A sampling of New York on a weekend trip
Everyone’s trip to anywhere is unique, colored by our unrepeatable experiences. We are at our best when we travel. Expectations are high, and so are our spirits. I’d always wanted to visit New York City; it was just a matter of when it would happen. One summer weekend while I was new to the east coast, living in Virginia, I took advantage of a package deal from a travel agency: a round trip to New York by train, a room in a mid-city hotel, and a ticket to a Broadway play. And the rest of the time to explore. I had a mental list of what I wanted to see, and bought myself a camera the week before – a Kodak Pony 828.
My seatmate on the train was a middle-aged woman who said she had taken package deal trips before. I later saw her at the Broadway play. In Newark, we left the train and took a ferry approaching Manhattan from the west. I had someone snap my picture on the ferry with the New York skyscrapers in the background.
After dropping off my luggage at the Times Square Hotel, with map in hand, I found the Flatiron Building. I met a Puerto Rican boy walking toward me. He was no older than I was, and returned my smile. I handed my camera to him and he took my picture in front of the Flatiron Building.
At Times Square, I noticed a small gypsy tea room, where for the price of a cup of tea, a gypsy would read my tea leaves. After I had some tea, she preferred to take my palm instead of reading the tea leaves. She said I had two boyfriends … correct! And that neither one was quite what I wanted … also correct. I didn’t believe in palmistry, but I do believe in ESP and that gypsies are gifted with it in spades.
On my way to the Empire State Building, a woman wearing a sari met me on the sidewalk and said, “My father died a year ago, but the tears are still here.” I wondered why she told this to me. Later I believed it was that she felt me approachable with a friendly face. I asked a policeman for directions to the Empire State Building, and he said, “You’re standing right in front of it.” I took an elevator to the top and was thrilled to see the panoramic view of the city. I bought some postcards to write in my hotel room.
I took the subway when I could. Somehow I took the right one to the address of a college acquaintance, Ted. It was an apartment building, and the doorman asked if he could help me. I mentioned Ted, and he said, “Oh, Teddy and his mother moved out to the country. I understood that he meant suburbs. I was glad I had attempted to look up Ted anyway.
On Saturday evening, I saw the Broadway play “Damn Yankees,” which was about the New York Yankees. My favorite song in it was “Heart,”:
You’ve gotta have heart,
All you really need is heart,
When the odds are saying you’ll never win
That’s when the grin should start.
I walked back to my hotel – it wasn’t dangerous, because the sidewalks were swarming with theatre goers. On a corner someone was roasting chestnuts and selling them – on an August evening.
Up early on Sunday morning, the sidewalks were pretty much empty. On the opposite side of Broadway, a man was striding along, whistling a song to himself. I wanted to go through Central Park, and to my delight there were horse-drawn carriages waiting for passengers. The drivers wore top hats. I had one take my picture in the carriage before we left. I tried to take his picture, but he became agitated, crying, “No, no. No photos please!” (I wondered what his story was.) Riding along through the park, I snapped his picture from behind. I also took a few of the park against the backdrop of skyscrapers.
I stopped at Grand Central Station to inquire about round trip trains to Greenwich Village, to be back by 4 p.m. to catch my ferry. But the clerk at the window informed me the train back would be too late. I never did get to Greenwich Village.
I’ve been to New York with friends on New Year’s Eve and Easter, but neither trip was as memorable as that first time. I now realize that memorable trip was just skimming the surface of New York. But I experienced a lot for the weekend – it was the ultimate thrill for that 20-year-old.
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