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10 Hours In NYC

March 23, 2011

Washington, DC is a city. I love my hometown and having lived in major cities around the world — London and Seoul have both been temporary homes — I can safely call DC my favorite city in the world.

New York is a city. Skyscrapers on every corner, a mass of people surrounding you at all times, constantly blaring horns and sirens and music. Every time I step off the bus/train/car from DC to NYC, the city infiltrates my senses and I’m immediately reminded that in many ways, DC is just a sleepy town that happens to be home to a lot of politicians.

My 10 hours in New York was made possible by Starbucks. That’s different from being sponsored by Starbucks, but as long as there’s a grande nonfat misto with a shot of peppermint in my hands, it might as well be the same thing.

In spite of my 4:30am wake-up call, Union Station’s beauty still awed me. It was nearly deserted so early in the morning, which lent a peaceful feeling to this beautiful building.

All aboard! The Acela is really amazing. A trip that takes more than four hours by bus takes less than three hours on the Acela. Then again, you pay a lot more for the luxury of high-speed rail. Does the free WiFi make up for the high cost? Maybe.

Upon arriving at Penn Station, I set out on-foot for the conference. 20 blocks is nothin’ when the blocks are NYC-sized and it’s a beautiful morning. Mapquest says it was 1.4 miles — what an easy way to sneak some exercise into the day!

I was in New York to attend day one of the Search Engine Strategies conference and got to hear some interesting discussions about the future of search engines (it’s about personalization, people), how to develop good content (which turned into an anti-journalist conversation, sadly) and analytics (numbers  make my head spin).

Note to conference organizers: be sure to put chairs and tables near electrical outlets. When it’s a conference for people who work in the Internet industry, you can bet everyone will have laptops. I spent much of the day like this:

Nothing says ‘professional writer representing a major media company’ like a girl sitting on the floor in a dress trying to charge her laptop. However even with a laptop, I still take notes the old-fashioned way with pen and paper.

Midday was my favorite part of any conference: lunch. Don’t be ashamed if lunch is your favorite part of the day, too, friends. This meal was set up buffet style and it’s always fascinating to see how people — okay, mostly women — approach a buffet. Me, I’m the girl who takes a little bit of everything and dessert. Lunch dessert only happens on special occasions and waking up before the sun totally counts as a special occasion.

Typical buffet food but the mozzarella was advertised as ‘local’ so… that’s good? It tasted nice, anyway! I’m always a little awkward during these networking lunches because I don’t do anything technical for my job. It can be a little uncomfortable trying to explain that I write a lot about celebrity deaths, divorces and drama while my seatmate builds search engines from scratch or something equally foreign to me.

Let’s call this conference a success, though. Besides, the thing I was most looking forward to wasn’t until after the conference: a quick dinner with my former roommate, Brittany.

We are both big falafel fans and she suggested grabbing food from a streetcart and eating outside. Sounds good to me — one of my top travel tips is to always eat a streetcarts. (I have an entire upcoming post on this — that’s how strongly I feel about street food.)

These halal street vendors are all over New York. Food trucks have caught on big here in DC but when it comes to streetcarts, we’re stuck with your typical hot dogs, hamburgers and pretzels. Not so in NYC. This big falafel sandwich was dripping with mysterious white sauce and had a spicy kick, all for $4.00.

My dad couldn’t believe that out of all the nice restaurants New York has, I chose to eat dinner from a street vendor. I think I did enough eating out last time I was in NYC to make up for it, though.

Walking back to Penn Station, I got to enjoy the setting sun against the Empire State Building. Nothing says New York like that gleaming tower.

Oh, iPhone and its funny zoom… (yes, all photos taken on my iPhone. No lugging a heavy camera around the city for this blogger!)

The Empire State Building always reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Sleepless In Seattle.

I can never get tired of that movie. Meeting on top of the Empire State Building = very romantic.

Back at Penn Station, I joined the crush of people waiting for trains out of the city.

After fewer than 10 hours in New York, I was on my way home. A whirlwind trip for sure but also fun, interesting, educational and delicious. It’s always nice to visit but I was happy to step outside Union Station and see this familiar sight staring back at me.

Welcome home.

What’s your favorite movie? Sleepless In Seattle (I’m a huge Tom Hanks fan), Waiting For Guffman and The Sound of Music top my list.

 

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrew permalink
    March 23, 2011 9:12 pm

    Tragic mistake bringing a bagel with you instead of getting one once you got to NYC.

    As for your dad’s disbelief over your street cart patronage, I think one of the great things (and there are many) about eating in NYC is that you can get great food at any level of price and formality, from street carts to places that probably require a credit check just to get seated.

    • March 24, 2011 4:13 pm

      True but I needed to eat something before the train ride and a bagel it was. Sadly, it wasn’t even a good bagel. It was from… gasp… Safeway. Sad but true.

  2. March 24, 2011 7:36 pm

    You just have to love NYC 🙂 Glad you had a great time!

  3. March 29, 2011 6:14 pm

    Yay NYC! I love your blog, by the way! I just stumbled across it!

  4. T. Hamm permalink
    September 30, 2011 1:01 pm

    I enjoyed your article. I am from San Diego, and my family and I once did a trip that started in DC and then to the train up to NYC. My question is regarding NYC. If I have a 10 hour layover at JFK, is there time to get to the city and back to JFK and if so, what would you suggest? Maybe some of your blog readers have a suggestion also. Thank you

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