Thursday, 17 March 2011

New York: Do's and Don'ts!


I really enjoyed my time in New York. Great company, good food and a friendly environment always helps, but New York had far more - lots of hidden gems, plenty to do and explore and lots of opportunities for 'guess the film' games. Here are my tips for making the most of a short break.

Do's

- Catch a show on Broadway. The famous theatre district, Broadway has a huge variety of shows to suit everyone, and is a fantastic night out. A word of warning: prices are very steep, and booking in advance can set you back a couple of hundred dollars for decent seats. If there is a particular show you want to see, and one fixed date, then it might be the only option. If you are happy to be more flexible though, then don't book up. The half price ticket booth in Times Square is superb value, and offers many of the best shows. It opened for evening shows at 2pm, and we were there soon after. Queuing took about an hour and a half, so take a book (and a very warm coat if in winter!!). It was completely worth it though - we got tickets for Chicago half price, and when we arrived in the evening the seats were fantastic.

- Explore a range of transport. We walked a lot during our stay, which was essential for burning off some of the millions of calories consumed (see more about food below...), but the distances can be great. The subway is cheap and reliable, and was relatively empty during the day and early evening. Hailing cabs became second nature quickly, and there was nothing like racing through traffic, dodging cars and swerving to avoid pedestrians to really experience driving in NY!

- Experience plenty of local cuisine. Pretzels from street stalls, huge breakfasts from diners, one of the nicest burgers I've ever had, Italian desserts, bagels... food in NY is delicious, massive and reasonably priced. We ate until we were stuffed, and had hardly even made a dent in our plates. The idea of a doggy bag (or 'wrapped') makes so much more sense here. Whether the portions are generous or wasteful is a debate in itself, but you'll certainly never go hungry!


Don'ts

- Pay a fortune for accommodation. When asking around for pricing for staying in NY, most answers were the same 'expect at least $100 a night'. $100?? Per night?! I've never paid that much anywhere and didn't intend to start! A few searches later, and $22 a night got us twin rooms, heating/air con, with a shared bathroom (but when we arrived there were three bathrooms per floor, cleaned twice a day, and none of us ever had to wait to use one) in a good location Uptown. The place itself was lovely, the rooms spacious and clean, flat screen TVs and a nice atmosphere. It is possible to get a real bargain, just search around!

- Expect New York to reflect the rest of America. In fact, I think this probably goes for all the cities in the US - people living in NY may be very different, and the city itself has a distinct atmosphere. I don't consider that I've 'seen' or 'know' America from visiting the one city.

- Be surprised at the cost of visiting museums. Probably many visitors aren't, but coming from a culture of free or subsidised museums and public attractions, my joy at saving so much on accommodation was swiftly destroyed by seeing the pricing around the city. Having said that, I don't regret stomaching the cost - they were great experiences.

So, that wraps up a short stay in the big apple, somewhere I would definitely visit again in the future. Next up, a final short break in a new city before it's back to some more exotic adventure!

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