New York City

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When: April 25-29 2015

Total length: 4 days

Weather: Light jacket weather, one day was t-shirt weather and sunny

 

Getting There
This was a roadtrip for us, so I came in my van. The toll booths to get there are very expensive ($14 right outside the city) so make sure you have cash on hand. Driving in New York City can de daunting for the nervous driver. There are no lines on the road most times, so car lanes are more of a suggestion. Other cars also weave in and out. Traffic can be slow. On-street parking is also few and far in-between. The best parking garage price was $50 a night. Some wouldn’t even take my van. There are also no in and out privileges. So just park the car and leave it for the duration of your trip.

The Apartment

We wanted a place that was central in NYC, since we were only going to be there 4 short days. We also wanted to limit our use of public transportation because we’ve been advised that subways are not very accessible. So staying in Manhattan close to the activities we wanted to see was the best solution. Brooklyn and other boroughs weren’t going to be as accessible either.

 Like always, I picked an Airbnb. Be aware that it is now illegal to rent out apartments in NYC, so it can be frustrating when the Airbnb calendars aren’t up to date. When you do book a place, they will advise you to tell concierge to say that you are a friend.

Our apartment was a bachelor in a nice building in central Manhattan. We were concerned about street safety, but never worried once. The tall rise apartment had a concierge and a bell man. The apartment was actually next to the Kaballah centre. We parked in a garage down the street.

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The kitchen: the kitchen is pretty large (for NY standards). This place was definitely someone’s current house, as evidenced by the many photos and mail on the fridge. It got the cooking done, but of course like all rentals, was missing some essentials like oven mitts.

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Living space: this was a bachelor apartment, so the two beds were in the living room. The beds were a good size and well laid out for space. The apartment was extremely hot though. There was air conditioning, but we didn’t turn in on. There was also table to sit at (leg was in the centre to get under easily).

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The bathroom: The bathroom had a large doorway, but the interior space lacked the ability to close the door with a wheelchair in it. There is also a large sized tub (I put my shower seat in it). The sink was also very large.

 

Around the Apartment

There were many office buildings and a few restaurants. A place that we absolutely loved and haven’t been able to find just as good since, is a ramen noodle restaurant. We ate at Totto Ramen and wish we had eaten here every night. The food is cheap, and cash only. We had the pork buns and chicken ramen. They also don’t do take out or doggie bags. Luckily I had a tupperware in my bag, so I could bring the rest home. YOU MUST EAT HERE!

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Transportation and getting around

Deciding against taking a subway, we walked everywhere and occasionally took a bus. I was disappointed with New York’s sidewalks. There were times when the curb cutouts would actually have a significant lip. Or they would be cracked and crumbling. Getting into the boroughs (see below), was frustrating. Virtually none of the stores in lower Manhattan are accessible. It was a waste of time for us to walk around when I couldn’t get into any of the interesting looking boutiques.

Buses: all buses in NYC that we encountered are accessible. We had some buses that had elevator type ramps. You must use coins for payment, not $1 bills.

 

Activities

The Royal City Rockettes

You have to see a play or musical when in New York City. Keeping with the NYC theme, we decided to see The Rockettes Spring Show. The theatre itself is very accessible. I did find that near the entrance to the theatre room itself had very low lighting. With many people streaming inside, it can be difficult to navigate if you have low vision.  The show was entertaining and gave a “tour” of the city as the show went on.

Chelsea Market

We wanted to see a large open style market area to check out some delicious food. You can also purchase essential items for your kitchen (olive oils, frying pans etc). Go here for a meal, as there are interesting restaurants. In the market area, try the fresh donuts. We decided to eat at Rana spaghetti place. Here, they make all their pasta fresh and al dente. They also have takeout. It was delicious. I had the spaghetti with alfredo like sauce. The washrooms are large, private and accessible.

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Central Park

We took the short walk from our apartment. The park is rectangular shaped and lower than street level. In order to access it step free, you should ask someone there to direct you to where to go. We went to the right of the park. The pavement around the park was nicely smoothen and paths are wide. We didn’t explore the park extensively, as we were trying to walk through it to get to the MET.

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I did encounter washrooms, but they were down a flight of stairs. You could go to the Dairy Centre (top right) and they might have washrooms there. It is only open ‘til 5PM.

The Met

We first arrived and had to go to the left of the building, to the basement complimentary coat check area. Admission is by donation. We took elevators to the general entrance. We decided to take a guided tour of the museum, and were pleased with the knowledge of the guide. She was sure to go slowly and make sure I sat in front to see and hear her. Overall, the museum was interesting and I would recommend it to visit. There is a bus stop right out front to get back to the apartment.

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New York Public Library

To enter the NYPL, you need to take the side entrance, and keep in mind that there are no electronic buttons for the heavy wooden and glass doors. Admission is free.

This place was beautiful. I wish I had spent more time in the genealogy room. You can drop in and look up your family tree. We decided to take the walking tour, using iPhone like devices that would tell you about the room you entered, and where to walk next. It lasts about 45 minutes, depending on how fast you walk through it.

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Left: myself with the iPhone like devices

Above: Winnie Pooh and his friends in the Children’s Library

Note: The washrooms here are horrible and even borderline dangerous. I couldn’t really get 2 people and my wheelchair into the tiny stall of the non-private washroom.

Little Italy/Chinatown

These two boroughs were close together, so we decided to venture here and check it out. Almost all the stores were inaccessible. We did decide to eat on the patio of this delicious restaurant named Gelso and Grand in Little Italy. The weather and atmosphere was perfect.

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Grand Central Station

This was down the street from our apartment. Nice to take a picture inside, but it is the market attached to it that you want to visit. Fresh baked goods, fruits, veggies, cheeses and snacks. This is good to go and grab food before heading out for the day.

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My Overall Thoughts of New York City

Meh. The greatest city on Earth? Not likely. Especially for a wheelchair user. I felt like I was just in a grosser smelling Toronto. If I were to stay an extra day, I wouldn’t even know what to do with it. I did enjoy the activities that we did and had an enjoyable time with my best friend. But it is disappointing to try and explore a place, only to find that you can’t enter any of the stores. I also didn’t encounter a single electronic door. Even at the New York Public Library! The ADA has a long way to go here. London is far more advanced and up to date for wheelchair users. I won’t be making an effort to go back anytime soon.