Author Topic: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?  (Read 2166 times)

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SleepyKitty

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2013, 11:45:51 AM »
Thanks so much for all the advice and tips, everyone!

This in particular, because that is exactly what I would think!


If you are taking the subway and there is one empty car on an otherwise crowded train, do NOT think "Wow! Plenty of seats!".  There is a reason nobody wants to be on that car.


And we are going to the Tenement Museum, and seeing a Broadway show (The Nance) as part of the program - I can't wait.

Also, thanks for the reminder about tips - I'll make sure the Germans know what normal US tipping procedure is. I think I'm actually going to print out this thread and give a copy to the students who will be making up the group.

Tea Drinker

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2013, 01:32:01 PM »
What the person above said about buskers: that's valid for many of the people busking *on* the trains (and I agree about the blankity-blank break dancers), but if you like someone who's performing on a platform or mezzanine, go ahead and toss them some money. Many of them have been auditioned by the MTA, and they're not dangerously in the way. (Annoyingly, sometimes, but not dangerously.)

If you're visiting on/over a weekend, or might be traveling after 10 p.m., check the MTA website for train reroutings. Most repair and preventive maintenance is done nights and weekends, and there's a lot of it, especially post-Sandy.

Conversely, it's difficult to get a cab right around 5:00 (a.m. or p.m.) because of shift changes, or in the rain.

Lots of New Yorkers will say "yes" if you approach them, say "would you take a photo for us, please," and hand them your camera so you can get your whole group into the picture. (Again, don't block the sidewalk, and try to approach someone who doesn't move as though they're late for an appointment.)

The Staten Island Ferry is an excellent way to see the harbor and the Statue of Liberty--and it's free.
Any advice that requires the use of a time machine may safely be ignored.

Aeris

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2013, 01:54:10 PM »

If you are taking the subway and there is one empty car on an otherwise crowded train, do NOT think "Wow! Plenty of seats!".  There is a reason nobody wants to be on that car.


This is so very true. This actually *just* happened to me last weekend. My boyfriend's parents were visiting, and as the train rolled in they saw a car with a lot fewer people and leapt at it - I felt like I was yelling in slow motion 'noooooo'. Couldn't redirect them fast enough. We switched cars at the next stop, after an uncomfortable 2 minutes, and I explained this 'rule'.


NestHolder

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2013, 05:28:29 PM »

If you are taking the subway and there is one empty car on an otherwise crowded train, do NOT think "Wow! Plenty of seats!".  There is a reason nobody wants to be on that car.


This is so very true. This actually *just* happened to me last weekend. My boyfriend's parents were visiting, and as the train rolled in they saw a car with a lot fewer people and leapt at it - I felt like I was yelling in slow motion 'noooooo'. Couldn't redirect them fast enough. We switched cars at the next stop, after an uncomfortable 2 minutes, and I explained this 'rule'.

Could you possibly hint at what the reason nobody wants to be in that car would be?  I'm fascinated.

Thipu1

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2013, 05:38:05 PM »

If you are taking the subway and there is one empty car on an otherwise crowded train, do NOT think "Wow! Plenty of seats!".  There is a reason nobody wants to be on that car.


This is so very true. This actually *just* happened to me last weekend. My boyfriend's parents were visiting, and as the train rolled in they saw a car with a lot fewer people and leapt at it - I felt like I was yelling in slow motion 'noooooo'. Couldn't redirect them fast enough. We switched cars at the
next stop, after an uncomfortable 2 minutes, and I explained this 'rule'.

Could you possibly hint at what the reason nobody wants to be in that car would be?  I'm fascinated.

This is a touchy subject but if you see an almost empty car on an otherwise crowded train, the car usually contains either someone who is loudly talking to voices heard only by her/him or who stinks to high heaven.     

TootsNYC

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2013, 05:40:04 PM »

If you are taking the subway and there is one empty car on an otherwise crowded train, do NOT think "Wow! Plenty of seats!".  There is a reason nobody wants to be on that car.


This is so very true. This actually *just* happened to me last weekend. My boyfriend's parents were visiting, and as the train rolled in they saw a car with a lot fewer people and leapt at it - I felt like I was yelling in slow motion 'noooooo'. Couldn't redirect them fast enough. We switched cars at the next stop, after an uncomfortable 2 minutes, and I explained this 'rule'.

Could you possibly hint at what the reason nobody wants to be in that car would be?  I'm fascinated.

