A Grin at the End: Nine-step plan – A surprising visit yields tips for enjoying ‘The City’

May 2016 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

carl-sampsonBy Carl Sampson

I go to New York City every 35 years whether I need to or not. And I always believed that was plenty.

I mean, how often should a guy, whose idea of the perfect town is measured in hundreds and whose goal in life is never to stand in line for anything, go to a city whose population is approximately 544 bazillion?

But here’s the thing.

Today’s New York City is amazing. I mean it. It’s not perfect, but the things that a person can see and do in one day are mind-boggling.

I’m not an expert on New York, but here’s my guide to spending a day in the The City.

For starters, take the Staten Island Ferry — it’s free. You read that right. And parking at the terminal is $8 for an entire day. You cannot park in Portland for that. The ferry also goes past the Statue of Liberty and Governor’s Island and lets you off at the southern tip of Manhattan.

Second, walk. New York has a vibe unlike any other city. In Portland, I start to lose my enthusiasm after 15 minutes of dodging bums. In New York, I saw exactly three panhandlers the entire day.

Third, spend some time at the 9/11 memorial, where the footprints of the twin towers are engraved with the names of the people who died there in 2001. It is a gorgeous memorial and a fitting tribute to those innocents who were caught up in that awful attack.

Fourth, when you’re tired of walking, take the subway. It’s fast and — a vast change from 35 years ago — clean. And the folks we ran into were friendly and helpful.

Fifth, learn French. I don’t know what was going on, but we ran into French people everywhere we went.

We were in Chelsea Market, one of those foodie places with dozens of restaurants, and a French lady came up to us. “Where can’t I buy a hamburger?” she asked.

I told her that this is America. You cannot throw a rock without hitting three hamburger stands. Sure enough, hamburgers were on the menu at a place 15 feet away. She was happy. Bon appetit.

Sixth, go to a show. They’re not cheap but boy howdy, are they amazing. We went to Les Miserables.

And though I have pretty much memorized every part, this production had special effects and things I’ve never seen done with sound and lighting.

Seventh, take in the sights. We saw Times Square, Rockefeller Center and Central Park. We took a look at a lot of the skyscrapers. We even took a photo of Trump Tower. It looked small, like the guy who built it.

Eighth, talk with people. We struck up a conversation with a New York City cop, who answered about a million and a half questions about his job and the city.

I wondered why I’ve never been able to talk with a Salem cop on the street, even though I’ve worked downtown 13 years. Probably because they never seem to get out of their cars.

Ninth, plan to go back.

You’re not going to see or do everything in a day or even a week. We barely scraped the surface. So we’re planning to return. We don’t know when, but it’ll probably be in less than 35 years.

Carl Sampson is a freelance editor and writer.

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