Dreaming of the Big City on a cold weekend

It’s the second weekend of April, and it’s snowing again.

This is the part of year that’s the toughest in Canada.  Photos of flowers popping up all ny 1NY collage 4over North America, trees sprouting soft gentle buds, birds singing their little hearts out, toddlers toddling and giggling in light jackets or sweaters, puppies and kitties…..and

we have yet another dusting of snow.

And it’s cold.  It’s not forecast to go over -10—as a high—all weekend, and that’s not counting the wind chill. (In Fahrenheit that’s about 15 degrees).

I suppose that’s not so bad.  If you live up against a mountain range, north of the 49th, and maybe even south at a higher elevation, it’s not surprising to have a little snow and a little cold well into the spring; I’ve seen snow in every month of the year.  OK, well, in July I think it was closer to the Rockies and in August it might have been more hail-like, but it was still white stuff and it was accumulating on the ground.

If it’s any consolation, there’s possible snow in the forecast in New York.  And last Monday, Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, was postponed not for rain, but for snow.  Here’s what it looked like.

Seeing the stadium—even though it’s the new one–and writing last week about being in New York on Easter, reminded me of how much I miss it and how it affects me whenever I go back.

Back in the day….I was a member of a rag tag group of about 125 people called the Motley Athletic Club of New York and New Jersey; for a couple of years, I was actually the NY collage 5“treasurer”.  This wasn’t exactly a club–we never did anything except go to Opening Day ny 2(unless they did stuff and didn’t invite me).  We started with a boozy breakfast at a bar near Gramercy Park, then we all jumped on the 4 train to the Bronx and sat together and celebrated the first day of the season.

As treasurer, I had one job each year—to travel up to the stadium in March with an envelope full of cash (the ticket money for the group), select the seats, and head back down to the east side with a fat wad of tickets in my hand. Boy, was that insane, now that I think about it–first, that they trusted me to pick good seats and then, that I went up to the Bronx alone with all that money.  God was I dumb sometimes.

One year, I remember leaving the ticket office and peeking out onto the field into the empty stadium. Bright green grass, workers scattered in the stands painting seats, the jumbo screen being put through its paces, profile pages being built for the roster for the year. Eerily still, save for the sounds of the streets outside the walls.

So writing about being in New York at Easter last week made me think about how April is (when it doesn’t snow) a perfect month to visit New York. It’s usually pretty mild and there’s a ton of stuff on the go—you’ve got Easter, a choice of Opening Days (Yankees or Mets, but not both—you’re either one or the other around there), you can also catch some basketball or hockey if you like, the trees in the parks are just starting to show some green—just an all-around nice time to be there.  There’s lots to do in September too, and the weather’s great–my favorite is the Feast of San NY collage 7Gennaro in Little Italy (check back–it looks like they haven’t updated the site for this year, but it’s always at the same time), where they ny 3have now apparently added a meatball eating contest hosted by Tony Danza– and  November brings the marathon, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and the beginning of the holiday season when the city is dressed up just right—and if you’re lucky, the snow hasn’t started. You can even catch the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City, featuring the Rockettes. Live camels and sheep and a donkey or two in that one, kids.  On the stage.

It’s been a long time since I lived in New York, and I’m lucky that I get to go back often.  So much has changed (there ain’t no Mudd Club….or CBGB’s–if you don’t get the reference, sorry); the bar where I used to work, gone decades ago; old buildings down and new towers replacing them….now there’s Ground Zero, and a skyscraper taller than the Empire State (God, I hate that new building).

But oddly, so much still the same: my old apartment building(s) (I lived in two); the Union Square train station—the same light, the same smells (ugh), the same sounds as the 6 train comes squealing into the station; pizza places and takeout Chinese and the Village and Soho, Central Park and the Statue of Liberty all still look and feel pretty much the same. And it always brings back that feeling of familiarity—always different, but somehow the same.

NY collage replace 1I’m often asked what there is to do in New York–what are the must-sees and must-do’s–and I always find that tough to answer, because I think you need to figure NY collage replace 3out what you want to do.  I try and eat someplace new, but also have a dirty water dog from a hot dog cart and a meal in Chinatown if I can fit it in; I try and get to a Broadway show or, if not, to a museum; and I walk.  And walk.  Often in a park (my favorites are the High Line and Central), or I simply to grab a coffee and stop and sit in a small spot tucked into the corner of a block and watch the city stream by.

I pulled together a very rough guide (which I try to keep updated–don’t hesitate to tell me if something’s changed) with some tips and tricks I think might help the first time visitor to NY—everything from the cheapest and best way to get in from the airport(s), to where I stay, and to what I do and what I have learned not to do (both equally important). I’ve added my New York notes 2018 here, and hope that it helps someone find their way around in one of the best places on the planet.

Provided the April snow is gone.

last ny collage

Two notes: this blog post is almost completely Manhattan-centric–yes I know that.  I do hope to get out into the boroughs more…my friends Rachel and  Jenn (also known on WordPress as Brooklyn Runner in YYC–check her out!) will have something to say about that, so I will make an effort to get beyond the ball parks and museums!

Your turn: what’s your favorite secret place in New York–a restaurant, a side street, a place for a drink or a show…..tell us!

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