Random Musings

New York, I love you. New York, I hate you.

October 3, 2014
New York City

Before I even came to New York, I have already received mixed feelings about the city. Some people love it and are even considering moving there while some people loathe it to its core. Which is why when I went there, I didn’t read any reviews just so I won’t be influenced by the opinion of others and have one for myself about this city. Well up until this point, I’m still confused whether I like or hate it but sad to say that the latter feeling is more prominent. Writing about it now, I did try to research about other’s feelings towards it and I wasn’t surprised at all when I saw some other bloggers/writers who’ve expressed their disappointment of New York. Just some of them are the below, I can’t post all of it on here without google detecting this post as a possible spam. 🙂

I Hate New York by Savannah Mercer
10 Reasons to Hate New York by Andrew Giacalone
Things I Hate About Living in New York City by Upsidownia

New York City

Financial District

I will have to admit though that during my 8-day stay in New York (including the overnight trip that the husband and I did to pick up his family from JFK), we only stayed in Manhattan. I was told that to experience the real New York, one should always get out of this island and try to explore the other boroughs of the city which I am planning to do at some point but I would love to do it with someone who knows the place by heart. Calling Mitzie Mee. 🙂

New York City

The street where our hotel, Chatwal New York, was.

Another factor of me not liking the place so much may be because when we spent the 6-day stay there, I was with the husband’s family which meant there were 6 of us traveling and exploring the city together. I realized then that I am no longer comfortable traveling with a group, I have been used to traveling by myself or only with the husband which is a lot easier to do. During our trip, everyday was a struggle to decide where to go when there’s more than one suggestion thrown in. I missed to do the things that I was looking forward to do while in New York because of this like watch a Broadway show (it’s a shame because it was Broadway week during the time that we were there), go to a jazz club, visit the Upper East Side, see the Metropolitan Museum etc. etc. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time with the husband’s family it’s just that traveling with a group is no longer my cup of tea.

New York City

View from Central Park

My love-hate-love relationship with New York started when the husband and I spent a night there to pick up his family. We spent about 5 hours driving from Maryland to New York, one hour of which was spent towards and inside Lincoln Tunnel. I will never ever forget that day when I was THISCLOSE to having a panic attack while we were stuck in a very slow-moving traffic inside the long and narrow underwater Lincoln tunnel. I had to close my eyes and breathe deeply to calm myself as it’s the only way to stop me from opening the doors of our rented car and running as fast as I can to get out of the tunnel. When we finally got out of the tunnel, we were welcomed by a throng of pedestrians like they were waiting specifically for our car to get out of the tunnel to cross the road and scare the already scared bejesus out of me. That scene plus the tall buildings one after the other hovering our car which made it look like the buildings were all set up there to make sure that there will be no ray of sun getting thru made me more claustrophobic. I was panicking. It was only when our car was able to drive a few blocks away was I able to breathe normally again.

I already knew that I’m not a city girl, I always prefer the countryside or the coastal towns with pristine beaches over a city whenever I travel. I lived almost my whole life in a city, first when I was working in Makati City in the Philippines and then the added 7 years that I lived in Dubai. So the hatred that I feel towards New York does not come from it being a city, there’s just some things about it that makes me wonder how in the world is this place referred to by many people as THE place to live in?

REASONS WHY I HATE NEW YORK:

1. IT’S DIRTY AND IT’S SMELLY.

As you go out of a posh building after a very expensive pre-dinner drinks with the view of the Empire State right in front of you, bags of trash with rats scavenging around it is not really what you’re expecting to see yes? The smell of garbage emanates from everywhere even when you’re at a rooftop bar of a low-rise building’s 5th floor. Not to mention the constant smell of sewage everywhere you go. A client told me before I went to New York that I’d love the city, the smell of it is something very unique. Well yeah, it is unique! I don’t think there’s any other place in the world which can manage to smell like sh*t at any given time of the day.

2. IT’S EXTREMELY POLLUTED.

New York City

When we got out of the Lincoln Tunnel on our first visit to New York, you can see the thick smog (smoke + fog) hovering over the whole city. We were still inside our car but seeing that thick smog made me want to catch my breathe, like I was drowning. The pollution plus the humidity all over the city makes you feel like you’ve caught all the germs and dirt in the world as you’ve finished the day exploring it.

3. IT’S CROWDED.

It’s a wonder how the New Yorkers aren’t all claustrophobic and I won’t blame them if they become rude to me. The city is very stressful with the crowd of people, the cars, the buses, the buildings right next to each other – there’s just too much going on around you that’s hard to keep up with. It feels like whoever created New York City would love for the people in it to suffer. I’d probably breakdown and have a panic attack every single day if I am to live in New York City.

Times Square

4. TIPPING AND TAXES.

They say New York City is expensive but coming from Dubai, we still find the prices reasonable – that is before tax and the tips. We don’t pay taxes in Dubai and tips aren’t mandatory. While the rest of US accepts 10-15% tip, you’ll have to tip as much as 20% as a minimum requirement in some places in New York. Some places even include it in your bill which I found quite puzzling, isn’t a tip upon the discretion of the customer? I thought a tip is given as a “thank you” for the service that was provided, not a mandatory charge for the lousiest service you can ever have. I will still have to adapt that tipping and tax culture since this is the first place I’ve ever been where tipping is an unwritten law and the establishments have all the rights for it.

