A Canadian’s first time visit to New York. A few observations.

Perhaps New York City’s image as rude, dangerous, tough and ridiculously fast paced was redefined since my preconceptions jelled without firsthand experience.  Here are a few observations from a first-time visitor to the place described during the musical Hamilton as “the greatest city in the world”.
-New York is a safe place for tourists.  We walked around Time’s Square, the Theater District, Hell’s Kitchen, Williamsburg Brooklyn and Greenwich Village.  There’s a huge police presence and some of New York’s finest hold automatic rifles. These anti-terrorist units will kindly give tourists accurate directions. (We saw it in person. This really happens.)
* Red or green traffic lights are irrelevant. Traffic lights are only reference points for the millions of pedestrians in Manhattan.  New Yorkers watch traffic and move quickly across crowded intersections whenever possible. Vehicle movement is often standing still due to grid lock.

-Most of the New Yorkers we encountered were polite. They didn’t waste time with unnecessary conversation but their direction and service was courteous.  We visited Manhattan and Brooklyn and found that the phrase that normally replies to “Thank you” was rarely “you are welcome”.  That’s been replaced by sure, certainly, of course and absolutely.

*New Yorkers love their city.  When asked how we found NYC we replied that “we love it.”  It was the right answer.
-If you enjoy walking, the guided tours are value for your money.  The wealth of knowledge and new perceptions gained from participation in the tours was overwhelming.   
For example, what do the following people and things have in common?  Truman Capote, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, Dylan Thomas, Cary Grant, Hemmingway, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Gay Rights, and Mixed Racial Clubs.  The common denominator is Greenwich Village. This list only skims the surface of the artists and social activities that were inspired by the energy of Greenwich Village.
(Check out the price of real-estate in Greenwich Village now.  Call it gentrification. New York’s narrowest house at 75 ½ Bedford Street sold for $3.25 million)
*Shop carefully for Broadway tickets.  The talent on the stages of Broadway is leading edge.  This is not a revelation but ticket prices for the latest hot shows will shock you. (We needed a second mortgage to pay for tickets to Hamilton.  It was worth it.) There are discount sites available and our guides all stated that “New Yorkers never pay full price for theater tickets.”)
-The magic of Central Park:  running thru Central Park, walking, or relaxing on a Park Bench on a sunny day is worth the visit to NYC. There are hundreds of statues, memorials, the children’s zoo, Belvedere Castle, lovely ponds, paths thru forests, and green meadows.  Don’t miss the “Imagine” monument and Strawberry Fields dedicated to John Lennon across from John and Yoko’s condominium at the Dakota House. 
*Plenty of transportation options: Our choice for transportation methods depended on time and traffic congestion. The subway, Ubur and walking worked well. 

-The NEW YORK Pass is value for your money if you’re a “go getter”. My wife set the alarm early and we enjoyed tours of Wall Street, Greenwich Village, Broadway, Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, a boat trip around the Statue of Liberty, a trip to the top of the Rockefeller Center, the Big Bus Tour, the Natural History Museum, MoMA, The Met, the 9/11 Memorial Museum and The Guggenheim Museum. The pass also offered some fast tracks into each venue.
*The Frank Loyd Wright designed Guggenheim Museum and The Frick House (Collection) constructed by Thomas Hastings are worth visiting to enjoy the architecture alone.
The collections are equally amazing and can be enjoyed when time is limited.  (Be ready for paintings by iconic artists including Vermeer, Renoir, Van Gogh, Turner, Anthony van Dyck, and Picasso.)

-There are hundreds of Irish Bars. We visited the Celtic Pub on a Friday night near Time’s square. It was crowded, most patrons sang along with the club’s guitarist, danced, and chatted loudly with strong Irish accents.  We stepped thru a door and found ourselves in Dublin. (They left the IRA song list to play my request for Brown Eyed Girl by Irishman Van Morrison.)
Dining. We searched the net before visiting New York and used YELP throughout our visit.  The results were terrific.  Almost every meal met expectations and there were several major positive surprises.  Before and after musicals we loved dining at Lillie’s Victorian Bar and Dutch Fred’s near Hell’s Kitchen. 
They served a world class steak at Keens on West 36th and the atmosphere defined over 100 years was simply sensational.  Great options for dining in NYC are countless.
The Top of the Rock: we saved the trip to the top of the Rockefeller Center for late in the evening and avoided line ups. The night views of New York from the viewing stage on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors were remarkable. (Our friends waited at the Empire State Building for three hours before getting the lift to the top.)
May your next trip to New York be safe, exciting, and full of opportunities to meet friendly and engaging people that don’t waste time.


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