Tips for visiting NYC

February 27, 2008

New Yorkers have gotten a bad rap for being rude.  What most people don’t realize is that New Yorkers really aren’t rude, they just have somewhere to be, and many times tourists are simply in their way.  I have now learned this now that I have been there for several months.  For those considering a visit to the Big Apple, here are some tips to help you get around and avoid “rude” New Yorkers.

1) When sight seeing, do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk, point with arms outstretched and talk about whatever it is you like. Step to the side of the sidewalk either street side or next to the building and keep your gestures small.

2) Do not ever stop walking suddenly for any reason on the sidewalk between the hours of 7:30 – 9:30am and 4:30-6:30pm. This is rush hour. How would you like it if someone just randomly stopped on the highway during rush hour while you were trying to get home?

3) When walking on the sidewalk, walk at a good clip. Again, do you enjoy driving behind someone going 30 mph on the interstate?

4) When walking down the sidewalk, do not walk more than 2 people wide. The sidewalks are narrow enough. Leave room for people to pass you.

5) When getting on to a subway car, stand to the side and let people get off the train before you get on. If you stand in their way or try to get on while they are getting off, you will get run over and a possible obscenity  will be yelled at you.  You know you do the same thing when someone cuts you off in traffic or doesn’t wait their turn at a stop sign.

6) When going into the subway station, have your fare card out and ready to swipe as you go through the turnstile.  If you cannot find it in your wallet, purse or pocket, stand to the side, find it, and then fight your way back into the flow of traffic. Do not stop traffic.

7) If you don’t know which fare card to get, either visit www.mta.info before embarking on your trip or ask the person working the booth. However, if you opt for the latter option, do not get frustrated when you cannot understand their agitated response to you.  Or you can consult this post. Do not stand in the turnstile trying to figure it out.  Here are my recommendations:

All fare cards can be bought at automatic machines and are good for both buses and subways, though not for express buses.

– 24 hour card is $7
– If staying more than 3 days, get the week card for $24
– If not using public transit as main mode of transportation get the 12 rides for $10 (buy 5 get one ride free, basically)
– Month card is $76

8)If you accidentally run into someone, do apologize. Many New Yorkers do the same. Those who don’t are usually tourists – honestly. Note: if the person who hits you and doesn’t apologize is wearing an I Love NY shirt, that’s a clue. Please don’t blame New Yorkers for a tourist’s rude behavior.

9) If you are lost, do ask for help. This will boost a New Yorker’s ego to know that they have helped a hapless visitor. However, be sure you don’t stop someone in a business suit walking really quickly during the above mentioned hours. You may get cussed at.

10) If you see a celebrity leave them alone. New Yorkers leave them alone, and they choose to be there in order to be left alone. Please don’t ruin it for all of us.

11) When looking for accommodations, use Craigslist and look under sublets/temporary housing.  You can find apartments, or rooms in someone’s apartment for overnight stays for a fraction of the price of a hotel.  Do not be scared by this prospect, but do trust your gut.  If something seems fishy, it could be, but most of the time, it’s totally legit. I’ve done this several times and it’s great.  New Yorkers tend to be pretty trusting. Heck, if I were paying $4000 a month for a 2 bedroom, I’d rent out the extra room, too.

12) Fly into LaGuardia or JFK. Don’t fly into ISLIP in Long Island or Newark.  Any savings in flight cost is made up by train tickets or cab fares, not to mention the headache of the time it takes.

The best tip is don’t be an annoying tourist.

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I’m an aunt!

February 26, 2008

Saturday, Tim and I became aunt and uncle to his sister’s little boy.  The proud parents decided to let the gender be a surprise, so when he came out, they didn’t have a name for him, but yesterday they decided on Jackson.  He’s the first grandchild, and I have a feeling Tim’s sister will put out a few more before I ever get around to contributing to the growth of the family.

So now I’m an old aunt.  When I figure out why my camera has stopped connecting to my computer, I’ll throw up some pics.

1) You realize the subway system is not convenient

2) Street food (aka – mystery meat) is awesome and makes for 2 meals

3) The person on the train preaching that they are the returned Christ doesn’t faze you one bit

4) You use the terms uptown and downtown instead of North and South

5) You call it a train, not a subway

6) You push a drunk out of the way when he tries to take the cab that you just hailed

7) You avoid Times Square at all costs

8)You manage to feel by yourself when on a train car crammed with 100 other people (all it takes is headphones and a book)

9) You find yourself dropping the f-bomb indiscriminately

10) You can put on eye liner and mascara on the jerking train

Eerily Silent

February 22, 2008

I woke up this morning to find everything covered in about 4 inches of snow, and it’s still falling.  This city gets eerily quiet with this much snow. It’s gorgeous and amazing.  I’m going to go to Central Park and take pictures and be in it.  What a great way to spend a Friday!

