Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Five (Possibly) Surprising Facts About New York City by Carol Ross and Amy Vastine

As many of you know, the national Romance Writers of America Conference was held in New York City last month. We've read some really great posts about reader and author conference experiences, but Amy and I thought we’d offer a different twist by sharing some things about NYC that some of you might not know. 

So, for those who’ve never been to New York City (even you veteran NYC travelers might learn something) …. 

1)   There is plenty of food.  Now, I know what you’re thinking. Duh, Carol, of course there is tons of food in a city with a population of 8.406 million people (see how I snuck that fun fact in there?) But this was a real fear for me, so perhaps it is for others as well. Having never been to NYC, I’d heard stories about the crowds of people and lines everywhere. I was pretty sure I was going to have to stand in line for hours to buy even a hotdog and that ultimately I would probably starve. Happily, I discovered this was not the case. Not only does New York City live up to its reputation for serving some of the greatest food in the world, you don’t have to wait that long for it (except at Shake Shack, but that was TOTALLY worth it). 

Greek salad & sashimi tacos--one of Carol's favorite NYC meals.
  
2)   In New York City you can make a reservation for something, but that doesn’t mean whatever you were promised (and paid for) will ultimately be yours. Yep, I learned this one the hard way. After securing a “reservation” and receiving a "voucher" weeks in advance, I arrived at La Guardia late in the evening, anxious to get to my hotel and unwind. I had no worries because I was secure in the knowledge that I had a prepaid ride waiting for me. What I got was hours of waiting and promises of ‘soon’ and ‘shortly’. After what seemed like the hundredth call to the drivers, the man behind the desk informed me that they were canceling my reservation. When I asked him exactly how did they expect me to get to Manhattan at 1AM by myself, I was told to take a cab. True story. (And today I received an email request to "review" my experience with said shuttle company...can anyone guess how that's going to go?)

 
Exciting (and unexpected) ride in one of these!

3)   New Yorkers leave their garbage on the street for a reason. (I actually learned this interesting tidbit from Amy--she’s super smart and city savvy). There are no alleys in NYC like there are in many other big cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington DC, so garbage is collected right off the street. And most streets do not have space for permanent dumpsters, not to mention a dumpster wouldn’t look or smell very attractive street-side--unless you’re a rat, which brings up yet another garbage issue... Garbage in NYC is a fascinating and controversial subject. I literally spent hours researching it and I could go on about rats, plastic bags versus trash cans, recycling, incinerators, and landfills, but I’ll let those of you who find garbage as interesting as I do Google the topic. (Come on…someone else must find this interesting..? Anyone?) Which brings me to another gripping question--would a garbage man make a compelling romantic hero?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jean-jacquesboujot/
4) Anyone who's seen Sleepless in Seattle must remember the scene at the top of the Empire State Building when Sam and Annie finally meet. It's so romantic. However, truth be told, there is nothing romantic about standing on an observation deck with hundreds of tourists taking selfies of themselves standing high above Manhattan. It's annoying. But, if you want some amazing views of the city without all the congestion, we suggest heading over to Rockefeller Center and visiting the Top of the Rock. We went there on a Sunday and it was almost too easy. No lines, no crowds, same great views, and no metal fences to make you feel like you're in a prison. Don't waste your money over at the Empire State Building - go to the TOP!

Top of the Rock (Ah, look at all that open space and those great views!)
Or Empire State Prison Building (People, move out of the way, I'm trying to take a picture!)
5) New York Cheesecake truly is the best. We know that sometimes what a city is famous for doesn't always turn out to be that amazing. People. Have you eaten this? In New York City? Never in our lives have we eaten cheesecake this creamy and delicious. It definitely lived up to the hype. First, we had some at the Harlequin Black & White Ball (and it was to die for) and then we had some at Junior's. This is the real deal. 

Go. Eat. Love.

30 comments:

  1. Thanks for the fun post, Carol and Amy. It seems you took full advantage of your trip to NYC for RWA!

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    1. Thank you, Kate! We definitely utilized the time we had. We had a blast. I was completely exhausted on the trip home, but it was so worth it.

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  2. I'm so glad you made it to your hotel. I hope you get your money back on the shuttle deal. And one of the members from our chapter was in love with the food. She posted several photos of her meals on Facebook. Now about the garbage...too funny, but I'm waiting to see it show up in one of your stories.

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    1. Roz, me too. I'll admit to experiencing a few moments of frustration and terror. When I finally got in the cab and was headed to the hotel I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Thankfully, all was well and the laughter won out. And yes, at least they did refund my money although I felt like charging them for the cab fare.

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  3. Having lived near, and worked in NYC, it was fun to read your post and see it through a visitor's eyes! I've set three of my books there (though different areas- Brooklyn and SoHo twice) because it's such a rich, diverse place with so many contradictions and surprises that keep me endlessly entertained. I now live in the countryside in Upstate NY, but I miss the energy and excitement I always feel when I'm there, along with the incredible museums, theaters, restaurants, art galleries and so on... And as a people watcher, there is no better place on earth to discover the next group of colorful characters to inhabit your next book!

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    1. Karen, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I was nervous, because cities make me nervous. It would be a difficult to write about and really capture if you hadn't at least visited--living and working there must give you endless possibilities. Sounds like you've had the best of both worlds--city and country!

