New York City Trip Review

Here’s the complete review of the trip Erin and I took to New York City. It was our first time visiting New York and it was an interesting contrast to living in Las Vegas.

Instead of doing a day-by-day chronological report, we decided to share our thoughts by location and theme. This made it easier for us to do a dual write-up without being too redundant.

Here goes…

The Touristy Stuff

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Erin: Many of our readers suggested going to this museum so we went there the first day we were there. As we toured through the rooms I was chuckling out loud and saying to Steve, “There are ripped up pieces of blank paper under glass in this room. How is that art? I can see that in Emily’s bedroom.” Okay so the whole modern art thing was lost on me. I’m sorry, I just didn’t get what all the buzz was about. I was most fascinated by the people who stood gazing at a piece of blue paper hanging on a wall. They seemed very absorbed by trying to analyze its meaning.

Steve: Between the Met and MoMA, more of our visitors recommended MoMA, so I went with the consensus since I’m not an art buff, and it was the closer one to our hotel and easier to reach by subway. This museum contained a lot of empty, open spaces and seemed very lacking in the art department. Most of the pieces looked lazy and pointless, and I wondered about the sanity of the rest of the city. I’ve seen more interesting work on the wall at my son’s preschool. A whole wall devoted to a few colored rectangles? A drawing of a diagonal line? An iPod on a shelf? Some of the design stuff was OK, and I actually like the Soviet architecture photographs. But overall this was a few hours of my life I wouldn’t mind having back. I happen to like interesting art that makes me think, but this just made me think I picked the wrong museum.

Staten Island Ferry

Erin: Our readers suggested that the best way to see the Statue of Liberty was to take the Ferry. Good call! We had a lovely time and got a great view of her. She seemed smaller in person. But still very majestic. The ferry ride was smooth and we got right back on to go back to Manhattan. Very efficient.

Steve: This was a nice way to spend an hour. We got to the ferry station right at 1:30pm, just as a ferry was about to leave. We ran for the gate and were among the last people to board. It was a smooth 25-minute ride with some great views. About halfway into the trip, I noticed some seagulls were racing the ferry – and winning. After we docked it was announced our ferry was going out of service, so again we raced to the 2:00 returning ferry and just made it on in time.

Staten Island Ferry

Statue of Liberty

American Museum of Natural History

Erin: This place was the bomb! Steve and I adored touring this museum, which I guess is the one featured in the movie, Night at the Museum. This is our kind of museum. Lots of information about dinosaurs, Native Americans, rocks, gems and minerals (ooh, look at all the sparkly jewels!). We even found some good vegan eats in the museum café.

Steve: I’ve been to the L.A. Natural History Museum many times – in high school I even played group hide-and-seek there – but the New York City counterpart is so much nicer. Vegas has a Natural History Museum too, but it’s really tiny and pathetic. I loved how the subway station leads right into the basement of the museum. My favorite parts of the museum were the expansive cultural exhibits, especially Native American and South American. The only thing I didn’t like about this museum is that it was crowded with lots of noisy schoolchildren, but they thinned out in the afternoon. I highly recommend this museum to anyone visiting NYC.

Natural History Museum

Financial District

Erin: We planned to go to the Financial District on Tuesday morning. I wanted to be at Ground Zero and see if I could sense any spirits that hadn’t crossed over and perhaps help some who were lingering. Around 4 am while I was still in bed in our hotel room, I was awakened by a strong surge of energy. A deceased spirit presented to me wearing a charcoal gray suit, carrying a briefcase, appeared Asian, and said his name was Tom. I acknowledged his presence and he asked me if I could tell him what happened. I sensed immediately that he was a spirit that had not crossed over and was confused by his circumstances. Right near him, a woman presented to me who explained she was not an employee at the World Trade Center but was merely visiting someone else. She went on about needing to find her baby. I realized what was happening. The spirits were lining up to speak with me. I was surprised they were there early since I was planning to connect with them all in a few hours. I started listening to their tales and stories, trying to keep them all straight, and then Steve rolled into me and broke my connection. I didn’t think it mattered at the time since we were going to Ground Zero soon but apparently it did matter. When we arrived at Ground Zero it was totally blocked off with a big tarp covering the fence so we couldn’t see in except through a little flap. The noise was intense. And there was nowhere comfortable and out of the way for me to connect. I realized then that I wasn’t going to be able to connect with the spirits there and that’s probably why they were coming to me in my hotel room. I regret that I didn’t realize it and make a greater effort to get in contact with them when they came.

