I started a page here a while ago called the “September Tourist” which is really about a state of mind when travelling. I had Great Plans for this page. Unfortunately, it has been left aside, as things often are. I have a lot of things on my “List of Stuff I Should Really Do One Day.” Coming back to write on my blog after having survived the April A to Z challenge is among them! I think it is time to come back again to the concept of the September Tourist, and to begin to fill in that page with some suitable posts, beginning with my most recent adventure.
Something I have often thought I’d like to do but have just never done is to explore a large city “toute seule.” So I recently had a chance to do just that, and as my object I chose New York City. Because why not? As far as cities go, NYC is among the biggest and most interesting in the world! Besides that, I was going there anyway. In fact, my real purpose for going to NY was to attend a 6-day long masterclass in Westhampton to be given by my flute teacher. There, that’s a teaser. I will be making a post (or maybe two!) about that later this week, in French and English! (I need extra time when I write in French…)
But for now:
ALONE IN NEW YORK CITY:
I hoped I was in the right place to catch the bus. I wasn’t even sure that the bus was the best choice, but the internet made it sound all right. I was lucky to have gotten the first flight to JFK; I arrived at the airport around 2pm. I got to the hotel around 5-ish.
Note to self: the bus is almost never the best choice, no matter what the internet says. Trains don’t get stuck in traffic!! Also: If you are pretty sure where you are going, never listen to the advice of a hotel shuttle driver who doesn’t really speak any languages that you know.
In any case, the hotel was nice. I got a fantastic view of the city:
The upside to this was that the room was large and very quiet, and reasonably priced, despite being two blocks from Penn Station. And I needed a good night’s sleep before boarding the bus to Westhampton the following morning.
Note to self #2: In hindsight…still not a fan of buses.
So here I am, in NYC, the world at my feet. What’s a girl to do? I put on my walking shoes. There was a little square just at the front of the hotel where I had noticed a sort of “food fair” type thing, so I decided to walk through that.
I wasn’t super hungry yet, despite the fact that my meals for the day had consisted of two cappucinos and a granola bar. So I kept walking. I decide to head in the opposite direction of Times Square, just to be different. I was greatly rewarded for this choice, because I discovered that in NYC they have food fairs or markets in any and every square! The one at Madison Square Park, which is next to the famous Flatiron building, was particularly appealing, because there were these guys making pizzas in this huge wood-fire oven. I can’t imagine what it took to get that thing to the square, especially since the truck said the pizza restaurant itself was in Brooklyn! But who cares? It smelled soooo good! I bought one and I took it to the park and sat on a bench and ate the whole thing. I had no idea at the time, but this pizza is listed on Thrillist website as the best in NYC. Quelle chance ! I am no “pie expert” but I would probably go pretty far out of my way to eat this pizza again.
After my NY Pizza dinner, I figured I’d better wander back to the hotel because I wanted to be well rested for my adventure in Westhampton beginning the following day. Just one more thing, though…how about a little something “sucré” ? I found this place quite near the hotel that was selling these little rolled and filled cakes, and espresso, to go. So I took one back to the hotel, and soon after this, I was done for the night! It had been a long day, beginning at 3:30-ish am chez moi.
Insert here a 6-day interlude in Westhampton, which I will definitely write about in a post next week…stay tuned!
After the masterclass, I just wasn’t quite ready to end the adventure, so I decided to stay in NYC one more full day. I took the train from Westhampton to Penn Station. In my opinion, this is a wayyyy better option than the bus. The train got to Penn station around 6:30. Not too shabby!
After saying goodbye to my flute teacher (who had ridden the train with me), I walked the two short blocks to “my” hotel, and checked in. So easy!
This time, I had a much different view from my room, but not nearly so quiet!
Once again, out came the walking shoes. This time, I decided to brave the crowds of tourists.
It was only a few blocks to Times Square, and while I wouldn’t say that it’s a great place to hang out, there are certain attractions there. Caramel M&M’s may be the crowning glory of the M&M, which is one of the best candies ever made anyway. So I went to Times Square, gawked at all the different people there, and proceeded to purchase a bag of Caramel M&M’s. I also bought several postcards at a kiosk run by the famous Strand Bookstore, and finally settled into the hotel restaurant and ate a salad while I filled them out. After that, I read myself to sleep.
