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New York City is another world. It is merely a geographic coincidence that it is part of New York state and the United States; otherwise it is a unique place with its own separate identity and reputation.

I have been there three times. First was a drive-through on my way home on a road trip to photograph fall color in Maine. Second time was to attend a wedding; I stayed in Queens and drove to the wedding on Long Island. Third NYC venture was a company trip to a two-day conference at a hotel right on Times Square. That was memorable because some of us arrived early enough to walk around and see the sights … or at least what could be seen by walking up Broadway from Times Square to Columbus Circle and back. What did we see? The Ed Sullivan Theatre, where Letterman records every afternoon, the CNN building, the Dakota, where John Lennon lived and died and the Brill Building, famous for its connection with several 1960s recording groups. On that trip I also experienced taxi rides (similar to thrill rides at an amusement park), crowded restaurants and the nearly constant sound of car horns, mostly from taxis.

It has been five or six years since that conference and now I find myself set to visit NYC again … TWICE next month, both times for meetings. I am excited about it but I really wish I could add an extra day personal to one or both meetings so I could see more sights. Otherwise, it’ll be basically a 3 ½ hour train ride up, hours of meetings, an overnight at a hotel, more meetings and a 3 ½ hour train ride back.

I could take the vacation time for the extra day and rob my savings account for the hotel, but I guess I just have trouble justifying the expense of the hotel. Some perspective: on my recent road trips and during several local hotel stays during the past few years, I have paid as little as $59/night for pretty good hotels and as much as $129. In fact I paid both that low and that high rate for the same hotel at various times. On road trips I usually stay at Hampton Inn, Best Western Plus, Comfort Inn or Country Inn & Suites. I consider them fairly equal, reliable, clean, safe and relatively affordable.

More perspective: the meetings are at a Sheraton and a Hilton, both in Manhattan, each near some of the sights. The business part and the train are being paid for, so taxis and drinks are my only expenses. BUT, I checked the rates for those hotels. To stay an extra night at one is $259 and the other is $359. Uhhh, what?! I’m not shy about spending money I don’t have, but those numbers make me crazy. I checked a few travel web sites to see what other hotels are in the area. Geez. Even Comfort Inn, the bottom rung on the four I mentioned earlier, is nearly $200 per night.

So my questions to myself is: do I want to spend $300 - $400 extra to visit a few New York City attractions by myself? And what attractions will I have time for anyway? I’d like to see a Broadway play, the top of the Empire State Building, a recording of Letterman and the 9/11 memorial. Oh, and I’d like to eat lunch in Central Park. Maybe ride a subway. Stand in the crowd waving at the camera for the Today show.

My most likely choice will be to add a day to one of the meetings, probably the one that happens to be closer to the 9/11 Memorial. When a few other things get settled in my life I’ll probably go back there for personal travel and not business, and make the trip about the sightseeing. I am lucky that I even have these opportunities at all and I’m grateful for that.

So, here is some music to go with all this talk about The Big Apple …