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Women Tell Women About New York

Evelyn Hannon

This article was compiled prior to the September 11th tragedy . Since that horrendous event New York has changed and we around the world have changed with it. Journeywoman has chosen to leave this article intact. Both natives and travellers to this wonderful city can help us by reporting on changes that might affect a visitor's experience.

New York is such a happening place that some female visitors just lace on a pair of their favorite walking shoes and then simply follow the crowd. They love being free to meander enjoying the sights and sounds of the city as they discover them.

Then there are other Journeywomen who delight in planning each aspect of their daily itinerary. For those readers Journeywoman offers a fabulous collection of women-friendly New York guidebooks. Click here for a dozen of the best.

And, if you're a woman who loves tracking down insider's tips to a city, Journeywoman offers the following one dozen female-friendly Big Apple secrets we've collected just for you. Enjoy.

Secret Number One...
A small place to stay
A Journeywoman reader living in New York sent us the following message... Journeywomen are always asking for an inexpensive, clean place to stay in New York. While I haven't stayed there myself, I've heard of a bed and breakfast/yoga retreat called The Interfaith League Guest House (14 non-smoking rooms) which is reported to be no frills, safe, quiet and clean. Upstairs you'll find meditation rooms, yoga rooms, yoga classes and a temple. Downstairs is a moderately priced vegetarian restaurant called The Sanctuary . Single room rate with breakfast is $US65.00. Everything is done with devotion. Location: 25 First Avenue and 1st Street. Call: 212-533-3717 at least two weeks in advance for reservations. (A. Trepte, New York)

Ed. note: I called N.Y. to chat with the guest house manager who explained that his guests (just about equal numbers of men and women) come from all over the world. He said, "we don't offer TV, there are no telephones in the rooms -- we seem to attract a spiritually oriented gentler type of guest."

At the other end of the spectrum... the last time I was in NYC, I was invited to review the recently restored Iroquois New York Hotel located in the heart of the city (49 West 44th Street between 5th and 6th). What a delight! From the comfy beds to the elegant breakfast room to the hotel's location and helpful, courteous staff, this tiny treasure has it all. It is female-friendly plus! To find out more, visit their website at P.S. Yummy screen idol James Dean lived here from 1951 to 1953. (Evelyn Hannon, Journeywoman files).

Secret Number Two ...

Best snack in Chinatown
My personal favorite stop for snacking in Chinatown is run by the Hong Kong Cake Lady. She has a tiny shack on a short street that slopes down from Mulberry St. where she makes "Hong Kong Cakes" on special griddles. A small bag of 12 is $1.00 and you'll get these hot, little, oval, madeleine-like cakes...crispy on the outside, custardy inside. It's most interesting to watch her work. She's put two sons through college from this stand. My advice is, don't bother with any other Hong Kong Cake stands; they're not as good. That's why there's always a lineup to buy the Hong Kong lady's treats. Beware: This woman is often stern and grumpy-looking but you can't blame her. You'd be too if you were standing over hot griddles all day long. She closes up shop when she's out of batter...usually by the end of the afternoon. (Alice Chiu, New York City)

Secret Number Three...

Best woman-friendly jazz
For jazz fans, I recommend Birdland , a classy jazz club with interesting historical roots. There's dining-style seating in the main area and the menu is a really good one. It's an elegant club with great sight-lines and accoustics (smoking allowed only in bar area). As a woman I felt perfectly comfortable there all by myself and was treated very well. P.S. Reservations required. Address: 315 West 44th Street, Phone: 212-581-3080 (Sharon Wingler, Author of Travel Alone and Love It, Chicago)

Secret Number Four...

A great place to relax
I would like to share my best place in New York to feel like you have gotten away from the crowd. The Marina in Riverside Park at 79th Street is a place where people live on their boats and there are great views of the Hudson and the cliffs of eastern Jersey. This is a peaceful place and very mellow -- a good place to refuel before you dive back into the energy vortex which is New York City. There is also a cafe there -- a burger type restaurant built into an old park structure, where you can sit on the terrace and watch the park scene and the Hudson. Bonus: Sunsets there can be absolutely breathtaking. (Amy Gluck Adachi, New York)

Secret Number Five...

Books for less in NYC
Bookwormettes please take note. If you're in New York on a Monday, pop into the The New York Public Library's Mid-Manhattan Branch (455 Fifth Avenue at 40th Street). This is the day the staff holds their used book sale and everybody's welcome. Last visit to the Big Apple Journeywoman popped in for a browse with the locals and came away with a couple of Sue Grafton's hard cover mysteries at $1.00 each. Both books in perfect condition. Great fun! (Evelyn Hannon, Journeywoman files)

Secret Number Six...

Check out posh thrift shops
Some of the best bargains in New York are in the posh thrift shops, many of which are in the upper East Side of New York (77th to 84th Street, 2nd and 3rd Avenues). Savvy shoppers can pick up barely used and (often) new clothes at a tiny fraction of the original price. Best selections are generally in the small, small sizes but for the rest of us there's shops offering jewelry, shoes and housing items. Housing Works at E77 near Third Avenue often has a particularly good selection. (LB Gordon, New York)

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