Past New Yorker as a tourist?


I could never consider myself as a tourist when it comes to New York City.

Although I left the city back in 2006 after living there for over 10 years first as a graduate student at Columbia University, and then as a career professional “trying to make it” in the city while acquiring professional experience at various architecture firms. You see…I feel like I know every part of NYC, and if I were to visit the city, I would be only as a guide to other tourists.

I feel like I know every parts of NYC, and if I were to visit the city, I would be only as a guide to other tourists.

All that changed when I made a trip to New York City after living in Toronto for a number of years.  The trip was  for both businesses, as well as pleasure (finishing work deadlines and celebrating the time off). It was a trip planned with my sister and mom; it was a much needed break from our work, and we both decided to bring mom along with our NYC adventure in the last minute. As a past New Yorker, I took upon myself as the designated tour guide for the team to navigate and plan for the seven days of our vacation: what to do, what to see, and how to get there.  I was convinced that there was no better tour guide than myself who had been living and taking all in  the NYC offers!  I constantly reminded mom/sister how lucky they were to have me as the tour guide…

Navigating the city with 10 year old map

With that conviction (while seeing my sister’s rolling eyes),  I took out my old (10 years old!) Manhattan Subway map I carried around when I was a graduate student back in the 90’s. It was one of those maps you can only buy in NYC which was a small/foldable/ laminated / perfectly fit into the wallet I had at the time.  With only seven days of the trip, it was decided that we were going to only spend time in Manhattan rather than venturing out to different boroughs.

The most important part of the trip, “where to stay” was planned by my sister, or rather by the legal conference organization she was attending: Hudson Hotel. I knew about the hotel when I was living in Manhattan years ago…knew the hotel as a cool and hip place where I only experienced having a drink with some friends back in those days. This time around, I will get to stay at the hotel and experience all the perks as a guest.  Although I don’t remember too much about the hotel (maybe it has to do with the number of drinks I had with friends at that time?), when I visited this time around, I realized how great the location of the hotel was; it was near the Columbus Circle area where lots of things and activities converge! (especially the many subway lines passing through the area.)


Walking aimlessly around the city

Manhattan is a walkable city…especially the hotel being situated  at the central location such as Columbus Circle made this trip even more walkable for all us. The first day when we arrived at the hotel, all  of us decided to explore the city by walking near the hotel and made a decision to check out interesting places we run into.  Of course most “interesting places” turn out to be restaurants, desert places, etc….Without any directions in mind (that never happens to “true” New Yorkers!), we decided to walk towards where lots of lights were as the day was getting darker, and ended up at the Times Square! It is the area I would never have walked TOWARD when I was living there years ago! It is the place to avoid, not pass through, only for the tourists!!!  Well, I realized at that moment that I was the tourist, the tourist with the camera to capture every scene of  Times Square.  While pushing through the crowd, screaming and yelling to pass through, I had another thought….I don’t live here anymore.  I am no longer the New Yorker who would ever entertain the idea of walking aimlessly or passing through the Time Square crowd to have the experience of NYC.

 I am no longer the New Yorker who would ever entertain the idea of walking aimlessly or passing through the Time Square crowd to have the experience of NYC.  

What’s your travel adventure like?  Have you had a similar experience in the same city with different vibes of the place?

1 comment on “Past New Yorker as a tourist?

  1. I was born in the city Chengdu, and whenever we visit, there’s always family showing us around. It’s a strange feeling of being born in that city, and everything feels like it should be familiar. That’s where I came from, and yet I’m a tourist there. I feel like nostalgia is a big mood!


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