Ten Things I Learned In New York

If you're wanting to take a bite out of the Big Apple, then you've probably trawlled through hundreds of Blogs, photos on Instagram and any article you can find on where to stay, what to do, how to get around. I had the pleasure of visiting New York in December, and despite its bitter cold temperatures nipping at me constantly, I was very much in love with the spirit in the air and of course the decorations!





Here are Ten Things that I learned in New York, along with a couple of tips, so hopefully when you next travel to New York, you can get the most out of your trip and make it one to remember!

1. Everywhere Looks The Same

The streets (or blocks) in New York look identical, it is a concrete jungle, a maze, although there is a mathematical way of remembering where you are, mostly because most of the streets are numbered, 55th street, 59th street etc, therefore, you can always keep track. I'd suggest getting some savvy apps on your phone before hand, perhaps not a street map, as of course they can look too touristy and make you a target for theives. In between the identical streets are parks, little places to stop, plenty of shops and even more cafes to feast your eyes on, but beware of how far you've travelled if you're on foot as the one thing I really came to realise was that most places, aside from the main tourist attractions, are deceiving in their looks.

2. Plan, Plan, Plan!!

There is of course nothing better than having a day without plans in the city, but we came to realise that our trip was slightly wasted because we did not have an itinerary and found ourselves walking the same streets and hadn't methodically planned how to get around or what to do. Back then I was a total travel newbie, a very naive young traveller who hadn't thought this would be a problem, but we didn't see nearly as much as we could have seen when we went. Plan thoroughly, find out transport options, find the places you really want to see, look at tours even. I think I'd definitely plan more tours next time, to get out of the city, as sometimes it can be a little overbearing for anxious travellers, and there are places not too far from Manhattan that are just as intriguing.

Also make sure you book a transfer from the airport well in advance as taxis will be very expensive and even dangerous so be sure to book something reliable! I always book Welcome Pickups!



3. We Found No Good Coffee

The Americans are famous for their cups of Joe, but unfortunately we could find nowhere that really had the taste of the coffee we Brits know and love from anywhere other than a Starbucks. Blatantly untraditional of course, as there are so many little cafes in the city, quaint and fresh, many vegan which is fantastic, but the cafes we found, including our hotel, were just not upto scratch. It is most possibly choice, but I'd opt for the more cute artsy cafes, even vegan cafes which probably take a lot of pride in their work. I don't know why we had such bad luck with coffee but I certainly did end up drinking a lot more herbal tea (which is definitely good -even though the caffiene was needed!)

4. Broadway Shows Are Hellish Expensive

If you're in town wanting to see a Broadway show, then make sure you've saved up. We tried to book through our hotel, probably a big mistake, and the cost was over $100. Now, it was probably more than worth it, but it hadn't been something we had budgeted for to such an extent. Again, down to lousy planning but most Broadway shows are quite expensive although some may have family tickets or slight discounts, they are going on towards $100 so make sure you've got them booked before hand and make sure you really research your seats. To look at booking Broadway shows, click here.



5. Flagging Down Cabs Can Be Life-Threatening!

Trying to flag a cab down is so tricky, especially in busy Manhattan. you have to juggle traffic and people, try not to get run over and then after all that, they may drive straight past you. The signs on the top of the cabs light up when someone is occupying them, so look for the ones that aren't lit up. It is definitely difficult and this is why people opt for the underground, however, I fully understand that this isn't for everyone, it wasn't for me. I had nothing but poor experiences of London Underground and something told me NYC wouldn't be much better. Cabs are relatively average price around the city; they don't like to take you too far. If you want to flag a cab down, look for a store with a guard outside or doorman, give them a little tip and they'll happily flag one down for you safely without you having too put any effort in.



6. Tipping Will Get You Everywhere 

It's exactly how it is on old American movies. Nearly everyone will respond well if you throw in a tip. I had been desperate to visit the restaurant, Serendipity, but the queues were insane and many people have booked days in advance. After visiting the restaurant hoping to get in, the restaurant manager said we couldn't get in. Although after asking politely again, and showing him a twenty dollar note, he happily put us on the guestlist! I'm certainly not one for bribery but in NYC, it certainly does seem to make life a little easier.

7. The Cold Is Bitter

I wouldn't advise a trip during the winter months. As beautiful and magical as it is, it is bitter cold in the winter months. The cold in NY seems to be much more clingy and icy than we have here. I believe in December the temperature can reach upto -10c. It often does feel like that even if the temperature is much higher. So be sure to pack all the thermals you can get your hand on. Scarf, hat and gloves are essential!

8. Central Park Will Make You Feel Like You're In A Movie

It's been shown in so many movies. It's beautiful anytime of year, although there's a certain kind of magic in the air at Christmas. The ice rink is in full force, the lights are glistening and it feels very special. Getting lost in Central Park is undoubtedly a fun and interesting thing to do when in the city and to get you away from the hum of the business NYC streets. Of course New York is crowded but there is a way to escape the madness. The park is beautiful in the warmer months for picnics and ice-creams and really does take you to the heart of the city. A little oasis in the heart of this concrete jungle!

9. The Plaza Hotel Is A Must See

I am usually the type of tourist who loves to hotel hop. I'm a huge lover of hotels and finding new ones, grabbing coffees in their swanky bars and checking out their restaurants. You'll be surprised how many Michelin star restaurants are inside hotels. The Plaza Hotel is regal and beautiful and you've probably seen it appear in certain movies. It truly is a beautiful hotel and it's a must see, they have a little library, places to drink coffee and more! If you can afford it, I would suggest booking an afternoon tea there! Scroll down for a VERY old photo of me! (2009 in fact).



10. Everywhere is Instagram Worthy

Even though when I visited in 2009, Instagram did not exist, for travellers today I can honestly say that everywhre is unbelievably cool for photos. It's New York City, everywhere looks and feels like a movie set. Of course some of the most Instagrammable spots (according to tourists) are:

  • Washington Street 
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Westlight
  • Barney's New York
  • Brooklyn Bridge
So that's it. My top ten things I learned whilst visiting the Big Apple. There is so much to do in New York but one of the top things I would say is eating and coffee shop hopping. There is no guarantee of the weather, so hiding away from the rain in cute coffee shops is a very good way to help pass the time.  If you are looking for a home away from home in the Big Apple or anywhere on your next trip, take a little look at Clickstay! [Not sponsored]





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