First, a confession: New York City intimidates me.
I always enjoy my time in the city. Yet by the time my next visit there comes, I’m hesitant about going there.
That’s part of the reason I always fly to Newark Liberty International Airport and stay nearby when covering Browns games against the Jets or Giants. It’s convenient. The drive to MetLife Stadium is less than a half hour on the New Jersey Turnpike. And it eliminates my anxiety about visiting the city.
You can’t help but re-live the opening of the never-forgotten HBO series The Sopranos when you go this route. If you were a fan of the series like me, you can’t get the opening song out of your mind as the scenes from the opening credits unfurl before your eyes.
Woke up this morning … got a blue moon in your eyes.
But with an extra day available because of the Browns’ kickoff on Monday night against the Jets, I made a point of trekking to the city on Sunday. As usual, I’m glad I did.
It’s easy to get to the city via the New Jersey Transit Authority train from the airport (round trip fare: $26). I made the mistake of mis-timing the trip near the end of the Giants game against the Buffalo Bills, however. The double-decker seating on all the cars on the train were filled. It was SRO in very stale air for the 45-minute ride.
But as soon as you exit Penn Station and spring onto W. 34th street outside the famed Madison Square Garden, New York City hits you like a blast of cool energy.
The streets below the giant skyscrapers are so alive. This is one of the few places where just walking the streets is exhilarating in itself.
Being a creature of habit, I found myself searching for the right place to watch the second games of the Sunday NFL doubleheader. I found it in Proper West at W. 39th and 6th Avenue.
The place had me with a good wine selection, NFL Network Red Zone on large screens, and phone chargers beneath the bar. After an order of lemon shrimp capellini with capers and tomatoes, I was in heaven.
My paranoia caught up with me after the games on TV and I decided to head back to Penn Station for the trip back as night fell. At this point, I was regretting not having a hotel room in the city.
But I didn’t want to wake up with a blue moon in my eyes.