It could be one of several reasons.
-the A/C is broken
-there is a smelly homeless person on it
-there is a rowdy group of kids on it
-there is a scary person on it
-someone peed in it earlier and it smells bad

Whatever it is, a WHOLE bunch of hardened NYers are avoiding that car. They had a reason to do so--regard that as non-verbal advice, and take it.


Oh, and for the top of stairs, just out of escalators, etc:--set up a policy that you will "hold up the nearest wall" as soon as you come out. (Doesn't work in stores, but maybe "12 steps, and regroup" would work there.) It'll be easier for you guys, too, to count heads, etc., if you're well out of the way.


My best friend brings her nieces and nephews in the summer of their 10th year, and this is what she does. It works AMAZINGLY well.

Everybody knows where they're going on the way out of the subway (over to hold up the nearest wall). They're easy to find, and nobody gets lost.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 08:01:03 PM by TootsNYC »

TootsNYC

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #21 on: July 21, 2013, 05:48:42 PM »
Be assertive in lines at McDonald's, etc. Get on a line, step up promptly, don't hang around trying to be polite. We're all counting on you to look out for yourself--if it's your turn step up and speak up. You're actually more polite to us when you do so.



As for tourist-ing:


Have everyone make a list of the 3 things they really, really don't want to miss.

Then plot those all out on a SUBWAY map http://www.mta.info/maps/submap.html.
Stuff is often located in little clusters, so you can figure out how to group them during your travels. But remember that walking can take longer than the subway, so look at how they related to one another by train.
    Also know that the island of Manhattan is often best thought of as eastern/western halves.


Get the Michelin Green Guide. It has walking tours and info on the incidental buildings you might pass by--that's fun. Plus it will have info on prices for museums, hours, highlights, etc.
http://www.amazon.com/Michelin-Green-Guide-York-City/dp/1907099611/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374443045&sr=8-1&keywords=michelin+green+guide+new+york

I actually have held onto one of my older Green Guides because I liked the format better, and I think some of the historical info is better. But all the prices, times, etc. are out of date.


Some name-ology:
"Avenue of the Americas" = Sixth Avenue (locals almost never use the AofA name)

Houston = House-ton
Soho = "south of Houston"
Noho = "north of Houston"


GET TICKETS AHEAD OF TIME for these things online:
-World Trade Center site (you cannot just walk by--and getting the tickets in advance can save you time)
-Statue of Liberty (we saved, I kid you not, probably 3 hours and just waltzed past the hugest crowd of people. The guy watching the line said, "who's the brainiac who saved you all that time? that was brilliant!"
-Empire State Building (ditto--HUGE time savings)

Don't forget the time it takes to wait in line--esp. the Empire State Building. Even with the tickets it was a huge wait.

I never take visitors shopping in NYC--there isn't THAT much available here that's not find-able elsewhere. It used to be unusual, but my experience is that it's not that much different.

TootsNYC

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2013, 05:52:02 PM »
Tipping: double the sales tax. Sales tax is 8.25%; x2 is 16.5%. Makes it really easy.  (I personally round up to the nearest dollar, but that's just me)

There are lots of great little restaurants on the side streets, and you almost never need reservations. The menu is almost always outside, so you can check the prices and the food availability before you go in.


TootsNYC

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #23 on: July 21, 2013, 05:54:52 PM »
Don't worry about sticking together in a big group as you walk. Make a plan to stop on, oh, say, the northwest corner of the intersection every 5th block (or every avenue, if you're going crosstown).  (Stand up against the store--"hold up the wall"--when you stop to wait to count heads)
   Or, do this sort of check-in at a block you announce: "We're going up to 48th & 5th--check-in on 48th." And then everybody knows that this means "the northwest corner, up against the building."

Then you can all just move at your own pace in smaller groups of people and trust that people aren't going to get that lost and can have a rendezvous spot.

I think it's more enjoyable to walk in a group that way, so it's a bonus for you guys as well as the other folks traveling on the sidewalk that you're touristing on.

« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 07:39:20 PM by TootsNYC »

EllenS

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #24 on: July 21, 2013, 07:08:47 PM »

If you are taking the subway and there is one empty car on an otherwise crowded train, do NOT think "Wow! Plenty of seats!".  There is a reason nobody wants to be on that car.


