I would never want to live in a city like New York (every memoir I've read relates how miserable finding any place livable can be). The daily noise, dirt, and frenetic pace would get to me. However, there are real benefits to visiting cities, and especially to visiting the most "city" city of them all: NYC. I like to bring back some lessons from that experience every year and thought I'd share my ruminations.
- I love the walking. We are all a bit too attached to our cars. If at all possible, made a promise to walk somewhere once a week (coffee shop, deli, grocery store, drugstore). Accessibility can be an issue, but I am fortunate in that our "downtown" is less than five minutes away. I need to start the car up less, and get my walking shoes on more!
- Visiting Museums: As I mentioned, we always go to our two favorite art museums and that makes me realize that I should be taking greater advantage of the museums in my area. When does one tire of looking at the beauty and achievement held within their walls?
- Find a good, family-owned diner in your area. One of the reasons we love the Cosmic (we ate there twice) is that we recognize the staff (I think they've all been there for decades) and they offer homemade food and lots of it. I had a lovely moussaka. It isn't fancy fine dining, but so what? (I'm not a fan of fussy, overpriced fare). Reliability and friendliness matter far more.
- Eat once a day. One of the ways we make travel easier, more affordable, and healthier is by only eating one meal out (usually saving that for evening). We have a "snack" sort of breakfast (bakery and coffee/juice) and take snacks for touring (protein bars, nuts and small apples are all favorites). We'll grab a cup of tea and eat our snacks--and yes, sometimes we are a bit pathetic eating our protein bars shivering on a bench, but that makes us appreciate our restaurant meal all the more. If you know you are going to have a restaurant meal for dinner, try eating very lightly leading up to that.
- Take in a musical--plenty have been turned into films (or originated from films). Les Miserables, West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, An American in Paris, Chicago--just to name a few. Enjoy the singing, dancing and drama on a Saturday night.
- Watch a movie set in NYC. When Harry Met Sally (our New Year's Eve tradition), Saturday Night Fever Desperately Seeking Susan, The Godfather, a Woody Allen film, Big, Working Girl, The Devil Wears Prada, and many many more. Take in the atmosphere vicariously.
- Read some history. Donald L. Miller's Supreme City is a huge book, but a great narrative that can be read in bits and pieces.
- Play with "urbanizing" your style. Go for smart color combos: All black with red accessories; black and tan; off-white and tan; charcoal gray with navy accents; chocolate brown with leaf green accents. Think sleek and smart. Finish your look with large sunglasses and a dramatic lipstick (though I can NEVER pull the lipstick off myself, always look 25 years older or like a kid that got into her grandmother's cosmetics).