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  4. Great post. NYC is one of my favorite places to visit. Always something to do and new places to see. Glad you had a good time.

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    1. Thanks, Tara. Like I mentioned above, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the city. Of course, I credit Amy for this because she was the best tour guide ever. Without her I probably would have only seen Times Square because that's where the conference was LOL!

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  5. Well, that feels a little as though I've been there. I'd have focused on the food - and I love cheesecake! So sorry about your bad experience with transportation - tell them what you really think! And make sure some women's group knows they stranded you at 1:00 a.m.! That should make a fuss. Spent one day there to meet Debra Matteucci with American Romance really early in my career and loved it - but I wore heels (idiot!) because I wanted to look nice. About garbage-guy heroes - there was a great one in the "Frasier" TV series that Roz fell in love with. She was first embarrassed by what he did, then realized if a man's a prince, it doesn't matter where he works. Thanks for all the fun photos and info!

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    1. Yay, Muriel! That's such a nice compliment. The truth is, I always focus on food. I think i photographed every meal and dessert I had. It's a really fun part of traveling for me, and I think it's partially because I live in the country and rarely go out to eat and partially because, well, because I love food. I will be dreaming about that cheesecake from Juniors for years to come...
      And thank you for reminding me about that storyline on 'Frasier.' I remember that hot garbage-guy she fell for!

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  6. Oh, I wish I'd been there with you. Sounds like you had the most awesome time.

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    1. Me too, Pam! You would have been laughing right along with us the ENTIRE time...

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  7. Thanks for the NYC tour, Carol and Amy. You're right, the Empire State Building certainly doesn't look as romantic as it did in SIS. I don't think I could be that high with so many people.

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    1. You're welcome, Jill. Amy didn't bother taking me to the Empire State Building and after seeing her photos I agree. It makes me feel funny just thinking about it....

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  8. No wonder I didn't see you guys around conference! You were out playing news reporter and actually seeing the sights. I think I may have walked a block or two outside the hotel to get lunch or something. That was the extent of it.

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    1. LOL! We did manage to do some conferencing, too, Mel(: Thanks to Amy who seems to have a built-in GPS, we squeezed quite a bit in on Sunday (we both flew out late that day) and made pretty good use of our time. (We will admit to going AWOL on Wednesday night to see a Broadway show.)

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  9. What a nightmare having to wait in the airport for your transportation. And then not getting what you were promised. This definitely needs to go in a book. Glad you did get some enjoyment out of NYC. It was nostalgia time for me, since I used to live and work in Manhattan. Great post.

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    1. It really was kind of a nightmare, Marion, Lol! But it does make a good story. It was so great to see you there, too. I hope you had a great time on your post-conference road trip!

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  10. Thanks for the glimpse of the city that never sleeps (even if the shuttle does). Someday I'll see it and when I taste the cheesecake, I'll think of you.

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    1. Lol! Love it, Beth! But not that shuttle... Yes, we really were surprised and impressed by the cheesecake. It would be enough for me to go back for--that and Sprinkles cupcakes, and banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery, and frozen custard from the Shake Shack....

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  11. A great post, and now I'm even jealouser that I wasn't there. :-)

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    1. We truly missed you, Liz. I know you would have found many things just as funny as Amy and I did. Hope you can make it to San Diego!

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  12. Oh, man! The words I would have used at the airport and then having my reservation cancelled!! I soooo feel your pain. But Thanks for the super great post, guys and in the end, truly there is no cheesecake that good. I don't know what they do, I've followed the recipes and try as I might, there is just some mystery about NYC cheesecake. Thanks again!

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    1. LOL, Catherine! I can guarantee you I was vacillating between all those words (and maybe more) and prayers!

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  13. I want you as a tour guide if I ever get to NYC! Maybe in--what 3 years when RWA will be back in NYC?

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    1. Patricia, I will happily invite you along. I have to say that Amy and I have a really great time together. So bring your comfortable shoes and we'll laugh our way around NYC!

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  14. Yup, that's NY for ya'. Having been born and raised there I can say there's no other place like it in the world - for good and for not so good. I'd recommend everyone visit at least once in their lifetime for a minimum of 7 days. And I've got news for you, if you think Junior's cheesecake tastes good now, you should have tasted it 20 years ago or more!! Unbelievable. NY is a place not easily forgotten.

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  15. Laurie, sounds like you would be a great tour guide, too! I was surprised by how nice people were (aside from the shuttle people). I have to admit I was expecting rude and grouchy New Yorkers, but I really didn't experience that. I would like to go back and spend a bit more time. There is so much to see. You've got me very curious and a little jealous about Junior's cheesecake in the old days--I can't imagine cheesecake better than that...

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  16. My one and only experience (apart from LAX) of the United States is New York City. I was actually surprised by how little it was like the stereotypes I learnt from the movies! I had a fortnight there in apartment on 51st Street, and it exceeded my expectations.

    I went up the Empire State Building when my parents were in town, and they'd actually closed it because of zero visibility. So we were the only three people there. Couldn't see anything, but we had privacy!

    As for "send us a review" messages - my grandmother died in hospital in May, and a week or two later we received a letter: 'rate your hospital experience'! I couldn't believe the insensitivity. Surely they could have a thing where you put the people who died on a list - "don't send the letter to that person"...

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    1. In "an" apartment! I cannot proofread!

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