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A couple of weeks ago I took a large group of charming, adventurous, and educated women from Vancouver, Canada (and its extended geographical area) on a walk through the Gramercy/Flatiron neighborhoods. I am just now writing up an account of our stroll, and I've worried that I would forget some of the details. This modest walk works just as well, I think, for individuals who are not women from British Columbia. It's fun, though, to walk around with Canadian women who stop and notice beautiful buildings, ask a lot of questions and take about a million digital photographs. See if you can go find some.
Members of a book club, these women have known one another for years and so could handle the pressure of cramming every major New York tourist attraction into five days, sleep four to a room and still manage to stay friends. This group trip, a kind of Extreme Girls Night Out, was organized by a New York-crazed woman who had discovered Walking Off the Big Apple during the preparations for the trip and then had forced the others to read it. ("Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee!"). She wrote and asked if we could all meet and walk around, and I had to think about it because I don't give tours in real life. I decided I was honored enough by her letter and so would make an exception for her group.
We met on a bright Sunday afternoon at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, and there we all exchanged lively introductions. If you care, I wore a bright red coat, dark sunglasses and a black hat. Highlights of the walk included the Met Life Building, the New York Life Building, Gramercy Park, a high-end pet boutique, and the Block Beautiful on 19th St. Somewhere along in there members of the group spotted a gigantic parrot in the window of a townhouse, and it looked to us like it occupied its own room.
At the end of the stroll, I led the group into Pete's Tavern. I rushed toward the kindly host and explained that I had sixteen women behind me and we just needed to stand at the bar and drink. He said, "The bartender will take care of you." And so there we stayed for a round of drinks, and then another, with the tavern providing the perfect backdrop for our happy new mutual acquaintance and the promise to one day walk off Vancouver.
(Quick note: The interactive map above misspells Gramercy.)