We walked around the Financial District for a while. We saw the Stock Exchange and Wall Street. Not much to do there other than say, “Oh look, that’s the Stock Exchange” and move on. It was tough finding a restroom around there, so a big thank you goes out to the Borders for being so accommodating. 🙂

Steve: If you’re into architecture or finance, this might be a cool area to visit, but I really didn’t like the energy in this part of town. Most of the people seemed stressed, unhappy, and overly caffeinated. However, Little Lad’s Basket was a sea of tranquility, and Erin and I had a very pleasant lunch at their vegan buffet.

Financial District

New York Stock Exchange

Central Park

Erin: A lovely oasis in the sea of cement. We enjoyed a charming stroll through the park but never found a bathroom. My friend tells me I’m lucky I didn’t.

Steve: I went to the park 3 times during our trip since it was only a 10-minute walk from our hotel. In a few hours of walking, I was only able to explore the portion south of the reservoir. My favorite part was Shakespeare’s Garden and Belvedere Castle. It was quiet and not crowded there, and I thought that would be a great place to sit down and blog for a while. The kids’ playground areas looked pretty dreary compared to the more modern Vegas parks. I was able to see Central Park from the air as we were flying into JFK, a sea of green surrounded by a stone jungle.

Sheep Meadow Central Park

Comedy Club

Erin: One night a guy handed Steve some coupons to a comedy club. We finally went and it was interesting. The comics got better as the evening progressed, perhaps as the alcohol the audience was consuming started working its magic. We were right in the front row, so of course the comics had to include us in their acts. We represented Vegas well I think.

Steve: I couldn’t resist seeing a stand-up comedy show because I’ve been studying humor lately. We went to the Ha! Comedy Club in Times Square. Out of the roughly half-dozen comedians we saw, one was incredibly funny, one was very good, and the rest were so-so. Most of the comedians did a good job including audience members in their acts, including Erin and me (the “Vegas couple”). MC Johnny Watson was especially adept at this. I enjoyed diagnosing each act to figure out why the audience reacted as they did. When a joke bombed, I could usually see why. Two comedians bombed largely because their acts were built around premises that were personal instead of universal – they kept saying “I” instead of “you” when trying to set up a new joke. That’s a classic blunder which could have been fixed in the writing stage. A good joke premise needs to involve the audience – the personal story comes in later as part of the punch line. My favorite performer was Shawn Cornelius, who was outstanding with both his writing and delivery. His premises were universal (relationships, drug side effects, etc), his punch lines were brilliant, and his act-outs were over the top. The highlight was when he did an act-out of a certain drug’s side effects.

Broadway and Times Square

Erin: We didn’t get to see a Broadway play. In hindsight I really wish I had gotten tickets ahead of time, but we were too busy getting ready for our vacation to plan it out well in advance. We walked around Times Square and that was fun, but we have that sort of thing in Vegas so it was no big whoop.

Steve: Our hotel was only a block away from Broadway, so we ended up spending a lot of time in this part of town. It was OK but nothing special compared to what we’re used to seeing in Vegas. It reminded me of an outdoor version of the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace but not quite as classy.