Disclaimer: I do not condone the behavior of the perpetrator.

So I’ve mentioned before the cramped quarters I find myself in here in the Big Apple. Well, that is also true at the grocery store. Where I’m used to going to Kroger and slowly walking the aisles with my big shopping cart, in New York, I could get bludgeoned for committing such a crime. See, in most of the grocery stores up here, there’s really only room for the food. People are a mere nuisance. There is this misconception up here by the the grocery store owners that people might actually want to get down their aisles to buy the food that the owner is hoping will leave the shelves. Instead, me and my little hand carried basket cram down aisles, knocking over small children and old ladies just so I can get some peanut butter. It’s pretty violent at times.

So, you can understand why I might find this recent incident kind of funny. In lower Manhattan, a man was accosted from behind by an assailant at the cash register. When investigators looked into the issue, it seems that narrow aisle space was the culprit. I think the assailant was just acting out what 99.9% of all New Yorkers feel like doing on occasion. Really, 22,000 people per square mile is just 21,998 too many for me.

Garth, Max, Tim & Me

February 20, 2008

This past weekend I got free! I broke out of the island of Manhattan! I went home to Nashville.

I got to do really cool things like drive a car, park in a driveway, walk through a yard and be in a house. The novelty of it was overwhelming!

So what took me out of my concrete jungle? Singing – for which I was very grateful.  Saturday, I had an audition in Asheville, NC for their opera company and Sunday I had a concert in Nashville with the Nashville Opera. It was a weekend of Southeast bliss! Oh, my heart could hardly contain itself.

I arrived Friday evening to find Max (our Mini Cooper) clean and ready for me to drive (oh yeah, my husband was there, too. I almost forgot about him in my excitement to drive Max!)  The next day we drove out to Asheville for the audition that turned out to be very successful and was indeed a trip worth the taking.  Though driving is a blast, I couldn’t drive on the way out because it just tenses up all the wrong muscles for singing, so I took full advantage of the drive home.

It was a gorgeous evening, so I threw open the moon roof (while Tim sat shivering next to me under his coat) and…get ready for this…I put in a Garth Brooks CD.  Yes, this opera singer, who never listens to country decided that she needed to jam to Garth on the open road of Tennessee.  Oh the irony!

I know it may sound odd to some of you, but I felt such freedom that I hadn’t experienced in a long time as I am now slave to the public transportation system of NYC.  From the park behind my house, I can see the interstate that takes normal people who own vehicles out of the city to freedom, and I always long for such freedom. The joy of being able to decide where I want to go and when – oh I just can’t explain it.  I am such a lover of freedom!

We listened to Garth for 3 hours, though, I did finally close the moon roof out of respect for my freezing husband- and those were hours of pure bliss.

That bliss must’ve carried over to the next day, because the concert with Nashville Opera  was great!

Can’t wait to be home again to do normal things that free people do!

This is a great Monday morning story.

If you’ve ever lived in an apartment building, or in close quarters with anyone, you usually end up with some pretty interesting neighbor stories. In NYC, it is no different – in fact it is multiplied by a gillion times when you have 22,000 people per square mile (that is no exaggeration. That’s the population density in NYC. The bastion of accuracy, Wikapedia, told me this:) but I think I’ve found it elsewhere, but I digress).

My apartment situation is no different. The gentleman who lives above me is crazy, as I have shared in another post. But I thought that I might perhaps be the only one who has noticed this. Friday, however, I was vindicated. I was speaking with another person in my building, let’s call him Bob. Bob and I were talking about the building and I mentioned that the guy above me seemed kind of crazy. Bob says, “Oh, you have no idea…” and proceeded with the following story.

Bob had just purchased a new pair of blue, Nike running shoes. Apparently they were wet from a run, so he left them outside his door to dry overnight. Normally this would not be an issue in a secure building as the one I am in. Well, the next morning, he awoke to find that the shoes were gone! They were brand new, mind you, so he wasn’t very happy about the development, but what could he do but get ready for his day? So he got ready, and he got on the elevator to find my crazy neighbor already on it (he lives across the hall from Bob). They made small talk until Bob looked down and noticed that crazy neighbor was wearing a blue pair of new Nike running shoes!

So Bob nonchalantly says, “Hey, those are some nice shoes.”

Crazy neighbor replies, “Thanks, I found them.”

Bob says, “Really…hmmm…well, actually, they are my shoes.”

Now at this point any normal, sane person would perhaps be embarrassed, make up some story to cover up their theft, something to get out of it. Not crazy neighbor. He replies, “Oh, well you can borrow them anytime.”

Oh the joys of 22,000 people per square mile.

Happy Valentine’s Day NYC!

