I was looking forward to write this post, after 9 days in New York City; I wanted to give an objective opinion about my experience.
We all think about New York City in a way that doesn’t correspond to the reality, but is an important fact to take in consideration, I call it the movie effect. In New York City had been set an infinitive list of movies, and when you think about it, is inevitable to think of scenes, landscapes, and specific images that you most probably won’t see while you visit the city (e.g. walking on the Brooklyn Bridge and see the typical pictures of it).
While I was there I’ve been more interested to visit the suburbs rather than the center, because that’s the important part of the city that show the crude reality and gives you an idea of the standard way of living. The huge buildings of Goldman Sacks or Banks of America are just annoying touristic hotspots.
Looking at google maps, is very hard to get the right prospective and proportions, in fact i felt like an ant in the giant’s world. New York is one of the biggest metropolis I’ve ever visited, probably London and Paris can compete, there are more than 150 streets and you need about one minute to pass from one to another, approximately from going to the 1st street to the 150th you would need 150 minutes, almost three hours (7.7 miles).
Everybody says (and it is true) there is always something going on in New York, no matter at what time; it is called “the city that never sleeps”, this definition was given the first time in 1977 in a movie of Martin Scorsese.
On Sunday morning the shops were open at 8:00AM, as I wrote already in one of my previous post while I was there. This is positive for the client and for tourist, but what are the consequences for the local people? How many of them are legally registered? How much americans are responsible for this situation?
Walking around in Harlem and in the Bronx, I’ve heard speaking more mexican than english, would New York be what is now without all those immigrants? Surely not. They made the history of the city, but you cannot know until you visit the city, and focus on the suburb instead of focusing on Manhattan.
A positive thing was to have the proof that in absolute terms, speaking spanish is more useful than for example speaking dutch, I’ve felt more secure and more ‘at home’ when I was speaking spanish with Mexican people in Haarlem, than when I was trying to speak english in Manhattan.
Speaking english in Manhattan, let’s talk about it.
New York is a big rush, everybody is running like hell; the busy hours are called ‘rush hours’. Is like being part of a daily marathon. By consequence, people hardly listen what you are saying. You have no time to think, or to ask questions outside the box, there is so much pressure, after some year, the brain is bypassed.
One day I’ve entered a deli:
waiter: “Coffe, Coffe with Milk, how much sugar?”
me: “1 coffee, and … mmm… wait”
waiter: “Coffe, Coffe with Milk, how much sugar?”
me: “…and coffee with Milk and one sugar”
He gave us two coffee with Milk,
Another episode, funnier, I entered a Mc Donald’s without cash, looking for a Sundae, I asked “what is the minimum charge to use the Credit Card”, the answer was “what? sorry? do you want ketchup?”
Funny. Almost priceless.
But OK, these were only episodes, they can happen everywhere, however I perfectly understand this as a consequence of such high pressure and low guarantees on jobs and social security. In general I was happy by the quality of service I have got and the majority of people were kind.
If you are a lover of architecture, style, design, New York can offer many options, with a multitude of skyscraper so different shape, size, high and color. Moreover you can admire buildings of different schools and architects. Not directly related to buildings and constructions, I liked a lot the high line, especially now that I’m back to Europe. This is an old railway converted as a ‘greenway’ with plants, benches and pieces of arts, is a small green island between the grey buildings. It’s like having a small tree growing in your house, a way to bring nature where it doesn’t belong to, anymore.
We need to stay in the nature, despite the fact that we are lazy ass and we want comfort.
Central park is another example, from money prospective, it is like gold, is the last piece of green bigger than 10 square meters. The alternative are parks maintained with money and time by the communities, the only places, where kinds can play and run in peace. Is better than nothing, but honestly kids should not be raised in New York.
I want to conclude this post with the thing I liked more: music. This city has been the starting point where many great artists are coming from: Jazz, Blues, Rock, etc. Except the touristic Carnegie Hall, which I didn’t visit there are a lot of interesting places where to listen great music and get inspired by great artists.
There are different options, the simpler are, on Sunday to visit one church, if you are lucky you can assist at the ceremony with Gospel music.
One night we went to a Jazz bar called Smoke, a “Jazz and Supper Club-Lounge” in Broadway, between the 105th and 106th street. We’ve assisted at the performance of Gregory Generet with his band. I’m not even sure was his band, because every time there are different people playing, they are so good they can adapt to any type of music and style. That night on the third show, new guy from Japan popped up, he was playing the Saxophone as another member of the band, but they managed not to overlap.
If I’d ever go back I would spend most of the time in Smoke rather than seeing the 5th Avenue.
Globally I liked New York because is nice and fascinating, but I didn’t love it as many people wear on their t-shirt. I also think the full price you would pay for the flight and the lodging is definitely too high for what the city have to offer.
Thinking about living there, I would not, or probably only for one year, I don’t think I could manage to survive more.
New York, lovely New York.