Tour with a vampire
August 2, 2011
You see, I was headed to New York, and while I know my way around the major landmarks and tourist traps (heck, I was staying in Times Square), I didn’t want to do what was expected. I wanted to expand, see something different. I knew there was something else out there…if I only knew where it was.
Enter Charles Schwartz. We met by chance. I’d heard of an online program that matches visitors with native New Yorkers, and Charles offers some of the best one-on-one walking tours around.
I figured he’d be interesting. I figured he’d be fun. But he totally surprised me when he showed up in the lobby of my hotel dressed as a vampire. I knew right away I liked this guy.
Charles and I walked all over – we saw the Algonquin, gathering place of great writers. We saw the “literary walk” leading up to the New York City Library. We ate at the famous Katz’s Deli. Charles even showed me an old church, built by the Dutch when they owned the island. It’s supposed to be haunted by one of the first Dutch governors, and it had a heck of a cemetery. You all know how much I love old cemeteries.
Then we found the inspiration for my next story. We walked into McSorley’s Old Ale house, built in 1854. Abe Lincoln hung out here. Teddy Roosevelt. John Lennon too. You could smell the history. You could see it on the walls. In fact, they claim that no piece of memorabilia has been removed from the walls since 1910.
Houdini’s handcuffs are cuffed to the bar rail. Wishbones hang above the bar, left there by soldiers going off to fight in World War I. They’d re-claim them when they returned. I could literally feel the weight of the generations.
It’s a place that begs to be fictionalized. So write, I will. I’m not quite sure what will happen yet, or who will walk through the doors of my version of this bar. Biker witches, anyone? Hmm…we’ll need at least one. In the mean time, I’m grateful to see this hidden gem, a place I never would have known existed. Thanks to Charles for taking me off the beaten path, and showing me the possibilities around every corner.