The rest of the trip was fantastic. If you get offended by insults to NYC you should move on to the blogs from the other cities in this trip.
Ok, it's my fault.
I went to New York with big expectations. Huge expectations.
But seriously? The place is a mess....
They say you either love or hate NYC. I'd go so far as to say that I dont even think I could relate to someone who loves it.
I've actually delayed writing this blog because I didnt know if I had the words to express it properly....NYC was the first time in my life that I ever actually seriously contemplated the fact that maybe my days of travelling should be over.
I know, these are mortal words. But I lay there one night thinking if this is the way things are gonna be, I just dont want to be a part of it. To say I was miserable would be putting it lightly.
If I had to actually compare it to another place. I'd say Malaysia: It's filthy, the streets are lined with rubbish, it stinks, it's subway system is the worst i've ever seen, it's people are beyond rude, unhelpful, unfriendly beyond comprehension, totally incompetent, and the place is full of dodgy looking, troubled immigrants.
And with all the travbuddy's living here I thought it would have been a breeze. However, only one semi-offered me any help and we didnt even meet!
Despite all this, as always, I tried to make the best of the situation and this usually starts with hitting the pavement!
The weather was great and I was kept very busy seeing almost everything there was to see in the city.
some more beautiful windows
I totally gave up on the subway. It's horrifically designed, filthy and full of unsavoury characters. You can never tell when the next train is coming, or which direction, or if it is an express or not and where it will stop. So I walked the whole city.
I walked all of Manhattan. From The south, through Wall St, up to Little Italy, SOHO, Chelsea, Nolita, and upwards - right through to Central Park. I did this twice more or less.
Obviously there are a lot of famous sites to see - Times Square is pretty cool, The Rockerfeller building is awesome, Grand Central is exquisite, Wall St was a disappointment. I loved the Woolworth's building and the Central Reserve bank and there was a few others I really liked.
Central Park was wonderful. It did totally impress me. I didnt realise how big and diverse it was. The main thing I wanted to see was the Strawberry Fields tribute to John Lennon. What a disappointment that was! It was just one simple crappy mosaic with the word 'Imagine'. I saw some other cool things, like the famous Flatiron building, the Ghostbusters Firestation & WTC site.
Now to the people. To say I was horrified would be an understatement. I sat down one day, around lunchtime, in a busy area downtown Manhattan and made a deal with a friend of my sister's (a female actress) I was with to count all the well dressed and all the good looking people that went past.
After 20minutes we'd seen a total of about 200 people and in that mix only 1 (one) good looking person, and 3 (three) reasonably well dressed people. Those sort of odds would be unthinkable in most cities. It was summer, and hot, but people were all dressed like they were just leaving their house and crossing the road to buy some milk. What happened to class and sophisitcation? I realise this sounds snobby. But NYC is rated up there with Paris, Milan and London for fashion. It does NOT deserve to be anywhere near them. I suppose if you actually look at Calvin Klein - his fashion is extremely boring - plain white shirts with a tiny little unnoticeable flag, boring jeans, plain white underwear. It doesnt exactly scream style.
A famous French statue
I've also never bought something before from a shop where no words or eye contact was made until New York.
I dont think I made eye contact with a single service person during my entire stay. Much less idle conversation, pleasantries, thankyous and the like... In fact in one store, midway through the sale, the saleperson simply walked off and started doing something else at the back of the shop. After about 5 minutes of waiting I called over and asked her what was happening and she said 'oh i just wanted to do something else'. In one famous electrical store I went in to buy a new digi-SLR. I had done my research, I knew what I wanted and what I wanted to pay. I was gonna get lenses, the lot. The assistant was so bad, he didnt know anything. I asked him a couple questions and he responded as though I'd just asked him to work through Christmas. I ended up helping the other customers and explaining the features to them myself. I literally was about to hand over $3000 and decided against it. I turned and walked away without a word - unable to know where to even begin to explain how inept and rude this guy had been.
The Ghost Busters fire station
this is the Ghost busters 'station'
That brings me on to tipping. It's gotta be the most archaic, unneccesary, pathetic, unfair, unreasonable aspect of american commerce. Nothing about it makes sense. I can not see why I should tip a taxi driver just for doing his job, especially when they are so particularly UN-helpful. Same goes with anyone really. Part of your job should be to do it well. If you are going to incentivise that, it should be optional, not mandatory. It defeats the point. My taxi to Newark had a mandatory 20% tip added. All alcoholic drinks have a $1 tip added. You constantly have to be thinking about what is coming ahead in your day and make sure you have the right change and tips. It's a backward way to live. People complain that waiters etc dont earn much so you have to tip. Boo hoo. We dont have that problem in the rest of the world! It's full of perfectly functioning restaurants and the workers are paid for as a decent hourly rate that is taken from the profits skimmed off the earnings.