5. THE TRAFFIC.

Never ever rent a car when visiting New York. That’s probably one of the most important things that I can ever advise anyone who’s planning to visit the city. We had no choice but to bring our rented car through New York twice and we had to suffer the consequence of getting stuck in traffic for at least an hour and paying ridiculous amount of money to park the car at the hotel’s garage. (USD50 per night!) I even saw some public parking spaces charging USD13 for every half hour, unbelievable! Apart from the traffic itself because of the pedestrians and the number of vehicles out on the road, there are also a lot of constructions everywhere which makes the whole place more chaotic than it already is. I really do feel like somewhere, up in one of New York city’s buildings, there’s someone who’s playing the God-card over this city and trying to f*ck up the minds of all the people in it.

“There’s a bottle neck at this so and so street, let’s burst a pipe down the next street and have all the traffic detour down that bottle neck for fun! Let’s see whose brain aneurism we’ll trigger.”
I do think someone out there is saying that.

Taxis are also hard to find specially during the peak hours. We didn’t try the subway, we were warned by a lot of people not to try it and I heeded the warnings as I was afraid that I might have another panic attack inside the overcrowded subway stations.

WHY I LOVE NEW YORK.

1. CENTRAL PARK

New York City

Central Park

Central Park salvaged the image of New York in my mind. It’s like the the sweetest cherry you can ever find on top of a horrible ice cream, it sits there on top of the melting ice cream all red and shiny. It’s the calm in the midst of the chaos, it’s like a womb where all the people in New York (local or tourists alike) seek refuge from the dusty, smelly and stressful atmosphere of the city. It’s like a totally different country once you’ve stepped in and is surrounded by the greenery of Central Park. It makes you forget of all the bad things lurking outside the walls of the park, it’s freaking awesome! I love it!

2. THE HISTORIC STONE STREET

New York

Historic Stone Street

Just like Central Park, I found peace and quaintness in the Historic Stone Street. It reminded me so much of the narrow alleys in Europe, specifically Amsterdam. We were there at around 4pm which is probably the reason why it was still a bit laidback but I would assume that it gets rowdy at night. I don’t care though, I found it peaceful and I’m happy that its memory will remain as such in my head.

3. 9/11 MEMORIAL MUSEUM

Of all the museums I’ve visited during my travels, this is probably the only museum which had that huge impact on me. One of the reasons is probably because I was alive when the unfortunate event happened, I’ve seen it in the news and I knew the whole story of how it transpired. Seeing all those things up close and personal to honor the lives that were lost out of a senseless act was heartbreaking for me. As saddening as it was, the museum also taught me how resilient New Yorkers are and most importantly, it taught me to value the people I love.

4. MYRIAD OF DINING AND NIGHTLIFE CHOICES.

Wherever you go and whatever time of the day it is, you’ll always find a restaurant open nearby offering a unique specialty. Be it a fine dining restaurant, a deli, a bar, a pub or even a food cart! There’s always something that you can find fit to your budget. It’s amazing!

5. SHOWS, SHOWS, LOTS OF SHOWS!

Times Square

There’s a reason why New York is called the city that never sleeps, it’s because you wouldn’t want to sleep so as not to miss the countless choices of shows all over the place. Be it a Broadway, a comedy act, a concert, a cabaret, an opera – it’s endless! New York may be dirty, smelly, crowded etc. etc. But if there’s one thing New York is not, it’s boring. If someone says they got bored of New York, they’re probably talking about another place.

So there’s my list of love-hate relationship with New York. I really would love to give it another try and learn to love it more. What I’m feeling now towards New York is exactly what I felt when I first went to Paris and hated every single thing out of it. After my second trip to Paris though, it became one of my favorite cities in the world. So who knows, maybe my second time to New York will change my mind altogether. I’ll keep you posted.

All photos are taken using iphone5.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Mitzie Mee October 7, 2014 at 17:16

    PS: I found this on TripAdvisor. It’s a thorough guide on tipping in USA:)
    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g191-s606/United-States:Tipping.And.Etiquette.html

  • Reply Mitzie Mee October 7, 2014 at 17:10

    Yay! Let’s do New York someday, but first, Washington:)
    Regarding tipping, I think 15% is average in most of the cities I’ve been visiting in the States. I was quite confounded by this at first, but you get used to it. In Denmark, service is included in the price as union agreements have made sure that restaurant staff gets a decent salary and aren’t dependent on what they earn through gratuity. Tips is therefore something you pay for extraordinary service, but this is not the case in the States. In the States, you ALWAYS tip as it’s a part of the salary (the minimum wages in the restaurant industry is correspondingly low, and you’ll even pay taxes of the tips you earn). If the service is poor, you’ll leave 10%, if it’s good you’ll leave 20%-25%, otherwise 15% (I got these guidelines from a native). Scandinavians are notoriously infamous for being bad tippers, and my husband and his friends were once chased by an angry waiter out on the street at the Cheesecake Factory, because they didn’t tip. I’ve heard that some restaurants have started handing out tipping guidelines for tourists coming from countries with different tipping cultures:)

    • Reply Pinay Flying High October 7, 2014 at 18:20

      My sisters told me the whole story of the tipping culture and I do feel for the servers but one can’t help but forget about it when you’re not used to it. Specially if you’re not very good in Math, like me. Lol. I gave a 30% tip at Universal City Walk plainly because I miscalculated the whole thing. Lol.

      When we were in New York though, one of the pubs included the gratuity in the bill itself and they’ve put it in the middle of everything that we ordered which somehow made me feel like they were trying to get away with it. It’s a weird thing really. :p

      Chased by an angry waiter out of Cheesecake Factory? That would’ve been awesome to see. :))))

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