It's no big secret that a lot of the social life at RWA Nationals centers around the hotel bar (even if you aren't a drinker, come hang out with a soda). As great as the hotel bar can be, sometimes you want to get out of the conference hotel and experience something a little different. Since RWA 15 is in New York City and I'm a New Yorker, I thought I'd throw together some recommendations for bars really close to the Marriott Marquis. Anything with a star is a personal recommendation. *Pony Bar - 45th & 10th (craft beer)
After the great #RWA1st conversation on Twitter yesterday, I realized that a lot of people have questions about getting to the RWA 15 conference hotel. The good news is that the hotel is in the middle of Times Square which means pretty much every subway line heads there and every cab driver will know exactly where you're headed.
Here's some information to help get you around NYC and to the Marriott Marquis in July. Please remember that all of this information should be checked and double checked. I'm writing this purely base on experience or memory, so if any New Yorkers have easier ways of getting to and from locations, feel free to contact me for an update or leave a comment below.
Getting a Cab
If you're hailing on the street or are not using a reservation service like Uber or Dial 7, stick to yellow cabs.* All you have to do is give the cabbie your cross streets (we don't operate in addresses in NYC) which for the RWA conference hotel is 45th and Broadway.** You can also tell the driver that you're headed to the Marriott Marquis in Times Square and they should know where you're going.
From LaGuardia and JFK, the cabs will charge you a flat rate plus tolls and tip. It is common to tip 15-20% for most rides. Yellow cabs have credit card machines in the back of them now.
There are taxi stands at all airports and train stations. If you're at Penn Station or Grand Central Station, you can also hail off the street. Cabs that have their central light lit up are free. If there's no light on, it means they are engaged and will not stop for you. Know that shift changes and rush hour can be tricky for hailing a cab (around 4:30-5 PM). Also, it's not a lie that there's never a free cab when it's raining.
Cabs aren't cheap, but they're your easiest option. They are what I use when I fly because I'd rather suck it up, pay the flat rate, and know that I'm not relying on the MTA. Splitting cabs can make them much more affordable.
* You'll also see green cabs that look like yellow cabs. Those are outer borough taxis and are not supposed to pick up on the streets in most of Manhattan.
**New Yorkers give address street first and then avenue. For instance, if you're heading to 45th Street and 7th Avenue, you would say, "45th and 7th." Broadway is considered an avenue, hence "45th and Broadway" for the Marriott Marquis.
Uber, private car service, and shuttles are also possibilities from the airport. My experience is that shuttles are a little less expensive than taking a cab but takes you longer. Uber's rates are variable, so you might want to double check before you order one. There are booking desks at the airports for shuttles, but you probably want to reserve in advance.
LaGuardia is the closest airport geographically to Manhattan. It's also arguably the biggest pain to get to and from on public transportation. There is no train. Don't look for one. Instead, you're going to want to take the M60 SBS Bus headed to 125th Street. There should be signage directing you to pick up the bus. I believe that the bus is now a select bus which means that there may be vending machines where you pay before you board and then pick up a receipt rather than pay with change or a MetroCard on board.
Get off at the Hoyt Ave/31st St subway station and take the N/Q Train headed for Manhattan. Get off at the 49th Street station. Then it's a short walk to the conference hotel.
JFK International Airport
Newark International Airport
I'm going to be totally honest here. I've never taken public transportation to Newark because I don't fly out of Newark. Here's a link to the Port Authority of NY-NJ's recommendation. If someone is a Newark public transit authority, please leave a comment if you have any other advice.
Grand Central Station
This one is really easy, guys. Just take the shuttle (which is part of the subway system and is noted by a grey S on signs). All this train does is go from Grand Central to Times Square and back, so you can't mess it up.
