When we first decided back in July that we wanted to spend a couple of weeks in New York City last month, we knew we wanted to do things we had not done before during prior visits. That meant we didn’t need to go to the top of the Empire State Building, see the permanent exhibits at the Natural History Museum or Metropolitan Museum of Art, or gawking in Times Square.
However, finding out-of-the-ordinary things to do in New York City was a bit of a challenge. Our American Express Concierge service could only come up with a helicopter tour of New York City. And posts on various travel sites also didn’t elicit anything particularly stellar, except for one thing – a suggestion to get in touch with Context Travel.
Context Travel specializes in scholar-led walks of a number of “great” cities, including Rome, Paris, and New York. If only we had known about them when we were in Paris a couple of months ago… We had first heard of Context Travel in a magazine from American Express just recently, and thought they only covered European cities. They were highlighted as having helped director Ron Howard get a private tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel in preparation for the forthcoming movie “Angels & Demons”. So when the folks at Indagare suggested we check out their New York City offerings, we jumped at the idea.
Ultimately, we arranged four tours with Context Travel – I will go into those in another blog entry. But I will say all were very informative and educational, and we’re very glad we partook of the tours.
Another uncommon thing we managed to arrange through our contacts at Relais & Châteaux (where we are members of something called Club 5C), was a private cooking lesson with Chef Tony Aiazzi of the famed Aureole restaurant in New York City. And we also attended a presentation on cooking with liquid nitrogen at Astor Center. More on both of those later too.
We also managed to have dinner in the La Cave cheese cave at Artisanal Bistro, found a last minute table at Per Se (well, actually about two weeks in advance of our dinner), enjoyed dim sum and Peking duck in Chinatown, afternoon tea at The Peninsula’s Gotham Lounge and at The London NYC, Korean BBQ in K-town, and a few other culinary delights.
While we were looking for the more unusual experiences, we also did partake of the more ordinary delights of New York, including visiting various museums to see special exhibits, and a personal first for me – visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. That was an especially emotional and moving day for me because of my roots as a first-generation American. We also caught an off-off Broadway performance, saw a couple of movies, and walked and walked and walked.
There also was business to take care of – we spent our first couple of days in New York at the New York International Gift Fair searching for new products to off in our on-line store at www.BonaireStuff.com. And I had a client meeting for my patent-related consulting business too.
All in all we had an excellent time in New York City. The weather was perfect just about all the time, we had a child sitter service available to us at our great hotel (we had two adjacent rooms at the all-suite The London NYC), and we ate very very well. The only downside to our trip was the markedly higher number our bathroom scales showed us upon our return.