Anyway you slice it, the Big Apple earns an A+ for energy, diversity and a host of choices. Let’s talk host. On my most recent visit I was guest to the Harlem Grand. Yes, that Harlem. The lodging is a Brownstone. Up two flights of stairs to my spacious room. An eclectic grouping of furniture greeted me. Six nights in this home-away-from-home and I was sold on this place. I will do this again. Down the street is a bodega — small market — where I payed $7 for a delicious breakfast sandwich, hot coffee, 3 bananas and two bottles of water. What? And this is in one of the most expensive cities! I pulled this coup more than once.
When I boarded the plane bound for adventure I did it with a list of twelve free sights/things to do in NYC. It was my goal to squeeze as much out of my travel dollar. I had to pass on two items on my list as they required night hours to maneuver through and I was advised to not do night on my own. Okay, so that left ten items to plan for. Included in my successful excursions was the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum. What a great surprise when I discovered a Wizard Of Oz exhibit complete with costumes that didn’t make it to the final cut. The UN was a must see, with all of its flags on display outside. I opted out of the tour (admission charge bumped it from my criteria for free status) but managed quite a self-guided look along the many education-filled photos and descriptive ways in which the UN has responded to need in many nations. Made a bee-line for their giftshop and walked out with a few notable treasures. The free-of-charge Brooklyn Bridge, where I snagged a $15 (okay, not entirely free) pen and pencil drawing from a Russian artist, positioned there at the foot of the bridge ready to greet me. Gorgeous art that is now graced with a custom frame and hanging in my home.
I achieved a level of satisfaction in keeping with my gratis goals. Of course, subway fare is an essential, can’t get around that. I gladly fed my bills and change into the ticket machine that held promise for my adventures. Harlem proved to be a congenial atmosphere. A couple blocks in one direction and I was met with the famed Apollo Theater. Regrettably, I did not make it to the performances that week. Next time.
The sampling of New Yorkers from whom I asked navigational support were forthcoming and friendly. I walked, and I walked, climbing untold staircases and developed shin splints that didn’t diminish until I returned home. Well, the term “home” is relative. One day the Big Apple will be my home. Permanently.