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I just got back from an awesome weekend in New York City – thanks again Ben for being such a great host. 5 days wasn’t nearly enough time to see everything, so I’m already looking forward to the follow up trip.

Fabulous Food
New York is full of amazing restaurants, including a ton of vegetarian ones. I didn’t know upscale vegetarian restaurants existed, but there are plenty in New York. Usually expensive, fancy meals involves meat of one kind, but we managed to find a few restaurants with exquisite, vegetarian menus. Candle 79 was by far the best. I added some other favourites to my Urban Spoon profile.

The papparazzi wouldn’t leave us alone while we were drinking at Jimmy’s 43. A lady kept snapping pictures of Ben, Emily, and I drinking. She told us a Village Voice, a local paper, was reviewing the pub and needed a picture for the article. I don’t know if we’re famous yet – Ben will have to check when the new issue comes out.

Urban Exploration
I really enjoyed just exploring New York. There are some great neighborhoods (although they did tend to blend together). Emily and Ben took me to the East Village (with its funky shops), Chinatown (crazy busy and smelly), Soho (expensive clothing boutiques), and Union Square Market (a real farmer’s market!). The Big Onion tour of Greenwich Village – the formerly bohemian artists area of town, now trendy, gentrified, and expensive – was super informative and interesting.

I was constantly amazed at the hustle and bustle in New York. The city is chaotic! The sidewalks were constantly packed with people, the streets full of crazy taxi drivers, the smell of garbage lingered everywhere, and the symphony of horns and sirens never ceased. A few times we saw the NYPD out in force riding around in convoys of 50 police cars, sirens screaming – not sure why though they never seemed to get out of their cars. Intimidation maybe?

Stunning Sights
I got to see the normal tourist sights. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge – a surprisingly pleasant trip due to the fact that the sidewalk is in the middle of the bridge and elevated above the car traffic. I also saw the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and the Statue of Liberty. And of course I got the top-notch Ben tour of Bloomberg – which was pretty impressive. Grand Central Station was another highlight – thanks for showing us all the secrets Ben.

We barely scratched the surface of Central Park (it’s huge!), and I’m itching to go back. I’d love to run and cycle through the park and explore more of it. But it really is a gem. I was amazed with how raw and natural most of it was. The rest of New York is really lacking in parks and green space (why do the other parks insist on fencing off the grass?). But Central Park is just perfect.

Tricky Transportation
New York offers tons of transportation opportunities. The subway is really efficient, but confusing at first. We had trouble a few times figuring out which lines to take and where we could transfer. The express lines speed thing up but also make the system complicated.

We tried to take a taxi once from Grand Central to Penn Station but had trouble flagging on down and eventually gave up and walked – really the best way to get around.

The cyclists in New York are nuts. There are some new cycling lanes painted on the streets, but the cyclists I saw just went wherever they wanted, often against one-way traffic. And every bike had 20 lb chains on them. It’s too bad, because New York should be easy to cycle (its dense and relatively flat), but the crazy drivers don’t make it easy.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Lucky/Unlucky, Married to Science, Vancouver vs New York, and a photo journal.

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