New York City, A Hell of a Town


A while back my wife decided to treat me to a vacation in NYC as a late birthday present. Neither of us had ever been although we had both really wanted to for quite some time. Our initial plan was to fly down but a couple days before leaving we decided to change it up and drive it instead to make it more of an overall adventure… and it was.

We drove down to Buffalo and crossed into New York, through New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey before entering back into New York and NYC. The drive down was incredible except for the interstate section which got a bit boring. Of course we’d heard that New Yorker’s were crazy drivers and I was prepared for that but holly crap, they’re insane! Fortunately we didn’t have far to drive once we’d gotten through the Holland Tunnel. We did however pull up in to an intersection in front of a police station where some unfortunate transport van driver had blocked the intersection. A booming voice came over a PA saying “Sir… you have three seconds to clear that intersection or you better pull over to your right…” the driver was freaking trying to figure out what to do when the voice came on again “SIR… get out of the intersection NOW! SIR, PULL OVER”. The intersection then cleared and he very quickly sped off but not before the lady on the PA had her last words “Really?… Seriously? Right in front of a police station?”. And that was when Erin and I looked at each other, burst out laughing and simultaneously said, welcome to New York. It was too funny, the traffic, the confusion and the lippy police officer felt life you were watching a typical NYC TV show. The clich├ęs are real but they’re so fantastic.

After our great welcome we found our hotel, parked our car and settled in. Now, I won’t give you a full play by play on everything we did while there but I will tell you that I have been to many large cities around the world and not a single one of them comes close to the energy, vibrancy, and pulse that New York City has. The city feels more like a living being than a modern metropolis. It has its own distinct personality, its own soul. It’s nothing short of incredible.

We were in NYC for about three and a half days and in that time we walked a good 30-40 hours and we had the perfect weather for it. I was warned that when you leave New York your feet will be in so much pain that you’ll want to chop them off and to be honest, that isn’t far from the truth. We walked everywhere, only taking 4 taxis mostly to get us from Tribeca where we were staying up to 79th and 86th to see a few of the museums.

While we were there, we hit all the must-see tourist spots minus the MOMA due to time restraints. We went to the Museum of Natural History, the Met, the Guggenheim, Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center, the Sears Tower and saw the Empire State Building, Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty and Battery Park. We went on the Brooklyn Bridge, went to the Five Points, walked China Town and Doyer St, saw the Supreme Courts, did the Lower East Side, Little Italy, Soho, Nolita, Tribeca, the Financial District, West Village, the Upper West Side, Greenwich Village, Time Square, Midtown and spent a bunch of time in Central Park. We walked almost all of it and I’m proud to say we didn’t rush any of it and did all that in only 3.5 days. Needless to say though, at the end of it all, our feet were pooched.

What would a NYC trip be without a bit of shopping? Well it wouldn’t be a complete NYC trip, that’s for sure. We bought all the necessary I <3 NY kitschy stuff and then went and hit up a bunch of the great shops that we don't get here in Toronto. First up was Uniqlo, J.Crew (which I know we get but it's way over priced here), FAO Schwarz, Free People, Brooklyn Industries, Steve Madden, Magnolia Bakery and Kate Spade for my wife. Then onto Supreme which had an hour plus line up to get in. I didn't know the Aztec hats were being released the day I was there. They were unfortunately sold out by the time I got in, then onto Reed Space. I had a few more stores on my list but I either couldn't find them, didn't have the time or my feet were in too much pain to get me to them and Supreme and Reed Space were the top 2 on my list anyway.

Above is a recent interview of Jeff Staple, founder of Staple Design and Reed Space and I think he summarizes quite nicely what his store and New York is to Street Culture, that and he’s just an amazing designer and huge inspiration so there is no way I could have not gone to check out his store.

Everywhere in New York felt familiar. The whole city feels like a movie set, well, at some point or another it has been but being there brings it all to life. The architecture is phenomenal, the streets feel rich with history and everywhere feels like it has so much character that you can’t help but get sucked into it. It’s contagious.

One thing about the city that really surprised me was just how friendly everyone was. I didn’t expect them to be as rude as people made them out to be but I honestly wasn’t expecting them to be quite as friendly and outgoing as they were. Their customer service was outstanding, no matter what job they were doing. No sense of entitlement or attitude but rather a great deal of pride in the work they’re doing, and a seeming pleasure to be doing it. It was unexpected but a very nice surprise.

After 3.5 days of running ourselves ragged we packed up the car, said good bye to NYC and headed home a different route. We drove straight north out of the city following the Hudson River and then up into Connecticut, through Massachusetts and into Vermont all along Route 7 which went through little towns. Just before we hit the border we cut across New York again so we could enter at Cornwell and back into Canada. This drive wasn’t intended to be the quick route home. It was intended to drive through all the incredibly scenic small towns through New England and take in all the rich history. If you ever get the chance I highly recommend this drive. It took a whopping 15 hours but well worth it. We saw a few covered bridges, tons of quaint little villages including Gaylordsville, Connecticut (the name made me laugh so hard… seriously? What were you thinking when you named that poor town?) and towns that dated back to the early 1700’s and looked as though not much had changed. It was like driving through a Pioneer Village, one town after another.

By the time we got home we were spent. It was an all around phenomenal experience. We turned a trip to NYC into an eastern seaboard adventure. As for New York, I truly don’t have a bad thing to say about it. It’s quickly became my favorite city and since getting back it’s all I’ve been able to think about. You could even say I’ve been in a New York State of Mind (sorry) since.

Huge thanks to my wife for planning the trip and letting me plan the days we were there. It was an adventure of a lifetime and I can’t wait to go back.