One morning as we were walking down Broadway to Jamba Juice for some breakfast, we ran into a forum member who attended our Vegas meet-up back in May. But he didn’t even know we were in the city or that we were having a meet-up, and we didn’t know he was there either. He was there to see Eckhart Tolle. He came to our meet-up later that week. Of course that chance meeting was pure random luck, right? 😉

Times Square

The Food

Erin: Steve and I knew we were going to the Mecca of vegan restaurants by traveling to New York. Before we went, I used to get a list of recommended vegan restaurants. Then I sorted them by location (Midtown, Upper East Side, Chelsea, etc.). So each day Steve plotted our course to a fun destination while I supplemented our plan with the location of the nearest vegan restaurant.

Steve: With Erin’s pre-trip research and the abundant suggestions from our readers, we were well-prepared for a week of vegan feasting. This was definitely some of the best vegan food I’ve ever had, far beyond the vegan cuisine of L.A., the San Francisco Bay Area, or Las Vegas. We had more restaurants on our list than meals to eat, and the places were scattered all over town, so we knew we wouldn’t be able to hit them all, but we did find some pretty good ones.

Here are some highlights from the restaurants we visited:


Erin: Two words for you. Vegan Duck. Not to be missed. Scallion pancakes also rocked.

Steve: This wasn’t on our original list. We found it later in our trip, which was ironic because it was only 3 blocks from our hotel. It has a half-vegan, half-carnivore menu, so we ate there twice with some of our non-vegan friends. I loved the creative dishes. Our NYC friends gave Zenith a thumbs up too.

Zen Palate

Erin: Sweet and sour sensation was delicious. And their banana bliss pie and key lime pie were slammin’!

Steve: This was also within walking distance of our hotel, so we ate there twice, once in their café and once in their dining room. They have some very tasty and creative vegan dishes, but I thought the soy balls looked too much like a plate of testicles. I was impressed with the fast service here.

Café Viva

Erin: The cheeseless pizza was a little bland but their vegan strawberry shortcake wins my award for best vegan dessert in New York. So it has found redemption.

Steve: We took the subway to the Upper West Side and had our first taste of New York City pizza here, albeit without cheese. They offer soy cheese at Viva, but it contains casein (milk protein). They should offer vegan cheese too, especially since all their desserts were vegan. The pizza was pretty good, and indeed the vegan shortcake was incredible.


Erin: Awesome vegan cheese pizza. Delicious!

Steve: This pizza place in the Upper West Side served up some excellent thin crust pizza with vegan cheese. They also had some simple vegan desserts.

Quantum Leap

Erin: Poor service and they brought me something I didn’t order… and it was spicy … and I hate spicy … and the waitress never came back to check on us so I muddled through, rationing the little water I was given.

Steve: We ate at the Greenwich Village location. The food was only mediocre and not particularly creative, and the service was sluggish. Their prices were a little lower than other places, but I’d prefer to pay more for better quality.

Curly’s Vegetarian Lunch

Erin: Grilled cheese, fries, and a strawberry milkshake. Vegan comfort junk food. It was awesome. I highly recommend, except my shake tasted more like strawberry soy milk so I would skip that next time.

Steve: I liked this restaurant in East Village. It’s a common pattern that whenever we eat at a new restaurant, Erin will order the most familiar item on the menu, while I’ll order the least familiar. I got the vegan crab cake salad, which was very good.

Little Lad’s Basket

Erin: The only vegan eats in the Financial District. It’s sort of a vegan buffet. I say “sort of” because there are only 6 items and you basically take some of everything and fill your plate. Food was hit and miss here but there was definitely love in this food.

Steve: The food here was OK, and I enjoyed the tranquil energy of this place. For a vegan buffet, you can’t beat the ridiculously low price of $3.99. It’s run by the Seventh Day Adventists, so perhaps they don’t believe in profit. We had a very friendly conversation with a few of them before we left. You can’t spot Little Lad’s Basket from the street, since it’s located in the basement of 120 Broadway.

