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Part 1: How NYC Puts the 'Urb' in our Suburbia

One of Babylon's best features is the quick train trip into the Big Apple. So Patch asked Aaron, who takes good advantage of the travel opportunity, to share knowledge gleaned from NYC experiences. This is part one in a two-part column series.

Judy, my boss here at Babylon Village Patch, suggested that this month I write about our frequent trips into Manhattan, so here goes.

Long Island is known as the original Suburbia, which basically means we are part of the areas that surround New York City. Many of us tend to take for granted this metropolis that remains one of the most exciting places on the planet, an object of desire to people all over the world. Yet many who live an hour away don't take advantage of it.

Not so with us. We love going in, and we have found that it does not have to be inconvenient or expensive with a little planning.

This past New Year's weekend, readers of AroundBabylon know that we decided to head into the city. We stayed at the Westin Times Square but because we had points on our Starwood (Sheraton) Preferred Guest plan, the room was free. Naturally not everybody has these, especially on New Year's weekend, but we basically lucked out. However we did NOT try to see the ball drop and basically all our activities were non-New Year's related.

We started by taking the train in. We almost always use the train. It's cheaper, especially for only two, and brings you right into the heart of it all. In this case, we knew that we would be seeing the King Tut exhibit at the Discovery Center on 44th Street, so we took advantage of LIRR's combined ticket which saved us $5 on each round trip train fair and another $5 each on admission to the exhibit, which was $30.

One tip to watch for on your way home by train is to check the schedule of the Montauk and Speonk trains in addition to Babylon. On the Montauk trains, you generally have to change at Jamaica for Babylon, but once you leave Jamaica, Babylon is the next stop! In addition, you go a different route, through Farmingdale and Bethpage, and usually these are the diesel double-decker trains, which is just cool.

Ok, so on Friday (New Year's Eve) we went down to 'the Village' to see Mummenschanz at NYU's Skirball Center, one of an amazing number of smaller venues in NYC. We first saw this charming Swiss mime production about 30 years ago. It was excellent again, very entertaining yet relatively quiet and calm, and tickets were under $40.

Before the show, we ate at The Half Pint, a great pub that was full of students and others. I had some excellent sliders with a basket of fresh cooked potato chips, and Mary Ann had ribs that were falling off the bone. With a couple of their fresh and unique beers and a glass of wine for the lady, it came to under $50.

Speaking of food, we tend to like our Irish Pubs when in the city. The food is usually great and reasonably priced. I am always ready for a nice Shepherd's Pie or other simple but hearty dish. We have eaten a number of times at the Playwright Pubs and other similar spots.

New Year's Day, we met up with another couple at Penn Station and were off to see the King Tut exhibit. We had previously seen the Titanic exhibit there which was great, and we were not disappointed with the Tut show either. Next up in March is Pompeii, which we also want to see.

After the exhibit, we went to Heartland Brewery's smaller sister eatery, H.B. Burgers on West 43rd St. Mary Ann and I had great veggie burgers, which we love, with sweet potato fries. We finished up with their 'world's smallest hot fudge Sunday,' fixed in a shot glass. Just enough to cleanse the palate, which was fine since we were stuffed. With drinks (two each, three for the menfolk) and a nice tip for our excellent waitress, the cost was $60 per couple.

Stay tuned and come back to Patch tomorrow, Tuesday, when Aaron offers up tips on great, inexpensive attractions and you'll learn where he got those unusual prints now hanging in his office.

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