This was it. I stared down at my mobile ticket just before boarding the plane and tried to figure out how it happened. A month or so ago, my supervisor and manager had requested that I get travel perks, and the stars were aligned as my team was pitching its roadmap for next year to our New York partners the week of May 21st. Since I was on the same project, I was approved to travel with the team, and the best part? I could fly in a weekend early to hang out with my bro at Columbia. Talk about star alignment!
I would get six days in New York. Not much time, but enough to see some cool stuff and enjoy a new environment. Since I was going to be working most of the day, I didn’t expect to go full-tourist mode – I told myself I’d be happy whatever I got to do outside of work. And looking back, it was a great approach – not only did I get a good amount of work done, but I also got to experience some pretty cool sights and sounds. And the food, oh the food. Can’t forget the food! This post will be an abridged version of my trip to New York City. I’ll highlight some of the major events from the trip, from my Columbia visit to some work stories to amazing steak. Hope you enjoy!
Visiting my Bro at Columbia University
The flight from SF to NY wasn’t too bad. I arrived on time and began the arduous trek from JFK Airport in Queens to Upper West Side in Manhattan. It took several subway/rail lines and transfers, but I made it to the Columbia campus in time for dinner. My bro and I caught up over burgers at Shake Shack (East Coast In N Out-quality burgers) and talked about life, school, and random stuff. After dinner, I got the insider’s tour of the campus, basically walking from one end of campus to the other. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds – the entire campus takes about seven minutes to walk from end to end. It’s tiny compared to the other schools I’ve seen over the years, but it’s also a beautiful place with unique buildings, lots of greenery, and spacious walkways. Sunday was more of the same, hanging out at my bro’s dorm room, meeting some of his friends, eating lunch on the steps in front of the main library, and venturing out to explore parts of Upper West Side and Midtown (Halal Guys cart!). Before long, it was time to head out and check into my hotel.
Grand Livin’ at Times Square
A quick subway ride later, and I found myself in one of the busiest areas I’ve witnessed in the US. I was standing among crowds of people at Times Square, trying to figure out which way to walk to get to my hotel. Navigating the crowds was a nightmare, but thankfully I quickly got to my hotel, the New York Marriott Marquis, and checked in. A quick ride on their cool space-age pod-like elevators later, I found myself in a really nice hotel room. The wall-sized window was open and I looked out and was hit with a perfect view of Times Square below. Spending the next four nights here? Not bad, not bad at all.
Getting Work Done
On Monday morning, I went into the Macys.com office in Times Square with my manager to give a final presentation on the mini-project I’d been working on the prior two weeks. Since Monday was technically a travel day, we left earlier and went back to the hotel to wait for the rest of the team to arrive. Once they did, it was time for a proper Peking duck dinner. Tuesday morning was rough. Thanks to the three-hour time difference, I essentially woke up at 4am along with my teammates so we could ride a train over to New Jersey for a meeting with the logistics people. That afternoon, we met with our partners at the Bloomingdales.com office. Wednesday and Thursday both saw more meetings with additional teams at the Macys.com and Bloomingdales.com offices. There was definitely a lot of Ubering, taxiing, and taking the subway during the day.
New York International Auto Show
Even though Tuesday was a tough work day, it was still a lot of fun, especially after work when we checked out the New York International Auto Show. We had a fun time walking through all the exhibits, talking about cars, and sitting in some pretty swanky vehicles. From the exotics to the fancy new electrics to the everyday drivers, all the cars were a pleasure to see. The added bonus was the motorcycle gallery, which had some pretty cool bikes that my teammates and I got to sit on. Footpegs near the front of the bike? Only on cruisers.
Peter Luger Steakhouse
Our after-work festivities Wednesday night involved a rush-hour Uber ride across the bridge into Brooklyn. We’d made reservations for Peter Luger Steakhouse a month in advance. This place was rated the number 1 steakhouse in New York 24 years in a row, so we knew we were in for a serious carnivorous treat. We grabbed some drinks from the bar for the initial wait and were soon seated inside the restaurant. Ordering was easy – steak for one, two, three, or four? We ordered steak for four, along with creamed spinach, onion rings, and sliced tomatoes and onions. The steak was amazing. Cooked perfectly medium, it was marbled, juicy, and tender, definitely one of the top steaks I’ve tried. We slowly waddled out of the restaurant and had a very interesting history of basketball conversation with our cab driver before ending the night with Junior’s famous cheesecake back at Times Square.
My six days in the Big Apple was a lot of work but also a lot of fun. I felt more like a local this time around, living in the city and commuting to work just like a NY resident and walking around Upper West Side just like a college student (I’m not that far removed, okay?). I loved the food, the sights, and the time spent with teammates and meeting new people. Even though walking through Times Square during normal waking hours was a huge headache, I still appreciated the area for its glitz and glamour, something that can’t really be replicated anywhere else. As I flew out Thursday afternoon, I took one more glimpse at the shrinking cityscape below and knew I’d see it again in the near future.