First posted April 25, 2014.
Tourist season is upon us. If you live in NYC, that means you’ll soon have friends and relatives coming in for the weekend and sleeping on your couch. Some of them have spent time in New York and just want to see you, but I guarantee you’ll have at least one visitor per year who hasn’t visited before – and if you don’t live in New York and are reading this, that visitor might be you.
You can always go back through back entries of this blog when looking for ideas (check out my “things to do” tag!). But in this post and a few others, I’ll outline some sample itineraries for a day with friends who want to explore the city. Because most of my visitors are twenty-somethings on a budget, most of my suggestions are free – though there are a lot of stores are on this itinerary, so remember to bring enough money for some small souvenirs! If you’re looking for something to do on a Friday evening, swing by the free hours at the Morgan Library & Museum. Grab some finger food at their café or have some sandwiches at the Pret around the corner before heading to bed early to rest up for a busy Saturday!
Most of the nonfiction I read falls into the memoir category, with an emphasis on travel. But one of my favorites is Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, a book for book lovers. If you haven’t read it, buy it now. It’s short and you’ll read it so quickly you’ll wish it were longer. I’ve read it a couple times and love all of the essays, but one of my favorites is called “My Odd Shelf”.
I’ve already suggested visiting the Cloisters, but now I have to urge you: visit the Cloisters before December 8. If you do, you’ll be able to visit an installation which is one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced.
Janet Cardiff, a multimedia artist who I’m definitely going to look up and learn more about, created a piece called The Forty Part Motet. It’s a recording of Thomas Tallis’s 16th century motet for forty voices, but it’s not your typical choral recording. It is split into forty separate recordings, representing the forty voices, across forty speakers arranged in a circle inside a 12th century chapel at the Cloisters.
I have a fondness for viewing things from a height. When I traveled to Italy in college, I climbed to the top of something (usually a cathedral, but once a tower) in most of the cities we visited. When I studied in London, I climbed to the top of St. Paul’s, and loved the view from there much better than that from the London Eye. There’s something about being up high and out in the air that makes a view so much crisper than it is when viewed through the thick walls of the Eye’s capsule, or through a window in a building.
It’s been years since I’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building (I’ll write about it if I ever go again), but I’ve come across a few spots that cater to my love of Being Outside While Up High, and neither of them requires climbing 320 steps, like my trek up to the top of St. Peter’s in Rome did. One spot is the view from my office’s roof, mentioned in my September 11 post.
The other is the view from the roof garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.