It’s often said that getting there is half the adventure. That would be true for this year’s trip to New York City for the annual Five Boro Bike Tour.

We left Ottawa shortly after 8:00, and headed south to cross the border at Prescott. The friendly American border guard was amazed at the number of Canadians who had already passed through with their bikes strapped on to their cars, heading for the Big Apple.

Most people drive to New York via Syracuse. We took our usual route through the Adirondack Park to Warrensburg, where we join up with the I-87.

This year we switched hotels, but were still in the Financial District. It’s a bit of a maze, and your GPS won’t work because of the high buildings. So warning — print a map before you go. And then mark off all the streets that are closed off for security reasons and then others for repairs to the aging infrastructure.

We were a bit lost because we kept trying to turn towards where he hotel was but were faced with security barriers, road closures and one way streets. Eventually we pulled over and I stepped out of the Mini with the map and asked a security guard.

He was very kind, and offered to let us through the secure area because he couldn’t figure out another route. He pressed a button, and magically the metal barrier retreated into the ground like a trash compactor. Then we had to stop, turn off the motor and a dog sniffed around the car, then in the trunk. From there we were allowed to proceed.

At the other end of the secure area, we asked the next security guard, just to be sure we were going in the right direction. He was a bit confused as to how we had gotten as far as we did. It was easy from that point to get to our final destination: Hotel Reserve.

While we were unloading, a large African American man who was moving trash down the sidewalk stopped to chat with us.  “Where y’all from?” was how he started. We told him we were here for the bike tour. And he wished us luck with the race. He walked away saying, “Everyone’s a winner…”

Once the car was unloaded, we had to drive to the parking garage. Remember all those one way streets? It took us 8 blocks to go 2 blocks. And this time we got to drive the Mini deep into the bowels of the parking garage. In Ottawa, the space would have held maybe 10 cars. In Manhattan, they have lifts to move cars up so that others can park underneath. And then they fill up the centre part.

Our room is small, basic and clean. And it’s cheap by Manhattan standards ($550 all taxes included for 3 nights). I do miss the fridge and coffee maker, but there are plenty of coffee shops nearby, and ice is just down the hall.

Once we were settled in, we started shopping. Century 21 was just a few blocks away, and since it was pouring rain we started there. Rob picked up a few wrinkle-free shirts and some socks. I got a new umbrella.

From there we went south to Syms on Trinity Place (just follow Church St.). We tried going to Daffys afterwards, but it was closing.

Today we’ll finish our local shopping, then head uptown to Macys, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and Shoemania.

Around supper time, we’ll likely take the free ferry over to the Ikea in Brooklyn, where we can grab some cheap eats. Last night’s supper was about a 3 out 10 on taste and value.

Time to get up and go.

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