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THE TOURIST TRAPPER

Quack if You Love Manhattan

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

11:54 a.m. It's cloudy and a little cool, but it's going to work out, right?

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I mean, all I really want to accomplish on this trip is to take a Duck tour of Manhattan. I've been to New York hundreds of times, having grown up in New Jersey, and the idea of making a spectacle of myself quacking at passersby as I rumble through the streets atop an amphibious vehicle is irresistible.

Since I checked in at my Midtown hotel, though, it's gotten cloudier and cooler -- not great weather for tooling around on the Hudson. I walk over to Rockefeller Center, where tulips are blooming and chilled tourists, many underdressed (layers, people, layers . . .), occupy every seat. Many are clutching coffee.

I watch ice skaters skitter around below and consider checking out "The Office" souvenir junk at the NBC store, until I realize that there's a line just to get into the place.

1:30 p.m. After a brisk walk down Broadway to 34th Street, I dive into Macy's. I always stop at the department store, because a) Santa works there and b) I dig those old-time wooden escalators. It's crowded, but in a cool "let's spend our lunchtime shopping" sort of way. And it's nothing like what awaits me a few blocks away, at the Empire State Building.

The line is long and loud and unpleasant, but I queue up anyway. Bored kids ( and adults) are constantly shoving forward, and the ground is icky-sticky. I give up when a guy returning from the observation deck advises me that "the visibility from the top isn't so hot, unless all you want to see is Jersey."

3:10 p.m. I get lost looking for the Gray Line Visitors Center on Eighth Avenue, but I blame the excitement. Inside, I pick up my ticket for the 4:15 p.m. Duck tour -- and the $2 green quacker that I'll wear around my neck.

The tour leaves from nearby Times Square, so I head in that direction. I buy a huge $2 chocolate chip cookie that could feed the Waltons, then amble around taking in the scene.

Man, I {heart} New York.


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