where the writers are
New York City!

Finally, finally, I am sitting down to write. Actually, I've been writing all week on my second novel, or more accurately, polishing and editing. So, I have been writing ... but finally, I am now to my blog.

We had a wonderful trip to New York City over Valentine's weekend. A GREAT experience all around. We took advantage of some of the recent and abundant deals going for last-minute getaways to NYC-- airfare, hotel, restaurants. Not only did we stay in a very nice hotel, the Grand Hyatt near Grand Central Station, but we ate at some of the best restaurants we could imagine. And we booked it all, and made reservations, online.

At a few friends' prodding, I'll briefly explain how we made our choices for where to go.

1) As with our trip to Paris last year, we booked our airline and hotel in a package deal through Travelocity. We compared prices with other sites, and when it all boiled down, Travelocity had an easy deal for what we wanted.
2) Hotel choices for both our trip to NYC and Paris mostly rested on where we wanted to be staying location-wise. Since we've both been to Paris before, we knew the area and where we wanted to spend our time. The same applied for NYC, and we wanted to be near midtown, not flooded by the craziness of Times Square. The Grand Hyatt turned out to be perfect for us.
3) Restaurants are another story entirely-- in NYC there are so many, it's almost impossible to choose. But since the NYC Restaurant Week worked through reservations made through their website, www.nyc.com, which funneled reservations through OpenTable.com, we started there. Other factors included:
a) Ambiance-- the restaurant had to have photographs online, appealing ones that showed a cozy ambiance.
b) Location-- we looked for places that were in a certain area depending on what we thought we'd be doing on that day, for instance, eating dinner after a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
c) Reader Reviews-- the reviews had to be high to consider a place. Of course there are the people who write in reviews of "the lighting was too dim" or something else meaningless in my opinion, but if the majority of the reviews said the service and food were both wonderful, I generally thought them to be true.
d) Price-- for restaurant week, where NYC had a fixed $35/3 course dinner, we chose restaurants that would be a good buy, ones where OpenTable had rated them as $$$$$, or most expensive.
e) Reservation availability-- if OpenTable showed no reservations for, say, 6:00 pm and no reservations available at 7:00 pm, but had a reservation available for 6:30 pm, and met all the above qualifications, then that restaurant was the one to book. We like a bustling atmosphere, not a restaurant that is dead.
So: based on all the above criteria, we found we loved two restaurants in NYC. L'Absinthe on the Upper East side and Town on 56th Street. Each is very different from the other in terms of style and ambiance, but both had outstanding food and impeccable service. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
Of course, we did more in NYC than just eat ... and enjoyed seeing the Statue of Liberty (despite the freezing wind), listened in awe at the beautiful church bells from Trinity Church as they peeled down the Wall Street area as we walked through history there, soaked in the beauty of the Met and their special Impressionist exhibit, and watched from the exterior the action going on at the tents at Bryant Park for Fashion Week. All of these could be posts for coming weeks...
We look forward to the next time we make it to NYC. A great experience, with great memories, for sure.