New York in June 2011 Print

Customs scheduled a meeting of the Trade Support Network's Trade Leadership Council in New York.  Ostensibly, since AAEI paid for the meeting room, holding the meeting in New York saved money for Customs.  Factoring in all the travel expenses, it's still unclear to me how it saved money, but I hadn't been to New York since New Year's Day 2007 and it worked for me.

I decided to visit a good customer that is located in Rochester, as well as our office in Jersey City, so it turned into a one week trip.  I re-learned the lesson that when you fly off the beaten path, ticket prices go way up--flying LAX to Rochester and then home from JFK to LAX was almost $800.  And that didn't include the trip from Rochester to New York because United doesn't offer non-stop flights on its web site. 

That's right, in order to fly United I would have had to fly from Rochester to Chicago and then Chicago to La Guardia.  Or Rochester to Washington Dulles to La Guardia.  Obviously, that's nuts, so I bought a ticket on U S Air that allowed me to fly non-stop from Rochester to La Guardia.

AAEI was holding its annual convention at the Hilton in New York and made available its special room rate of only $350 per day.  Not including all the New York taxes.  My cousin Anna Mary arranged a room at the Yale Club for me that was 2/3 that amount.  The Yale Club is a great place to stay--it's across the street from Grand Central and it has excellent food and fabulous bar service.  And, the second floor lounge is a wonderful room in which to enjoy a libation while reading a book.

But, I digress.  I left Monday morning on the dreaded 6:00 a.m. flight to Chicago to catch my connecting flight to Rochester.  This time I had plenty of time between flights so I didn't have to rush through passageway between concourses at O'Hare.  I propped my iPhone up on a trash can to take a quick photo because I think the tunnel is photographically interesting.


United Chicago concourse tunnel

The connecting flight was uneventul and I re-learned that flying into regional airports is delightful.  Small, well organized, fewer people, rental cars across the street from baggage claim in the parking garage, etc.  I celebrated with a local beer once I settled in at my hotel.



I had breakfast with the client at Betty's Mt. Read Diner, a local Greek/American diner whose Greek omelet hit the spot.  After breakfast I enjoyed a tour of the client's facilities and a meeting there, getting to know everyone better, and then went to the airport for my flight to La Guardia.  It took 1 1/2 hours to fly from Rochester to La Guardia because the plane was a DASH 7 but I love turbo prop flights--you fly low and can see more--and it reminded me of our Twin Otter flights in Kenya and Tanzania.

U S Air turbo prop in Rochester


I had made a reservation for 7:30 p.m. at the Top of the Rock so I could photograph the sunset over Manhattan, so upon arrival at the Yale Club, I went to the lounge and enjoyed a Yale Club Lager while reading some more of my book.  I went up to the Tap Room for a Cobb Salad, changed into photography clothes and walked over to Rockefeller Center.  If you've never been to the Top of the Rock, it's quite an experience.  Lots of people do this--and I mean LOTS of people--so I can see why they wouldn't let me bring my tripod.  I brought a Bogen Pod with me and it worked well for my D3;  for my iPhone I propped it up on the concrete wall and hoped for the best.

Top of the Rock


The sunset was lousy because of all the haze (humidity was over 50%) so I spent 2 1/2 hours there waiting for darkness so I'd come away with something decent, and that worked out well.  This iPhone capture gives you an idea but the real photos in the SIG slide show below are substantially better.

I went to my meeting the next day and for lunch enjoyed a terrific gyro from Halal Guys, who have a mobile stand outside the Hilton every day.  Seek them out if you're there because the gyro will be good and a great deal.  You'll find them on Yelp and the cart should be at 53rd Street & 6th Avenue.  Dinner took place at Maialino, one of Danny Meyer's restaurants, which is a great place, especially if you're into pig.

I visited our Jersey City office the next day, taking the subway to the Park Place station--next to the World Trade Center site.  The first of the towers was half way to 104 stories at that point, as you'll see in the slide show.  It was really strange entering the PATH station from outside instead of within the World Trade Center and it was a bit of a jolt being at Ground Zero--I hadn't been there since before 9/11.  I love walking around Manhattan and riding the subway is a great way to get around--but this day it was 100 degrees and the humidity was over 50% so it was not fun on this day.  After a nice visit at the office, I took the PATH and the subway back to Times Square and walked over to the Carnegie Deli for lunch.

The Carnegie Deli is legendary and it was great to be back there.  Oh, and it was great to have a pastrami sandwich, too.


Carnegie Deli lunch


The next morning, I took the subway to Brooklyn and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan.  In all the years I've been going to New York I had never done this and it was great fun.  Sue and I had watched the Ken Burns documentary on the bridge and I had read on a travel site that walking from the Brooklyn side back to Manhattan was the best way to do it because you always have the Manhattan skyline in your view. 

I asked the concierge about subway directions, just to confirm what I thought I should do, and he said to take the 6 downtown from Grand Central to City  Hall.  This was wrong, for two reasons:  (1) the 6 is a local and makes 8 stops before you get to City Hall.  Take the 4 or 5 instead;  they run on the same tracks and only make 3 stops.  (2) I wanted to start from the Brooklyn side, not Manhattan.

Therefore, if you want to do this walk the way I did, take the 4 or 5 from Grand Central, downtown, to Fulton.  Transfer to the A or C to Brooklyn.  Get off at the first stop, which is High Street.  Take the left exit out of the station, turn left 90 degrees, walk across the street through the park and you'll see the bridge. 

Besides enjoying the view, I noticed, and later read up on, the dozens and dozens of padlocks that are locked onto various parts of the bridge.  This "tradition" began in Italy in 2004 when the movie "Tre Metri Sopra il Cielo" came out.  The New York Post has some background.  You'll see an example in the Brooklyn Bridge slide show below.


Brooklyn Bridge

When I travel, I wear cargo pants a lot.  They have lots of pockets that hold lots of stuff and--a blessed feature in hot, humid New York weather--I can zip off the legs so they become cargo shorts.  This was a life saver on this day.  After arrival in Manhattan, I took the subway to Madison Square Park so I could beat the crowd to Shake Shack.  It's another of Danny Meyer's winners, where they serve great burgers and fries, and shakes that are to die for.  There is always a long line but I got there at 10:30 (before it opened) and was able to place my order at 10:45, before the line started--which, by 11:00, the official opening time, was already 50 people deep.


Shake Shack

Shake Shack lunch

That's a Shack Burger plus pickles, regular fries, and a caramel shake.  All excellent.

What did we ever do without iPhones?

I took some more photos of the Flatiron Building, which is at the southwest corner of Madison Square Park, and then took the subway back to the Yale Club to check out and go to JFK for my flight home.  A great visit to the Big Apple, mixing business and pleasure.  My photos are in the SIG slide shows below.