Caravan of Dreams

Erin: Cozy environment. Didn’t like the Tempeh Reuben. But my friend ordered a grilled veggie burrito that was excellent so he shared with me. Their nachos were the best I’ve ever had. Good eats!

Steve: We ate at this East Village restaurant with a couple friends. I had a curry dish that was good but not great. I liked the energy and the atmosphere of this place, which reminded me of a café in Berkeley. The live piano music was a nice touch.


Erin: This is Moby’s café. We went just for dessert. I got the strawberry shortcake (yeah I got a thing for strawberries and cream) and it was heavenly. Steve got the peanut butter chocolate cake and it was wonderful!

Steve: After Caravan our friend drove us to Teany in the Lower East Side for some vegan dessert. And of course as we pulled up, there was an empty parking space right in front, even though the rest of the street was packed with cars. The place was crowded, but a table for three opened up right as we walked in. Both cake and tea were excellent, but in this case I was more engrossed by the deep conversation we were having about the law of attraction and the nature of reality.


Erin: We traveled a long time on a subway to get to this all-vegan bakery. I’m sorry to say it wasn’t worth the trip. Aside from paying $3.50 for a small cupcake, I’d say they were just okay but nothing special. The other desserts we found in the city were way better. Won’t go back there.

Steve: As Erin mentioned, this bakery was nothing special. I liked the Chrysanthemum tea though.

Better Burger

Erin: Was looking forward to eating here but the food was terrible. So bad that I left half on my tray and went looking for another restaurant to eat at. Oh well…

Steve: Erin went to Better Burger while I grabbed a Jamba Juice a few blocks away, so I can’t comment on this place.

Candle Café

Erin: Lots of hype surrounding this restaurant. I got their burger and it was just okay. The bun was so dense and large I could have used it as a brick and built something. They did have a rockin’ banana cake though. I would give this place another shot.

Steve: We hit this Upper East Side café early in our trip. I loved the Cajun Seitan sandwich, and the banana cake was one of the best vegan desserts I’ve ever had. I’d definitely eat here again. Unfortunately, the place was crowded, noisy, and cramped. Our table was tiny, and if I tilted my head back too far, I’d bonk the person behind me.

Jamba Juice

Erin: In Los Angeles we used to go to JJ a lot, but there is only one in Vegas and it’s tucked deep into UNLV way across town so we never go there. But in New York they had like 3 within a short walking distance of our hotel. So we went here for breakfast when we could.

Steve: A convenient place to get a quick breakfast, since no nearby vegan restaurants seemed to be open before 11am.

Food Summary

Erin: All in all, we had a great culinary experience in New York. For the food alone I would consider moving there.

Steve: The food was definitely excellent. However, the service was usually slower and less friendly than what I’m accustomed to in Vegas, although there were some notable exceptions. Nearly every restaurant seemed very tiny and cramped to me as well. Some places were barely 10 feet wide. I’m sure space is at a premium in Manhattan, but I’m used to eating in much more spacious settings, like the sprawling Vegas buffets that span a couple of zip codes.

The Subway

Erin: Okay. The subway. What an er, interesting, experience. And what adorable little rats on the tracks. And oh the chipping paint, how lovely. And is that gum all over the platform or did the concrete come that way? And what a lovely smell we discovered…

I’m ragging on the subway, but it got us where we needed to go and it did a damn fine job. Steve never got us lost so I have to credit his superior navigation skills on that. We seemed to get lucky often as the train would pull up just as we got there. It was definitely better than walking.

I noticed that the people on the subway generally don’t look at each other. There was a strong feeling of disconnect between people. I noticed it throughout the city actually but it was very strong on the subway. A lot of people were plugged into their iPods. Their shields were definitely up.