MTA subway maps & transit updates: mta.info
I might live in New York City, but I'm a California girl through and through. I'll go barefoot if I can, and if I have to wear shoes you better believe they're going to have at least a 3" heel on them. I thrive in dry heat and melt in the humidity, and I think that Atlantic beaches have nothing on Santa Monica and Malibu. In my recent release One Week in Wyoming, I made my hero a California wine grower. I grew up with parents who had "European" views on wine consumption, so I've been drinking wine for years. I'm a big cheerleader for the wines my home state produces, and I wanted to feature a touch of California in my novella. Plus, what's better than a man who wants to pour you a glass of cab at the end of the day.
This list features wines from all over the state that I drink on a regular basis. It also has a few that I'll reach for on a special occasion. I'll admit that it's a little red heavy as I drink a lot of pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, but some of the whites are just fantastic (the J Pinot Gris in particular).
If you've got a favorite, let me know! I'm always looking for new recommendations.
Deals & Moderate Bottles ($20 and below)
J Pinot Gris - Sonoma County
Mumm Napa Valley Brut - Napa
Handcraft Pinot Noir - California
Cambria Pinot Noir Julia's Vineyard - Santa Maria Valley
Chalone Vineyard Pinot Noir - Monterey
Handcraft Cabernet Sauvignon - California
Hess Estate Cabernet - Napa
Special Occasions ($20+)
Far Niente Chardonnay - Napa
Cakebread Cellers Chardonnay - Napa
Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir - Santa Barbara County
Qupe Syrah - Central Coast
One Week in Wyoming is now available for purchase at all ebook retailers.
I live on the far eastern side of Manhattan. My walk to Central Park takes me past the frat boy sports bars of Second Avenue, through the generic shops of Third and Lexington, and into the Old New York opulence that marks the true Upper East Side. Then, just when I'm beginning to feel as though I don't belong in my Sunday uniform of boots and jeans, I see green.
Trees tower over a low wall that draws the boundaries of the park. There is a little entrance at 79th Street. That is the one I take. A paved path leads me deep into the heart of the park. Cyclists and weekend athletes race past me in. They are working harder than I am, but I am on a break I tell myself.
My path curves to the Great Lawn, and I spot Belvedere Castle across Turtle Pond. It's a strange building - impressive and incongruous. A castle in the middle of the great concrete jungle. It has been nearly a year since I stood on its battlements. I put my head down and begin the climb up wide, gentle steps.
On top of the castle the view is breathtaking. Clouds reflect in the deep blue, undisturbed water of the pond. On the sloping lawn, children play at games only they understand the rules to. Trees just beginning to change colors in the fall chill frame the scene. Unashamed of being a tourist in my own city, I snap a photo and then tuck my phone away so I can watch those around me marvel at this beauty.
Revived I walk down another set of steps and through the park. I examine the plaques on green wooded benches. I stop on a bridge leading to the Reservoir to watch the runners huff and puff, fighting against the burn of ever-cooling air. There is calm here. The mere act of walking through the park washes the rest of New York away. I feel clean and new.
The sun is setting when I finally clear the park walls. On Fifth Avenue I feel the city begin to encroach upon the peace I've found. I push past tourists eager to make their way to the Met before the museum closes.
The walk back to my apartment is quick. Keys rattle in my pocket the entire way. An hour after I decide to take my walk, I'm back in front of my computer. I'm ready to work again.
I'm stepping back from revisions on my sports novella and letting this draft percolate this week. When I'm in the middle of first revisions I feel like my world sometimes closes down. Now is the perfect time to resurface and look around for inspiration.
For the last two weeks NYC has been taken over by Banksy fever. The semi-anonymous street artist has been painting nondescript walls in the 5 boroughs under the cover of darkness. There is something about this subversive, witty art that I find particularly inspirational. If you're a fan of Banksy he makes you think. If you don't get it, you aren't afraid to say it.
Justine Bottles took this picture of a Banksy installation in Woodside, Queens. A man tries to wash away the graffitied phrase, "What we do in life echoes in Eternity." I love the imagery and the contradiction.
What inspires you?