Friday, 23 December 2005

New York Observations

It may surprise some of my readers but I love America, not in a flag waving way but in an honest and brutal way, call it tough love, that's why I moan so much about it; I expect only the highest standards.

This trip with Marie was my third time to New York, somethings had changed (like the security levels at just about every tourist attraction, although why it was stricter at an iconic landmark like the Statue of Liberty rather than the more practically damaging Empire State Building I'll never know and can you believe that all you get to do at the Statue is to go to the top of the base? In my dad's day you could go up the arm to the top of the torch if you asked nicely!) somethings remained the same (awful customer service, great food but rubbish chocolate, brilliant beer, very tall buildings).
Although the transit strike slowed us down a little at the end of our holiday, we covered most of what we wanted to see, only missing out on the Lower East Side, East Village, some shops and a few museums we didn't have time for. We even explored the Bronx (brilliant zoo with some lovely monkeys) and Brooklyn!

I'm not going to bore you with an itinerary and needless to say we had an amazing time, New York is so dense with sights and sounds, with famous and important places that you kinda stumble from one wonder to another. Yes, the people are rude and mostly customer service consists of individuals who don't speak English scowling at you as you order food but that's the joy of New York!

Some thoughts...

  • Why are Americans so behind when it comes to mobile phones? Instead of hands-free they just shout into them when they're on speakerphone
  • Why is the New York subway ticket system so rubbish and why are there no staff at stations? And while we're at it, there's no suicide pit if people do decide to jump in
  • Men dress very practically which is good, as in the UK men will insist on wearing as few clothes as they can get away with. In the UK a scarf is an accessory not a nessicity
  • Dogs in coats and jumpers, shops like Trixie and Peanut
  • Coke not only comes in millions of great flavours but it is also in bigger bottles. Awesome
  • Water and bread at every restaurant is just the best thing ever and should be made compulsory in the UK, rather than having to feel like a cheapskate when you ask for tap water
  • Cheap food that tastes awesome
  • The Gramercy Tavern is not only a damn fine restaurant but also gave us muffins to take home for breakfast

Marie and I may think of more but for now that's it.

We miss New York already...


  1. New York City is a strange amalgam. It shares little in common with most of America. Many Americans feel as tourist-y as you were. In fact, my family comes from NY, and I dislike the city. Of course, it's more fun to visit there now that it's been cleaned up and crime is down.

    I admit our food and the restaurants we have are marvellous. And you can't find better restaurants anywhere than the ones in NYC, although we have some good ones here finally.

    I say finally, because for years we were God's Waiting Room where old people were the vast majority. Now us young people finally have enough purchase power (and we've grown massively here) so that we can have a wide assortment which is almost as good as NYC.

    I guess there are some things to be said for crazy population growth.

  2. 1. We think walking around talking to yourself makes you look crazy or drugged. No one wants to look like a crackhead.

    2. Americans don't have good customer service skills. My husband used to be in the hospitality arena. Most people workin it it are from overseas because, "Americans just aren;t as friendly and have too many bad habits".

    4-the rest. My dogs have sweaters. Ask my husband all about it. I thought coke came in one color and was always white. Wow! I am sheltered;) Not every restaurant brings water and bread, but most do and it is great. People should drink more water and less beer. We'll have to check out that tavern the next time we're in NYC.

  3. Glad you had a great time in the "Big Apple"... although I agree with Saurkraut, not the best place to see what all Americans are like. You should come to Atlanta someday... we have fantastic restaurants and people are very friendly... it's the southern tradition. Only don't get caught on the highways around here, they are seriously overcrowded and tend to bring out the road rage in people.

    Glad to hear the trip was a success, and your journey safe!

  4. Saur: I'm aware it holds a unique place in American culture, rather like London does, perhaps its the size and diversity.

    Been to Atlanta Ellen, really loved it there and hoping to head back to the South as soon as money allows.

  5. hey Dan,

    welcome back, seems you had a great time, your first statement is about the best thing to say, many love America so much that they hate to see the shit it's causing, and from this stems many of the criticism we all say, unfortunately it's in Fashion these days to lable anyone who expresses your feelings as Anti-American.

    eager to hear more about you being newyorked :)

    best of luck man

  6. Wow, hard to follow up after Mr. Walter Martinez.

    I'm thrilled, delighted, ecstatic, and not all surprised by your surprise. Get married soon, have lots of adorable babies, and keep writing through the whole fabulous trip of it all.

    Glad you're back.

  7. The best parts of New York are cosmopolitan, and don't really reflect the kind of butthead Americanism that has the rest of the world grinding its teeth at them.

    Like they say, Americans are great--now if they only ran
    America things would work out for everybody.



    It's amazing to see how my li'l cousin (who's 1 year and 9 months old) speaking her Egyptian language and really belonging to it! I mean how wonderful this is?!
    Seeing a li'l girl putting sounds together and belonging to the very same language of her tribe. Eating their very same food!
    Even those li'l creatures BELONG!
    It makes me sick seeing grown ups trying to belong, and not even knowing how to!!! Just faking it!
    Belongingness is a gift that one should appreciate. and I mean belonging to what's true, real and upright, and clinging to it.

    You belong in the world of balance, where
    everything has two sides and everything is not
    always what it appears on the outside. Of
    course, if you have a sense of humor, you may
    find employment as a sarcastic comedian. If
    not, enjoy the choices that are presented to
    you through life, they will always have two
    sides to them,one which leads you to the light,
    and the other which entrenches you in darkness.
    Walk on with hope, my SISTERS & BROTHERS.

  9. Glad you had a good time....all the best to you both for christmas the new year and your impending nuptuals!

    Merry christmas.


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