We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the world whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again – to slow time down and be taken in, and fall in love once more. ~ Pico Iyer
Anyone who knows me knows that I am an enthusiastic itineriser and joyful organiser. As I alluded to in a previous post, for me anticipating a journey through planning is all part of the experience. Travel lasts longer if you plan in anticipation and reflect upon return.
Packing is made easier by the packing list I made for myself back in my living-in-London pre-children days when I travelled internationally all the time. When crafting my list, I started with this online list and then fine-tuned mine over a number of years of regular travel. It includes lists for my laptop bag, carry-on and checked case. I never travel without my eye mask, ear plugs, camera & mobile phone charger. This time around I’m adding some creative, flânerial things to my case, as I outlined here.
On this, my third visit to New York, I’ll be staying at an airbnb apartment. The wonderful thing about that, in addition to having my own home in the West Village for a week, is the generosity of airbnb hosts in making your stay in their city as good as possible. For instance, thanks to my host I will arrive to a SIM card and a subway MetroCard already purchased for me, along with a list of local hangouts.
While I will be in New York for work (which encompasses amazing professional learning opportunities for me as outlined in my first post), the city that never sleeps is the perfect destination for planning some culture and fun around my meetings. As with my first two visits to Manhattan, I am planning my days around its gridded neighbourhoods and subway lines. My double-sided colour-coded itinerary includes my ideas for where to eat, drink, see or shop in and around particular areas. I won’t necessarily get to all of them, but I’ve researched my options so I have a sense of where I’d like to go and what I’d like to try. I also have printed copies of my Google maps, exploding with stellar constellations of starred places I hope to visit.
The nice thing about this being my third visit is that, around my work, I can squeeze in the NYC things I have loved before and those things I haven’t yet experienced.
In my last visits I’ve strolled the Brooklyn Bridge, meandered Central Park, ridden the Staten Island Ferry past Lady Liberty, stood silently at Ground Zero, ascended the Empire State Building, peered from the Top of the Rock, been spontaneously invited to a bar opening and been wowed by the sermon and gospel choir of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. I’ve admired art at the Met and MOMA, seen Madonna at Madison Square Garden, danced in the aisles on Broadway, enjoyed live music at the Knitting Factory, watched a Yankees-Mets game at Yankee Stadium and wondered at the NY Public Library. I’ve eaten steaks at Knickerbocker, cupcakes at Magnolia, fried chicken at Sylvia’s, sushi at Sushi Samba, streetside hot dogs in the Bronx, dim sum in China Town, caviared blinis at Pravda, deli sandwiches at Katz’s Delicatessen, brunch at Pastis and dinner at Stanton Social. I’ve shopped up and down Manhattan, from flea markets to Century 21 to Fifth Avenue, and have tasted more than my fair share of creative cocktails.
I’ll no doubt make my way back to the New York Public Library; as a bibliophile it always draws me like a magnet as a beautiful space with great literary and architectural energy. I’m also looking forward to fall colours in Central Park (maybe even checking out the Central Park Pumpkin Sail), to revisiting the Met for this season’s rooftop installation and to seeing the 9/11 Memorial. I’m planning to make it into the Guggenheim; I’ve enjoyed the Guggenheims in Bilbao (Spain) and Venice (Italy) so am looking forward to seeing New York’s. The High Line’s final section recently opened so I’m delighted to be able to see Manhattan’s West Side from this historic freight rail line elevated above the streets. I’m also intending to investigate PDT as I can’t resist a speakeasy with a phone booth entrance. And I have a thing for carousels so I’ll see if I can visit the one in Central Park and Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
What are your tips for planning and packing? What are your NYC absolute must-dos?