I was lucky enough to make an unexpected trip to New York recently. As it was my first ever trip to America, I was pretty excited (although less than overjoyed about the 14 hour flight – still suffering from the after-effects of the return journey). We were staying in the Marriott Marquis hotel on Times Square, so by the end of the holiday I was pretty much sick of how busy that place was, as you can imagine.
Here are a few pros and cons of New York as I see them:
* The architecture of the buildings is bloody amazing. I was blown away by it.
* There was a good choice of gluten free restaurants
* Service in restaurants was pretty good
* The portions of food were generous
* The subway was pretty inexpensive
* Did I mentions the architecture? Because it’s AMAZING.
* The block system makes finding your way around pretty easy
* The city is very dirty
* There is a lot of noise, most of which is generated by irate drivers and crazy people
* Eating out is expensive
* The service in places where you do not have to leave a tip ranges from mediocre to borderline rude
* The subway is dreary and slightly intimidating at night
* Everywhere you go you are impeded by bewildered tourists and, due to the block system, you can’t get very far without being stopped by a set of traffic lights
My aim for the holiday was to not be herded from one tourist site to another (I didn’t bother with the Empire State or Liberty Island). Because of this I spend most of the holiday aimlessly roaming and discovering things that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
My highlights of the holiday include the New York Public Library, the Staten Island Ferry, The Rockefeller centre, the amazing Woolworth Building and watching a Peter and the Starcatcher on Broadway. Pretty much every church I went into was a great discovery (I’m not religious but I was agog about how impressive some of them were). I was also treated to a free electronic harp concert in one of the churches by Erin Hill, who signed her new album for me.
I found that sometimes I was treated rather coldly when people realised I was English. Obviously, due to the multicultural nature of the city, anyone could pass themselves off as a born and bred New Yorker until they open their mouths. My wife tells me that we are notoriously bad tippers and that this may be the reason. Hopefully I have gone some way to waylay that misconception as I gave 20% pretty much everywhere I went. Maybe If I was there for longer than a week I may have been a little more stingy.
The bare-faced cheek award goes to the cloakroom of the Museum of Sex (an actually quite educational insight into the progression of attitudes towards sex over the ages) where I had to pay a dollar for them to take my bag before I could enter the exhibits. Next to the attendant there was also a box which read ‘tips are appreciated’. I’m sure they are.
The inappropriate award goes to the guy who was the receiving oral sex in a corner of Times Square, probably one of the busiest places in the World. On that note…
I’m off of to Bali for a couple of weeks soon, so I shall no doubt have a few photos/stories to share with you then.