New York FAQs

Firstly, I must apologise for how overdue this post is. I’ve been swamped at work, and have been busy every evening so I have basically no free time!

Upon my return from NYC, I’ve been getting loads of questions about the city, so I decided to do a short FAQ session here for you 🙂

1. Is NYC just like the movies?

Yes and no. When you go to areas that are featured frequently in movies, like Times Square, the Yankee Stadium and Central Park, it is like the movies. Out of every other city in the world, I think New York is the one we’ve been most exposed to because of the media. This makes it slightly larger than life. It runs like a normal city. There are fancy stores and budget stores, fancy restaurants and grubby ones. Glam people and grungy looking people. If a city like Buenos Aires, for example, suddenly became the centre of so many tv shows and movies, that may become the dream destination of so many.

That said, NYC IS amazing. It has a buzz and vibe like no other city I’ve ever experienced. It is the only place I’ve been where the term “skyscraper” can be taken literally. Everything- food, shopping, art, music- is on a grander scale.

Watching a Yankee game was such a cool experience

2. What is the food like?

Excellent. Service is good too. You can eat off the street, at a fancy restaurant, or at a “fast food” outlet and the food will be good. It’s all very fresh and made with high quality ingredients. Price-wise, I found it more affordable than the food in South America and Europe. It also helps that everything is English 😉 We paid R200ish for on the go lunches, and R300-R400 for nice dinners. We’re not big drinkers, so this doesn’t include alcohol. More than the food itself, the bakeries are amazing. They bake fresh goods all the time and the produce is delicious. Ice cream is also yummy. I guess in a city as big as NYC, if you’re a restaurant you need to be pretty good to survive. There are queues at the more popular spots. Actually, you need to expect to queue pretty much everywhere that’s popular, be it an attraction, restaurant or even a shop!

Lunch at the Four Seasons

3. What are the shops like?

I’ve already blogged about my experience at Woodbury Commons. The shops are normal. I didn’t see any that look very different to the boutiques we have at Sandton City. Yes, they’re bigger, but they’re normal. The only shops that are totally amazing are the huge ones, like Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s & Saks. You need to know what you want when you go to these- it would take you a day to browse! Normal priced goods aren’t really cheaper (Ipads were the same price there as they are here), but their sales are massive. They don’t waste their time with 20% or 30% off, they start at 50% and reduce further from there! It’s also pretty cool to see the famous stores which are landmarks in themselves: like Vera Wang, Jimmy Choo and Tiffany & Co.

4. What are the people like?

Contrary to popular belief, they’re not obese! No, in fact most of the people are very normal looking. In the mornings, it’s common to see women in business suits and sneakers or pumps on the street. They all try to be comfortable for the walk into the office, and I suspect they change once they get to work. People are all missioning to go somewhere. No one strolls. You need to walk at a relatively fast pace, else you’ll be obstructing the pavement! People are very courteous and friendly- seems they’re used to tourists taking over their city.

5. What do the tourist books not tell you?

  • We were physically exhausted at the end of every day and we both get moody when we’re tired, so that was a bit of a downer. I think people need to know what they’re getting themselves into when travelling there. You WALK like crazy. The blocks are not small like in Europe, they’re massive. And you’re not always seeing  exciting things while walking, alot of the time it’s just buildings. Also, if you go in Summer it is super hot. Walk for 5-6 hours in the heat and you’ll know what I mean 😉
  • I didn’t like that you couldn’t go to any neighbourhood, like Soho, or the Upper East Side and just walk around and explore. You’d be walking forever! In NYC, most of the time, you need to know where you’re going, go there, and leave. There are areas like 5th Avenue where you can just walk around, but these areas are few and far between.
5th Avenue

  • The tourist stuff is very touristy. For example, at all the main attractions (Empire State, Rockafellar Centre, NBC studio), you are forced to pose for a photo against a “green” background before entering the attraction. This is then imposed on a beautiful background of the attraction, and you are offered the photo for $20! Rip off…
  • There’s only so many museums you visit and shopping you can do before you become worn out. And both of these are in abundance in NYC. So you can’t see everything, because there’s just too much, and after a while you stop appreciating it.

NYC was my dream holiday and I am really grateful I got to tick it off my bucket list. Now I no longer drift into a wishful daydream whenever I hear “Empire State of Mind” by Alicia Keys 🙂

Honestly though, I’ve kinda been hating on Jozi since I got back. I totally want to live in NYC. Just because I saw what life could be, compared to what it is. The freedom and the abundance of options are key. It’s like my eyes were opened to a whole new way of life, and I can’t seem to adjust back to my old one. I’m sure I’ll snap back into reality soon 😉

If you’d like to know absolutely anything else about NYC, feel free to drop me a mail: hasmita dot bhana at gmail dot com and I’ll try my best to answer 😉