Whether it was something I’d heard/read in the numerous recommendations I solicited before my trip, or something I’d seen on TV/in the movies, there were several things I assumed to be true as I traveled to New York City for the first time. After spending three days in the Big Apple, I’ve been able to form my own thoughts. So here’s the top five misconceptions I had of NYC:
1. New Yorkers are rude. Maybe I got lucky, but I didn’t encounter a single rude person on my entire trip. My travel companion and I talked with lots of people, sometimes we initiated conversation, but frequently people approached us. (It was our Midwestern demeanor that made us seem so approachable, right?) No matter who we talked with, they were always super nice and interested in where we were from, why we were in town and what we’d seen so far. Thanks to everyone we met for being such good hosts for your city, especially the older gentleman that eats breakfast every morning at Bagel Express near the Courtyard Inn in the Upper East Side. Small gestures like that leave a great impression on visitors.
2. New Yorkers walk fast. I can probably credit my long legs and tendency to walk fast for this one, but I found the walking pace to still be a bit slower than I’d like. I was only in the city for three days and was determined to cover as much ground as I possibly could, which meant I was frequently looking for openings to pass around people. It’s completely possible to sightsee and keep a good pace, but only if the slow people move to the side.
3. New York is full beautiful people. While this is true, it’s not in the way I initially thought. I came to NYC expecting to see lots of model-esque people strutting around wearing high-end fashions like high heels, couture, fancy purses, etc. (I’m guessing this came from the hours I’ve invested watching Sex in the City.) While I saw some of this, my general observations were that fashion was all over the place. In a matter of three days I saw almost every fashion rule I’ve ever been taught broken. For every model-esque beauty I saw, there were at least two people wearing clothes that made me smile or laugh. Sometimes because the outfits were so were silly, ridiculous or over the top (like the guy in Washington Square wearing a wizard hat). Sometimes because they were wearing an outfit so plain I could see myself in. (Even New Yorkers wear t-shirts, jeans and running shoes… Who knew?)
The beauty in the people of New York came in the diversity. I couldn’t even count the number of languages I heard or the cultures represented. The open acceptance of everyone as they were was amazing.
4. New York is expensive. Sure, it can cost a lot to do stuff while visiting NYC, but it doesn’t have to. Some of my favorite memories from the trip will be from the time I spent doing free stuff that my travel companion and I stumbled upon while we were en route to other places. Since there weren’t many hard, fast timelines or plans to follow, we had the ability to embrace those opportunities when they were available. From the Museum Mile Festival and Central Park to SoHo and Washington Square, there was always an abundance of street performers to appreciate and artists/crafts-people’s creations to take in all of which were free.
5. Be cautious, it’s dangerous in New York. Again, maybe I just got lucky, but I never got the sense that I was in any type of danger. I wouldn’t claim that I saw any of the rough neighborhoods of NYC, but I did walk through Central Park and below the Brooklyn Bridge after dark. Common sense says not to go by yourself or be flashy (which I didn’t), but I didn’t see any type of violence, pick-pocketing or theft. If my small town upbringing and common sense mentality kept me safe, everyone should be fine there.
As you can probably tell, New York really left a big impression on me. While I can’t truly imagine myself ever living there, it was a ton of fun to visit!