A Visitor’s Guide to Walking in New York City

Spring has finally sprung in New York. The blossoms on the trees are opening, the air is warm, the sky is blue and bright. The streets are crawling with tourists. Literally, crawling. I watch these visitors, sometimes with a smile, but other times with alarm. Some look so frightened to be thrust into the busy streets, moving cautiously and making it even harder to get around.

IMG_4575 I see them meandering their way across town, often watching, in amazement, the throngs of New Yorkers scurrying around and by them. “What’s the rush?”, they wonder. “Where’s the fire?” “Why are New Yorkers always in such a hurry?” For these visitors, and also for recent transplants, I offer some advice. With a different mindset, it can easily become manageable.

A Visitors’s Guide to Walking in New York City.

New York sidewalks are our highways. At home, you probably get into your cars and SUVs every day and drive with speed and haste to the maul (Yes, that’s how I spell it.), to the groomers (yours or your pets), to school or other activities. There is somewhere to go and you move swiftly towards it, wanting nothing in your way, no detours, no unnecessary stops, no distractions. You would no more entertain the thought of driving at five miles an hour to gaze at the scenery, or stop and smell the roses while driving, than miss a sale at the maul. And, if you find yourselves behind a slow driver on the highway, beware the road rage!

In New York, our feet are our cars. They’re our primary source of transportation. Our mindset is the same as your’s when barreling down the highway. In my view, the same rules should apply on city sidewalks.

  • Slow travelers should stay to the right, allowing room for passing peds.
  • Don’t hog the sidewalks. Avoid the Mother-Father-Sister-Brother walk – 4 people walking side-by-side, moving slowly, holding hands.
  • Unexpected short stops with a throng of people behind you can be dangerous…almost the same as making a short stop in the middle lane on I-95.
  • Pull over to the side to check a map, look something up in a guidebook or make a phone call.
  • Avoid pile-ups and blocking intersections. I’ve never seen anyone successfully hail a cap while standing still on the sidewalk corner while others are trying to cross the street around them.
  • While I’m on cabs, the ones with all the roof lights on are available, no lights means passengers are inside and side lights means the cabs are Off Duty. And please look around to see if someone was there first with their arms up and has first dibs. (Who saw the parking spot first kinda thing.) Our road rage!
  • At any time of day or night, many New Yorkers are on their way to an appointment and are not going to stop while you take a picture with a new camera you haven’t yet learned to use. Be aware of the foot traffic around you, or master Photo Shop and filter us out when you get home.

On a related note, when you’re inside and use escalators, the same rules apply. Stay to your right, leave room for people to pass on your left and don’t stop at the bottom to decide which way to turn. People are coming off the steps behind you.

Your stay in New York will be more pleasant – for you and for us – if you learn to, if not move with the flow, to navigate around it. The City is an exciting and beautiful place to visit. Don’t let ‘navigation stress’ ruin your stay. Enjoy…and bring comfortable shoes!

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Yes, I’m Whining.

Just weeks after daylight saving time ended and I’m already pining for more light. The days are still getting shorter, and will until December 21st, the thought of which doesn’t help my head right now. Less light, less sunshine, less heat and my favorite fruit and vegetables are out of season. Blueberries are blue, without that cast of gray that celebrates freshness, strawberries aren’t close to summer-sweet and tomatoes and peaches are done. It was a fabulous summer and we had a good start to fall, but that seems all over now. The early cold wave is just fueling my misery.

I’m whining for the next 24 hours and then I’m going to get my head back on straight. I’ll start my countdown to the shortest day of the year when I can begin to celebrate the beginning of adding minutes at a time to sunlight. I’ll toast the season with another dozen jars of my favorite chunky cranberry jam, before putting away the canning equipment. I’ll take out my winter recipes and invite friends in for dinner. On gloomy days I’ll be sure to have a soothing pot of stock simmering on the stove, to freeze for fast and easy soups later on. I’ll make more pumpkin pies to make the house smell like the holidays, and I’ll step-up my Christmas shopping, before the stores get too crazy.

