Welcome to Right Here, Right Now, a regular column in which we share first-hand experiences of travelling in this newly reopened world. Today, Scout Publishing production assistant Emil Droga tells us about his recent trip to New York.
Where did you go and why?
I travelled to the USA to visit family and tour the university I’m attending later this year. First stop was New York City where we spent 10 days. I then travelled to Princeton, New Jersey before moving to upstate New York towns Hudson and Pound Ridge for the Easter weekend.
What was it like preparing for your trip?
My travel preparation went well for health and accommodation, but was difficult for flights. I hadn’t had COVID in the weeks leading up to the trip and tested negative on the PCR home-administered test the morning before I left.
Good accommodation was surprisingly easy to secure – I think hotels were very excited to have bookings again! However, flights were quite difficult to secure as it was peak travel time over the Easter break.
What was it like when you arrived?
Conveniently, there is no isolation required on arrival in the USA nor when returning to Australia. Airport lines were surprisingly quick leaving Sydney airport, however, got jammed up in Los Angeles. Being processed back in Sydney was a little longer than desirable, especially if your passport ID has an ink stain…
While in New York, we stayed on Bowery street and Crosby street in Soho and then way up near Central Park on 73rd street so we got to explore lots of different pockets of Manhattan.
A lot has changed since my last visit to New York in 2016, but one thing is for certain: New York is still New York. The bustle of people through upper Manhattan, vibrant Soho shops, and the damn fine bagels haven’t changed one bit! Williamsburg Bagels were my pick of the trip. They have so many different types but I went for the classic cream cheese. Stacked like a sandwich, if you open it up your hands are covered with soft cream cheese. I definitely recommend having a napkin on hand.
What seems to be the local attitude towards COVID and tourism right now?
Apart from masks in the subway and some private enclosed areas, COVID health restrictions weren’t very noticeable.
Shops, galleries, restaurants, and theatres were all eager for tourists and locals to pass through. The staff at Soho jeans store Blue In Green were super helpful while I was trying to find the perfect pair of jeans, trying on seven pairs and buying one; the perfect pair of dark blue Zimbabwe Weave straight legs.
What was the highlight of your trip?
Every day felt like a highlight during the jam-packed 10 days, whether it be walking the Highline or Guggenheim spiral, touring Princeton Campus or ‘Top of the Rock’, watching Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway or a SUNY Big Band atop the Lincoln Centre.
Exploring Soho was a vibe. Definitely put Greene Street on your list. There’s lots of cool clothing and fashion stores with more of an underground feel. Great cafes all along it, very quaint just the sort of thing you hope to find in Soho.
Washington Square park is another great place to hang out. We saw the guy who founded Baker skateboards skating there and there’s lots of interesting characters there including a lot of smack talking chess hustlers. You’ve been warned.
Upstate New York is really very pretty and hunkering down while up there was a nice retreat. I just recommend driving around upstate, all the counties are just gorgeous, peaceful, and serene with a stillness that is so different to the buzz from New York City. It’s a refresher for the mind, like taking a bite of a pickle in between bites of a stuffed deli sandwich.
I totally see why writers bunk themselves up in upstate New York, I sure could.
What’s your advice for people thinking of travelling to New York right now?
Do it! Now is a great time to visit! An eager and welcoming hospitality sector, not too many tourists and a great arts resurgence all make for a great trip.
If you only have one day in New York, just try and go for a wander. The most enjoyable things are the things that you discover.
Lead image: Jason Briscoe/Unsplash
Additional images: Supplied
Benny is a travel, food, and comedy writer from an up and coming seaside town called Sydney.