It’s only my second post about New York, which I visited over six months ago. Actually, it’s hard for me to say why, because it was one of my best solo trips. This time I will not write about tourist hotspots that are widely described in countless guidebooks. I will write about it another time 😉
This post will be about New Yorkers. I was in NYC around a week and it’s way too short time to know the life in this city, that’s why I will present my subjective observations.
I won’t hide that the impulse to write this post has been photos from the deserted streets of NYC during the coronavirus outbreak. Honestly, I can’t imagine empty streets in Manhattan, the lack of: cars, hundreds of yellow cabs, constant noise and crowd wave that you have to surrender having in mind your own safety.
Americans themselves say NYC is a crazy city. I know how disturbing the city’s life can be, I finally come from Warsaw. I know what life looks like in a constant rush and I like this style, I like it when something happens all the time. On the other hand, let me tell you honestly, New York is Bangkok of the United States.
When I had a longer stopover in Copenhagen on my way back, I saw this city from a completely different side than a few years ago during my first visit. Experience changes perspective, no offense but after NYC I felt as if I were in a small, quiet little town. The whole day there, I was literally enjoying the silence, sitting by the canal drinking coffee and reading. By the way, Copenhagen is one of the few cities for which I could betray Warsaw 😉
Let’s get back to NYC. This city is in constant rush. “In a good taste” is running around here with huge cup of coffee or quick snacks. Watching New Yorkers, you can get the impression they eat and drink all the time 😉
Of course, jaywalking is also very common there. No one here waits for a green light, after all, you can save a few seconds. Fortunately, it isn’t a breakneck feat because the streets of Manhattan for the best part of a day are just blocked by loads of cars.
However, some people can even handle it, why waste time in traffic when you can flash on a skateboard between cars?
What’s more, I was most surprised that people are humanitarian in this urban jungle and I even I will say more, they are kind! Special etiquette is in the subway, passengers respect their space very much, a slight hit that in Polish conditions we would not pay attention to, in NYC is always associated with “sorry”. There is also no last minute jumping into the wagons, reason prevails because the door closing system in the New York subway can be, let’s say, quite injurious.
Additionally, I am full of admiration New Yorkers’ patience. While subway in Manhattan operates efficiently, a trip to further areas may be challenging. At some stations you have to wait a long time for the train, in rush hours some lines don’t stop on less attended stations.
The “symbiosis” of people and rodents is also surprising. Nobody panics here when a rat crosses their way. By the way, do you know what’s the difference between a New Yorker and a tourist in the subway? Find out at the end 😉
Dark side of the city
Life in New York is not easy. Do you remember blackout in 2003? Photos of people trapped in the subway, crowds on the streets, people sleeping on the Central Post Office stairs, I rememebr it as if it were yesterday. Such failures often happen. In such situations, even the car does not allow you to return home, the city is totally blocked and due to the lack of electricity, people do not have the opportunity to pick up the car from multi-storey car parks.
Regardless of the power failure, Manhattan suffers from a lack of light anyway. Skyscrapers make an amazing impression, but they also block sunbeams.
It’s also really difficult to keep the streets clean.
Additionally, unfortunately, as in most of this type of metropolis, there are also a lot of homeless people.
Visiting New York is like visiting the whole world. Every time I left the subway I wondered what part of the world I would see. Before my trip I was aware that NYC is famous for its “national” districts, but seriously, it didn’t occur to me that a few subway stations make the difference of several time zones!
This is the issue that surprised me the most and destroyed my worldview when it comes to NYC residents. I thought I’d see an amazing variety of outfits, unusual clothes. However it turned out that New York fashion is very monotonous.
Surely the ladies from Sex in the big city, who wander the streets of NYC in stylish stilettoes, make the impression that New York is a very fashionable. In fact I could see hardly any woman wearing high heels. The most popular in NYC are trainers or heavy shoes (even at 25 degrees). This was explained by my friend who comes from New York, all these ladies just value comfort and only wear heels in the office.
Which neighborhood do you have hotel?
New Yorkers are incredibly open, they like to talk. What’s more interesting, after an obvious question about my nationality, they asked about the location of my hotel. Then I couldn’t just explain that in Brooklyn, I had to describe the area in detail. Then there was a moment of reflection, a quick assessment and then the sentence – “it’s quite safe there”.
Although Rudolph Giuliani did a really good job, drastically reducing crime in NYC, there are still places where you can feel, to put it mildly, “uncomfortable”. I have spent a lot of time choosing the right spot in NYC, also because I flew there alone and I knew I would be moving around the city in late night hours. The problem was that I had three selection criteria: proximity to the center, safety and a low price.
The first two were at odds with the third requirement. I finally found my place right next to Manhattan, I rented a room form a very decent Mexican family, about 200 m from the subway station. The house was located in Brooklyn which is considered as a rather safe neighborhood. Let me put it this way, I was extremely lucky to have a police station halfway to the flat.
Before my trip, I wouldn’t have thought that flea markets are so popular in NYC . What can I say from my perspective? I’ve already visited a lot of places like this but the flea market in NYC is the place where you must be.
This is a unique experience because it’s the quintessence of American lifestyle, gathered in antiques (another post about it soon).
Find out more about NYC, here: