New York - love or hate?

May 20, 2020

Visiting New York City may be a magnificent experience. Not only the cuisine is remarkably top-notch but also the music scene is diverse and fulsome. When you fancy comedy clubs, there are a dime a dozen. When you would like to do shopping, there is no better place in the world. If you are an observant, you can even run into a celebrity by just walking down the street. Welcome to New York!

Despite the fact I have visited New York a lot of times, I always discover something new (there's nothin' you can't do, right?). My first day in New York taught me a lot! A teenager with a piece of a huge luggage arrives at the JFK airport. I am so excited, ready to leave the airport but also jet-lagged and ready to sleep. It is Saturday, at 9 pm and my last bus to upstate departures at 11 pm. I say to myself 'there is nothing to worry about, I have 2 hours to reach Times Square / Port Authority'. As soon as I leave the airport I realize that I'm not going to make it. Insane traffic jams!

Tip number 1 - when you drive, always leave your home at least 30mins earlier.  

Finally, I arrive at Times Square at 11.30 pm. What I am going to do now? My next bus departures at 8 am, it doesn't make sense to leave this lively place. I am close to McDonald's, let's eat something! I order a cheeseburger, small ice cream, and small coke. The lady gives me a cheeseburger, large ice cream, and large coke. I say it must be a mistake, she says no. 

Tip number 2 -small portions in the USA are large, hell yeah! How large is the large then?!

I am so full, sitting in the McDonalds, nobody has robbed me yet so everything is going well, isn't it? (I am not saying the New Yorkers are waiting around the corner to steal something from me, it's just my Dad who has reminded me thousand of times about the importance of keeping my purse close to my eyes). 

It's 1 am, I try to find wifi to text my parents but my blackberry doesn't collaborate at all (let's spend a minute to appreciate the batteries in our mobiles nowadays). So it's time to get to know the nightlife in the city that never sleeps and gets wild. Wait for a second, what about my huge luggage? Ok, the red stairs are as far as I can get (around 100m). I sit there and I can't get over everything that is happening around me. It's 1 am, everything is glittering, Chinese people are taking the photos, street performers are dancing, protesters are there and a man dressed as a cowboy wearing a thong is also there. I even managed to be captured on the Forever 21 billboard for a second, what a night!

Time passes so quickly. It's 5 am and there are only me, hip hop dancers and some homeless people. It's time to move on and drink some coffee because I am very sleepy and I don't think I can fall asleep now. To be honest the coffee has never tasted as good as this time and the English muffin has never been as tasty as this day.

It's 8 am, Sunday and I am leaving Manhattan, heading upstate. I made it!

Today I'd like to share with you what I love and hate New York for. Also, I will tell you my favorite spots and places you must visit!

Reasons I love NY for

The views

Wherever you go, the views are breath-taking. You’ll get them as you sip a cocktail on a rooftop deck, picnic at the park or as you walk about at the art museums. My ranking is very classic: Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, One World Observatory, Staten Island Ferry, East River State Park, The Brooklyn Bridge / Dumbo, New Jersey - Hoboken, 230 5TH AVENUE bar, Le Bain rooftop bar.

The food

I can describe it as variable and authentic. In New York, you can eat Thai noodles, Japanese sushi, Polish dumplings and African Tajin over several streets. Also, everything is prepared by chefs from the region, which guarantees traditional flavors.

Best restaurants in New York: Five guys and Shake Shack (burgers), Schwartz and Kat's delicatessen (pastrami), Pietro Nolita, Sushirrito, The bagel store, Avocado Apetit, Robertas pizza, B Squared, Pizza anywhere at the Small Italy, M. Wells Steakhouse, Street food hot dog, Burger & Lobster, Joe's pizza, 95 HomeDish (chinese).

Best Bakeries in New York: Magnolia Bakery, Laduree, Soft Swerve, DO Cookie Dough Confections, Dominique Ansel Bakery, The End Brooklyn, Ice & Vice, La Cheescake, The Blue Box cafe, Ring Ding Bar, Lady M Cake Boutique, Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery (jewish).

Architecture

I am sure you are familiar with the panorama of New York. A row of skyscrapers huddled tightly together and focused on a small island sandwiched between the Hudson River and the East River. It is a view that American films have imprinted in the memory and imagination of people around the world. It is easier for us to recognize the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty than the European Parthenon. However, the architecture of New York is more than just a pretty view - it is a story about great money, the courage to create a new reality and, often, going out on the limb.

Best architectural spots: Flatiron Building, New York Public Library Stephen A Schwarzman Building, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Hearst Tower, World Trade Center Station, Whitney Museum of American Art, Manhattan, West Village, Soho, Union Square, Madison Square, Wall Street.

