Hello, friends! If you’re going to be among the masses descending upon NYC this week for BEA, here are some of my own treasured tips to help you make the most of the Expo.
1) Eat a big breakfast. Really go for it at your hotel or wherever you’re staying, because food at the Javits Center is a) pretty gross and b) ridiculously overpriced. So unless you’re attending one of the breakfast buffets as part of the Expo, load up on fruit and protein before you head to the West Side.
2) If you, like me, are a Starbucksaholic, don’t even bother with the one inside the Javits Center. I once stood in line there for forty-five minutes only to be charged more than $7 for a grande soy latte. Rip off!! There’s a perfectly fine Starbucks on 39th Street and 8th Avenue with a fast-moving line, and it’s open from 5:30 AM until midnight. You can drink your iced coffee on your walk to the Javits Center.
3) Bring Power bars, dried fruit, pretzels, and a bottle of water. As mentioned in item #1, the lunch options in the convention center are weak and the considerable lines will keep you from seeing things that you came to the Expo to see. This is New York City! If you’re going to spend big money on food, spend it where the food is good! If you’ve never been to the Javits Center before, I’ll warn you that it’s kind of a long walk away from… everything. Once you’ve loaded up on free ARC’s and t-shirts, you may not feel too enthusiastic about carrying your new winnings on a very long, hot, five-block walk to the nearest sit-down restaurant. Oh yeah, and comfortable walking shoes are a must (see below about difficulty in catching cabs near Javits).
4) You might want to consider bringing Handiwipes. I’m just sayin… I’ve been to a few Comic Cons when the TP in the not-so-sanitary ladies’ room ran out early in the day. Every day.
5) Be careful at night. If for any reason you end up near the Javits Center after dark, please know that the West Side is still a little desolate and dangerous after the midtown crowds go home from work. It’s hard to catch a cab over there after rush hour, too.
6) If you’re hoofing it, check out the Muji superstore on 40th and 8th Avenue inside the huge fancy New York Times building. It’s a good place to get cheap Asian snacks (mochi? hell yes!) and really cool souvenirs to take home.
7) If you have time to check out the book scene in New York, please don’t forget to visit one of our excellent independent book stores. There’s Books of Wonder for kids down on 18th between 5th and 6th, Idlewild (travel book store) a block away on 19th, and the world-famous Strand on Broadway and 13th, all in the Village/Flatiron area. There’s also the very cozy Housing Works Book Cafe, home of a number of literary events that take place in this city for writers (and readers). If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, hop on the train and check out Word in Greenpoint and my favorite, Bookcourt on Court Street in Cobble Hill.
8) Most importantly: bring your allergy meds! Our pollen count is insanely high right now, and you’re not safe from the sniffles anywhere, not even indoors! A lot of our neighborhood drug stores are sold out of Claritin D and other common over-the-counter (aka behind-the-counter) allergy medications, so prepare.