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Mighty Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets.

Don't Flush It all Away!

This Queens, New York, YMCA is worth finding.

By Susana Molinolo

The Flushing YMCA's website promised 'a home away from home', but my sister and I have seen plenty of dorm accommodations and couldn't help but envisioning a crappy room with military beds, and cold showers. What else could you expect for USD $35 a night, per person?

We were in disbelief to find that our 'home' was mini hotel room, not a dorm, and we got daily room service, full access to a health and wellness centre (including Yoga, Belly Dancing, pools and steam and sauna rooms), a fridge and a TV!

Located in the borough of Queen's, the Flushing YMCA is only a 30-minute train ride from Manhattan. The closest subway stop is Junction, one of the most northerly stops on the '7' train's route (near Shea's Stadium).

Twelve-Hour Ride

It's nearly midnight by the time my sister and I arrive at Junction; we're tired from a twelve hour train ride and a little nervous about walking around with our backpacks. As if on cue, a young preppy kid, in a Yankees cap asks us if we need help. We ask him what the streets are like at this time.

He tells us that the area's safe and that we can walk to our accommodation. His accurate directions take us on a short nocturnal stroll through the heart of little Korea, and get us to the Y within 10 minutes. We check in to our room, realize it's über cool and do a celebratory bed jump. The night is young, so we head back out into our temporary hood, in search of goodies for our bar fridge.

Located about seven blocks from the Y we discover The Saravan Restaurant Diner (146-01 Northern Blvd.) The Saravan is a wickedly cool diner, with comfy booths, staff who know the true meaning of 'bottomless cup of coffee', and huge windows which make it a great place for a sunny breakfast. Mind you we ended up eating breakfast, lunch and dinner there in one day. The menu is an indecisive person's nightmare. Be you vegan, meat and potatoes lover or a milkshake junkie, this diner can feed you, and they serve breakfast any time of the day. Breakfasts for two averaged USD $13.00.

Closer to our temporary residence we find the perfect snack spot, Hot Bagels (144-14 Northern Blvd.) located in 7-store strip mall. The great assortment of bagels includes standards like poppy seed, and whole wheat and a hard core version of all dressed covered in a variety of healthy seeds and shreds of slightly burnt strings of garlic. Lather on their home made garden vegetable cream cheese and you got lunch.

Family Bagels

Their coffee was always fresh, and for sure the best tasting I've ever had in New York. Apart from bagels they bake muffins, birthday cakes, challah and danishes. This little family run bagel boutique is open seven days a week, starting at 5am! Two large coffees and two bagels with cream cheese was just under USD $8.

When not eating, my sis and I managed to rummage through many Korean supermarkets, stationary stores and boutiques. In a supermarket on Northern Blvd we loaded up on unique stocking stuffers like Korean toothpaste, giant sized boxes of Tic Tacs in which each mint is individually wrapped, and Chinese made ceramic mugs with inscriptions such 'ten tips for a longer life'. We also made sure to use the gym every day.

What's great about sleeping three floors above a gym is that you have no excuse not to work out. The gym opens early at 6am and closes at 10pm, and there are activities for everyone. You can do anything from simply walking on a treadmill to joining a spinning class, or playing basketball. One morning, while waiting to take in a yoga class, I watched a 'Salsa Sunrise' class in full swing. Most of the students were 50+, and there was one lady who looked like Tina Turner's grandma in spandex. If old people in great shape don't motivate you to work out, nothing will.

The Flushing YMCA is a great home base for anyone wanting to visit the Big Apple on a small wallet. For more info surf to: ymcanyc.org


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