Friday, February 18, 2011

The Newbie's Guide to New York City- Part I - Getting Around

One week ago today, the oldest monkey girl and I hopped on a plane and went on a little adventure...

in New York City.

We met my awesome mother and father-in-law at LaGuardia Airport.

They were to be our fellow travelers.
The only catch is, that none of us had ever really spent much time in NYC before.  The only memories that I have of New York are blurry at best.  (Central Park as a hippy toddler in a backpack with flowers painted on my cheeks and then again as a brace-faced teenager hoofing it around Manhattan with my two hip uncles.)

Needless to say, we were New York City Newbies. 

The first lesson that we learned right out of the gate (literally right as we walked out of the airport doors) was a lesson in transportation.
We needed a taxi to take us to our hotel, but none of us knew the whole "taxi drill" of the airport.  As we stepped out onto the carport, we were immediately approached by a town car driver who offered to take us to our destination for a mere $50!  WHAAAT??? Um, no thanks!  

Off to our right we saw the taxi stand, where many, many cabbies were lined up waiting their turn for a fare.  This we knew this was the place to go.

The sign kind of gave it away too.

Our cabbie was a really nice gentleman who owned his own cab and had been driving cabs for 44 years in NYC. We enjoyed chatting with him as he expertly navigated the highways and bi-ways.  By the end of our twenty minute ride, I knew how many kids he has, where he lives, his hobbies, what church he attends... I ask way too many questions.  What can I say? I love people's stories.

And, you know what?  Our fare was only $40 with the tip!  The town car was a total rip!

Moral of this transportation lesson:

Take the taxi, not the town car.

We took a couple other taxi's during our stay and that worked well.  You just have to tune out the fact that the driver is weaving wildly in and out of stop and go traffic, going about 70 miles per hour.  And the horns, oh, the horns...

The other really cool way that we got around New York City was by double decker bus.  We wanted to get "the lay of the land" and at $54 per person for 2 full days, the "Double D" proved to be a great investment.

There are a fleet of these buses that make stops in lower, upper and mid Manhattan. It's called the Gray Line and there are stops all throughout the city.  The buses run every 15 minutes, from 8 AM until 9 PM.  Each bus comes complete with an experienced tour guide.  Each of our tour guides was a total character.  One tour guide was a history buff and pointed out historical landmarks and told incredible stories. Another loved music and showed us where famous musicians had made their mark. One guy was quite humorous and kept us smiling and laughing the whole time.

There was even a night tour to Brooklyn with a drive across the Manhattan Bridge and amazing views of the city all lit up. 

The fact that you are sitting up so high off the ground with a clear dome over your head, really does give you a "bird's-eye view" of the city.  The buildings, the people, the shop windows, you see it all.  And when you want to get off and go explore on foot, you can.  Such a cool way to see the city! I highly recommend it.

We also enjoyed hoofing it around the city.  We walked all through SoHo, into China Town, down Canal Street and over to Mulberry Street in Little Italy.

All that walking made me hungry and I had to eat pasta.  Who goes to Little Italy and does not eat pasta?  So I ate, and ate, and ate.  And I fell in love.  It's name was gnocchi and I cry just thinking about that meal.  It was heaven on a pasta plate. But that is a whole other subject.  There will be another post about the darling gnocchi and other yum stuff that we ate.

So to sum up:

Taxi not town car
Double decker bus is way cool
Walk only if you can reward yourself with piles of pasta or some other amazing New York delicacy.

Pasta rules,


P.S.  If we would have been staying in New York for more than a few days, I would have felt very inclined to utilize the subway or the public bus system.  But, I am pretty slow when it comes to reading mass transit maps and directions.  I just did not feel that adventurous this time.

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