I enjoyed The Big Apple even more than when I visited in the late 80s-early 90s. I was here alone then; it made a big difference to be there with my wife and a 15-year-old daughter who was super-excited about seeing Broadway. In the space of about 48 hours, we walked through Times Square and the theater district three times!
A few adjectives that come to my mind when I reflect on NYC:
Friendly. Friendlier in general than Walnut Creek and much of CA. I’m told it’s not a good idea to look lost and confused in New York — might as well wear a target on your back. Baloney! We negotiated the subway system pretty well overall, but a few times we had to stop and think. When that happened, almost invariably kind strangers offered assistance, sometimes more than one within a span of a minute. Without even demanding money! And the servers in the restaurants we tried were very helpful and polite.
Clean. OK, this is relative, it’s not Canada, but still… Cleaner than SF; streets are not full of litter, the subway does not smell bad. SF is filthy by comparison. If I were the mayor of SF, I would sandblast the entire city. I don’t know how NYC is doing it, but they are doing something well.
Safe. Lots of cops. Sometimes they are standing around in groups not really doing anything (and no, not eating donuts), except making people feel safe I guess.
Vibrant. But of course! I would like to live in NYC for about a year and really explore it in depth. I would like to visit the Guggenheim at least 4 times a year or whenever it has a new primary exhibit. The only downside, for someone like me who has trouble sleeping, is that “city that never sleeps” thing rubbed off in a literal way.
Aggressive. Try to keep up with the pace! Walking around NYC, I learned very quickly how to spot the native pedestrians and drivers vs. the tourists. New Yorkers use traffic signals and crosswalk signs as guidelines, mere suggestions. Pedestrians stopped at a Don’t Walk signal step across quickly and efficiently given a reasonable gap in traffic, and I emulated that behavior as long as it didn’t put me or my family in real danger… On the flip side, as a driver (rented a car to get from Manhattan to Philly), I was very proud of myself for negotiating the streets and avenues without committing vehicular manslaughter. Only got honked at once! Oh, and watch out for those buses…
Well dressed. As the saying goes, thank god for women’s yoga pants. I was amazed how many women walk around NYC in those lovely, tight, stretchy pants. Even in museums and shops. It’s also easy to spot super-model types. And a whole day could be spent simply hanging around the Upper West Side scoping rich people walking their dogs in designer outfits — the people and the dogs, in some cases. I think California may still have the upper-hand in the beauty and style categories, but NYC rivals anywhere on the planet in sheer volume of eye candy.
Well fed. Foodie heaven! The Momofuku family of eateries alone made my trip worth the expense. If you go, do not miss the Noodle Bar near East Village, nor the Milk Bar in Brooklyn. For something upscale and truly special, try Ma Peche in midtown. Wow. And the pizza — well yeah, they know all about that too!
Even if you have been to NYC, it’s worth another trip, especially if you haven’t been there in awhile. It continues to improve. There is no shortage of great sites and delicious food to eat. Bring back that old ad campaign — I ♥ New York! ♪ ♫ ♪