Steve: I considered riding the subway to be an essential part of an authentic NYC experience. We probably rode it about 20 times. The only hard part for me was figuring out which direction each train was heading. Uptown vs. Downtown is simple enough, but I had no idea where Jamaica Center was, so I had to learn a little of the geography to figure out if that was the train we wanted. Within 48 hours I’d learned the ropes, and by the end of our trip, people were asking me and Erin for navigational help, which I was actually able to provide. All those years of playing video games helped me develop strong subterranean mapping skills. 🙂

One time we hopped onto the L train at 8th Ave, and we saw two women walking to catch the train. The first woman walked through the open doors, and then the doors closed right in front of her friend’s face before she could walk into the car. But the first woman didn’t realize it right away because she was wearing an iPod. Her friend looked rather dismayed as the train pulled away. 🙁

The NYC subway seemed similar to the BART stations in the San Francisco Bay Area or the Metro in Washington D.C. The subway stations look much more hideous (we started calling them troglodyte tunnels), but the system is very efficient.

Steve at New York City Subway


Erin: Holy cow! Traffic laws are apparently optional in New York. People crossed against the “don’t walk” signs constantly. Taxis and other cars could barely make headway through the throngs of people. At first Steve and I were the only people standing on the corner waiting for the “walk” sign as hordes of others just crossed when it was safe. In front of police officers too! Let me tell you this as a public service announcement … don’t EVER jaywalk or cross against the lights in Vegas. You will die. It’s dangerous to stand at the edge of the curb even! Drunk tourist drivers abound in Vegas. But by the end of the week I was high-tailing it across the street without even looking at the signs. I guess it doesn’t take long to make a heathen out of me. And so it was with decadent abandon that we learned to cross the street whenever we felt like it. Oh the power! I felt so naughty.

Steve: Erin and I didn’t have a car on this trip, and I’m glad for that. We both grew up in L.A., so heavy traffic and congested streets are no stranger to us. It took us a few days to adapt to the apparent NYC code of crossing streets when the coast is clear as opposed to watching the signals. We saw cars drive through red lights, and often pedestrians would stand still at a green walk signal because they were watching the cars and bikes and didn’t even notice the light had changed. People jaywalked right in front of cops, so perhaps that’s just considered normal there. If we stood still waiting for the light to change, people would bump into us trying to cross. The streets in NYC were very narrow and cramped compared to other U.S. cities, and the ubiquitous one-way streets probably make efficient navigation more challenging.

In Las Vegas many pedestrian bridges have been constructed that cross over the Strip, and you can’t even cross certain intersections at street level anymore. For example, all four corners of the Strip and Tropicana Ave have concrete barricades at street level. This keeps the pedestrians safe and the traffic moving. Fremont Street downtown used to be drivable, but it’s been closed to cars for years and turned into an outdoor tourist hot spot. The casinos do not like to see their customers getting killed in front of their buildings. It’s bad for business.


Erin: One of the best things we did on the trip was visit with friends. One of our friends, Chris, took us on a driving tour of the city at night. It was on this night, thanks to his explanation of what living in New York is really like, that I finally understood why people would want to live in such a crowded, overpriced city. I have to tell you about Chris’ car. Here is a description of the car in Chris’ own words:

“That would be a 1965 Mercedes Benz 230sl convertible (roadster). The car runs entirely on electricity generated by wind power. Hence the license plate ZERO C02. It produces no emissions anywhere. (Not at the pipe, nor at the source of power generation.) It is approximately as fast as it was before the conversion and was designed to have between a 50 and 100 mile range (although this could easily be increased to 200 if desired). The cost to operate is about 1/5th the price of gasoline power.”

Wind-powered Mercedes Convertible

Wind-powered Mercedes Convertible

What Chris failed to mention is that this car is a total chick magnet. A guy magnet too actually. As we drove around town people couldn’t help but verbally and loudly admire the car. At one point these two lovely young women went crazy over the car and wanted to get in it and take a photo, etc. Oddly, about 30 minutes later we actually ran into them again in another part of town. Synchronicity? It was odd.

