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A few months ago, I left my beloved Florida for the first time in over a year to have a little adventure in New York.

Before I go any further, I have to warn you that if it weren’t for the convention, I would have been happy to stay far, far away from NYC. I went there for a weekend visit in high school and to volunteer for a weekend in college, and I had a grand time. But then I saw the rest of the world, and New York was a little way too gross and grimy for me, after spending so much time in London, DC, and Hong Kong.

However, even my deep aversion to NYC couldn’t keep me away from Book Riot Live. This event was the first annual convention put on by my favorite book site, bookriot.com, and I wanted to be a part of it. So without much hesitation, I bought the convention tickets and booked a flight.

It was one of those trips where I was so excited about the event, but I forgot to get hyped up about the rest of my stay. But the day before flying out, I realized that I would have an entire day to fill before the conference started. Not interested in doing the whole sightseeing thing, I did some quick research to figure out where to get the best vegan pizza and bagels as well as what book shops were worth visiting. Priorities, people!

I arrived on a Friday morning in early November, eager to experience some fall colors and to gorge myself on vegan luxuries and books.

I got off the bus somewhere around Morningside Heights, and I was delighted to be somewhere I could experience the autumn magnificence. Having forgotten about packing until it was much too late to piece together 3-days’ worth of clothing, I had nothing with me but my camera bag and was happy to start wandering around right away. (Especially given that the check-in for my lodging wasn’t until 9pm. More on that later.)

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I had planned the locations, but Josh was in charge of navigation. He led me to a few small bookshops in the area, and then I finally found myself at what was supposed to be one of the best bagel places in Manhattan, complete with dozens of varieties of vegan cream cheese. Of course, I wouldn’t know how true it is that they’re the best–the line out the door might be a good indication, but when I finally got to the front of the line, I discovered that they only took cash. With nothing but my debit card on me, I hung my head in shame and got as far away from there as possible.

By this point, it was late morning and well past breakfast time for me. I quickly figured out what the next bagel place was on my list and determined that walking through Central Park would take me about a minute less than the estimated 46 minutes it would take me if I used the subway.

I was in a hurry to get food, but I still appreciated some of the scenes as I walked from the west to the east side of Central Park.

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At long last, we arrived at H&H Midtown Bagels, and I died of happiness. So excited was I for this moment that I bought myself two bagels with vegan cream cheese, and I DEVOURED them! So heavenly! This was the first time I’d had an authentic New York bagel, and I declared that the whole trip was already worth it. Even if everything else went wrong, at least I would leave the city with an understanding of what it was like to eat a bagel with a gigantic pillow of cream cheese nestled in the middle.

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But everything else did NOT go wrong! Our day was full of more city sights, mostly book-related. And I was so swept up as I walked down aisles and aisles of bookshelves, that it hardly occurred to me to get out my camera and document the day.

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Later in the day, after gorging at the fanciest vegan Indian buffet imaginable, Josh and I were on our way to our accommodation. But first, with a little time to go before check-in, we decided to pay a visit to one more shop.

A little background about me–I fell IN LOVE with Macy’s (yes, the department store) when I lived in Cincinnati. They played such an active role in the community there, and they sponsored so many holiday events that Macy’s will forever be one of the most magical brands ever to me, second only to Disney. I am also 1000% a sucker for Macy’s “believe” marketing campaign.

So I might have burst into tears when I turned the corner and saw the massive flagship store of Macy’s, with the giant cursive script emblazoned on the building.

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In fact, I might have stood there sobbing for several minutes. Josh laughed at how ridiculously emotional I get when I’m happy, until I finally pulled myself together so we could head inside.

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Buuuut, then we got close enough to see the window displays, and I lost it again. So magical!

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After twirling around in the Christmas department at Macy’s, it was just before 9, and time to find somewhere for us to rest our heads. I texted our host, Osborn, to let him know we were a few minutes away, and then we headed to the acupuncturist’s building.

That’s right, for only $50 a night, we had the pleasure of staying in one of the rooms at a Times Square acupuncture office. There was no kitchen or shower, and we had to be gone between 9am and 9pm each day, but that worked just fine for a short and busy trip.

Having been up since 3:30 that morning, I barely remembered to plug my charger into the wall before falling into a very deep sleep.

Overall, New York was dirtier and smellier than I remembered, its public transportation system was an absolute joke, and public spaces were 3000 times too crowded for me to ever feel comfortable. But what I remember most about that day of killing time before Book Riot Live was the fall colors, the peaceful walk through Central Park, the stacks and stacks of books that I got to experience, the magic of Macy’s, and the amazing food.

And one thing was for certain–I would be waking up the next morning and finding a way to get myself back to H&H for some more bagels!

Love, Elizabeth

What are your thoughts on New York City? Share in the comments below!