An Armchair Traveler Steps Out

by guestofaguest · February 8, 2008


[Photo via Traveler's Digest]

Note from GofG: We asked our blogger friend Golf Widow to write us about her visit to our fair city. It is such a nice look into a visitor's perspective, and makes us remember how lucky we are to call this magical place home. Please visit her site and offer your support, her writing speaks for itself:

An Armchair Traveler Steps Out by Sondra Harris

I never go anywhere and I never get to do anything and I never have any fun, ever ever ever ever.

This is, of course, entirely my own fault. As if exorbitant fuel costs, time and budgetary constraints, not to mention arthritis that makes excessive walking prohibitive, weren't sufficient, I made the foolish mistake of marrying for love.

To a man who hates big cities.

I spend much of my time cocooned in my home, vicariously traveling via books, television, the Web, and the occasional movie, which involves a trip (heaven above!) to the Delux14, with the aforementioned man who hates big cities and, to put icing on the cake, isn't crazy about going to the movies, either.

Last year, when I was filling out a questionnaire about foreign countries I had visited in the past six months and nearly put down "Narnia," I knew it was time to get out of my chair.

I began scrimping for train, cab fare, and a down payment on a sixth of a sandwich from the Carnegie. By June, I was prepared to leave the nest for a day trip. Not the most exciting trip, from a tourist's standpoint. I've been to Liberty Island. Seen Broadway shows. Shopped at Macy's. I'm a little too broken and was a little too broke to do those things, that day. I just wanted to pretend I lived in New York and was ready for a nice Saturday off.

There's only one small problem with pretending you're a native New Yorker when you're not one ...

... I also have a lousy sense of direction.

I recruited my mother to accompany me. Not only is she my favorite travel companion, bar none, but in her cosmopolitan youth, she had Manhattan wired. Sure, many of the businesses and fashions have changed since the late '60s, but the streets, they stay the same forever.

We breakfasted early and boarded the train in New Haven around 7 am. It was cold and rainy in Connecticut and we were both dressed for the weather. By the time we arrived at Grand Central, the sun was shining and it was hot outside.

I would have been perfectly fine, staying inside Grand Central. Remember, I never go anywhere. Just the ceiling would have kept me amused till it was time to go home. But we were meeting friends - online people whom I might never have met in person, had I not gotten out of my armchair.

We walked from Grand Central to the Library. In my own, pre-arthritis/pre-husband heyday, it was my favorite place in the world to be: on the steps, with an apple or a cup of yogurt, people-watching. Now, my knees and ankles were in agony, but I was glad we'd come: three generations of break dancers - a late-fortyish grandfather, his twenty-odd year-old son, and a tiny grandkid about five or six - broke it down on the pavement and gave me the best live show I've seen, literally, in years.

From the Library, we caught a cab to the West Village and met up with my friends at A.O.C. It was far less hectic and far more affordable than the Carnegie, and even without a week's supply of corned beef on my baguette, I was full, satisfied, and thoroughly delighted with the garden, the music, and the iced coffee, which tasted EXACTLY as good as it smelled. I had never before and have never since had coffee that delicious. It required neither cream nor sugar. The coffee alone was worth leaving home for.

After lunch, we walked out the doors of the restaurant to find a street fair in full swing. That simply does not happen, in Connecticut. We walked, we looked, we smelled things. We petted so many dogs I felt like a judge at Crufts. I probably could have bought something, and, perhaps ten or fifteen years earlier, I'd have wound up boarding the train back to New Haven laden down with five bars of herbal soap, at least two dozen books I couldn't live without, and wearing one of those resplendent hats being sold by two fantastic island women in lawn chairs - hats so big one could have carried two or more of the Carnegie sandwiches on their brims. But I prudently left shopping for another trip, and we reluctantly made our way back to the station for the train ride home.

I'm back in my armchair, for now. But I'm coming back, New York. Have my coffee ready.