Dear readers – assuming I still have readers, I’ve really fallen off the wagon. But, I have a GREAT excuse. Are you ready? I quit my day-job and started my own business. The work is plentiful, but the pay is much, much less…..sounds attractive, right? I work for myself! All in all, it takes more of my time, but it’s SO much more rewarding. You’ll just have to trust me on this.
Nevertheless, I HAVE been traveling. Albeit, it’s much more domestic than my travel was previously and one of the first places I want to cover is my dear old friend, New York City. I visited Manhattan immediately prior to lock-down and now 3 or 4 times since. I’ve noticed a few things.
As you know from reading prior posts, NYC has always been a favorite of mine and I’ve always considered myself a bit of an aficionado where the big apple is concerned. Bearing in mind that I’m speaking as a tourist, I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned following the last 2 years:
- Don’t believe the hype – New York City is not unsafe for travelers
- Be sure to check hours of operation and even menus before you head out
- Don’t take the city for granted – it’s vulnerable just like everyone else
Listen to your gut and you’ll find NYC perfectly fine for tourism
People keep saying that the city is WAY more dangerous post-COVID. So often I hear: I wouldn’t do that today……. Or, “Don’t go there alone anymore.” Of course, it gives me pause when I hear locals say it, so there must be SOMETHING to it. My impression? It’s just less crowded today than it used to be.
The old adage about safety in numbers was to our advantage in the city prior to COVID. Anywhere you turned, there were hundreds (thousands?) of people around you – nowadays, you might turn down a city block and find it surprisingly desolate. ESPECIALLY at night. So, eyes-up guys, stay alert! As I’ve said before, every place isn’t Disneyland (…..thank God, but also….now I’m thinking about Disneyland…..) Be aware of your surroundings. Know where you’re going.
And, for goodness sake, realize that it’s not always worth ‘muscling through’. I have to remind myself sometimes that diverting my planned course is best. Ducking into a store to get your bearings, check your directions or to let someone following too closely pass by is just a smart approach. Call a Lyft or Uber instead of saving the $10 that would’ve led you down an empty street or through a bad neighborhood on foot. Make good choices – you won’t be sorry.
Manage expectations: Google is your friend
Lots of places took advantage of the downtime and remodeled or even re-branded, so their offerings have changed dramatically. Some are still struggling with getting enough help, so hours are reduced.
One of the best surprises I’ve gotten recently was the new lobby and bar at the Algonquin Hotel. I found it comfortable and reliable before – but, it’s a must-see today! Drop in after a show to grab a cocktail and dessert. You’re welcome.
However, due to the staffing shortage, some places don’t have the late hours they used to. If you’re counting on an after-show snack, call ahead and be sure you have options. A little planning will make the difference between ending the night on a high note, or eating mini-bar peanuts for dinner. I know they don’t really have mini-bar peanuts anywhere anymore….it’s a joke….you got where I was going with it though, right? Geez.
The times, they are a’changin
If you have “that place we always go”, and most of us do, I’m very sorry to tell you – it might not be there anymore. More than 1,000 restaurants have closed since March 2020. It’s shocking to me to see the number of closed retail and restaurant spots as I walk down the streets. That said, I found new places that I can learn to love very much. Carnegie Diner & Cafe, for example, was a delightful breakfast spot. Had one of my old favorites been around, I would’ve passed it right on by.
It’s a little bitter-sweet, but, keep an open mind. The good offerings are still out there and there are MULTITUDES of the old staples out there waiting for your patronage. What’re you waiting for??
“London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it.”
– Dorothy Parker, writer and founding member of the Algonquin Round Table
New York was hard-hit and so were other major cities. They’re struggling to make a come-back. I’ve been to NYC at least 3 times since the pandemic first started. I’ve been to Chicago at least twice and LA 2 or 3 times. It just takes a little more upfront planning now. And, I don’t begin to suggest I know what it’s like to live and work in the city under the new conditions, so forgive me if I’ve struck a chord for anyone. My aim was to write a love song that promotes what we love about the city(ies) and maybe motivate ONE traveler to say, “Yeah – I’m booking!”
If we don’t use it, we’ll lose it
The longer you wait, the more likely a further prolonged dip in business might whittle away at those beloved places that are still hanging on. We have time and science on our side now and I think we can move around comfortably and relatively safely – don’t let the pandemic put the “Out of Business” sign on your own personal travel itineraries – get out and see the world. It’s been waiting for you to return.
Speaking of which, I’m returning to New York in a few weeks to take in the holiday decorations – I never thought I’d go 1 year without basking in the glow of Rockefeller Plaza all decked out in its holiday finest, but now I’ve gone 3 (THREE!!). Maybe I should titrate first……I’ll look at 10 twinkle lights a day at first, then 20…..