New Yorkers

I don't actually know why the New Yorkers have a harsh reputation for being rude jerks. Like everywhere, some people are nice and some are jerks, that's totally normal. I guess they must be annoyed with tourists stopping in the middle of the street to take photos, but wouldn't you be? New York is a huge city so no surprise everybody rushes from one meeting to the other. Also, a lot of people have to commute quite a ways to be able to afford to live in New York. Personally, I found them very helpful and positive. How many random people I had a chit chat within subway? a lot. They are very open-minded and cheerful so there is no need to have a negative approach.

Top spots and events

If you are not excited by the monuments and city's soaring skyscrapers, you'll be blown away by its food, nightlife scenes, flourishing arts, and fashion. Imagine you get up in the morning and you feel like a great breakfast. There are hundreds of top breakfast spots. Then you feel like running. Ok, let's run to the Brooklyn Bridge when you can admire the stunning view. Does your friend call you about shopping? Let's browse Fifth Avenue's designer racks and have a drink on the best rooftop in the world. If you still have some energy, you can watch an award-winning Broadway show. Isn't it great? Do you know what's best? No matter how often you go out, I don't think you can visit all of the restaurants, all of the pubs, clubs, art centers, and other great places. Once, I went to the Yoga event in Times Square. What a great experience! There were thousands of yogis and free classes for the whole day!

Shopping spree

I am not a raging shopaholic or a girl who is blindly staring at how the girls from the "Sex and the City" series slam over Manhattan with nets under their arms. And yet, in New York, the shopping experience is different and I love it! After so many luggage disappointments, I arrive in New York with empty luggage and departure with 2 full luggage. Shopping in New York is pleasant, different and cheap. Brands like Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Levi’s, Calvin Klein, DKNY, Michael Kors, Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, etc. are much cheaper comparing to the prices in Poland or UK. So don't think about it twice, you just need some time and spare cash!

Best shops: Century 21, T.J. Maxx, Macy's, Jersey Gardens (no tax)

Nature

Despite the fact New York is a concrete jungle, you can still find a lot of places where you can relax among nature. For instance, Central Park, which is located in the heart of Manhattan. it's amazing that in such a busy place, you can find a magnificent and huge park that is an oasis of peace, a place to relax and detachment from the reality happening next door.

Best parks: Central Park, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Bryan Park, The Hills at Governors Island, The High Line, McCarren Park, Hudson River Park, Astoria Park.

If you would like to run away from the city and the people, I recommend a boat. It was one of the best days of my life. After a week in the city center, my cousin and her husband took us for a boat trip to Connecticut. It was scorching, so we jumped to the freshwater, we had a couple of cold drinks, danced the bachata and fished. Then, we had a lovely dinner in the harbor and admired a sunset drifting on the boat.

All of the above reasons matter while we choose the USA for our next destination, however, the family outweighs it because it's lovely to see the faces you haven't seen for a long time, isn't it?

Reasons I hate New York for

The smell

During the summer it's very stuffy. When you put makeup on, don't expect this to stay on your face for more than 30 mins. It's hot, stuffy and walking down the streets, you’ll get a very pungent whiff of something rather unpleasant wafting up from the ground. It stinks and believe me, bearing in mind these 3 factors, you sometimes don't find your walk relaxing as the smell bothers you.

Noise and crowd

Guess how many people live in and around New York? 80 million! Plus there are another 60 million visitors per year, so no surprise the city never sleeps. It's insane, isn't it? I love city life but New York makes me tired. It's crowded and noisy all of the time. Even if you go to the park to read a book you still hear the beeping taxis and loud music coming from the street dancers. When I have gone out, I usually spent the whole day outside the house. I didn't do anything extreme, just walking, visiting and meeting my friends. After this 'relaxing' day, I have come back to the house with a tongue hanging out.

High prices

To be honest with you, it's difficult to say if New York is an expensive city. It offers so much and everything depends on the experience you would like to have. I found here a decent pizza for two dollars and an average dinner for over 100 dollars. Not to mention the best restaurants where you could pay approximately the same as the average national salary for a family dinner with wine. Here are some examples:

7-Day Unlimited Pass for the Subway: US$31

Double room in a hotel in the center of New York City: Approximately US$150 per night

Tickets to a Broadway musical: From US$60

Museums: +$25 (check out the days when some of the museums are free)

Mineral water: $1.69

Regular breakfast: $12

Coffee: $3.50

Burger: $6-19

Beer: $6-9

It seems like there are more reasons why I love New York for. I find something incredibly fascinating in this city and I can truly say I miss it. Coronavirus disrupted our holiday plans but let's hope this mess will end soon and we all can discover the world again! I believe everybody should visit the city that never sleeps. No matter if you will love it or hate it. You will have experience in your pocket that you will never forget.


© 2020 Natalia Snopkowska