Living in small-town Maine, you give up some of the amenities of cosmopolitan life: Broadway plays, good Chinese take-out, and live pro sports, to name a few. At the same time, life in the slow lane comes with upsides like starry nights, yard sales, and minimal traffic jams. It’s a trade-off.
Then there’s air travel. As fantastic as the new and improved Portland International Jetport is, we still don’t have the frequency of non-stop flights offered by larger airports. Like a good Hyde person, I’ve learned to turn even this obstacle into an opportunity.
My work finds me in New York City once or twice a month. I could drive – 6-7 hours each way – but that ties up a full work day of travel each way and at least one night in a hotel, not to mention gas, tolls, etc. So, I like to fly and make a day, a full day, of it.
A 6 AM flight to LaGuardia gets me into Manhattan before the start of business with time to spare for a cup of coffee. While I sometimes get all my business done in time to catch the 5:30 PM back to Portland, I generally find myself wrapping up work obligations at the close of business and then stuck in Manhattan for 5+ hours until the last flight back at 10:30.
A few years back it dawned on me: Manhattan is a great place in which to be stuck for a few hours!
Therefore, I set a goal to spend those few hours in search of a cultural experience that I am not able to experience in Maine. Hence, after I complete my last appointment of the day, I pull out the Metro subway card I always keep in my wallet and set out on an adventure. Here are 10 favorite destinations:
- The Whitney Museum on Madison @ 77th;
- A run in Central Park (I bring running stuff in my carry-on);
- The Strand Book Store on lower Broadway @ 12th;
- Dave’s Army/Navy Store on 6th Avenue @ 17th;
- A stroll on Bleecker Street wrapped up by watching some hard-nosed, trash-talk-filled, “winner stays” hoops on the 4th Street Courts;
- Pasteur Pharmacy (“a personal care center for the modern man”) on Lexington @ 63rd – love this place… only in New York;
- MOMA @ 5th & 53rd. For a 2-Fer mix of art and food, enter the museum and then go up to the Modern Restaurant and put your name in – the more crowded the better. Then go check out the exhibits while periodically checking back on your reservation.
- Paragon Sports on Broadway @ 18th – a jock’s paradise;
- After killing an hour or so at the Paragon, I can walk 1 block north to Fishs Eddy (whimsical glass- and dinner-ware) and buy a one-of-a-kind gift for Laura (smart move);
- Take in an independent flick at the Film Forum on W. Houston (between 6th and 7th).
I then have time to grab a quick bite – my rule: a unique cuisine that is unlikely to be offered in Maine – take a cab to the airport and catch the 10:30 flight out. Then comes the best part: I fall asleep in my own bed.
New York’s cultural possibilities are limitless. While I might prefer more frequent flights, the schedule out of Portland actually turns out to be a blessing rather than a problem. And for that final leg of the journey – from the Jetport to my house – I’ve got stars to guide me home.
President, Hyde Schools