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Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of sketchandtravel.com is pleased to have as our guest, Meryl D. Pearlstein.

 

Meryl is a travel writer and travel publicist and she has contributed articles to Fodor's New York City Guide, New York Magazine, Boston Herald, and other publications. Meryl will be sharing her knowledge above New York City, where she lives.

 

 



Good day Meryl and thanks for agreeing to participate in our interview.

 

Norm:

 

Meryl, please tell our readers something about yourself and how you became interested in travel writing and travel publicity?

 

Meryl:

 

Good afternoon, Norm.  I have always loved travel.  I think that's why I decided to major in foreign languages in college, so I could travel the world and more fully experience the places I visited.  I became a travel writer as a natural offshoot.  I loved to write.  I loved marketing and persuading people to do things.  And I loved to travel.  Combining these areas in travel writing and travel publicity was a natural for me.  I had worked in advertising for a long time and wanted to do more writing.  Travel writing became that outlet; my love of marketing carried over into the travel world in the form of travel PR.

 

Norm:

 

Please tell our readers how NYC is broken down into distinct areas? 

 

Meryl:

 

NYC has many neighborhoods, some highly commercial, and some more residential.  Others are a nice blend of both.  The beauty of New York is that you can travel from one neighborhood to another and have a totally different cultural experience.  Further, NYC is composed of different boroughs that are also distinctive in flavor and attractions.  Ask anyone what they think of Brooklyn, vs. Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, or Staten Island. 

 

Each, as a whole, is different and you can never do it all  it's an incredible place.  Within each borough, the various neighborhoods are all different.  Take Manhattan, the borough that most tourists are familiar with.  Manhattan has many different areas including Harlem, the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, SoHo, TriBeCa, Chelsea, Midtown, Greenwich Village, the East Village, Murray Hill, Chinatown, Little Italy, etc., etc. it's great to spend some time in each.

 

 

Norm:

 

It is often mentioned that NYC is a very expensive place to visit. How true is this and is there some way where you can keep your costs down?

 

Meryl:

 

New York, like many major sophisticated cities, offers the best of everything.  And having the best can be very expensive.  However, you can pick and choose what you'd like to spend your money on, like theater tickets, for instance, and find less expensive bistros and hotels.  Or, go for same-day half-price Broadway tickets and book at a five-star hotel.

 

You can pick and choose to meet your budget.  I love the buffet lunches, for example, that many of the city's Indian restaurants offer.  They are extensive and amazingly inexpensive. 

 

If you dine in some of the smaller ethnic restaurants, you'll have great food at lower prices avoid hotel restaurants that tend to be pricier.  Pre-theater dinners are often prix fixe and very reasonable, too. 

 

There are many free things to do in the city as well from museum exhibits to outdoor concerts.  If you pick up a copy of New York Magazine or Time Out New York you can look at each week's listings to find them.  Taking the subway will certainly help keep your costs down so don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it.  Plus the subway is quick and covers all the boroughs except for Staten Island (you get there by ferry and then take a bus). 

 

Norm:

 

If you had to choose 6 of the most unique romantic venues in NYC, which ones would you choose and why?

 

Meryl:  

 

I love the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center there is no place like it to get the most panoramic view of the tops of the city and of Central Park and the West.

 

I also love the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights looking back at Manhattan is just fabulous.

 

Around Gracie Mansion in Carl Schurz Park, there are benches that look out towards the East River.  You can watch the boats plying the East River and enjoy the fresh air.

 

Central Park has many gorgeous, romantic areas.  My favorite is Bethesda Fountain, the setting for many romantic movie scenes.

 

By the Boatyard in Central Park, you can rent a row boat on the Pond, and, if you're lucky, you might see one of the restaurant's gondolas gliding by.

 

Sitting outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, looking in the windows at the Temple of Dendur, is amazingly romantic.  It can transport you to another time and place quite easily.

 

 

 

Norm:

 

How easy is it to travel in and around NYC and how safe is subway travel?

 

 

Meryl: 

 

You need to be a little patient, given the number of people who are here, so traffic can be slow-moving at time, but there are lots and lots of ways to get around and they are definitely safe.  The subway is amazingly extensive and goes 24/7 although I wouldn't suggest riding it after midnight if you're not familiar with the city.  Taxis are usually plentiful unless it's raining, rush hour, or theater time.  Bus coverage is very good, and you can transfer free of charge from the subway to the bus.  Directions are among the easiest of any city, given NYC's beautifully laid out grid system in most of the city. 

 

 

Norm:

 

When is the best time to visit NYC?

 

That's a hard one.  If you need great weather, then come in the spring and fall and it won't be as crowded as summer when the tourists usually flock here (although a lot of locals go away on weekends).  Winter is beautiful when it snows and prices tend to be lower with lots of great sales.  Since I live here year-round, I can't think of any time that's a bad one to visit.  You'll have an easier time, though, getting theater tickets and restaurant and hotel reservations in January or February compared to June and July.

 

 

Norm:

 

Could you tell our readers something about the beaches around NYC and how easy or difficult is it to reach these beaches? Do you need a car?

 

 

 

Meryl: 

 

New York has amazing beaches nearby.  Jones Beach on Long Island is famous throughout the world and a little further out is Robert Moses Beach.  These are beaches that were designed for urban escapees.  There are buses that go to Jones Beach, or you can take the train to Long Beach.

 

 For the Hamptons, a bit further, you can take the train or the Hampton Jitney, but it is easier if you have a car unless you are meeting someone.  In the Bronx, there are a couple of urban beaches, Orchard Beach, for instance, that is reachable by bus.  The Jersey Shore is also beautiful and is accessible by train as well.  There are many communities there where you could have a nice day or weekend without a car.  Heading to Connecticut, you can go to the beaches near Greenwich. 

 

Norm:

 

How easy or difficult is it to secure tickets to Broadway Plays and are there any outlets where you can purchase the tickets at a discount?

 

Meryl:

 

It depends on the play.  If there is a particular show that you must see, and it's a hot one, then you should plan to order your tickets prior to your visit.  While you can always get tickets last-minute through a concierge or broker, you'll pay a premium price.  For many shows, you can get discount 5tickets on the day of the performance at TKTS, a half-price ticket booth located either in Times Square or at the South Street Seaport area.

 

Norm:

 

If you were to name six romantic restaurants in NYC, which ones would you choose?


*** Erminia, small Italian restaurant, on Upper East Side

 

*** Central Park Boathouse, overlooking the pond

 

*** Asiate, Mandarin Oriental Hotel

 

*** Chez Josephine, theater district

 

*** Atelier, Ritz-Carlton Central Park

 

*** Chanterelle, TriBeCa

 

**** Quality Meats, a new midtown restaurant in NYC. 

 

 

Norm:

 

NYC has a great deal of culture to offer from the point of view of music, art, theater, etc. Could you tell our readers where they can attend cultural events that will not put them in the poor house?

 

Meryl:

 

The summer offers a lot of free concerts and festivals:  street fairs and the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival, concerts at the Naumburg Band Shell in Central Park, opera and symphony concerts on the Great Lawn in Central Park, and Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater are all free.  At other times, off-Broadway and off-off Broadway theater won't break the bank and is pretty exciting, too.  Certain museums are open during the evening, and contributions are optional; some offer free jazz concerts like the Guggenheim Museum on Friday nights.

 

Norm:

 

Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

 

Meryl

 

Don't hesitate to ask New Yorkers for help or information.  People are often surprised at how nice the locals are here.  I think this started to become apparent after 9.11.  We really are a wonderful group of people of everything nationality, and most of us are quite friendly and want to help and share our experiences.

 

 

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.