When I learned that my Florida friends Fred and Sonia were planning to rent a place in New York City for six months, I was thrilled. A lifetime New Yorker, I have lived in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, know virtually the entire subway system by heart and would be able to guide them to the special and hidden treasures this great city has to offer.
I made a list of favorite restaurants, from the big splurges to the inexpensive Chinatown and outer borough gems, as well as the best meals to order in each. I guided them to free Shakespeare in Central Park, to the outdoor concerts at the Prospect Park bandshell, to the Boat Basin off Riverside Park and to the amazing Friday night fireworks from a spot on the beach at Coney.
I showed them the Times Square TDF booth where they could get Broadway tickets for half price as well as the less crowded booths in Brooklyn and at the South Street Seaport.
I told them that New Yorkers walk, not ride, which is why most of us are so trim. We ambled the 20 blocks from my house to Lincoln Center and they didn’t complain. I gave them my handwritten list of locations that only a real New Yorker would know, then left them to their own devices.
A week later, I got a call from Fred. They had already visited Chinatown__twice. And while they enjoyed the $5 dumpling platter at Wonton Garden that I suggested, wasn’t Prosperity Dumpling’s $2 dumpling platter an even better deal? Uhm, I couldn’t say.
And the museums! Yes, they enjoyed The Met and MOMA, but didn’t I also love The Jewish Museum, El Museum del Barrio and The Spy Museum? Wait, isn’t that last one in Washington, D.C.? We have one too? Seriously?
They told me about the thrilling view from the crown of the Statue of Liberty. I was so lucky to have this, they marveled__didn’t I love it all?
Yep, I loved the idea of it all…
As a playwright, what did I think of Claybourne Park, 4,000 Miles and Venus in Fur? They so enjoyed them! Having seen none of them, I quickly changed the subject–hey, isn’t it wonderful how our 24/7 subway gets you everywhere? Actually with so much to see they preferred to walk, including a 90 block trek downtown to Soho and Tribeca. Ninety blocks? Really?
They also discovered many great Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island neighborhoods to explore when they completed the 5 borough bike tour! Which I also mean to try someday…
Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge to DUMBO? Uhm sure, I did that years ago, before there was a DUMBO…And yes, Prospect and Central Park offered endless discoveries, but what about Riverside State Park, they asked. Surely I was familiar with the magnificent park off 145th Street with its 800 seat theater, 150 seat restaurant and 2,500 seat sports athletic complex, not to mention spectacular promenade views of the Hudson River, the Palisades and the George Washington Bridge?
Oh, that one…
I swallowed my New York pride and asked them to repeat these places, streets, restaurants and hidden gems.
They wrote me a list.