My First Impression of New York Part 2: How This SoCal girl got around NYC

As much as I hate to admit it, I can be a bit directionally challenged sometimes. So naturally, how I was going to get around New York was probably the biggest worry I had before I left for my trip. It turned out to be quite the adventure and I ended up with some funny stories to tell.

I was particularly worried about how I was going to get from the airport to where we were staying in Brooklyn Heights. I got a few suggestions from some good friends. My friend Greg wrote out detailed directions for taking public transit (probably not the best route for the directionally challenged), my bestie suggested that she send a private car for me (way too expensive), and my boyfriend- knowing how directionally challenged I am- suggested that I be picked up by a super shuttle.  Of course I went my own way (because I waited ’til the last minute per usual) and opted for a taxi cab.

It was my first time taking a cab all by myself and the driver had a really thick Jamaican accent which made our conversation interesting. I kept thinking he was saying something he wasn’t and just kept nodding and saying, “Yes.” He finally said, “I’ll never figure out where you are going if you keep saying ‘yes, yes.’ ” Ugghhh *Face Palm*. Luckily, he just laughed at me and when we found my destination he even helped me with my bags,  and waited until I saw my friend. I thought that was a great introduction to the colorful characters of the New York City Cab world. Though the other cab rides on this trip were “interesting” none of them were quite as fun.

My favorite way to get around New York is definitely the subway. I was intensely afraid of it the first time we descended those stairs into the underground tunnels echoing with hordes of people rushing to and fro.  It was at that moment I realized just how slowly I walked and how great New Yorkers are at getting around slow pokes like me. The best part was when I tried to slide my metro card and the gate kept locking on me 😦 . This poor elderly man who got stuck behind me was yelling all sorts of obscenities. When I finally got through that horrid gate my friend repeated this phrase to me, “Swipe and go.”  She told me not to wait for the little green light and just assume the gate was going to open. Okay…then what’s the point of the green light?

Don’t even get me started on the routes. My two friends tried explaining the routes and how they worked and it literally went in one ear and out the other. I have a hard enough time taking the three route trolly in San Diego.

After a couple days, multiple rides, and an expert “swipe and go” method the whole subway situation clicked somehow and I actually preferred the subway to any other mode of transportation in New York. It really is the best and most interesting way to get around. You can see and experience a lot. My friend told me that if you take the subway and just kind of wait a while things start to happen around you. It’s something you will have to experience for yourself but it is so true. There wasn’t one ride that didn’t have more than a few characters, and these characters seemed to have a radar for wide eyed tourists such as myself. But that’s just the way things are in The City That Never Sleeps. Things are happening all the time, all around you and at a rapid pace.  One word of advice though : Try not to make eye contact with people on the subway for longer than a second. I am so used to locking eyes with people and smiling that I learned not to do this the hard way. It may garner some intense, less than friendly stares back at best,  or worst case scenario encourage unwanted  friendliness from unsavory strangers. Also, bring sanitizer for when you have to hold onto the poles. There’s no telling what variety of germs are just waiting on that surface to latch on to you and infect you. I made the mistake of grabbing onto it with both hands for fear of falling and not mastering the “subway stance” (my friends had it down pat). It felt like I had just smeared oil on my hands. Not the healthy, freshly scented body oil type but the packed with unknown killer germs sickly sticky type. Ew.

Tied with taking the subway is definitely walking everywhere . There’s this exciting energy that envelopes you as you take in the sights, sounds, and smells of NYC.  Despite some of the awkward subway situations and what some people may say about New Yorkers,  I have found many of them to be the most friendly people I have ever met. They just love talking about their city and I enjoy hearing them talk about it. I got so many great food and bar suggestions just asking people for directions.

So needless to say I survived getting around the big city and I had so much fun. I don’t know what in the heck I  was so worried about  🙂 haha ! I can’t wait to do it again!

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Jamie is a writer with a passion for adventure, history, and more. When she’s not out exploring the world, Jamie is at home in sunny San Diego, CA chasing sunsets and carne asada fries, preoccupied with research, or invested in a good book and a cup of tea.

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