Top of the Rock, South view

Top of the Rock, South view

I had the opportunity to go to New York City last weekend to attend the Kaltura Connect 2013 Conference for work.  The conference started on Monday September  30th and went until Tuesday October 1st, so I flew in as early as possible on Saturday the 28th so that I could have the Sunday to explore a little in this epic city.  When I was first planning this trip I was under the impression it would be easy travel, however being on the west coast it turned out to be quite a mission to get across to NY and required two connections minimum from Nanaimo.  In the end it was a full day of travel to get both there and back from coast to coast.

I flew through Vancouver then Calgary into Newark, NYC.  From the airport I used the Airtrain which connects you to New Jersey transit inbound to downtown Manhattan.  From the airport this was fairly painless, but I did have to wait about 45 minutes for NJ transit to arrive.  When I arrived at my destination of Penn Station, I was in a huge underground rail exchange.  I did not at first realize I was in the right spot, it looked like the train had arrived in a dark rural area away from any city.  Only after getting off the train and going up four levels did I thankfully realize I was in the heart of downtown NYC, right under Madison Square Gardens.

When I came up on 7th Avenue, I was surrounded by the city.  I had no idea where north was and was completely disoriented.  I had no landmarks to guide me and had not done the research to prepare myself to find my way; this was fun.  I ended up doing a couple laps, second guessing myself whether I had found the correct direction and doubling back again.  I found a Starbucks, got on the WIFI and mapped a route to my hotel, which I then walked right past when arriving in the right area.

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

Finally settled on Saturday night, I decided to head back out into the city towards Grand Central Station.  The station at night was magic as travellers passed through and visitors explored the majestic hall.  I then head to Times Square which was surprising busy after 1am, probably because of the Stevie wonder, Alicia Keys, John Mayer and Kings of Leon concert that was happening in Central Park that evening – which I am truly sorry I missed.

Central Park

Central Park

The following day I started in Central Park for a coffee and bagel breakfast.  Central park was amazing, a lovely oasis in this massive city, where jazz musicians croon along and runners and cyclists moan through their routine.  From there I head down to the Ed Sullivan Theater to inquire about seeing the Late Show with David Letterman live.  Turns our the Late Show films in the middle of the afternoon and not on Sunday which did not work with my schedule.  I then took a bus downtown to visit Battery Park and get a view of the Statue of Liberty.  I visit The National September 11 Memorial & Museum which was a beautiful and moving experience.  I head down to Wall Street and explored the downtown financial district.   After intimately exploring City Hall Park, I head out to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.  From here I decided to walk from downtown back to my hotel through Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho and the East Village. It was a long walk at 5km, but I had an opportunity to see a bit more of the city including NYU and the Flatrion Building.

The conference was amazing; I will report on that in my work blog.  On Monday evening I attended a lovely dinner out with colleagues followed by a night out for drinks in the Meatpacking District.  At the end of the second day of the conference I head to Rockefeller Centre for some magnificent views of the city from the Top of the Rock 70 stories above the city.  The views from here were amazing, and reaffirmed my thoughts that this city was just endless.  The only better views were on my flight out of La Guardia where I could see all of Manhattan together.

Sister and I

Sister and I

The best part of my trip was getting to see my sister who was also in NYC for business on Tuesday night.  Of the thousand or so hotels in the city we ended up in two hotels on the same block, mine the King and Grove and her’s the Gansevoort both on East 29th.  We met very easily, had drinks at the Gansevoort rooftop bar and then head into Soho for a delicious dinner at the Stanton Social.  We met again for a wonderful breakfast at the Gansevoort before she head off to work and I had a quick visit to Macy’s before heading to the airport.

New York is an amazing city, I wish I had more time to explore the thousands of blocks.  There are so many examples of gorgeous architecture to appreciate plus museums and parks to explore.  I hope to return again for a longer stay.

CC BY 4.0 New York City by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.