The Coaches Versus Cancer Tournament at Madison Square Garden…..check.
Quirky hotel in the Manhattan Valley neighborhood with a view of a young, attractive couple having sex….check.
And with that teaser so begins my tale of a solo trip to New York City.
I am a big fan of University of Illinois sports. And with their appearance at MSG for the above-mentioned basketball event, I had started the planning for this trip months ahead of time. I also love to wander around NYC and traveling solo would make this pretty quick and easy.
The trip starts with the always exciting Megabus ride from White Marsh Mall, MD to Manhattan. The only drinks served on board were the ones I brought with me. Yeah for Sobe Lifewater!
Being by yourself in a big city like New York is pretty fun. But eating out solo can be pretty interesting AND depressing. For my first meal in NYC I decided to go touristy and try out the Stage Deli.
The Stage Deli (834 7th Ave) is small, crowded and loud. And expensive. Still, I wanted a big corned beef sandwich. Who cares if it is $11 for a half of a sandwich?
Being the solo diner, I was sat at the bar. The bar is always the safe choice for solo dining.
The bar at the Stage Deli seats about 6 total. The best thing about this small bar is that on the rail they have cheap wine and Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. And nothing else. But on draft they have Brooklyn Lager. Yes, please!
So after my yummy, but crazingly overpriced sandwich I headed north towards the Upper East Side.
I was staying at the Marrakech Hotel (2688 Broadway), which is located in a neighborhood north of the UES called Manhattan Valley. I won this hotel on Priceline and was very happy with the location and price. I also received some interesting entertainment later on.
After dropping off my bag, I headed back south on the Subway towards Midtown. There was going to be a meet-up of Illini fans at The Australian (20 W 38th St) before the game.
It was strange opening up the doors of a Midtown bar and seeing it filled with orange and blue clothed people. And it was even stranger that when I got to the bar I was slipped the secret “Illini” menu. The prices were surprisingly cheap on the secret menu. I chose a Bronzed Aussie. It was a pretty light beer, definitely not the greatest, but it was cheap and fit the theme and locale. Later I even helped another fan finish a pitcher of the Bronzed Aussie. Illini Nation stands together!
I then rushed the few blocks over to The World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden. The Garden is old. It is out dated. The seats slope flat and they are not steep like modern arenas. Your views are very far away. But I still love this place. There are plans to remodel it, and I can only hope they do not take way the character of the establishment.
The Illini won the game over my local University of Maryland team (who I also like very much, but my choice was already made.). I also stayed to watch Pitt beat Texas for the championship of this tourney.
I grabbed some crappy fast food Japanese in Times Square. I should’ve done much better with that meal, but hey you learn. Solo dining is a bitch.
Walking north again I stopped at a very good tea shop. The Argo Tea Cafe (1792 Broadway) has some great teas (and coffees) in stock. If you are around Columbus Circle, I definitely recommend this place.
Back in Manhattan Valley I wanted to go grab a good beer. Right near my hotel was the interestingly named, Tap-A-Keg (2731 Broadway). This is definitely a locals dive bar. The crowd is as diverse as this neighborhood. But they are also friendly here, especially the bartenders. I stuck around here drinking a few varieties of Brooklyn brews.
It was not too late, but when going solo you can get a bit lonely. And sitting solo at a bar in NYC doesn’t always help in that regard. Also NYC beer prices hit you after awhile. So I headed back to my quirky hotel. I flipped on the flat panel LCD TV and went about to watch some Boise State/Fresno State football.
But, for some reason I decided to look outside of my window. My room at the Marrakech Hotel had a view only of other rooms, since it had a little courtyard in the middle. And by little I meant 7 feet across.
And what did I see, 7 feet away?
Yes, there was an extremely good looking couple having sex.
I thought about what to do next………
I decided that not being a creeper was the best course of action, so I closed my blinds and went back to watching some exciting WAC football. (Slight pun intended).
But after a couple of quarters of football I wondered if the “action” had ended. So I peeked again.
………..Nope, still going on…………….
OK, back to football.
The next morning I had some time before catching the bus back home. So I enjoyed a good bagel breakfast and headed back to Midtown.
I stopped at Sony Plaza (550 Madison Ave) to look at the Sony Store. Afterwards I was thirsty and wanted a good Chai drink. There was a Starbucks in the store. But there was also a little Illy Coffee kiosk in the lobby. I chose the Illy stand and enjoyed a very good and warm drink.
That was pretty much the end of any liquid enjoyment on this trip. I had a good lunch near Penn Station, shopped a bit and even ran into an old friend who had came into NYC for the day.
All in all a good trip.