February 14, 2008

I figured since this is the day of love, I would show a little more love to this city. As much as I sarcastically convey my stories of the Big Apple, I really am enjoying this place for the most part. It kind of grows on you like a fungus. So I thought I’d take a moment to share what I like about NYC:

1) Even though the subway system is old, slow and inconvenient, it is nice that I don’t have to drive with a million other people on the road.

2) PJ’s Wine and Liquor Warehouse is 2 blocks from me and has the best prices and best selection of wine than any other store in the city.

3) The restaurants are amazing. Anything you could ever want to try, you can find here.

4) People truly watch out for each other. If you drop something on the subway or if you’re about to sit in something on the subway, you will be warned by a fellow passenger. I’ve had people pick things up for me that I’ve dropped. If you’re about to walk into the street and a car comes out of nowhere, someone will put their arm in front of you. If you’re lost, someone will be glad to help you.

5) The parks. This city is full of parks. There’s more than just Central Park. There’s a gorgeous park behind my house and one right down the street. You could spend all day in both.

6) The ethnic diversity. No where else in our country can walk a few blocks to find yourself in a completely different culture.

7) I’m getting to sing! That’s really important and fun!

8)Manicures on the lower east side are extremely cheap! My last one was only $6!

9) Museums. They are everywhere and you can learn so much about everything. There’s nothing quite like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You need days to be able to go through the entire thing.

10) The neighborhoods. I love how every neighborhood has it’s own feel. Again, you only walk a few blocks and you’re in another neighborhood. You can feel the difference in the vibe. My favorite area is Brooklyn Heights (where the Cosby’s lived). So far I don’t like much of SoHo or the Village. Fun to visit, but don’t think I could live there.

11) Subletting on Craigslist. If you need a place to stay, you can find an apartment on Craigslist – both short and long term. People actually rent out one of the bedrooms in their apartments for people coming to the city for travel. Normally you can find a place for $70 a night for a room and $120 a night for an entire apartment for 4 people. This city doesn’t have to be expensive.

12) Street food. Street vendors sell you a gyro platter for $5. It can feed you for 2 meals.

So there’s me showin’ some love to this crazy place. If you haven’t been here, you should visit. It’s like no other place on the planet.

The subway system in NYC is old and decrepit in many areas of the city.  The weekends are notorious for shutting down train lines for construction.  This past weekend was probably one of the worst weekends since I have been here.  I think every line was having construction done on it, so it was pretty frustrating getting around.  The A by my house was one such train, so the slow train was replaced by an even slower bus that had to navigate traffic.  Though the 1 train is in my neighborhood, I decided to take the A, because I was wearing heels and didn’t feel like taking the 10 minute walk to the 1 train.  That was a mistake.  It took me 30 minutes to go 2 miles! I finally got off and walked to the 1.
After my evening in Midtown, I decided I would take the 1 train back up to my place to avoid the shuttle bus and just suffer the walk in my heels (I have no idea how women in this city live in heels all day. Just cut my feet off).  At 50th street, I decided to grab the 1.  As I walked up to the entrance, I found it taped off and a sign stating that the 1 was not stopping between 42nd st and 96th! (meaning, you could get NO WHERE in Midtown on the 1, leaving only the C train running – again, slow) Now this was not just any old sign.  This sign was a piece of 8.5×11 printer paper. You might assume that if printer paper is being used, that perhaps one might actually print a sign.  That, however, would be a false assumption. Alas, not from our trusty Metropolitan Transit Authority.  No, this was a hand written sign – a 2 cent ball point pen was used to write a sign in horrible block lettering to inform passengers that they needed to take circuitous route to find a train that would actually take them somewhere.  I could barely read the writing. You know how when you’re learning to write on unlined paper, like when you’re 10, you tend to not write in a straight line and you always run out of space at the end of your line so you scrunch all the letters together to make them fit? And you know how it’s pretty illegible? Yeah, that was this sign.  Apparently the MTA employs 10 year olds to write their signs.

Fortunately, I know to read 10 year old writing (my husband often accuses me of such writing), so I found my way – though the 5 mile trip did take an hour.  But, again, those poor tourists! If I could barely read it, how can a non-native speaker figure out how to navigate Midtown, the largest tourist area?!  Geez.

As a side note, the MTA is talking about raising fares because they don’t have enough money – well, yesterday while visiting a friend who lives on Central Park South, we entered the elevator with the owner/president of MTA.  Apparently, he lives on an entire floor of this building where my friend pays $2500 a month for a small studio apartment.  I can only imagine what that guy pays in rent.  I have a suggestion – save some money and move!  Oh yeah, and offer convenient service to your passengers and clean train stops – then we might be willing to pay a little extra.

My Birthday

February 11, 2008

For anyone who cares, it’s my birthday today. It was Tim’s yesterday. Funny how we as a married couple are back to back.

He’s old. I’m not:)