30 November 2012

One Day. Things they don’t tell you about NYC (and common misconceptions)

The saying goes that “in order to have experienced it you need to have lived it.” I think this is true of anything in life, and having spent the last week or so in NYC I thought I would impart some knowledge I have come across having “lived it” here in the city that never sleeps.

  1. Contrary to people’s perceptions, New Yorkers are actually extremely friendly! After everything I’d heard over the years I expected those living in this city to be somewhat like Sydney-siders: snarky, rude and flustered (sorry to anyone nice in Sydney but you’ve fallen into the stereotype). But it’s not true at all! Everyone I’ve spoken to has been extremely friendly, whether it’s sales assistants (whose service far surpasses anything in Australia!), random people on the street or friends’ acquaintances. It’s cheerfulness all round so I’ll have whatever they’re having!
  2. You will need a biggg wallet… because you will end up with a gazillion one cent coins! I can’t believe that such an advanced and powerful country still uses 1c’s! Apparently it costs the US economy more to make them than it’s worth to have them so here’s hoping they will be phased out soon! 
  3. Your math skills will improve out of sight what with working out tax and tips, plus not to mention the entire city runs in numbers: 35th street and 7th avenue to 16th street and 8th avenue = 20 blocks, 19 down and 1 across. 
  4. Despite many movies and television shows showing stars flitting around town in their high heels, like Carrie in her Manolo Blahniks, New York is not a place for this type of footwear! There are subway grates on every sidewalk and whilst sometimes they only take up a portion, often they occupy the entire pavement meaning, for those with heels, you must risk your life by darting onto the road in front of the city's crazy taxis!
  5. It’s not that dangerous (provided you stay out of Harlem and the Bronx). People always talk about scary stories of getting mugged or having kidneys stolen but it’s really not like that. The city is so constantly busy you will never find yourself walking alone, there are cabs everywhere and lights from every store. Sure there are bad spots to steer clear of (Lower East Side in Manhattan) but isn’t that the same everywhere. I would go so far as to say I feel safer here than I do in Sydney (certainly). 
  6. It’s cheaper than it looks! Perhaps not the rent, but everything else: groceries, clothes, eating out are all very affordable; much more so than Australia. After having the best large pizza I’ve ever tasted here for $12 I feel completely ripped off having paid $30 for an awful one on the Gold Coast. 
And a word to the wise, if you can travel alone like I did, you will have a much better experience of the city. I was never hassled by tour guides or people selling things because I was walking alone. Although I may have been heading for the Empire State Building or the Met I wandered along with no problem whilst those around me, who were heading to the same places, were stopped dozens of times by scalpers. Just avoid pulling your map or lonely planet guide out in public, it kind of gives you away!

Photo by Krissie.