Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Southern Girl in the City

Arriving in New York - Nice and Fresh

This past week we took off for a whirlwind 25th Anniversary trip with our best friends of almost 25 years.

We both celebrated our 25th anniversaries this summer and have been planning a trip to New York to celebrate since January. I say we have been planning when in reality my friend Richelle was really the brains behind the itinerary. Thanks to her we managed to do more in just a few days than most people accomplish in a few weeks.

Over the course of my life, I have visited some big cities...Washington, DC, Chicago, Atlanta, London, Berlin, Paris, Rome... but I have to say that New York is like nothing I have ever experienced.

The first impressions of a southern girl in New York (in no particular order):

It is just so huge - the biggest city I've ever seen.

Seeing the Statue of Liberty was an incredibly moving experience for me. Realizing that the people in line for the ferry early on September 11, 2001, witnessed the horror of the attack up close was also sobering.

Grand Central Station is indeed Grand and Central.

Ellis Island is steeped in history. Hearing the stories of immigrants who made it all the way to our shores only to be chalk marked and sent back to their ports of origin was heartbreaking.


The 911 Memorial is painful to visit - I was surprised by the depth of feelings it awakened - it was like reopening a wound.

The restaurants are the tiniest I have seen - small serving areas, small tables, big portions.

The people on the street and in the subway were nice and helpful. I think they have gotten a bad rap.

The people working in food service can be abrupt. Make sure you know what you want BEFORE they ask you. If you hesitate, don't be surprised by impatient rudeness.

Iced tea is hard to find - unless you consider Snapple iced tea. At one place, I asked if tea was available and got an affirmative. I ordered two teas and watched as the server set out to prepare me a couple of cups of hot tea. I just wanted a good old unsweetened iced tea. I ended up with a mostly cold Snapple.

Also, plain old ice seems to be scarce. Almost every drink I had while I was there was only kind of cold. I could never figure out exactly why since I often got them from the street food carts, and they would fish them out of the ice. I expected icy cold and got mostly cold.

Central Park from Top of the Rock
Central Park is an amazing oasis in the midst of a concrete jungle.

Tornados strike New York too - while we were there a tornado came inland off the water at Coney Island.

It is remarkable just how tall the Empire State Building is - it made me wonder what was going through the minds of those people who made the decision to jump from the burning towers on September 11.

Time Square
Time Square is not as big as I imagined. My only reference is Dick Clark's New Year's Rock'n' Eve - it looks huge on television, and it is big - just not like I thought it would be.

Time Square is electric. Lots of light, lots of people, lots of activity, all the time.

New York is hot and humid. I think that two of the four days were as hot or hotter than it is in South Carolina. One day it was rainy and muggy, and that same day it was raining and freezing on top of the Empire State Building at 11:00 p.m.

The plaza at Rockefeller Center isn't as big as I thought, and in the summer the ice skating rink becomes a cafe area.

Little Italy
Little Italy and China town remind me of dingy Epcot attractions. But, the food we had at the sidewalk Cafe Napoli in Little Italy was wonderful.

The subway is grimy and dirty - nothing like the subway in D.C. The subway walls looked like had never been cleaned, and we could see the mice/rats scurrying around on the tracks. It is also a little bit complicated. We were just starting to figure out how to navigate it when it was time to come home.



We saw them testing out the 911 light memorial. It is hauntingly lovely.

911 Memorial Lights

I have never seen a play quite up to the level of Wicked at the Gershwin theatre on Broadway.

Tim's Very Own Muppet - Teresa
FAO Schwarz is the biggest toy store I've ever been to - and you can create your very own, unique Muppet there and get a pack of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups the size of my head.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a national treasure, Tiffany glass is stunning, and Van Gogh's brushwork is breathtaking.

Tiffany Window

The most important thing you can take to New York is a comfortable pair of Nike Sneakers.

The second most important thing you can take to New York City is an iPad or iPhone with GPS maps.

The third most important thing you can take to New York is a good, light crossbody bag (Thanks Billy).

The fourth most important thing you can take to New York is a fold up rain poncho.

Cabs aren't that expensive.

Hotels are very expensive, and the rooms aren't as big as we're used to them being.

Murals in the Lobby of 30 Rock
The architecture is unique and beautiful. I loved the Art Deco design of the GE Building and Empire State Building. The murals in 30 Rock are overwhelming.

Everyone is to be tipped.

NYC is much safer than I expected, and there are policemen everywhere.

I'm sure there are other things that I will remember on publishing this, but I think the most important thing I learned is that New York is best shared with good friends!








  1. Great story, Leisa! Just need an "after" pic after relentless sightseeing =)

    You're right about the hotel rooms! I wa$ $hocked how $mall but ex$pen$ive they were al$o!

    Loved it!

  2. Love this post! Thanks for sharing your perspective. We from NH know all about the ice thing - we grew up never, well, rarely using ice in drinks. And we put our drinks in the fridge and got a kick out of southerners keeping theirs (2-liters, etc.) on the counter, haha.

    When we were last in NY, Mike parked the car (loaded with stuff for vacation in NH) and we walked several blocks to a restaurant; he suddenly realized he hadn't locked the car and raced back to find all was fine. So we got all confident and went for a long walk at dusk in neighboring Central Park!

    Love all the pics! Now perhaps you should trying some iPad interpretations...just a thot.