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Travelogue: 7 days in Manhattan

Posted on December 10th, 2005 filed in Travelogues    |   

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I just returned from a 7 day trip to Manhattan and things have changed quite much since my last visit some years ago.

Many previously seedy neighborhoods are now happening places beaming with energy and tourists. Most notable of these is Bryant’s Park, previously a junkies’ paradise, and now a fleet market filled with art, jewelry, and bead stores. There are many restaurants on site as well as a lovely Ice Skating rink bringing Manhattan iceskating destinations to 3 (Central Park and Rockfeller center being the other two).

Overall Manhattan continues its metamorphosis started by Mayor Giuliani many years ago. I can recall when 42nd street was a must avoid unless you are looking for some illegal drugs or sleazy sex shows. Now it is the absolute center of the town and a great part of the city to enjoy.

Another change I noted is the abundance of security personnel everywhere, and that’s just from observing the ones clearly dressed as such. I was told that are many more civilian looking security personnel everywhere as well. I guess it’s good, as it likely leads to more security, but also quite sad and a memento of the days we live in.

Manhattan has also gone insanely expensive these last few years. In 1999, I stayed at the Marriott Marquis for $170 USD per night and was lodged in a great room on a 25+ floor with a fascinating view of Broadway. This time, the cheapest at the Marquis was $525 USD!!! Unbelievable. And this is not a high season by any means.

I stayed at 3 *** hotel for $300 USD per night. Absolutely insane. Never would I have envisaged such change of events.

Manhattan was also for me the shopping Mecca for electronic gadgets and anything related to photography. I found out this time that this no more the case. The stores are still there but the internet is now the best place to buy anything. I actually did not anticipate that at all. But as I browsed through the numerous stores and went through the serious bargaining and haggling one to expect, I came to the conclusion that getting my stuff from the net is much better . I already had my list of things to buy and the corresponding internet prices and these I could not match anywhere. Additional huge advantages include the saving of sales tax (8.75% there) and the convenience of placing your order anytime and with zero headache (no hassle or haggling). And many stores have a shipping free policy if order exceeds a certain amount. So I ended up buying next to nothing from Broadway and instead having all delivered to my hotel. Things worked out quite well this way and I ended up saving $500 on a $3000 bill.
It was also bitterly cold but that was expected. My eskimo hat, scarf, and gloves were of great use.

No trip to Manhattan is complete without the Broadway musicals. I saw 4 shows this trip: Chicago (Amazingly I prefer the movie), Fiddler on the Roof (Great music), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (John Lithgow of 3rd rock on the Sun), and Sweet Charity (starring the lovely Christina Applegate).

For quick bites, Europa cafes are recommended. These are interspersed throughout Manhattan and are a great and healthy choice for a soup, salad, or sandwich. For more fancy dining, my favorite remains the Marriott Marquis revolving restaurant sumptuous dinner buffet.

Broadway remains as always the happening place. It is amazing how many people walk that street everyday. The stores there remain fabulous, from Sports Authority to Toys R Us. I spent two hours that the Sports Authority place trying the new Adidas-with-computer-chip tennis shoe but never succeeding to make it work or actually getting impressed. Bought lots of stuff though from that store.

Found an internet place that was quite affordable on 42nd street between 7th and 8th avenue. I paid 4$ for 4 hours of use and you can stop and come back anytime to use your remaining time. The connection was fast and the place was spacious and clean.
On my way back to my hotel at 1:00 am, I passed by the huge Loews movie theatre that has like 42 screens. Rent was playing and it was starting in 15 minutes so I went in and watched that. I had to take 10 levels of escalators to reach the actual hall where the film was playing! I thouroughly enjoyed the movie and on my way out, I saw a number of policemen on horses. It was 3:00 am and quite a sight!

Security in NY.jpg

Overall, I had a great time in Manhattan but for sure wish it was not as insanely expensive as it currently is. Still, I can’t wait to come back again, few years down the road.

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