Accidental Tourist: NYC Weekend with Allianz Global Assistance

E.B. White said of New York, “There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, the New York of the commuter — the city devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the NYC of the person who was born somewhere else and came in quest of something….Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.” Recently I spent the weekend with Allianz Global Assistance, and got the opportunity to see the city through some of those varied eyes.

Allianz Global Assistance, the leading travel insurer with whom I’d recently worked to promote their VIP NYT Travel Show Weekend informed me that I had won. To my own self deprecating surprise, by driving the most traffic to the contest, I’d actually won the blogger side. This meant along with two other, out of town winners I’d be spending a weekend with Allianz exploring New York landmarks, and meeting top travel experts. An unexpected, exciting weekend that would include touring the city with Pauline Frommer and Mark Murphy, dining with travel personalities Johnny Jet, Lee Abbamonte and Gary Arndt, attending the NYTTS, and seeing New York City in a way I never have before. (For one, from the top of One World Trade, and with a Go-pro, also courtesy of Allianz).

Even though I was already a Manhattan dweller, Allianz treated me just as equally as all the other winners; like a tourist. With a 3 night stay at Ink48, as well as airfare credit, I was feeling like a Queen. For once, being a NYC tourist wasn’t only welcoming, it was exciting.

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Downtown Manhattan with Pauline Frommer and travel expert Mark Murphy. 

Not only was she interesting, and gorgeous, ( can I say that?), she was also warm; a rare, and hard to fake trait. I didn’t get to quite interact the way I intended, but that’s always the plight of the quiet. Either way, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend the morning with someone whose books are your travel bibles. Some New Yorkers pride themselves on knowing everything, or thinking they do. But that morning I realized just how little I really knew about my city. For this native New Yorker, there is still a lot to learn. Luckily, her brand new book Frommer’s EasyGuide to New York City was included in our prize pack.

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Lunch at Le District in the busy Brookfield Place. 

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One World Trade 

I had never been in the building. I barely ever went to the Financial District at all, because if you don’t work or live there, and you’re not visiting, you really have no reason to ever go. But today I was a visitor. A stranger in my own town; which in a way I was in this neighborhood anyway.

To my complete surprise, when we reached the top my trepidation immediately turned to peacefulness. When you first enter, you walk though a dark room. After a short speech of the ‘bustling city of New York”, suddenly the blackout rises to reveal a 360 view of the city around you. For this hardened, cynical, not easily impressed Manhattanite, even I felt a short chill run through me.

No woman is an island unto herself 

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The city can sometimes feel all encompassing, and from the top of One World Trade, it completely traps you in its web. I pondered everything below, while in the background, a tour guide told real tourists about “fast paced New Yorkers that may seen harsh”. I had to laugh. Even from up here, they were still scared of the natives. And yet, I was relishing in the serenity that came with feeling like an outsider, if only for a moment.

Enjoying the island from a very different point of view. Tourist.

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Dinner at Mastros with Everyone. 

Over a steaming seafood tower and coma inducing Lobster mac and cheese, we dined, drank, and shared travel stories.

 

Spending some time with the Allianz gang at the New York Times Travel Show.

The NYTTS is a massive gathering across the globe that becomes home to over 500 exhibitors. The 2 day event includes cool workshops, and travel talk from professionals, bloggers, and other industry experts.

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 A mini Staycation over on the west side at Ink 48. 

The Kimpton hotel, comfortably located west of Times Square gives a tourist the best of Broadway only a short walk away. But it gives this city girl a little fun pretending to be a West-sider for the night. Its location on 48th and 11th avenue makes it convenient, yet the rather quiet area makes you feel off the beaten path.

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Some visitors would probably choose a night out on the town, and there is plenty to choose from. But this not being my first rodeo, I had no intention of going out into the rainy night. Instead, we relished in a staycation, which consisted of take out pizza, red wine, movies, and plush robes courtesy of Ink which we giggled at wearing, but still did anyway. Outside, the city stared back at us through floor to ceiling windows that displayed the island lights and shimmering skyline. The Empire State Building, which normally stares at me from my bed (Yes, I’m that lucky!) now stood ahead of me larger than life. Still, it was overshadowed by the H&M building, and other West side facades.

Since we could open the window a crack, a big plus, I felt the Saturday rain on my face, and let myself get a little chill. Then jumped back into the soft, plush bed and the confines of my home for the night. I didn’t need to go out into the city to appreciate it. But apparently, I did need to go across town for the evening to get new perspective, both literally, and figuratively. Much like my staycation, Allianz had given me a different perspective of my beloved island.

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” The city makes up for its deficiencies by supplying its citizens with massive doses of a supplementary vitamin – The sense of belonging to Something Unique, Cosmopolitan, Mighty and Unparalleled” – E.B. White 


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