The Big Apple: A nice place to visit
Just returned from a visit to the Big Apple and, as much fun as the trip was, there were things that happened which make me thankful I call St. Augustine my home.
The trip actually took my to my childhood home on Long Island. For the first 17 years of my life I lived in Long Beach, N.Y., a seaside community that was most recently devastated by Superstorm Sandy in late 2012. It’s a nice town, just under 30 miles from the heart of midtown Manhattan. My sister still lives there and we stayed with her during our four-day visit. I’ll refrain from making any “editorial comments” about the particulars of our visit and leave it to the reader to decide why I give the nod to my 31-year hometown, St. Augustine.
We had tickets to see Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theatre in Manhattan during the second day of our visit. Although it is possible to drive a car from Long Beach to New York City and park, it’s not something a sane person would attempt. The preferred method of travel is to take the Long Island Railroad. We called the 5200 cab company to take me, my wife, my daughter and my sister to the train station. It’s something my sister has done many times before with the fare being $5 for the short, 1.5-mile trip. We were charged $20 on this occasion because the hacks charge by the person. I vowed to call for four cabs the next time we are there.
The round-trip train ride was pleasant and without incident and cost about $75 for the four of us. As might be expected, Penn. Station was as harried as downtown St. Augustine following Independence Day fireworks. This situation exists at the 34th Street hub just about 24/7. While in the Penn. Station restroom I was privy to wash my hands next to a rather disheveled man who was drying his bottom on one of those high-powered hand dryers. He was hard at it when I walked in and when I left.
Having grown up in New York, I knew that you have to leave your Florida manners at the door when walking the streets of the Big Apple. You don’t engage with anyone. We were approached by costumed comic figures seeking a tip for the privilege of taking a photo with them. We kept on walking and hoped they would use some of the tips they earned to launder their outfits.
Before going to the Phantom musical, we opted for lunch at the American Girl Café on 49th and Fifth Avenue. It was most enjoyable and we earned lots of reward points on the $140 bill.
The Phantom of the Opera was all that it was cracked up to be and it’s no wonder that it is the longest running musical on Broadway. Again we racked up lots and lots of reward points on the $600 we paid for the matinee tickets. I was afraid to ask my wife how much she paid for the official program, which came with a silk rose.
It was wonderful to see my sister and also squeeze in a visit with a dear friend, who is recovering from a serious injury, during our time in the Northeast. The weather was fabulous (we missed the largest rainstorm of the year by a day) and the pizza and bagels are the best that can be found anywhere.
We invited my sister to visit with us this Christmas and watch her niece dance in the sixth annual production of the St. Augustine Nutcracker. She won’t need to take any cabs or trains and my guess is that she will like what she sees at Lewis Auditorium just as much as the show at the Majestic Theatre.
While I will not debate someone who suggests that St. Augustine is a nice place to visit, I believe a more accurate statement would be, “It’s a nice place to live.” And with all due respect to the Big Apple, it’s a nice place to visit.