Stepping out of JFK International Airport, after countless hours of movie-watching, peanut-munching and appendage-stretching, is when reality finally hits you. You’re here. You’re finally in that city you have heard so much about: New York City.

Take a deep breath, smell the pollution in the air. Close your eyes, listen to the sound of gravel crunching under the feel of passer-bys. Open your mind to a world of possibilities and adventure. And while you’re at it, make sure to step out of the way of those workaholics in their pinstriped suits, who are definitely late for their meetings, because they stopped to eat a cheesesteak or a fish taco.

First order of business in the city? Hail a cab. Or, learn how to. This skill probably comes under “How To Survive New York City For Dummies” as #1. And yes, I classify it as a skill because hailing a cab on the busy streets of The Big Apple is not as easy as it looks. The cabbies are cranky, and only accept fares that they deem gullible (and rich). There’s nothing you can do about it, because you need these people to get into the city.

Once you’re free of the pesky cabbies and have been delivered at your hotel lobby, start walking. It’s the easiest way to get around, without dying or losing your temper (apart from the subway). Explore the city, visit the Empire State Building, and gorge on the hot dogs from the street vendors. Don’t forget to take the ferry to Liberty Island and stop by the Statue of Liberty.

While you’re doing the regular tourist stuff, parades, artists, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants will show a whole different side of New York. These are things you have to look for, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have the time of your life discovering a whole new world you never knew existed.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’d love some peace and quiet after a long day of exploring the city. Head on to Central Park with a book and park your posterior at the base of a tree, or on a park bench. There’s also the petting zoo full of cute animals running around. Who knows, maybe a cute stranger will strike up a conversation with you as you relax in one of the prettiest places in New York City.

The last thing on the list of must-sees is Times Square. Yes, it’s cliché, overdone, and overexposed. But sometimes, the best things are. Whether it’s shopping at Forever21 at 2 A.M., or catching a Broadway show that’s been running for ages, Times Square has something for everyone. If you skip out Times Square, your New York Experience, Tanya-style, is not complete.

So, is it really the concrete jungle where dreams are made? I can’t be too sure about that. But it’s definitely a concrete jungle you will not regret visiting.

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