Here’s the top 10 highlights from my trip to New York City, listed in no particular order. (I made attempts to rank the highlights, but it was just too hard to compare the experiences at the conference to the subway system to a great dessert.)
1. Being on stage at the #140Conference. What a thrill! I was super nervous, but also so excited to be part of Jeff Pulver’s New York Conference representing Topeka, our Google Fiber Campaign and all of my colleagues at jones huyett Partners. The ten minutes I spent on stage talking about the campaign flew by. I wish I could’ve had another five so I could have mentioned the awesome videos John Ary created, or the way Brendan Jensen helped maintain the website, or even the fact that Google renamed themselves Topeka for April Fool’s Day. That’s okay though, it was still an experience I’ll never forget. I’m so grateful for Jeff for inviting me and for jhP giving me the opportunity to go.
2. Visiting the Museum of Modern Art, specifically the 4th and 5th floors. Picasso, Cezanne, Pollack, Kandinsky, Monet… Need I say more? I’m always inspired by the works of the Masters, but these were a real treat. My heart sung the entire time because this abundance of visual stimulation!
3. Washington Square. Located by the NYU campus, Washington Square was full of life. There were multiple musicians playing, everything from a solo cellist to a 5-piece string band, all sharing their musical talents with the world. Throughout the park groups of people were congregated, enjoying nature and the beautiful weather. In particular, I had fun watching some very talented hacky sack players and observing what I determined to be a curious band of earthy hippies sprawled out on the lawn. All of this on top of children playing in the fountain, and a (probably crazy) older gentleman standing on a pedastal holding a sign high above his head encouraging everyone to buy American-made products and quit sending jobs overseas. This abundance of life and the time I had to slow down and appreciate the company I was with made this one of my NYC favorites.
4. The Museum Mile Festival. The first night I arrived in the city, the Museum Mile, located about a mile from the hotel, had a festival where they offered free admission to several museum, street performers and booths where local artists could display their works. After a trek in the rain (in my cute heels), I was able to score a great piece of artwork from a New York artist, and got to spend some time at The Met. While I was disappointed that the Modern Art section was closed for the evening, it was still a great place to visit. The sheer size and architecture made it a great experience.
5. Times Square. What can I say? I’m in the advertising business and Times Square was a commercial feast for the eyes. With advertising literally everywhere, it was nearly impossible to take it all in. I know there were lots of shopping opportunities in the area, but I honestly didn’t see any of them. I’m sure some of that was due to the fact that I’m not a big fan of shopping and I really didn’t have any money to spend, but I think the overwhelming amount of stimulation from all the jumbo electronic billboards was the biggest factor.
6. The subway system. God bless the NYC subway! While I may have inadvertently led my travel companion in the wrong direction more than once, the subway system was super easy to use and gives you cheap access to most of the city. I can’t even imagine how much money I would have spent on taxis if I had used them instead. In about three days time, we took in sights from Brooklyn, Central Park, SoHo, NoHo, the Upper East side, Chinatown and Little Italy.
7. Pizza at Grimaldi’s under the Brooklyn Bridge. After waiting in line for 30 minutes to get a table, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this coal-fired brick oven pizzeria, but I wasn’t disappointed. The pizza was great, especially since I had the opportunity to watch it being made as I waited in line (again) to use their restroom. On top of that, the owner took a liking to my travel companion and ended up giving us some excellent free canolis, all because of a t-shirt.
8. Dessert at Peroni’s in Little Italy. This little pizzeria/dessert shop was amazing. I didn’t try any of their pizza, but was highly impressed by their Mixed Berry Cake. My travel companion had a berry inspired dessert that was pretty good too!
9. Bagel Express. Located only a few blocks from the Courtyard Inn and pretty affordable, this little shop was a true gem. The fresh bagels and cream cheese were delightful, and they carried my favorite Naked Juice, Orange Mango. On top of good bagels and a convenient location, this is where we got a chance to talk with an inquisitive older gentleman two days in a row that in many ways reminded me of my grandfather. He asked us questions about Kansas and we asked him about life in New York. He was so tickled to meet us, and I think we were very fortunate to have met him.
10. A carriage ride through Central Park. While it was pricey, the carriage ride was a great way to end my trip to New York City. It allowed me to appreciate the beauty and relative quietness of the park while I reflected over all the sights, sounds, smells and memories I made on my trip. It gave me a chance to really appreciate and think about everything I’d experienced over the previous few days and enjoy my last moments in NYC with my travel companion.