Why is it that everyone except Americans can balance this simple mathematical relationship and pay their people accordingly? Why cant taxis just balance in their costs into the fare meter? It's really just a way of invisibly jacking up prices and I find that ethically immoral. It's also unfair - if we assume 10%tip: why should a waiter serving me a $100 dinner get a $10 tip and another waiter, putting the exact same effort into my $10 breakfast only get $1? Why should a barmaid get $1 tip for popping open a $6 bottle of Bud in NYC when the exact same beer in a small town is $2 & only attracts a 20c tip? What if the food is lousy, cooked badly, but the service excellent? What to do then? Where do you draw the line? Do you tip an ice-cream parlour, hot dog stand, bus driver? What about nurses, teachers, rubbish collectors, ambulance drivers? They arent paid well, and have extremely difficult and important jobs in the service industry. Why dont they get tipped, and more importantly, why should they tip others? The answer is that there is actually no logical argument whatsoever in support of tipping.
The Flatiron building
But then again logic doesnt often come into play in America. For example, it’s also the only developed nation that uses imperial and not metric measurements. The whole world has accepted that it’s an inferior scale. The only other two nations who officially use imperial are Burma and Liberia - imagine being in their league! It's ridiculous...
I needed to get out of Manhattan so I went across to Brooklyn.
It was a bit better. I walked through the Polish districts and had some pierogies for lunch. I checked out some funkier areas of Brooklyn and enjoyed it marginally better than the rest of what I had seen.
The mighty Rockerfeller
The night life for me was the real clincher. It all started with my very first bar, within my first 20minutes in NYC. I was waiting patiently, for my turn at the bar. Next minute a drunk young girl grabs me and sweeps me out of her way shouting - 'i gotta get drinks'. I turn around and say 'yeah me too'. and she says 'you dont understand, it's my friends birthday and we are doing shots'. I look at her and say: 'yeah well I'm waiting and I'd like a drink too actually so wait your turn please'. she says 'whatever' pushing me out of her way and blocks the bar so i cant get back. It pretty much continued like this, or worse, my entire stay.
I was disoriented one night and walked up to a group of 4 people - two couples in their 30's.
I politely said 'Excuse me, could you help me please', holding my map in hand. One of the women turned and said 'No, get lost'... or something to that effect. I was dumpfounded. It was like being punched in the stomach. I was already feeling miserable, lost and alone. And here was someone telling me to *&*^ off before she even knew what I wanted. For all they knew I could have needed a hospital. How could someone possibly go through life being like that? It's a horrible thought to contemplate.
The Rockerfeller building and a small copy...
I went to a lot of different bars, pubs and restaurants. I didnt see anything that even came close to impressing me. People were dressed terribly. Guys get away with wearing things you couldnt even wear in an outback pub in Australia (well maybe that's a stretch) but certainly not in the city.
So much for collared shirts, dressy pants and leather shoes. Everyone was blind drunk and dead rude. Floors were sticky, places stunk, and even with the smoking bans, people were smoking everywhere. I tried talking to a few people, but in general, it was hard even finding someone to talk to in the first place. Then when you did start, a drunk friend would come up and whisk them away for shooters.
The beautiful Woolworths building
On my very last night I had given up on the city. My only saving grace had been a school friend of my sister's who had also just recently arrived in NYC to join an acting school. We'd been hanging out and comparing notes and I was glad to see we were both disillusioned and aligned in our judgements. However, she had already moved into an apartment and invited me to meet her flat mate. So Saturday night I met her pleasant Peruvian flatmate and we head to a nightclub district.
We are outside a very ritzy looking club with a more fashionable looking and rather long line out the front. We then wait for her friend to turn up - an up and coming young politician, responsible for these clubs operating licences. So we get ushered through VIP style and situated at a $1000 table. We are served Verve Cliquot Brut Reserve Champagne all night on top of any other drinks we want. We must have gone through at least $1000 in champagne alone. So here I am, standing in one of the better clubs in the city, with a politician, drinking $300 champagne, at a VIP table. Now I'm smiling, and thinking - if this isnt the way to do it, I dont know what is. If I dont have a good night now, it simply isnt possible here. Well, the results are in - it isnt possible! Within about 30minutes the crowd had degenerated to what I would equate to the Hippee Club in Perth. I've reviewed it previously as 'Perth's worst nightclub' (http://www.
travbuddy.com/Perths-Worst-Nightclub-The-Hippee-Club-v6215). People werent dancing, they were dry-humping. The most common method was to have two girls dancing together, sandwiched by two guys: the girls are getting spanked from behind. It's horrible to watch. I even saw one guy lift his girl up in the air and place her sitting on his shoulders so that her crutch was in his mouth. I couldnt contemplate NOT getting ejected from a club for doing that. And here we were in one of the better places in the city..... I thought I'd be able to talk to people and socialise but it wasnt to be. It was really no different to anywhere else, except that it would have cost me about $2000 to have learned that lesson...
Central Park fountain
So I did actually meet one nice New Yorker in my trip and it was only because of the generosity of the friend of a flatmate of the friend of my sisters that it happened!
But, I realise now what NYC's problem is.
It's simply too big and with too many people. No one cares about you. And why should they?
This is the sole tribute to John Lennon in 'Strawberry Fields'. What a ridiculous disappointment...
You are just another ant running around getting in other ant's way, and really just trying not to get squished. On top of all that - it's ridiculously expensive.
So my lingering questions are: why would anyone want to live like an ant, and how can anyone possibly love NYC?