5 Surprises in New York City
Since my trip this month marked the third time I've been to New York City, I didn't think Manhattan would have any surprises left for me. I was wrong, which just goes to show that you should never think you've got it all figured out. As soon as you do, the world is sure to throw a few surprises your way. Here's what I learned about NYC after 10 days in downtown Manhattan.
1. The Subway Is Not Reliable - I've taken the subway in NYC before but since it was winter this time around, I did a lot less walking than before and relied a lot on public transit. The subway system in New York is definitely impressive in terms of its scope, but more than once I had to wait upwards of ten minutes for a subway to pull into the station. I complain a lot about the Toronto Transit System, but I've never experience as many subway delays as I did in New York! On one day I waited over twenty minutes on the platform before giving up and walking back to my hotel in the rain. On the bright side, the city is super walkable!
2. New Yorkers Are Terrible At Directions - The only times I got lost in New York, were when I asked locals for directions. I only asked people I thought would be reasonably informed like hotel concierges and Maitre D's at nice restaurants but not once was I sent in the right direction! I guess the city changes so fast and has so many exciting things going on that not even the locals can keep up!
3. Books Are A Bargain - Everything is NYC is expensive with one exception: books! I found so many great deals at The Strand Bookstore and wished I had more room in my suitcase so I could take home more than two. Next time you're in the city, make sure you stop by and stock up on bargain books.
4. There is Wifi Everywhere - I usually don't get a data plan when I travel internationally because I like being free from my cellphone for awhile. However, a lack of access to Google Maps does occasionally result in a little disorientation -- see #2. Luckily for me, NYC is super connected to cyberspace and I was always able to find an internet connection when I really needed it. There are Wifi hotspots across the city (including on subway platforms!) and plenty of stores and cafés have free open networks available while you shop or eat. I can't wait for Wifi to be this available in Toronto-- it sure is a great way to save those data megabytes on your phone plan.
5. New Yorkers Are Friendly - The stereotype that New Yorkers are grumpy and unfriendly is completely untrue. The last two times I was in the city I was there with friends or family so I didn't really get to know any of the locals. This time, I spent many days on my own and got to make lovely connections with so many wonderful people. New York may be a busy and fast-paced city, but New Yorkers are incredibly friendly and happy to get to know a strange traveller like me.
One of the things I love most about travel is discovering and learning new things about an unfamiliar place. On this last trip, it was great to be reminded that even a city to think you know well can be full of unexpected twists and turns to keep you on your toes and feed your sense of adventure.
What surprises has travel brought your way recently?