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I recall, Central Park in fall

The joys of a fourth quarter vacation

By Todd Humber

There really is no place like New York City in the fall.

The crisp air, the never-ending bustling crowds, the transformation of the city as it prepares for the holiday season — it’s quite a sight to take in. As I write this, I’m back at my desk fresh from a long weekend in the Big Apple.

November is a nose to the grindstone month, and not one where I normally jaunt off for a long weekend. Maybe the randomness is why this last weekend felt so special, or maybe it was something else. But it really got me thinking about the importance of taking time for yourself — and really getting away from the office.

In some ways, a stolen weekend in the fall can feel even more satisfying than that week long August vacation. Not to slag the dog days of summer — they’re crucial to recharging the body and the mind. But it is worth keeping a couple of days in your pocket for the fall crush, and carving out a Friday and Monday where you can sneak out of the office.

This was my second time in New York, but really the first time I got to experience the city. Round one came last year via a guy’s weekend to take in a football game. But we stayed in New Jersey, and merely hopped a bus into Manhattan for a whirlwind 10 hours.

This time, I stayed in the heart of the city for three days and got to experience what it has to offer. It really is a magnificent city. It was a whirlwind trip, complete with:

  • Lunch on a patio — 16C and sunny in November. Go figure.
  • NBC studio tour — The journalist geek in me loved seeing the heart of NBC’s news operations, including the national anchor’s desk. But the highlight of the tour was seeing the set where they film Saturday Night Live. It was very cool being so close to something so iconic. SNL star Keenan Thompson even wandered by our tour.
  • Central Park — No visit to NYC is complete without a stroll through the park. On the advice of a colleague, I started at 86th street and wandered up. The photo above shows a view from the stroll.
  • Broadway — I’d never taken in a Broadway play. Sure, I’d seen the best Toronto has to offer — which is pretty good. But seeing the real thing on the real street was a treat. I took in An American in Paris — perhaps a little more dancing than I expected, but a great performance.
  • Bryant Park — This little gem had a winter market happening. Made for a lovely stroll around, checking out unique gifts and watching skaters circle the ice while people nearby played ping pong.
  • 9/11 Memorial — It was a moment of reflection, but also a reminder to get the most you can out of every day. The waterfalls are quite stunning, and a very fitting tribute.

And there was shopping. And, of course, the never-ending dining. And a fascinating stroll through Hell’s Kitchen, and looking at brownstone after brownstone on the streets surrounding Central Park. I could go on — but who really wants to read about someone else’s vacation?

The point is simple — if you can, take some time for yourself during the busy fourth quarter crunch. You probably can’t get away for a full week, but take a day or two around a weekend and go someplace special. You won’t regret it, and you’ll come back feeling refreshed and recharged, ready to complete the push through the holiday season.

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Todd Humber

Todd Humber is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. Follow him on Twitter @ToddHumber
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