit of time at the American Airlines Admirals Club to freshen up before my flight. Would I do it again? Sure, why not. It’s very economical compared to other options for getting to JFK, and it left me feeling good about having tried the subway to JFK route and knowing it’s doable for me.
I hope this adds to your NYC list of fun sites to check out, as well as a coffee place to try. What can I say? I’m proud to be a New Yorker and totally loved my time in NYC. If you haven’t been in a while, make plans to go soon. It’s a great use of those miles/points!