Steve: I also enjoyed meeting with friends on this trip. Chris gave us a ride from the Lower East Side to Hell’s Kitchen, passing by Washington Square Park, Union Square, Gramercy Park, and Grand Central Station. We certainly got a lot of attention in that car.

On the last day of our trip, we had dinner with an old high school friend of mine, who took the train from Bronxville to meet us. We’ve known each other for more than 20 years, so it’s always fun to catch up. Erin and I asked him a lot of questions about life in New York.

The Meet Up

Erin: It took a while for Steve and me to finally find a place for our meet up. Thanks to one of our readers, we were led to a dance rehearsal studio where we were able to rent a room for a fairly low price (by New York standards anyway). It was perfect and just what I hoped it would be. Over a 2.5-hour period we mingled and greeted and chatted with about 50 people. Some people came from as far away as Maine, Canada, Texas, Florida, and Philadelphia. After we mingled we did an impromptu Q&A session which was fantastic. I very much enjoyed meeting so many people I’d read for in the past, and I enjoyed meeting new readers and getting a chance to connect. Thank you to everyone who came by and who brought family and friends to meet us. Steve and I were very pleased with our experience. We’ll probably do another meet up in the next city we visit. (Feel free to nominate your home town so we can get an idea of the demand).

Steve: It took a bit more effort to find a place than we anticipated, largely because we had so many leads to follow. Fortunately we were able to secure a good spot two days before the meet-up. It didn’t rain the day of the meet-up, but it was warm and very humid outside, so I’m glad we did it indoors. We gathered in a dance studio on the 13th floor of a building that was a 5-minute walk from our hotel.

We provided name tags for the meet-up to help people get to know each other. I was very pleased to see everyone mingling so well instead of only talking to Erin and me. This was a very social group. A common icebreaker question I heard people asking was, “So where are you from?” Erin and I did our best to circle around the room and meet with as many people as we could.

Some people left before the Q&A session, but the majority stayed until the end. We weren’t originally planning to do a Q&A session, but Erin started telling people to grab a chair, so I guess she thought it would be a good idea. We fielded as many questions as we could in about 20 minutes. Both during the Q&A and in talking to people individually, I noticed that finding one’s life purpose was probably the most common line of questioning. A lot of people are struggling with how to find a career that balances the four areas of body, mind, heart, and spirit – meaning that they’re making a good living, working from their strengths, doing what they love, and making a meaningful contribution. The part that most people seemed to struggle with is clearly identifying exactly what it is they love to do and then figuring out how to turn it into a sustainable career that will pay the bills. This is the kind of feedback that’s so important for me to hear, since it helps guide me in what to write about. I get a lot of email feedback every day, but people always emphasize different things in person.

The tough part was when people asked me very deep questions, but I only had time to give them very brief answers. The biggest challenges of our lives won’t be solved with sound bites, but I did my best to point people in the right direction. Sometimes the best I could do was to empathize with the person rather than offer meaningful solutions, since a lot of personal growth issues can take a while just to define.

Unfortunately I came down with a cold during the last two days of our trip (my first illness in about a year), and I was feeling tired and foggy on the morning of the meet-up. I did the best I could and really enjoyed the positive energy of the group. If I look a bit spacey in the photos, it’s because I was spacey. After the meet-up, I went back to the hotel, slept for two hours, ate a late lunch, and felt much better. Interestingly, during the meet-up most of my cold symptoms temporarily vanished.

Pavlina New York City Meetup 1

Pavlina New York City Meetup 2

Pavlina New York City Meetup 3

Pavlina New York City Meetup 4


Erin: Our flight to New York was fabulous. Personal on-demand entertainment, a tasty vegan meal, and wonderful Business Class service provided by Delta. However, our flight home left a lot to be desired. They failed to put our vegan meals on the plane, so they had nothing but a cracker and a box of raisins to give us. It’s a good thing I brought some snacks on board with us or we would have been pretty grumpy. The plane got switched at the last minute and was an older plane so it didn’t have the personal on-demand entertainment systems installed. The onboard movie was Nancy Drew. One piece of our luggage lost a wheel, and another piece was missing its nifty motion-sensitive, light-up luggage tag.

