There are the places you forget about almost as soon as you leave them, and then, there are the places that stay with you long after you left. They are the places you crave, the places you wish you never had to leave. New York City stays with me.
This winter I paid my fourth visit to New York. My mom and I took to the city early on New Year’s Day. We arrived armed with about 100 restaurant recommendations and not much of a plan. Having been to most of the tourist spots before, we decided to forgo the majority of them and immerse ourselves in city life.
Brightly colored confetti from the previous night still littered the sidewalks, and Christmas decorations still lingered in plazas and storefronts when we arrived. Immediately we were eager to explore. There was absolutely no time to spare.
Over the course of five days, we walked all over that city. We walked through Times Square and across the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked down Fifth Avenue and through Central Park, and we seriously began to question our choice in shoes.
Of course, it is never the goal to be “touristy.” And though I secretly celebrated each time I was mistaken for a local, our tourist status was unavoidable. And we fulfilled some necessary obligations. We shelled out $40 each to ice skate at Rockefeller Center — while I will probably never pay that much to ice skate again, I did it for the bucket list; we saw Les Miz on Broadway, and it was wonderful, even from the cheap seats; we visited The High Line, a park that makes use of the abandoned elevated train tracks; and we stopped by the 9/11 memorial, where the emotions hit us hard.
In between our walking and sightseeing, we made sure to eat and to do it well. Our meals were the most meticulously planned aspect of our trip. We narrowed down tons of recommendations until we felt we had reached an acceptable balance. With five days, we had approximately 15 meals to get right. You can’t just go to a city like New York and not eat well.
It is safe to say that we succeeded in this particular endeavor. We paid a visit to Little Italy for authentic Italian food, ate at an inconspicuous but delicious Thai restaurant, had brunch in Tribeca, devoured tacos at a trendy Mexican restaurant, and of course, we had pizza. Our stomachs were indeed satisfied.
As we prepared to leave, I found myself once again wishing I didn’t have to go. I knew that New York had more to offer than what can be done in five days. I was sucked in by the city’s culture and diversity and its unfailing ability to surprise me.
There are places far prettier than New York City and places far cleaner. There are places with bigger homes and fewer crowds. However, if one thing is clear about New York City, it’s that it has been lived in. Its streets have seen people and centuries that no person alive could fathom. Each corner you turn pulses with the evidence of life. This place has a story to tell.
If you go to a forest, you are confronted with the magnificence of nature. If you go to New York City, you are struck by the greatness of the human existence. That is why I will always long for NYC.