Summer. The beach. Sun-kissed hair and skin. Lazy Saturday afternoons. I want you to close your eyes for a second and picture/think about those words and phrases. OK, now open your eyes. Do you feel more relaxed? I'm assuming that most of you nodded your heads "yes." For those of you who didn't, I can only assume that you've just returned from a weekend in the Hamptons. So did I.
Look, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for the East End. The Hamptons is town after town of the most fabulous, unique beach communities in the country, atleast in my opinion. Where else can jaded New Yorkers, who seem to turn their noses up at any city other than "the city," go to that is: beach-y, green, spacious, nearby, chock-full of fabulous shopping - comparable if not better restaurants - a bar and club scene - etc., etc., etc. The list literally goes on...and on...and on, people. To answer my own question, there isn't anywhere else! Many folks will agree, the Hamptons feels like a tranquil "home away from home." If NYC is your home, that is.
- Traffic on the 2-lane, desperately-in-need-of-paving Montauk Highway
- Expensive, lackluster hotels (or shall I say "motels"): if you think that there are a slew of 5-star properties out here, think again. Most "hotels" are about as fancy as your town's local Motel 6. And, no, I'm not exaggerating. Here, it's all about the homes.
- Yuppie central: this can be viewed as either good or bad, depending on your personal point of view. If you're in search of a little culture or flavor, you're not going to find it in the Hamptons.
- Beach parking permits: for most, if not all, beaches, you need a "beach parking permit," or else you run the risk of getting slapped with a $200 ticket, just as yours truly experienced first hand in 2009. Oh, and bring a wad of cash, because you'll likely have to pay an entry fee just to spend the day at the beach. Think upwards of $40/car.
So, for those of you planning to head out East this weekend, Labor Day, or not again until next summer - grab a pen and take some notes! I've compiled a short list of my tried and true tips to prevent or, at the very least, lessen your chances of having a stress-induced coronary from some of the triggers that the Hamptons will throw your way. Just call me your personal "Travel Martyr."
- Where are you staying? Make sure to keep the address and Hamptons town that it's located in on you at all times. This leads perfectly in to point #2...
- Cabs: fares are negotiable - don't ever pay full price. Always have cash on-hand, as taxis are not equipped with credit card machines, a-la-Manhattan.
- Car rental: bottom line is to pickup and drop-off in the Hamptons, not NYC. Instead of driving out of Manhattan, take the LIRR/Jitney to Southampton Station. From there, take a 5-minute cab ride to either the Avis or Hertz agency in town. On your way home, drop your rental off there, as well! When doing so, plan ahead: call a cab 3-hours prior to your scheduled LIRR/Jitney departure, and have them fetch you from the rental agency. Ask to be dropped off at the train or bus station.
- LIRR eastbound (train): if you have an hour to spare, I highly suggest that you avoid beginning your East-bound trip at Penn Station at all costs, especially on a Friday. Instead, take the Queens-bound E train to Sutphin Blvd. and transfer to the Montauk-bound LIRR. Believe me when I tell you that this will make your commute much more relaxed. And, take it from me: you're less likely to be provoked to want to beat up a fellow passenger. Seriously.
I hope I haven't scared anyone. But, if I have, I'd like to share something that this random gal told me after she overheard me complaining about that infamous two-lane highway: "They choose to keep it small, with only two-lanes, in order to keep away the riff-raff." Alrighty then.
Only in the Hamptons...
Until we eat again,
The Lunch Belle