Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tour with a vampire

So this is a story about how I was able to find my way off the beaten path. And it includes a vampire. How cool is that?

You see, I was headed to New York, and while I know my way around the major landmarks and tourist traps (heck, I was staying in Times Square), I didn't want to do what was expected. I wanted to expand, see something different. I knew there was something else out there...if I only knew where it was.

Enter Charles Schwartz. We met by chance. I'd heard of an online program that matches visitors with native New Yorkers, and Charles offers some of the best one-on-one walking tours around.

I figured he'd be interesting. I figured he'd be fun. But he totally surprised me when he showed up in the lobby of my hotel dressed as a vampire. I knew right away I liked this guy.

Charles and I walked all over – we saw the Algonquin, gathering place of great writers. We saw the “literary walk” leading up to the New York City Library. We ate at the famous Katz’s Deli. Charles even showed me an old church, built by the Dutch when they owned the island. It’s supposed to be haunted by one of the first Dutch governors, and it had a heck of a cemetery. You all know how much I love old cemeteries.

Then we found the inspiration for my next story. We walked into McSorley’s Old Ale house, built in 1854. Abe Lincoln hung out here. Teddy Roosevelt. John Lennon too. You could smell the history. You could see it on the walls. In fact, they claim that no piece of memorabilia has been removed from the walls since 1910.

Houdini’s handcuffs are cuffed to the bar rail. Wishbones hang above the bar, left there by soldiers going off to fight in World War I. They’d re-claim them when they returned. I could literally feel the weight of the generations.

It's a place that begs to be fictionalized. So write, I will. I’m not quite sure what will happen yet, or who will walk through the doors of my version of this bar. Biker witches, anyone? Hmm...we'll need at least one. In the mean time, I’m grateful to see this hidden gem, a place I never would have known existed. Thanks to Charles for taking me off the beaten path, and showing me the possibilities around every corner.


SandyG265 said...

Sounds like a fun trip.

Sharon said...

wow. I am stunned. That was so cool. I didn't know about the NY/visitor matching program. Thanks for the heads up about that and the Ale house. There is no way I won't be visiting there next time I visit NY city. Looking forward to what you will do with your inspiration :)

thanks for making me smile today.

Stephsco said...

What an awesome way to see NYC! I'm also a fan of off-the-beaten-path travel. It's definitely not for everyone, but I can imagine your guide loved it as much as you.

Angie Fox said...

You know, what's even wilder about McSorley's is they only started admitting women in the 1980's. Can you imagine? Before that, I suppose we would have had to sneak in. ;)

Angie Fox said...

Yes, Charles is so much fun. He's been all over the city, but he's so enthusiastic and good at spotting "new to him" things, it's like he's seeing everything for the first time too.

Casey said...

This is very cool, Angie. What a great experience! Sounds to me like you and Charles will stay in touch and build a friendship. How nice!