The next day, I slept in a bit, then set out to walk, walk, walk. One of my…hmmm, I don’t know if it’s a quality or if it’s a fault, but in any case, I try to always be a good student. During the week, I had asked my flute teacher (since he lives there!) for advice on what to do if one had a whole day in NYC. He brought up several things, and being an obedient student, I decided to seek out as many as I could during my day. I began by walking up 5th Ave, until I found a bakery he recommended (and who better to get bakery advice from than a French person??) . I stopped there and bought…quelque chose… au chocolat. I forgot what they called it, but it was delicious with my coffee and I sat in front of the NYC Library and people watched while having this petit déjeuner.
After this, I continued to walk up 5th Ave, where I saw many famous buildings.
Finally, I got to Central Park, where I wandered around admiring the Greenness of it all, until noon, when I met my new friend Nina from the master class. We chatted and walked, and walked and chatted, (in French! Cool, huh? As luck would have it, she is originally from Paris!) through Central Park, making our way to 72nd street, where we exited the park and continued up 5th Ave until we got to Albertine, the bookstore run by the French consulate and another recommendation from notre prof. Nina told me she had not been there before even though she lives very close to the City, so it was kind of cool to go there with her.
After checking out all the French books and the beautiful building, Nina and I parted ways, she to spend time with family, and me to make my way back to the hotel via Madison Ave. That is a great place to go window shopping, you know? All the things in the world that I can’t afford neatly lined up on one street. Fabulous!
Then, after resting a little bit at the hotel, I started out towards the East Village, where I had bought a ticket to see “Stomp.” Yes, another conseil du prof. He said he’d been many many times and loved it each time. So I thought, “yes, I should go to a show in NYC.” He also recommended a ride-sharing service called Via, which is sort of like Uber but it is only $5 per ride, is always shared with other people and takes you to *approximately* where you want to go. I checked it out, it looks cool, and I’m keeping this advice in mind for my next trip to NY. However, this time I decided to go on foot. I looked on the internet and it said it was only a 30-min walk.
Also, as luck would have it, this walk took me right past a ramen restaurant called “Ippudo NY.” I thought that would be perfect for an early dinner. My husband and I ate at “Ippudo Paris” and it was amazing, so why not? I wasn’t disappointed. It was very good. Being alone got me a space at a sort of “community table” right away, no reservation, even though there was already a ton of people waiting to get it. Because of this I had some extra time before the show started at 8, so I found a nice coffee shop and got an espresso.
I walked through Union Square and on the other side of it, there was this building with a long series of rapidly changing numbers on it, and another with something that looked like a magic wand. It was odd, so I took a photo. I only found out later that it is, in fact, an art installation called Metronome by Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel. The number sequence to the left of this, called Passage, just tells the time. In my photo, it was 6:05pm (1805) and 16.6 seconds. The center number counts hundredths of seconds. The second group of numbers tells me that there were 5 hours, 54 minutes, and 43.3 seconds remaining in the day. In between Union Square and the coffee shop, I walked past the Carl Fisher building. I thought that was super cool, considering how many pieces of music I own with the Carl Fisher mark on them. Now I know where they came from!
The show, Stomp, was really amazing. I can see why you might want to see it more than once. There are no words, just percussion. They use all kinds of objects to do the percussion, mainly their feet and their bodies. Hence the name, I suppose! There is some humor thrown in too. There were 8 people doing all the numbers; it’s an hour and forty-five minutes long. I have no idea where they get their stamina and their ability to remember so many dance/percussion songs. It’s truly fantastique! It all has an “improvised” feel to it, but you know that nobody could improvise these pieces, so that means that they have memorized and practiced all this improvisatory-feeling stuff!
After the show, I thought again about using Via but it was a beautiful night out, there were loads of people milling about, so I walked back to the hotel. Final step count, per my Fitbit, was 40, 624 steps, which equates to 27.33 km, or 16.98 miles. That is quite a bit of New York in one day!