When NYC is your home, one rarely sees it as a tourist.
As an avid traveler, I’m embarrassed to say that my passport is extremely dusty. It hasn’t seen the light of day since February of 2008. But in my defense, I’ve been spending the past year and a half helping to inspire others to travel through my website, Briefcase to Backpack.
The ironic thing in all of this is that I live in a place where most people from around the world would love to visit – New York City. Yet I spend most of my time in my home office, in front of a computer screen, preaching the wonders of exploring the world. Why not explore my own world?
I saw an opportunity to escape from my 8’x8’ space when a friend from Australia, Lauren, came to visit. This was a great time to embrace the tourist in me and see parts of the city in a new way – beyond the typical tourist attractions.
Grand Central Terminal (often referred to as Station, which is in fact the name of the post office). As I raced to and from work, I rarely took the opportunity to really take in the beauty of the terminal. And to think, it was nearly demolished in the 1970’s to make room for some non-descript towers until Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis stepped in to intervene. With her help and a Supreme Court ruling (the first on a matter of historic preservation), the Terminal was saved. A plaque in her honor is in Vanderbilt Hall, a place I had often visited for its holiday craft fair, but this I never noticed before.
These facts, and many more, were unveiled during a very entertaining and enlightening 90-minute walking tour sponsored free by The Municipal Arts Society (suggested donation of $10). The tour meets every Wednesday at 12:30pm at the center information booth on the Main Concourse.
Governor’s Island. The island served as a military base for British and American forces for over 200 years and was transferred to the Coast Guard in 1966. And on January 31, 2003 was transferred to the people of New York through the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation.
The future of the island is still in development but current plans have it serving as a great public open space – and it does. Open Friday-Sunday, access to the island is just a short 5 minute free ferry ride from Downtown. Once on land, there are a variety of activities to do, including car-free biking (rentals are $10 an hour, free on Fridays), running paths, picnic areas, mini-golf, historic walking tours, and art & cultural activities. There is even a beach area with picnic tables, concessions, and concerts. Or if you prefer, you can just relax on the grassy hills or hammocks.
These were just a few highlights for me during Lauren’s visit. In addition, it’s one of my greatest pleasures sharing what I love about the city with visitors like Lauren. NYC is so inspiring in so many ways, so I plan to share more of what I love about it on my Inspiration Blog.