I (heart) NY – part 1 of my summer vacation blog

We just returned from a short trip to New York City, and we’re on our way up to cottage country for a few days, so this will be a ‘mini-blog’ about our driving trip to Manhattan.

What an awesome part of the country!  Driving from the Eastern Toronto area around Lake Ontario, crossing the border at the 1,000 Islands area of New York State, all the way down to Manhattan was a long, but scenic trip.Scenic Drive

The area south of Syracuse, in through the Pocono’s of Pennsylvania and into New Jersey is a stunning drive.  Have your camera out (and have someone other than the driver taking the pictures).

With the help of a great navigation system in the car, we made it to Mid-town Manhattan without any scary detours – traffic in New Jersey, and getting into the Lincoln Tunnel was jammed, but otherwise the drive was smooth.

Manhattan is an amazing assault on the senses – all of them!  Brilliant colors, huge buildings, noisy streets, crowded sidewalks, pungent smells (especially in the late afternoon when the garbage bags hit the sidewalks…yikes!).

We signed up for a bus-tour of the city, which I highly recommend for first-time visitors, since there’s way too much to see on any short visit.  Our guide, ‘Dominic’, was a larger than life New Yorker, with the thick New York accent, sarcastic sense of humor, and great love of his home.Dominic in action

Unashamed, a touch crude, and willing to share the real history of the growth and changes of Manhattan, Dominic was the best of 3 guides we had during the tours.

We didn’t have enough time to do more than scratch the surface of this incredible place, so we’ll have to come back again with better walking shoes and more time.

Here are some observations that I gathered during this short trip:

  • New Yorkers are WAY more friendly and helpful than they want you to believe
  • The most important part of the car in New York is the horn (followed by the brakes)
  • After walking around Manhattan, I know where they got the inspiration for the video game ‘Frogger’
  • If you want to see the Statue of Liberty, take the Staten Island Ferry, which is free, and goes right past it
  • You could spend a week in Times Square and not see everything
  • The free enterprise system is flourishing in the U.S.  We saw ‘business owners’ who had no more than a 2′ space between buildings to set up their stores, selling belts, sunglasses, and cell phone accessories – everyone has something to sell
  • Businesses don’t fail here; they ‘fall on hard times’
  • If you’re on a bus tour in the summer – bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water, although there are always vendors selling cold bottled water at most stops – they’ll even pass it up to you on poles from the street!
  • Get some cupcakes from ‘Crumbs’ just off 8th Ave (around 40th).  Yum!

Suggestions for my American Friends (with all due respect):

  • What’s with the water pressure in Manhattan?  Spend a few bucks on water pumps –  the water towers aren’t working
  • There’s gotta be a better way to deal with the garbage – especially during the hottest days of summer – WHEW!!
  • Drivers on the I – 81 need to learn how to use cruise control

Go to New York if you get the chance – I promise you’ll want to go back again!

That’s it for this part of my summer vacation – next stop is my brother’s cottage up in the Georgian Bay area of Ontario…talk about a change in scenery!

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