For two and a half whole days, I played ‘tourist’ and ‘tour guide’ while my cousin (The CFO), his wife (The Southern Bomb), their daughter (The Mini Diva) and their son (The Guy) — collectively known as “The Sequel” — visited New York. My cousin had been here many, many times over the years — especially when we were kids, but as an adult, not as much. So, this was a huge deal: The Sequel came in search of the tourist experience.
Without boring you about where we went…
…alright, alright…I’ll tell you really quickly:
- FAO Schwarz (The Mini Diva was loving the store, especially having a go on ‘The Big Piano’ — if you remember the movie “Big” with Tom Hanks and the scene with him playing “Heart & Soul” on the piano on the floor, well, this is the store)
- Rockefeller Center/’Top of the Rock‘ (at 30 Rockefeller Plaza)
- Times Square (a.k.a. The Crossroads of the World)
- Toys “R” Us (Times Square — we took a ride on the store’s indoor ferris wheel — yes, a humongous ferris wheel)
- Harlem* (we stopped at the Harlem Underground — a great place to pick up some really hip and trendy tees and other types of clothing; we also visited the Apollo Theater)
- Radio City Music Hall (we took the backstage tour and The Mini Diva got to have her picture taken with a Radio City Rockette!)
- Madame Tussaud’s (Times Square)
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (I plan to return once the Space Shuttle arrives, and it should by the end of this month!)
- September 11th Memorial (we took the scenic route using the Water Taxi from the closest pier stop near the Intrepid; we were able to see all of Manhattan’s West Side and the New Jersey coastline, and once we arrived, it was a short 10 minute walk to the Memorial from Battery Park)
- Attended the Broadway play, ‘The Lion King‘ (you’ll break the bank by going, but it is worth every penny — simply, amazing! Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!)
When I’m up and about running around the city, I never give certain things a second thought, like the insane crowds, the frantic pace, the occasional obnoxious attitudes, the grime, the headaches…but, playing tourist with The Sequel, going at a slower pace, and seeing the city through a different pair of eyes, I’m not kidding when I say this:
New Yorkers can bring you to the edge–and not in a good way…and that’s coming from a Nu Yawker.
People were trying to run The Guy over in the stroller and The CFO was ready to turn the lights out on a few people…but he practiced restraint. When people are rough, you get rough, tensions bubble to the surface, and it spoils whatever happy feelings you may have. It can totally ruin a person’s holiday and it ain’t cheap to come to The Greatest City in the World. I’d be good and pissed if I left unhappy after paying thousands of dollars for only a few days.
Lemme tell you…This is a tough, a** city. In two and a half days, I was ready to fight and cuss people out like a raving b*tch (including at the Water Taxi stop after our great visit to the Intrepid), and in the next breath was just in love — like admiring the beautiful skyline and having the most terrific tour guide at Radio City Music Hall and chatting with the guides at the September 11th Memorial (they’re all identified by clearly marked jackets) while I waited for The Sequel as they took the tour of the site (no, I didn’t go in).
Highs and lows. New York is like a roller coaster ride. I can clearly see how if you’re a tourist, you’d be wiped out physically and emotionally when you leave.
I’m glad I was able to give The Sequel a taste of the “Big Apple” as a ‘local’ but if you’re planning to visit, words to the wise:
Be prepared when you get here. If something rubs you the wrong way, develop a thick skin and FAST, don’t dwell on it — just “keep it moving”. And another word to the wise, if you’re not a New Yorker, watch what you do and say. You may regret it. Finally, buy a NYC MetroCard. You can purchase them in any subway station. Travel like a local. It’s a helluva lot cheaper than taking (official yellow) taxis everywhere.
*We didn’t take the Harlem Heritage Tour, but that’s an option, if you’re not up for exploring on your own.