Manhattan! I went to Manhattan for Book Expo America. I’d spent a bundle on having my books displayed and airfare, so it was important to keep other costs down. For starters, I flew in the morning the conference began and flew out the evening it ended, so I only needed two nights’ accommodation. While I might have been able to find a couch, I decided it would be better to have those two evenings to have some time to myself after pitching myself all day. The options at first seemed to be hundreds of dollars per night near the Javits Conference Center or having to figure out transportation back and forth from New Jersey. Then I found The Out, a hostel walking distance from the conference. I made a reservation online. When I got there, there was an art exhibit in the hallway to my room - all portraits of transvestites.
Hostel means you share the room. The beds are twin-size built-in bunks, each with its own TV, shelf, and reading lamp. They each have a heavy curtain to close for privacy. It turned out that two of my roommates were male, but since none of us spent much time in the room, it wasn’t really awkward. The staff were extremely helpful, giving me the same directions when I’d lose the first note. They didn’t fuss the last day when I stored my luggage and got in and out of it a couple of times before leaving.
The Out staff gave me four different places to eat, each of which was fantastic. One was a natural food store/deli on 42nd and 11th where I ate breakfast. The others were Thai, Greek, and Turkish. The last one, their masseur (yeah, The Out is really a nice resort) walked me to the restaurant because he’s Turkish and wanted to be sure I got to the “real” Turkish restaurant. The Thai Restaurant is called Room Service and is on 9th Ave. It was very affordable and the chicken in my curry was tender. The Greek restaurant’s specialty is fish. They’re Kellari Taverna at 19 West 44th St., close to Fifth Avenue. Their specialty is fish and their baklava is amazing, too. At dinner time, they were packed with reservations, but another lady happened to have come solo without one and they gave us hugs and kisses for offering to sit together.
The one thing about dining at the usual dinner hour is that it’s noisy. I thought maybe it was because the Thai place was small and informal, but the Greek restaurant was upscale and conversation across a table required shouting and repetition. If you like a quiet dinner, go early. My last day at Turkish Cuisine on 9th Ave., I was the only one in the place because it was 2 PM. Again, the food was excellent.