Friday, December 29, 2006

If You Can Make It There, You Can Make It Anywhere

I guess I can make it anywhere, my friends.

Just arrived back in the TDot after spending a frenzied week in NYC. Thank you all for your amazing recommendations for sights to see and places to eat. We enjoyed as many of them as we possibly could, given the limited time that we had.

Wow. I don't know what else to say about New York City. Just wow.

When you grow up your entire life in Toronto like I did, you sort of fancy yourself to be an urbanite. Throughout my life here I, like all other Torontonians, have had to deal with this not always spoken but always underlying comparison with the Big Apple. We hear how huge it is, how hip it is, how great the shopping is.

"Oh, New York, so cultured, so beautiful, so grand and bustling and did I mention huge?" they say.

I, having great pride and love for my own fair city, always kind of thought in the back of my head that this lavish praise must be exaggerated. Even when trusted friends and family would tell me, "New York is just incredible, you MUST go and see it, it'll blow you away," I always kind of smiled and nodded and thought to myself, whatever, how great can it be? How different can it be? I mean, I've seen cities all over the world. World class cities. New York -- BAH.

Well ya'll, here's where Beaches eats her words. New York City is spectacular.

I was prepared for big and bustling, that I expected. I was prepared for the ultimate in capitalism and commercialism and it definitely hits the mark there. But what I was not quite prepared for was the breathtaking beauty of the place. I mean COME ON! How is it possible that with every turn of a corner, every glance back over my shoulder, every view out of every window there was a sight that took my breath away?

Like I said, everyone talks about the food, the culture, the shopping. Yes, New York has it all. But nobody mentioned how gorgeous it is?! How can you leave that out? For me it was the best part of the city. I could have wandered around for several more days exploring the neighbourhoods and just soaking it all in. Leaving out the sheer beauty of the city is like telling your BFF about your new boyfriend and how smart and funny he is without mentioning the fact that he looks like Adonis and is hung like a horse. You can't leave that out!

I was not that impressed with the shopping, there, I said it. Yes, there's a lot of stuff to buy, but nobody can possibly need that much stuff, and also, who's affording it?? I could have spent about 12 hours in Century 21 alone, this I admit. But I learned something about myself on this trip. I'm cheap as shit when it comes to clothes shopping. The boutiques were lovely, but $250 dollars for a t-shirt with some iron on of Michael Jackson? Nuh uh. I ain't buyin' it.

I was very impressed with the restaurants and food -- top notch if a bit overwhelming with all the choices available, how to choose? I didn't even scratch the surface with the galleries and I will definitely be going back just to see more of those. MoMA was amazing. We did not catch a show and I'm sad about that, but with the crowds that have flocked to the city for the holidays and New Years there wasn't a hope in hell at getting a ticket to anything last minute. Next time, for sure.

What we did for most of our trip was walk. We were blessed with perfect weather, sunny and warm, like spring, so we didn't have to battle the elements as we set out to explore the sights and streets. We walked for hours on end, despite sore feet and aching knees, we couldn't get enough. We walked throughout Midtown, the West Village, the Fashion district, Upper East Side and Central Park. We did finally ride the subway on our last day but only because we were headed straight downtown to see Ground Zero and the Financial District and planned to walk all the way back to our Midtown hotel later on. We walked through Greenwich, Soho, Little Italy and more on that day. I didn't want to go down to the subway because I knew I'd be missing so much just by being underground.

Returning home to my beloved Toronto today, I saw our city from the plane and I finally understood why those comparisons to New York have always irked me. Toronto is charming despite its obvious flaws. What we lack in size and spectacle, we make up for in character and spirit. We're the little city that could. But to compare us to New York? Not fair, not even close to fair. Apples to watermelons! Pigeons to peacocks! Take a newborn baby and try to compare her to her great grandmother. Baby is cute while Great Granny is handsome. Baby is innocent while Granny is wise. Baby can babble while Granny has so many stories to tell.

I'm so glad I finally made the decision to go and see for myself what all the fuss was about. It was well worth it and you can be sure, I'll be going back. And soon.

*ps - pictures from Beaches does big city to come.

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