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Tom's guide for Tourists Visiting NYC (special Sept 11th anniversary edition)

Welcome to our fine city! Some say its the greatest city in the world. We love tourists and we want you to visit. NYC has some of the finest theater, museums, shopping, history and dining. I know NYC has a reputation for being unsafe but its actually one of the safest places for tourists to visit.

Which brings me to Tom's 4 point guide to visiting NYC:

Point 1: Dine well.

Say away from the following restaurants: Applebee's, Olive Garden, Hard Rock Cafe, Burger King and McDonalds.

Seriously, folks! You are in NYC! Eat someplace you can't find in your own town.

If you are near Times Square walk 2 blocks to Koreatown, look at the store-fronts and go into the first Korean restaurant you see that scares you a little. I promise you the food will be excellent. This works in every NYC neighborhood.

Do this even if the kids complain. Even if they cry the entire time because the food is "weird". 10 years from now it will be one of their favorite family stories to tell.

Point 2: Rush-hour is 8am-10am and 4pm-6pm, even on the sidewalks.

New Yorkers walk very fast. You don't. That's ok. Just please for the love of all that is Lady Gaga: Step to the side and let us through!

You know that expression, "Live everyday like its your last"? We are! We need to cram as much into today as possible. That means walking very fast.

Between the hours of 8-10am eight million people need to get to work. Between the hours of 4-6pm eight million people need to get home.

Most of us "commute" via subway and sideway. During those hours we own the sidewalk. Don't believe me? Look at 8th Ave between 33rd and 40th during those hours. In the morning there are so many people streaming out of Penn Station that the sidewalk overflows and the left lane of 8th Ave is full of pedestrians. There aren't cops blocking it off. We just take it over! Please folks! Step aside. For many of us running to work is the closest thing to "exercise" we get.

  • If you stop. Step aside.
  • If you pause to look at a map. Step aside.
  • If you slow down because you just saw something awesome. Step aside.
  • If you slow down to avoid a homeless person. Step aside.
  • If you walk slowly because you walk slowly. Step aside.

In short: step aside.

Do this on sidewalks, on the open areas in Time Square, on the concourses in Penn Station, Grand Central Station and Port Authority. Do this on escalators ("stand to the right, walk to the left"). Especially do this in Penn Station on the path between NJT Track 4 and the 2/3 subway entrance. That's the path I take every morning and, look folks, I gotta get to work.

I know NYC is full of distractions but always be self-aware enough to know that there is a person behind you that wishes you'd move faster.

Please don't misinterpret our rush as being unfriendly. You probably get unhappy when your daily car commute is slow. It is the exact same thing, except we walk to work!

Between 10am-4pm please, walk slowly all you want. Well, except from 11am-1pm when we're rushing to get lunch.

Point 3: Talk with us. Ask for directions. We love it!

People see our rush-rush-rush NYC lifestyle and think we are unfriendly. No, we're actually the opposite. We're starved for social interaction! In other words, please talk to us!

  • We love giving directions.
  • We'd love to learn where you are from.
  • We'd love to know what attractions in our fine city you are visiting.

In fact, when I see a tourist looking at a map I actually wish they'd ask for help so I can have a little conversation while riding the subway.

Point 4: Oh, and one last thing. About that conversation...

One last thing. That little chat we have on the subway after I help you with your map question? I love it. Learning where you are from, how long you are staying, your plans... it's awesome.

There's one thing I don't want to hear.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say something like "We're so excited! We're going to a Broadway show! We're going to MOMA! ...and we're really excited because tomorrow we're going to Ground Zero."

That's the point that I end the conversation as politely as possible and go away.

But here's what I really want to say, and I think every New Yorker will agree:

"Excited" is exactly how you should feel about Broadway, museums, the Empire State Building, 30 Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and all the other plans you have... but not Ground Zero.

Ground Zero is where thousands died. It was a really fucking awful day. I was 20 miles away and it was a really fucking awful day. I didn't lose anyone close to me and it was a really fucking awful day.

Please don't describe your anticipation about visiting Ground Zero with any of the following words: excited, happy, thrilled, "pumped", or "psyched". Ground Zero is not an amusement park. There's no tilt-a-whirl. I don't think they should even sell tshirts.

I don't come to your home town and tell you I'm excited, happy or thrilled to visit where your grandparents died. Right?

Some words you might want to use: Solemn. Respectfully. Curious. Obligated. Ceremoniously. Or just say, "And we have decided [and this is where you pause and put on your serious face] to visit the September 11 Memorial at WTC."

Stick with these 4 points and we'll get along just fine.

Thank you.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Misc

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2 Comments | Leave a comment

These are some great tips that I will keep in mind on my first trip there! DO you have any recommendations on good places to eat, I have a great book that I have been thumbing through 365 Guide New York City, It's by Monica DiNatale, she's got some places listed I just wonder where are good places to go that aren't outrageously expensive!

When I visited NYC it actually surprised me the local's friendliness. Some people even offered help (unasked but welcomed) dealing with metrocard, best subway routes to destination, etc.

It was also a nice surprise to see how NYC people just smiles at you waiting at a crosswalk or at the coffee shop line.

To be honest, you're right, I was expecting and unfriendly city, packed with unfriendly people (something comprehensible given your stressed lifestyle).

I mean, I'm a spaniard, we're supposed to have this mediterranean/latin nature that forces us to be extroverted and friendly people. Well, I bet you'll hardly find this kind of behavior towards tourists in any big spanish city. Even more, if someone approaches to you offering some help ...there's a possibility (not 100% but I'd say 50%) that they're planning on cheating you in some way ;-)

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