BEA in NYC 2014- Episode One- travel
I’m just back from Book Expo America in New York City. I will start by a travelogue and then have further posts relating to my perspectives as a Librarian, a self-published writer and a book fan.
I want to start by saying I did all of this without a smartphone, which to my husband is an extreme survivalist skill like eating bugs in the jungle. I think because I “cheated” and had an iPad mini that can use free wifi, I am not going to brag.
I drove to New Hamburg train station early Thursday morning. Parking there is $3.50 a day. I bought my train ticket from a machine on the platform. Do your research in advance and find out if your train is “peak” or “off-peak” because there is a difference in the price, and the conductor won’t refund overpaying but will charge $5 for underpaying. Metro North is a pleasant train, and if you sit on the right side going south or the left side going north you have a great view of the hudson, including Bannerman Island‘s castle ruins and West Point.
Metro North arrives at Grand Central Terminal, which is a beautiful building. It was fascinating to see how the Apple Store adapted one of the main balconies into a genius bar. Do me a favor. Before stopping stock-still to stare at the beautiful ceiling, check to make sure no one is right behind you. The terminal is a good place to buy metro tickets, which can be used for the subway and bus system. If you don’t have a smartphone, grab train schedules there too.
There is a a free shuttle for BEA, but it is only until 10 am and is hard to find the stop. I took the M42 bus, which goes all along 42nd street. Quick tip- streets run East-West, avenues run North-South. The bus stop was clearly labeled with a schedule and route map. Busses take Metro cards and the fare is $2.50. The blocks are deceptively long. Take the 11th Avenue stop and walk down 11th to 39th street and the entrance to Javits- the registration desks are right there when you walk in.
I’m wondering if Manhattanites are issued a personal force field. They certainly are trusting that cars and trains will not hit them. I saw many people start to cross the street anticipating the light would change, hanging out into the street as cars zipped inches from their face, and so on. When walking the city, try to exude that type of daredevil confidence. Don’t wear your backpack on your stomach while walking and reading a map.
Javits center is huge and has a food court, but the prices are insane. $5 for a soda? Try to grab something on the way there, a good choice would be a sub from Subway (there’s one on 42nd).
I did a day trip on Thursday, taking the train back to New Hamburg and staying over at a relative’s house, which allowed me to take back some of my haul of swag and advance reader copies. If that is not an option for you, BEA has a coat check and a shipping center.
On Friday, I stayed overnight at Yotel. Yotel is a futuristic little hotel in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s not for everybody, but I found the robot coat check, the tiny cabin that looked like it was from a space ship and the “galley” on every floor to be endearing. The bed folded up into a couch that was excellent for reading. The mattress was as hard as a rock, it’s a thin futon. Bring shampoo and soap if you are sensitive to fragrances, as I was given the unpleasant choice between lavender and eucalyptus.
I went over to Times Square to walk around. Times Square is extremely crowded and a bit confusing, as it is in no way square shaped. Many of the big stores are on Broadway, which runs North-South-ish. I stopped in to the Giant Toys R Us and the Disney Store.
I wanted a quick inexpensive dinner, so I chose Schnippers Quality Kitchen, which was recommended in one of my travel books. I had an excellent turkey burger and ginger ale. They had a cool pager system- you put your pager down on the table you choose and your server can find you when your food is ready.
Another American quick-eats is the Shake Shack. They have a restaurant in Grand Central Terminal as well as other locations around the city.
Being a Librarian, I made a mecca to New York Public Library on 5th Avenue (also known as the Schwarzman Building). The architecture is inspiring. The Reading Room was closed. Bryant Park, behind the building, has a wide lawn and many neat little features. Ping pong tables, a putting green and a small outdoors “reading room”. When I was looking around they were having a mass yoga lesson in the middle – it looked like at least 100 people, all doing the same pose while the instructor called out with a megaphone.
I should have brought sneakers. I wore sandals, anticipating it to be very hot, but my feet were gross at the end of the day and I could have used the support for all the walking I did.
There are tons of options of things to do- take the time to research locations, hours of operation and prices before you go. I ran out of time to do some of the things I wanted to do, like visit the Museum of Natural History or Central Park Zoo, or have tea at Alice’s Tea Cup. I want to take the family on another trip.