I’m back in Manhattan for the 5 or 6 time. I really can’t put my finger on why I like being here so much although having a great place to stay on the Upper West Side while I cat sit certainly makes it easy to enjoy. I’m lucky to have access to a really cool apartment and feel like am living here. Although given the rent is $4000 per month, I won’t be living here any time soon.
In no particular order, here’s a list of reasons I love being here.
- Free Street Parking – You have to read your street signs carefully. We did get towed on one of our visits. If you can find a space you can leave your car but you will have to move it sometime during your stay since the street sweeper is scheduled to come by a couple of times per week. You can use the street sweeper schedule to your advantage. If the street is scheduled for no parking/sweeping ending at 12:30 you can be waiting in the cleaned lane sometime after 12 and sit with your car. Once 12:30 rolls around you lock your doors and you are parked, for free, for another couple of days. You’ll notice cars in the city have covers for their rear bumpers. Those that don’t have what I’ll call parking rash from people hitting other cars as they squeeze into a small space.
- Subway System – When we first started coming to the city we were not brave enough to venture into the underground. We walked almost everywhere with the occasional cab ride thrown in. I try to avoid cab rides now. Nothing makes me quite as uncomfortable as hurtling through the city at close to 100 KPH. It’s best not to look. We’ve used the subway system a lot more and it really is an amazing way to get around. At first it takes a bit of planning to figure out how to get from the UWS down and across to Brooklyn and other parts of the island but before long you are looking less and less like a tourist. Some stations have entrances for both uptown and downtown travel and some are either or so watch for those signs. And every station has an express line and a local line. Sometimes you might find yourself on an express hurtling blocks passed the stop you wanted.
- Dining Out – In a 2 or 3 block radius from where I am staying you can get a meal from any part of the world. From cheap and tasty Chirping Chicken or Chipotle to Cuban, Indian, Japanese and on and on. Shake Shack is just around the corner and makes an amazing burger but the lineup is always long. We lucked out one day and managed to pick a time with no lineup. On this trip we found the amazing Oaxaca taqueira in Brooklyn close to the 4th avenue subway stop as well as little, hole in the wall Italian restaurant on Broadway serving pasta like the chef’s Nona used to make.
- Music – You can hear some of the best musicians in the world for a 2 drink minimum at the 55 Bar or dinner and a show at The Bluenote. There are venues all over town to catch great musicians. TimeOut magazine is a great resource for what’s happening. I didn’t get to the 55 Bar on this trip but it really is a bar to put on your list of places to go. The first time there I went to see Mike Stern perform. I was amazed how small the space was when I got there. Mike basically stood in front of my table and played his set. If you needed to go to the bathroom during the show Mike would have to lift the neck of the guitar up to let you get to the bathroom door. Another time Mike had Francoise Moutin on bass as well as Kim Thompson on drums. Her main gig with with Beyonce. On this trip I went to the Shapeshifter Lab to catch Victor Bailey along with Lenny White on the drums. Just before they were scheduled to start there was hardly anyone in the room to see the show. The room did fill up slowly but I was shocked that icons like these two did not pull in a bigger audience.
- Safe – I feel safer walking around New York than I do in Toronto or even downtown London. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s my still rose coloured view of the city despite visiting so many times. No matter what time of day or night you are out, there are always other people around so perhaps that helps with being comfortable. Although the trip before this one was at the same time as the Boston Marathon bombing and the police presence really increased especially at public areas like Union Square and Times Square. I didn’t feel quite as safe riding the subway and walking that day.
- People Watching – There’s nothing better than grabbing a coffee and sitting on a bench or having a meal on a restaurant patio and watching New Yorkers go by. There’s always an interesting mix of beautiful people (male and female), tourists and the occasional celebrity sighting (Samantha Bee) to keep you entertained while you sip your latte.
- Shopping – New York will do great damage to your credit rating if you are not careful. Enough said on that.
I can’t wait for my next cat sitting gig!