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A Day in NEW YORK CITY - by bicycle     September 2011

When I visit New York City, I stay in my favourite boutique hotel in the West Village. It is a six-floor, red-brick building overlooking the Hudson River, with tiny rooms inspired by luxury train cabins. From the window of the shared bathroom you can see the Statue of Liberty. I get up early and head down to the desk to reserve one of the complimentary bicycles.
Then it's into the adjoining Café for a home-made waffle heaped with fresh fruit accompanied by a delicious cup of French coffee. Then onto the bicycle for some 'slow travel sight-seeing'.

I cross the road to access the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, which is a bicycle 'highway' that runs along the entire island of Manhattan, along the shores of the Hudson and East Rivers.
As I bike, I have to watch for walkers, joggers and roller-bladers who share my road.
Pedalling south, I pass dog parks and areas busy with family picnicking, tennis and volleyball.

Within minutes, I am at Ground Zero. All the construction going on is fascinating to watch. Where a few years ago there was a gaping blackened hole there are now towers rising up into the clouds.

I continue on to Battery Park, a place for picnics, live music, strolling, and outdoor markets. I must visit the large dented, pitted metallic sculpture Sphere by Fritz Koenig. It used to stand in the plaza of the World Trade Center, was damaged but not destroyed during 911. Now it is a memorial, an icon of hope.

I could catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from here, but not today.
Ellis Island Immigration museum is a poignant history of the immigrants who landed at the shores of the US.
I continue my ride around the southern tip of Manhattan, through some Japanese-styled gardens and past the very unique Irish Hunger Memorial.

After stopping to watch some fishermen while enjoying my refreshing gelato, I continue on, arriving at the South Seaport ticket booth of TKTS where I stand in line for a while to get cheap tickets for a Broadway show. So many to choose from.
Back on my bike. Within a few minutes I've arrived at the Brooklyn Bridge and begin my ascent. A level above the vehicular traffic there is a designated lane dividing walkers from bikers. The climb is so worth the views! The skyline of Manhattan is spread out before you. This is even more spectacular at night!

The descent from the bridge is a lot faster than the climb. I decide to re-enter the bike lanes in the streets of the east side so I can pass directly in front of United Nations building. The sculptures of St George and the Dragon and the Knotted Gun are two of my favourites.
I head north and then west through the bicycle-laned streets of Manhattan until I arrive at Central Park. Stopping at a street food vendor for lunch I buy a plate of flavourful chicken with rice and salad, put it in my carrier and ride into the park.
Lunch on a rock by a waterfall in the middle of the greatest city on earth – heaven.
I ride around the park, past people rowing in the lake, past Strawberry Fields, past a street musician entertaining groups of people. I stop to watch a couple of boys rescuing a turtle from the bike path.
Leaving the park, I head west past the beautiful brownstones of the upper west side. I can only dream of seeing inside these gorgeous homes. Re-entering the Greenway, I pedal back to my little hotel where I will take a refreshing nap and then clean up.

As evening falls, I walk to the subway, heading toward Times Square and the Theatre district.

After a scrumptious dinner in one of the hundreds of restaurants, I walk to the theatre to see Spider Man, one of the most amazing spectacles I've seen. Now I understand why in the early stages it was fraught with accidents and will likely never go on tour.

When the performance is finished, I catch the subway, walk along busy and then tree-lined streets to my home-away-from-home hotel, past local residents out walking their dogs and chatting with neighbours.
Back in my tiny room I snuggle into my luxurious sheets for a full night's rest. Tomorrow is another day full of so many interesting things to see and do in this gem called New York City.

TIPS for this type of trip:

1. Plan to stay in Manhattan rather than one of the boroughs.
2. Buy a 7-day unlimited ride metro card, good on subways and buses. Available at most subway stations.
3. Fly to NYC out of Buffalo (it's cheaper)
4. Google 'free things in NYC'. Free and 'pay-what-you-can' museum times will be included.
4. When looking for hotels, use sites such as hotels.com or
tripadvisor.ca. They include customer reviews and ratings.
5. Always travel with a backpack, so you are "hands free" for photography or bicycle handles.