This is so very true. This actually *just* happened to me last weekend. My boyfriend's parents were visiting, and as the train rolled in they saw a car with a lot fewer people and leapt at it - I felt like I was yelling in slow motion 'noooooo'. Couldn't redirect them fast enough. We switched cars at the next stop, after an uncomfortable 2 minutes, and I explained this 'rule'.

Could you possibly hint at what the reason nobody wants to be in that car would be?  I'm fascinated.

It could be one of several reasons.
-the A/C is broken
-there is a smelly homeless person on it
-there is a rowdy group of kids on it
-there is a scary person on it
-someone peed in it earlier and it smells bad

Whatever it is, a WHOLE bunch of hardened NYers are avoiding that car. They had a reason to do so--regard that as non-verbal advice, and take it.


Oh, and for the top of stairs, just out of escalators, etc:--set up a policy that you will "hold up the nearest wall" as soon as you come out. (Doesn't work in stores, but maybe "12 steps, and regroup" would work there.) It'll be easier for you guys, too, to count heads, etc., if you're well out of the way.

Really could be anything, the most likely is no A/C, closely followed by a bad smell, or body fluids, but if you can imagine ANYTHING you would not want to be in a tin can with for 10 minutes, it could be in there.

Venus193

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #25 on: July 21, 2013, 07:13:06 PM »
Re tipping:

Most NYC restaurants only add the service charge for parties of 6 or more, but if you dine in the Times Square area check your receipt for indication of a "service charge" no matter the size of your party.  Many of these places add it because many foreign tourists don't tip routinely and restaurant waitstaff are not paid what anyone regards as a living wage. 

TootsNYC

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #26 on: July 21, 2013, 07:53:27 PM »
Particularly as I will be handling a fairly large group most of the time?

This isn't NYC specific, but I'd suggest trying to break it into several smaller groups all coincidentally going to the same place. It'll just be easier to maneuver around.

TootsNYC

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2013, 07:55:42 PM »
My favorite NYC subway app for the iPhone (there are lite versions for Android, Kindle Fire and BlackBerry):

http://www.exitstrategynyc.com/

I like it because you can tap to find the STREET MAP with the subway stations marked on it. So you can find the entrances. And it uses the MTA's own maps, so it's really clear and also corresponds well w/ the maps in the station.

It also has buses now, and other boroughs!! Yay!!


I also do indeed use it to figure out which subway car to get on so that I don't have to walk so far to get to the stairs to get out.

Oh, and on that "hold up the wall" / "go quickly out of the turnstile/escalator/stairs": You might have a policy that everyone simply head to the nearest stairs right away, without regrouping on the train platform (though if you all hug the wall, you'll be OK as well), and simply regroup on the street above (up against the building).

« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 07:57:24 PM by TootsNYC »

Kaypeep

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2013, 10:28:45 PM »
Also, people tend to lose their sense of direction in Manhattan, especially when coming out of a subway tunnel to ground level. So if you're in parts of the island where the streets are numbered, just remember that even numbered streets (ex: 20th, Street, 48th Street) run EAST, and odd numbered streets (19th Street, 51st Street) run WEST.  Once you know that, you can then figure out North and South and hopefully find your bearings.  (note: Some of the "major" streets have two-way traffic so this tip only works with one-way streets.)

TootsNYC

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Re: Things a first-time NYC tourist should know?
« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2013, 10:59:18 PM »
Also, people tend to lose their sense of direction in Manhattan, especially when coming out of a subway tunnel to ground level. So if you're in parts of the island where the streets are numbered, just remember that even numbered streets (ex: 20th, Street, 48th Street) run EAST, and odd numbered streets (19th Street, 51st Street) run WEST.  Once you know that, you can then figure out North and South and hopefully find your bearings.  (note: Some of the "major" streets have two-way traffic so this tip only works with one-way streets.)

KayPeep is right--I don't often lose my sense of uptown(north)/downtown(south) or east/west when I come up, but I know that it took a while, and visitors always have this problem. (also, NYers usu. don't say "north"; we use "uptown")

I love that "even street number = east / odd = west." (there are a few stray places where it doesn't work that way, but I'd say you've got 98% odds.)

One other thing to remember is that trains run on the right side of the road. So, that might help you orient yourself as well. I can keep track of "pointed uptown; made a U and am pointed downtown; made a left and am pointed east."

Also, there's no shame in walking a block to see whether you're headed uptown or downtown. There's also no shame in blurting out, "which way is uptown" to anybody walking by. They'll point.