Because it is so costly in terms of both time and money to get off the island of Newfoundland, we try to take as long a vacation as possible when the opportunity arises.
Just about any destination deserves at least a week, probably two, and ideally a month to really soak up its ambience and learn a little about its character.
However, we learned that a little careful planning, along with a good dose of travel reward miles, just might result in a fun and rewarding mini-trip.
We fit sightseeing, aesthetic beauty, foodie delight and athletic prowess into a jam-packed 72 hours in one of the most vibrant cities we have ever visited: New York, New York.
New York City, which saw more than 50 million visitors last year, offers no shortage of attractions worthy of a look. It is alive, diverse and awe-inspiring in its people and attitude, as much as in its architecture and culture.
“The city that never sleeps” it truly is, as New York offers something to do literally around the clock.
One reason for a trip to this particular destination on this particular long weekend, is to witness first-hand the storied rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
Although the original Yankee Stadium no longer stands, its replacement certainly fills the shoes of its predecessor. The subway ride from Manhattan to the Bronx with die-hard Yankee fans gets us excited long before the train pulls into the station.
We are swept along with the crowd into the stadium and enjoy the gorgeous afternoon sunshine along with the game. The atmosphere here is electric, as the passion that New York fans hold for their beloved Yankees is clearly on display.
And following a Yankee win (to the chagrin of at least one Red Sox fan) the ride back is even more boisterous — almost as entertaining as the game itself.
We arrive back to the hotel for a quick change, and then we dash out to the famed theatre district for an evening on Broadway.
Nearby Restaurant Row is a feast for the senses, offering just about every cuisine under the sun, from Brazilian to French to Thai food. We choose a small Italian bistro and aren’t disappointed with the fresh pasta and red wine that arrives.
The choice of plays, from large-scale musicals to fringe performances, is astonishing.
We choose “Wicked,” a recent Broadway hit that has won both Tony and Grammy awards. Dubbed “the Untold Story of the Witches of Oz,” the production playfully offers a new interpretation of both witches from the original story.
The strength of two female leads with exceptionally powerful voices makes for a unique production well worth seeing.
One of the best ways to see the city is to combine public transportation and walking. In fact, our preference is to walk, which we spend a full day doing.
The stroll from the Staten Island ferry terminal on the lower end of the island to Times Square allows us to meander through Chinatown, Little Italy and Greenwich Village. We pass alongside the World Trade Center site, the Empire State Building, the New York Public Library and Grand Central Station.
A highlight is a slight detour east to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, which affords a magnificent view of both Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
Coming off the bridge we linger in Chinatown. Having lived in Asia years ago, we always welcome the opportunity for reminders of the sights, smells and tastes of our expat experiences.
New York’s Chinatown is the biggest in the Western world. With population estimates of around 100,000 people living in a couple of square miles on the lower east side of Manhattan Island, it is a hotbed of activity.
Strips of restaurants, fruit and vegetable markets, fishmongers and jewellers line the streets.
Yet despite its hustle and bustle, the place has a real community feel about it. Vendors engage in conversation with passersby in the same way they do with family and friends.
This sense of community is evident in a nearby park where we stroll amongst the hundreds playing various card games. And of course we feast at a tiny restaurant offering everything from Peking duck to dim sum.
Our final morning sees us heading north from Times Square
to Manhattan’s natural jewel in
the crown, Central Park. About
2 1/2 miles long and a half mile wide, it is the most visited urban park in the United States.
We stroll through the lush gardens, past Strawberry Fields and the Central Park Zoo, and decide to spend a few hours at the adjacent Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art).
We are spoiled for choice. We decide to target several galleries, and are rewarded with treasures including Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” Andy Warhol’s portrait of Chairman Mao, and the breathtaking Egyptian Temple of Dendur, set in a massive room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the park.
As we board our flight back to the much quieter city of St. John’s, we rub our tired feet as we consider all we had done in such a short amount of time.
New York is fairly close to Newfoundland with much to offer. This may be why more and more Newfoundlanders are choosing to visit New York City, to see the ball drop on Times Square on New Year’s Eve, to take in some of the world’s greatest entertainment, or to use it as a jumping off point to destinations further afield.
Where else can one encounter some of the best of what the world has to offer in sports, arts and culture all in a relatively small geographic space?
New York is a locale that offers variety, diversity and excitement like few others.
Kristin Harris Walsh and Kieran Walsh have visited five continents over the past fifteen years. Their son, Declan, has been their enthusiastic travel companion since 2008. You can follow their blog at:
www.tripforthree.wordpress.com or drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.