Sunday, September 23, 2007

New York State of Mind

I'll admit that this blog entry was started on the back of my plane ticket stub while waiting for my food at Maxine's just up from Times Square. I flew into New York late this morning for a series of business meetings on Monday. There's just something so wonderful about being in New York. This is my third visit to the city in just under a year, and I've not explored too much outside of Midtown and the Financial District. Even as I slip into the city via a quick taxi ride from LaGuardia to the city, my mind is already soaking in the sights. All five senses seem to come alive after a lengthy hibernation and are taking in every moment, properly cataloguing it all for later reference in a book, short story, or even (heaven help us all) a poem.

So, for those of you who have not been to the city yet, I was smart enough this time to bring my camera. Let me take you on a mini-tour of the city that is quickly becoming a the second home of my heart. (Warning: This is a long post, but at least it has pictures)

First: checking into the hotel. I'm staying at the Hilton on the Avenue of the Americas (6th Ave) and W54th Street. If you plan to do a lot of walking and sightseeing in Midtown, this is a fantastic location. You're very close to Times Square and just a block over the shopping mecca of the universe -- Fifth Avenue.

Like any good, newly published author, the next thing I did was to track down my publisher. Lucky for me, HarperCollins is just a block away from my hotel. I got a little teary and giddy to know that this was truly my home-away-from-home. These wonderful people are the caretakers of Mira, Danaus, and all the other characters I have lovingly created.

From there, I walk north up Fifth Avenue to window shop, drooling over all those wonderful things I will never ever be able to afford unless some rich tycoon falls madly in love with me and my various eccentricities -- no, I'm not holding my breath. On Fifth, you will find Fendi, Cartier, Tiffany's, Gucci, Versace, and pretty much any other designer you can think of. It's brilliant, with amazing displays and many men dressed in dark suits guarding the doors. Oddly enough, Fifth Avenue also has some amazing cathedrals sandwiched between the trendiest of trendy designers. See, God and Gucci -- New Yorkers have their priorities down.
Following Fifth Avenue north, you run into the eastern entrance of Central Park, with the Apple store on one corner and the Plaza Hotel on the other. I stop in the park on every visit. It's amazing. It's this enormous slice of green peace in the middle of human-concrete chaos. I treated myself to a carriage ride through the park. The driver was a pleasant Irish man with a wonderful accent. While in the park, you can almost forget that you're in one of the busiest cities in the world, but the city is always looming on the skyline, watching you.

Cutting east to west, I passed the Artists' Gate into the park before reaching the western entrance into the park.

From there, you cut south and head straight for Times Square. It's hard to miss; just follow the crowd. There you will get an visual overload. Giant signs are flashing everything under the sun, from blimp-sized M&M's dressed as the Statue of Liberty to sexy men dressed in only Armani underwear. Theaters are everywhere: Phantom, Mamma Mia, The Color Purple, Wicked, Spamalot, Les Miserable, The Drowsy Chaperon, and much more. I, naturally, had to take a picture of the Nasdaq, Thomson, and Reuters -- the financial hub outside the financial district (and my specialty outside of vampires).

A little weary but still quite content, I cut back over to Sixth Avenue and head north, passing the Rockefeller building (home to the Rockefeller Center and NBC) and Radio City Music Hall before finally reaching my hotel room again.

I know, I know ... I missed a lot of things, but that was only a walking tour of a couple hours and I need to work on my book some more. If I can sneak away tomorrow, I hope to slip past Grand Central Station -- amazing architecture -- and maybe the Empire State Building.

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