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Thanksgiving in Astoria – The Other Side of New York
A Solo Travel Report

By Rose Walker
Photo credit: Nycgo.com

Don't spend Thanksgiving at home alone, I said to myself. Instead, go shopping in New York and take advantage of all the great sales happening that time of year.

Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to stay at a friend's apartment in Queens New York while they were out of town for Thanksgiving weekend. They live in the neighborhood of Astoria, a fantastic community worth exploring on its own yet only minutes from the marvels of Manhattan by train and only about ten minutes from LaGuardia Airport. I recommend staying in Astoria even if you don't have a friend to stay with. The Fairfield Inn (45-20 Astoria Boulevard) is right on the main street, or alternatively you might try a Bed and Breakfast homestay.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

I started my solo holiday by going to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I knew I wanted to have the freedom to get around New York, so I bought a MetroCard (US$29 for a seven-day, unlimited pass) Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, New York City. © Nycgo.comthat allowed the use of train and bus services to Manhattan and all surrounding neighborhoods. The N Train took me directly into Manhattan, and within fifteen minutes I was standing with the crowd watching the parade. Even though I was alone, I really wasn't, because the folks standing next to me started talking with me, so I watched the parade with them just as if I were part of their family. After the parade, I walked down to Times Square and made my way to the Upper East Side for a short walk through Central Park before heading back to Astoria.

Thanksgiving in Astoria

The weather was absolutely delightful for that time of the year, and after a brief rest "at home," I decided to explore the neighborhood of Astoria. Frank's Bakery, Astoria New YorkRows of full-blown trees fronted the row houses and brownstones of 37th Street. On the corner at 28th Street, I found a grocery store and on 30th Avenue a street full of people and establishments open as if it were a regular day and not a holiday. People were out strolling unlike in the city where everyone seemed to be rushing from one place to the next or trying to catch a taxi. In Astoria, the pace was noticeably slower; I rarely saw a yellow cab. For my Thanksgiving dinner, I had a steak sandwich, fries, and a glass of wine at the Avenue Café. While sitting outside people watching, I noticed quite a few of them going in and out of Frank's Bakery, and I decided to stop in there after my meal and get myself a pre-bedtime treat to top off a fulfilling Thanksgiving Day spent on my own.

Shopping Around from Brooklyn to Harlem

Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, I wanted to go shopping but didn't feel like going back into Manhattan. I was more in the mood for following my whims to wherever they might lead. No problem. With an unlimited MetroCard in hand and no particular plan in mind, I got off the N Train at Union Square (Downtown), followed the signs aimed for Brooklyn, and off I went on board the L Train. So, it was purely by chance that I decided to get off at a stop near 241 Bedford Avenue and found Vice Versa, a thrift store that had the best collection of leather jackets I have ever seen. After spending several hours there trying on hats, jackets, and boots, I realized that time was passing and I had better get a move on to Harlem to catch the big Thanksgiving sale at Carol's Daughter.

I use Carol's Daughter (24 W 125th Street) hair and beauty products at home in Indianapolis but have never been in the original store that was started in Harlem. Carol's Daughter store, HarlemThe L Train got me back into Union Square Station where I connected to the number 5Train to Harlem and, about 40 minutes later, got off at the 125th Street Station. From there it was about a 10-minute walk to Carol's Daughter, and even though I chatted with various street vendors along the way as I browsed their merchandise, I still arrived in good time to take advantage of their biggest shopping day of the year. I managed to stock up on all my favorite products at great prices. After all that shopping and walking around, I was glad to get on the train back to Queens and put my feet up for the evening. Oh yes, I was beat, but, as shopping trips go, it was a day well spent, and I certainly got my money's worth from that MetroCard.

Steinway Street

Saturday morning, after a bagel at Brooklyn Bagel Company on 30th Avenue, I found my way back down 30th to Steinway Street where I found a whole other world. Christmas shopping was in full swing and festive music played in the background. This street was a lively hub with every type of retail shop and commercial outlet, even Goodwill and Salvation Army stores. At Lyn's Nail Salon, I rested awhile and got a manicure and a pedicure for only $18. I spent much of the day on Steinway and toward evening began looking for a place to have dinner. A sign on 37th and 30th caught my eye and, curious as to exactly what sort of a menu a restaurant with the name MexiBBQ would feature, I went in. The name said it all – they had a full selection of Mexican food with an added menu of barbecued items. Turns out, I made a good choice – I had a brisket dish so tender I didn't need a knife to cut it. Served with a small skillet of cornbread, it was a combination I wouldn't have thought compatible but the two distinct flavors went together really well.

37th Street Astoria Queens, New YorkWanting to use my MetroCard for the last time on Sunday morning, I caught the M60 Bus on Astoria Blvd that took me to LaGuardia airport and dropped me off right in front of the Delta terminal to catch my flight back home. I got to see a different side of New York by staying and sightseeing in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria. In this more laid-back side of New York, I walked everywhere, talked to the neighbors, and explored the streets feeling I blended in like I was at home, not a visitor.

>> RW

If You Go to Queens New York

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