New York is a walk in the park

I’ve always wanted to visit New York City, but secretly I have also always been a bit intimidated by such an enormous place.

Whether seen walking

The Advocate introduces a new travel column this week, by Mona Knudslien, a recently-retired Red Deer teacher and school administrator.

I’ve always wanted to visit New York City, but secretly I have also always been a bit intimidated by such an enormous place.

My recent retirement gift from my husband was indeed a trip to the Big Apple and so the planning began for a six-day trip to take place in late September.

After paging through travel books and receiving unsolicited advice from countless friends, my head was spinning with what to do and not do.

With art and history museums, Broadway shows, restaurants, cultural districts, financial districts, shopping, tall buildings, television shows, sports events, Times Square, famous parks and shopping, how could you ever do it justice?

As our plane descended into Newark Airport the view out my window of the expansive and proud Manhattan skyline not only impressed me, but supported my belief that indeed, this city was pretty intimidating for a little girl from the Prairies.

Intimidated or not, it was time to get off the plane and to travel to our hotel without spending all of our budget on a cab ride from Newark to Manhattan.

We were pleasantly surprised that getting from Newark-Liberty International Airport to downtown Manhattan is actually quite easy, as you can take the Airtrain Newark and then transfer to a NJ transit train that takes you right to Penn Station (33rd street and 7th avenue).

From here, you can transfer to subway or take a cab to your hotel.

We chose to walk from Penn Station and as we emerged from the underground subway we were immediately swept along by the river of people that were hurrying along the busy sidewalk. One thing was apparent: don’t dilly dally around when in New York. Our mantra quickly became, “know thyself” and make your decisions from there.

Some of the highlights of our trip to New York were exploring Central Park, using the subway and walking as a means to find interesting areas and restaurants and attending a Yankees ballgame.

This first article will focus on Central Park with later articles highlighting other experiences.

Central Park (running, walking,

strolling or just watching)

Our hotel was only a few blocks from Central Park and this was perfect for us as we began each day with a run or walk there.

Accommodation in N.Y. can be very expensive and so it is important to shop around before you book. We used Priceline.com and found it very user friendly.

We were able to input a desired location, our dates and then bid for the amount we wanted to spend.

We ended up at the Hotel Wellington in midtown Manhattan. We were pleased with the location, although a bit disappointed with the rooms.

We couldn’t argue with the price as we stayed for six days for about $170.00 a night. This is a bargain in this location.

During our stay, we stumbled across an interesting budget hotel that we hope to book for our next trip. Look up www.1291.com for what looks to be nice rooms for very reasonable rates.

We have found running, walking or biking to be excellent methods to see a city and New York was no exception. In fact, Central Park was one of the most interesting parks I have visited.

It is beautiful and a hubbub of activity. Running in the park was a perfect way to start the day.

One of my two favourite runs was the ten-km Central Park Drive loop, which features a lane dedicated to runners, walkers, rollerbladers and the like.

Entering or exiting at the many detours out of the park always took us to a new and interesting area of the city. Depending on where you exit, you could end up on the Upper Eastside or Yorkville which is the home to many beautiful museums and galleries as well as close to famous Park Avenue, which is home to some of most famous shopping in the world.

Exiting on the west side of the park took us into the Upper Westside, which features famous residences such as the Dakota Apartments where John Lennon was shot and Yoko Ono still lives and more culture such as the American Museum of Natural History.

Exploring even a bit farther west and we found restaurants, boutiques and cafes. Our runs would be interrupted when we found ourselves unable to pass by the aroma of a hot warm bagel, fresh out of a wood fired oven. This accompanied by a coffee and we were energized to run back to our hotel.

The second favourite run I found in Central Park is the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir path, named for the famous first lady who frequented this almost-three-km run.

The path is elevated and provides a magnificent view of the Manhattan skyscrapers. It is located between 85th and 96th streets and whether you are a runner or a walker, a trip around the reservoir is memorable. It is easy to see why it is a favourite run of politicians and celebrities.

One of the great things about Central Park is that it’s a great place to people watch.

Grab a sandwich from a deli, a hotdog from one of the many vendors, or a takeout from Whole Foods in Columbus Circle and find a bench or a sunny spot on the grass and you will be treated to a parade of interesting people.

We saw nannies with strollers, cyclists, rollerbladers, runners, walkers, lovers hand in hand and suits on their commute to work.

What forward thinking to place such an interesting park in the middle of a giant city. We only scratched the surface of all there is to do and see in Central Park.

Next week, we’ll various New York neighbourhoods.

Each one has its own personality and it is fun to find restaurants and shopping that is unique to that particular neighbourhood.

I may be only taking small bites out of the Big Apple, but each one has been delicious.

Mona Knudslien is a recently-retired Red Deer teacher and school administrator. Her column appears on Saturdays.

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