Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New York - The Concrete Jungle

In this week's article, we take a break from our typical fishing and hunting stuff for a travel segment for those of you interested in going to New York City - w00h00!  First let me say that New York is an amazing place and anything that you like to do can be found there.  We spent a week there before my son's wedding in Brooklyn, and we had a blast.  Hopefully, you will find this article extremely helpful in your planning for your trip because there are some great opportunities to take advantage of and some land mines to avoid.

Hotel Affinia in mid-town Manhattan
Where to Stay - Wow, the options here are vast.  One big tip is locate your hotel closer to the area you want to concentrate your visit to the Big Apple.  Hindsight being 20/20 and all we likely should've stayed a bit closer to Time Square than we did because it would have been more central for the activities we were enjoying.  I don't regret at all where we stayed however because square footage comes at a premium in New York.  We stayed at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel which is located almost directly across the street from Penn Station and only a block or so from Madison Square Garden.  The handicapped-accessible room was very large in comparison with other hotel rooms and was completely accessible - even the shower.  The hotel was located in the mid-town area and Time-Square was reachable on foot in about 15 minutes.  We got a great bargain by booking it through one of the many travel sites that are available that help you find deals.

NY City Subway Map
How to Get Around - New York is famed for it's incredible mass transit systems, and it by far was the least expensive and easiest option available.  It was a flat fee for a full week and allows you to take the subways and buses (most of which are wheelchair accessible).  Be careful to check with the transit authority and mark which subway stations have an elevator for accessibility.  The next question to ask is - ARE ANY OF THESE BROKEN?  You can find a station with an elevator out of service and that can truly wreck your plans if they are time sensitive so plan ahead. For more info on the public transit site Click Here.  Getting an accessible cab from the airport will be fairly simple.  Getting one from the hotel back to airport can be an adventure.  Be sure to leave yourself some additional time for them to screw up and not send an accessible cab to your happens.  Be patient and don't get upset.  The cabby kind of has your flight in his/her hands.

Another thing in New York that is really nice is that you can rent electric wheelchairs.  These companies can change so I am not going to post any one in  particular.  We rented a chair that worked adequately and gave me some freedom to explore on my own which I like very much.  These chairs will likely not be overly fancy but will serve the purpose.  One idea that I have had is to take the Amtrak train to New York so I can bring my electric wheelchair from home.  It can be expensive but would also give me great comfort in knowing what to expect once I am there.

Lastly, bathrooms can be tricky because so many building have been grand-fathered in and are not exactly ADA compliant.  Find a few that work and know how far those are from where you are...this is important!

 What to Do? - The very fun thing about New York City is that everything is within a 20 minute subway ride.  From baseball in the Bronx, to Central Park and the famed Museum of Natural History, to Little Italy and Chinatown, to Wall-Street and ground zero, all of it is within minutes of any location in the city which is amazing.  A few things that I think are a must is of course the Statue of Liberty.  The day tour is awesome but is extremely time consuming.  The Stanton Island Ferry is free and goes right by the Statue.  Saves time and you still get to see it and pop that photo op.  Next is one of my all-time favorite funny men - Late Night with David Letterman.
Scott and Stephanie
at The Lion King
 The tickets are free and you have to sign up way in advance at the shows website - Click Here. The show was amazing to watch and better live than ever on the tv.  You get to see Letterman while they break for set changes where the commercials are going to go in, and he is hysterical.  It's just not a complete trip to New York City without a Broadway Musical.  Guys, listen to me on this!  You will earn lots of bonus points for putting on some khakis, a nice shirt and jacket.  Wine and dine her and then take her to a show.  Here is the unknown - Many of the theaters are accessible, but some are not!  It is critical to check this out before buying your tickets.  Everyone is very helpful and will make sure you are taken care of correctly.  The Empire State Building is another favorite, and I should mention challenging for anyone in a wheelchair.  There were so many people on the observation deck that it was difficult to get around.  Be patient and try not break too many ankles with your chair, but the view was incredible and worth it!

Don't forget to Eat - New York is well known for it's restaurants, deli's, cafes and markets.  One of the finest things in life is the sheer pleasure of eating and you can find literally anything you want to tease your taste-buds with.  If you enter a restaurant or see one from the street that appears to not be accessible at first glance, be sure to ask. Many times they will have multiple entrances and one of these may in fact be wheelchair accessible.  I want to point out something that can get over-looked when visiting the city and that is the markets.  There are little markets all over the town that not only sell some of the freshest produce I have ever sampled but also cook and provide a take-out meal.  These places do not get the fanfare that the restaurant style establishments get, and it's a big mistake.  Try some of them because you will not be disappointed.

The New York City streets were one of the best adventures I have ever been on.  My wife and I had a blast and I cannot wait to hear from you and your adventure to the Big-Apple.

 - Scott Anderson

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