It is an unfortunate fact that the lengths a traveler goes to experience new places often leaves them exhausted and returning to their rooms in search of nothing more than the comforts of home. Fortunately there are some hotels that specialize in just these comforts.
The Hotel Bedford is located at 118 East 40th Street and is just steps from Pennsylvania Station and close to most large NYC attractions. Across to 9th Avenue and about six blocks up I found an incredible bakery called Amy's Bread. Information on these incredible bakeries can be found on the web at www.amysbread.com. I had filled up on sourdough rolls (50 cents each) and prosciuto and black olive twists (US$1 each) when the warm caress of lethargy began to set in.
The walk back to the hotel was a blur but the last step toward my bed was a well remembered leap. I woke up to realize my surroundings and was happily surprised to say the least. I had been put up in a standard suite (sweet?). Equipped with a comfortable queen size bed (sweet), en-suite washroom (sweet!) and separate living room area (candy!) the room left little to be desired. As well, there the kitchenette, Corby pants press (to keep that perfect crease), in room safes, irons, ironing boards, hairdryer, voice mail data ports, cable television, a pull out couch! Let's face it, if I'd have brought a partridge and a pear tree I could cook up a pretty decent Christmas number. Except it is summer in the city.
The ferry takes about fifteen minutes from the dock to Liberty Island and then another ten or so to Ellis Island. The entrance of the gateway to the land of opportunity is quite obviously more elaborate today than it was in the 1920s and '30s when thousands of immigrants entered the country. The exhibits inside, however, do a lot more to present the realities of the conditions surrounding the post war influx and the multitude that entered the U.S. at that time. One of those individuals was my grandfather, so I spent some time at the family history computer terminal looking him up. Despite the large numbers of immigrants to choose from the information turned up rather quickly. I could have paid a few dollars to get a print out of the actual entry form with his name on it but a very helpful information desk clerk named Mike was able to inform me that this could be obtained on the internet at www.ellisisland.org. For those that want their relatives name immortalized on the memorial wall outside the main building it can be done for a larger additional fee.
I'd be lying if I said that the ferry back to Manhattan wasn't accompanied by a hint of nostalgia. Moreover, the view of the city from the water has it's own poetic existence. It is true that the city doesn't sleep, but from the deck of a slowly moving ship it can appear somewhat docile; like the slow bubbling of a volcano drifting into dormancy. It isn't until you get back to land do you again feel the hum of life that the great city has to offer
As I was already near the financial district, I decided to take a walk past the site of ground zero. It was a few years ago, before the monstrous buildings of steel, concrete, and paperwork came hurting to the ground like some dusty house of cards that I had the opportunity to stand on the observation deck of the south building of the Word Trade Center. Returning to the site I expected the wondrous confusion and sadness you might expect fro a modern day tragedy written with such a large cast of players in mind. I got more. Rather than the lifeless remnants of a 1945 Hiroshima this pace had something more. Movement. People. The past was tragedy, the present life, leaving only hope for the future. Regardless, I left on a subway train back uptown feeling somber and introspective. It wasn't until I resurfaced that those feelings subsided to those of hunger. Keeping myself going with a few in-season selections from street-side fruit stands I searched and found a Hale and Hearty Soups (a common soup house in the "Big Apple"). The turkey chili went well with some rolls left over from the previous night. I enjoyed my makeshift dinner back in my room at the Hotel Bedford watching old cartoons in my own personal living room (did I mention sweet?!).
The day ended back at the hotel room for some much needed sleep. I left the Hotel Bedford the next morning feeling exactly as a hotel patron should during checkout. I was rested, relaxed and ready to move on. Yet another reason why I like New York in June. How about you?
Feature by David Lazzarino, Jetsetters Magazine Toronto Correspondent.
Read the Jetsetters Magazine feature: "Spirit Cruises of NYC Dining Cruises."