My first trip to NYC was full of the Typically-Touristy. I don’t complain – there was some fun stuff there. Besides, when you’re only going to a place for the first time for only 4 days you try to do the big things, and most of those big things are really touristy.
[Not Touristy – getting a ride in an ambulance and visiting a NYC hospital]
On our first day we started out by going on a couple Grey Line bus tours of the city. Our second bus tour, which was the downtown loop, was not that spectacular. The tour guide made a lot of unfunny/mean jokes about everything we were seeing, and I suspect that he hated his job and was only doing this because he was an out of work actor waiting for his big break. The only good thing I remember about that tour was that we learned that there really are steam tunnels under the city, so all that steam rising from manholes is real.
But our first tour… oh, our first tour… We took the Brooklyn loop with tour guide Howie and drive Dwayne. I imagine those two grabbing a beer together after work every day. Howie was from Brooklyn (yes, he had the accent) and he was hilarious. He talked to people on the streets, made up things (and admitted to their falsehoods), and kept us very entertained and informed. There were a lot of places we wanted to go to (the Botanical Gardens were having their Cherry Blossom Festival), but we refused to get off the bus because we didn’t want to risk not getting Howie back – that was how good Howie was.
After our tours we went to Times Square for some food at the Olive Garden (yes, we finally got to the Olive Garden). Unlimited salad and soup – yes please! Then we wandered around Times Square, went to the “Toys R Us” to look at the ferris wheel, shopped at a comic book store (I can’t remember the name), and ate Street Meat from a vendor. After that we caught a Broadway show (transplanted from London), and… well, we all know how that turned out…
Looking back, I think I’d do things differently. I’d still keep Howie, because he was awesome (and I’d rather do a drive-through of Brooklyn than miss it all together), but I’d skip the Manhattan bus tour. Also, New York has some damn good food which is way better than random street meat.
Of course, when you’re a child growing up in Canada, watching television from the US, sometimes you just gotta try Olive Garden/Duncan Donuts/Red Lobster/etc. I’ve watched so many commercials for those places that they’re stuck in the back of my mind (catchphrase and all).
And if I ever see an iHOP I’m definitely going in.