I am someone who gets severe motion sickness which has prevented me from wanting to do any flying. Even Dramamine is not effective enough for me. Finally I discovered a new prescription strength motion sickness pill called Scopace. If you or anyone you know suffers from extreme motion sickness I highly recommend this pill. I had to test the pill before going on the plane to make sure I didn’t get the side effects, which can be quite severe. So Steve and I trekked on over to the Hilton and went on the Star Trek Experience motion simulator. Normally, a motion simulator ride would have me vomiting within 20 seconds. But this time, while on the Scopace, I enjoyed the ride completely!! I couldn’t believe it. And I didn’t have any side effects which was great. During my flight to and from New York I did not get sick at all and the turbulence didn’t bother me a bit. This is so freeing since now I can go anywhere a plane can take me. First stop, New York! Next stop … the world!

Steve: The flight was clearly a big deal to Erin, but for me it was no big whoop either way. I did enjoy the view over Manhattan as we flew into JFK though. Several landmarks were easy to spot from the air.


Erin: I quite enjoyed our trip. The walking was a bit much and it did take kind of a long time just to get to a restaurant for a meal, but the food was definitely worth it. The highlight was hanging with friends and our meet up. It would be fun to go on tour and hit all the big cities and meet as many of our readers as possible. Next time I’ll make more time for readings as I was overwhelmed by the number of requests I received.

It’s good to be home. We certainly came to appreciate all the space we have in our house and backyard. And it’s nice to walk out of our home and not have to merge with 100 people walking down the street.

Steve: I really enjoyed NYC, and I’d love to go back again sometime. There was a lot to see and do, and I’m glad we were able to spend a full week there. In addition to the places mentioned above, Erin and I spent a lot of time walking through various parts of the city, since we didn’t want to fill every day with tourist stops. Maybe next time we’ll be able to go beyond Manhattan and check out the surrounding areas like Brooklyn.

After exploring the city and talking to friends there, I don’t think I’d enjoy living there nearly as much as I enjoy Vegas. If anything this trip gave me an even greater depth of gratitude for all that Vegas has to offer, especially the abundant spaciousness of the city. Manhattan felt very cramped and crowded, even compared to the bustling Vegas Strip. A single mega-resort from the Strip might span several blocks in Midtown Manhattan, and even at the peak of tourist season there’s a lot more room to move about.

The biggest turn-off for me was the cleanliness and state of repair of Manhattan. Everything seemed old and dirty, as if the whole city is in a state of decay. Erin used the word “corroded” a lot during our trip. The sidewalks are a gloomy dark gray, many neighborhoods are blanketed with graffiti, paint is peeling, wood is chipping, and building interiors look horribly outdated.

Living in Vegas has definitely spoiled me though, so this is perhaps an unfair comparison. The Vegas attitude is that if it’s 20+ years old, it’s time to start planning for demolition. The Stardust Hotel was imploded in March 2007, and most of it was built in 1991. The Frontier Hotel recently closed and will soon be demolished to make room for a hotel resembling the Plaza Hotel from – you guessed it – New York City. The residential and commercial areas in Vegas are being built up so quickly that large expanses of the city look and feel brand new. My entire neighborhood didn’t even exist before 2003, and a mile west of my house is just open desert.

Where New York City definitely puts Vegas to shame is its cultural richness. Vegas has a lot going for it, but its cultural development is lagging behind its growth in other areas. You can enjoy some of the world’s best entertainment on the Strip, but the Vegas museums are downright pathetic compared to what you’ll find in other cities. Currently the best Vegas museum is the National Atomic Testing Museum, which will teach you to stop worrying and love the bomb. 😉

There were a lot of details we didn’t include in our review, but after almost 6,000 words, hopefully we hit the highlights. 🙂