It’s okay to grieve the end of a season and the easy lifestyle that went with it. But I’m not going to waste too much time on it. Look forward, find things to celebrate in the today and move on. That first pot of winter chili or stew or pot roast is going to be something to celebrate. And who doesn’t like a slice of fresh pumpkin pie?

Click for my favorite Chunky Cranberry Jam recipe.

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Put Your Phone Away and LOOK UP!

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Running an errand recently in the East Village, I turned a corner and happened upon this glorious sight — reflections of other buildings and clouds on a glass building on Astor Place. Had to stop and just enjoy it for a few minutes, then took out my phone and snapped a picture.

It wasn’t lost on me that if I had been checking my mail or texting, I would have missed it. What a good reminder to be present in the space you’re in.

Don’t miss out on the good things. Leave the phone in your bag or pocket and enjoy the view…a good one will appear when you least expect it!

 

It Takes Me 23 Hours to Awake Refreshed

I have fought my body clock for years and, for much of my adult life, didn’t get enough sleep. I just wasn’t tired enough, or ready, to get to bed at a reasonable hour. And I really didn’t want to. I love the quiet peacefulness of the night. Take away my clock and I will stay up two or three hours after midnight and wake up mid-morning…not at all reasonable for someone who has to get up early in the morning!
Finally, I’ve found a solution to getting enough sleep and waking refreshed. Though it takes me 23 hours of preparation, it’s working for me.
See my latest article posted today on Huffington about How This Night Owl Copes in an Early Bird’s World.
Visit Bed Camp on FaceBook

Do You Love Your Job TOO Much?

It’s wonderful to have a job that you love. One that makes you happy and productive, with talented people you enjoy working with. A job that springs you out of bed early and pays you well. One that you don’t mind staying late for, giving up weekends for, hanging up your shoes for. One that is more satisfying than a good book, a creative hobby. One that reliably substitutes for family and friends and the potential for a romantic life. One that has taken possession of your life and soul and time and identity. Wait a minute….what?

If some things ring true, see my latest post – Do You Love Your Job Too Much? on Huffington

 

Start at Home

Planning summer escapes? Don’t forget to include some day or half-day trips close to home. Last weekend was glorious and a friend and I walked to the River and headed North. I ride my bike that way a lot, but that leaves a lot of the more interesting sites out of reach for the wheels.

In 80 blocks, I saw flora & fauna, wild life, beautiful and interesting sculptures, fabulous nooks with comfortable chairs that begged to be sat on, gorgeous views of the George Washington Bridge, people napping and picnicking or just sitting by the water with a book or a friend. There was free kayaking, the boat basin, lots of sail boats in the water, places to rent bikes, foMer-man - Version 2od carts and a cafe. And, as we got closer to Riverside Park, the grounds began to resemble Central Park. Lush trees. Woodsy vistas. Hills and ornamental steps and old monuments. And then there was that outdoor rehearsal we came upon, complete with a bearded man in a Victorian gown. What was so amazing was that the highway and cars and skyscrapers and the hectic city life was the distance of just one block away…and yet miles away in my mind.

With lots of stops to admire, explore and photograph, the five mile tour took about four hours, and that included a stop for lunch at the cafe. Though I pass through the area with some frequency, slowing down, taking closer looks and seeing everything a bit differently, I almost felt I was in a different state. We did take the subway back downtown, another benefit of NYC living. I came home relaxed, excited about some of the things we discovered and with many many good pictures to share. The total cost for two, for lunch and the subway home, was less than $25. An added benefit? Walking is good for your body and an enjoyable walk is good for your spirit.

New York isn’t the only city with surprises for its residents. Sit and think of interesting places in your vicinity that you pass by but never stopped to explore and learn more about.

Long weekend coming up. If you’re not leaving your town, think of what you can explore or revisit in it. Enjoy the day and don’t forget your camera!

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