Out and About

Travel Tales: New York City – You are not for me

Last week, I visited New York City with my parents. I was 50-50 about NYC before going there. NYC to me is Friends, You’ve Got Mail, Seinfeld, 30 Rock, Sleepless in Seattle and Will and Grace. I know it’s the city of dreams in the U.S. I was told by people I knew that they loved it there especially in summer and how great the shopping is. That was NYC to me.

We caught the Greyhound bus from Toronto and had a cruisey drive into the city. In fact, the drive reminded me of driving through the Southern Highlands in NSW. We hit NYC around 5:30 p.m. which is like peak hour and were greeted by traffic chaos. As we walked the 10 minute walk to the hotel from the bus station, NYC hit me. It reminded me of Mumbai. Of where I grew up. Why? Because of the noise, the stench of urine and drains, the chaos, the cars honking, the drivers driving like maniacs and the bazillion people on the streets of Manhattan.

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Some of the crowds at Madison Square Garden

After checking into our hotel, we decided to go to the top of the Empire State Building that night as we were only around for two more days. Following dinner, we waded through crowds on the street and then battled long lines to get to the top of the Empire State Building. This was around 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night. By the time we got to the top it was almost 11. The view of Manhattan and beyond was beautiful at night from the 86th floor. Unfortunately, unlike the movies, the crowds were crazy.

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View from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building

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The Chrysler building seen from the Empire State Building

The next day, we completed a ferry cruise to view the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and Ground Zero. We had options to get off at some stops (except the statue) but preferred to stay on board. The hazy skyline on a hot day was another reminder of Mumbai.

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Manhattan skyline as seen from the ferry

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Brooklyn Bridge

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The Statue of Liberty

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Ground Zero

Once on land, we took the Hop-on, Hop-off bus to check out the city. Had I been by myself, I would have certainly explored more on foot but because my parents had difficulty walking long distances, we covered most of Manhattan — Times Square, Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Harlem, Midtown, Soho, Greenwich and Downtown Manhattan — by bus. The ride by bus ensured we got the best of Manhattan traffic. In other words, we were stuck in jams for long periods of time and encountered constant honking and air pollution around. By the end of the day, I had a headache and fondly longed for Sydney traffic.

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One of the beautiful buildings

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Love the architecture

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Times Square

On our final day, we roamed around Central Park. It was nice to finally be somewhere without all that traffic although it wasn’t hard to hear the traffic outside the park. We also visited the National Historical Museum after getting a free pass for the same. Finally, in the evening, we headed back to the bus terminal to get back to Toronto. For me personally, it was a relief to say goodbye to NYC.

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Squirrel in Central Park

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Beautiful architecture in Central Park

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The algae covered lake in Central Park. I wouldn’t want to fall in there!

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Belvedere Castle in Central Park

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The lake where the race in Stuart Little took place

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I loved this bridge in Central Park and had a couple unknowingly pose for me

What I enjoyed about NYC:

The historical buildings: The architecture is amazing for some of these old buildings. I was in awe of most of them and almost wished that the high rises weren’t there to spoil these.

Central Park: I love gardens and Central Park was no exception. It’s definitely a nice place to sit back and relax if you need to or go for a run. And there are squirrels!

Food: Like most metropolitan cities, NYC has a variety of cuisines. Thanks to my parents being vegetarian, I could only sample a few but I enjoyed the ones I did. The Rustic Table needs special mention for hipster awesome food. I do wish I had had more opportunities to try out their food.

View from the top: The city does look beautiful from the top of the Empire State Building at night. Up above, you can forget the noise, the pollution and the smells. You can’t forget the crowds, of course.

What I didn’t like:

The noise and air pollution: I am a city girl at heart but Sydney has spoilt me. I can’t stand cars honking all the time for no reason. I love my blue skies and I didn’t see much in NYC even though the days were sunny. The haze was reminiscent of Mumbai with the smog from all the traffic. Like I said, I had a headache after an entire day outdoors. It used to happen to me in Mumbai too.

The traffic: Oh god, the traffic. While I know about 8.5 million people are around in Manhattan in a day, I couldn’t get over the traffic. We complain about traffic in Sydney but it’s nothing compared to NYC. I guess if anything, Manhattan traffic will give you some perspective on traffic in your own state or city.

The smell: We saw bags and bag of rubbish strewn on the footpath every day. So it couldn’t really be for garbage night. It was disgusting. The smell from those as well as from the drains were pretty much like that in Mumbai. The only thing that was different is that in Mumbai, the garbage is just strewn without bags. They don’t show you any of this on the TV shows or movies situated in NYC.

The crowds: Once again, I’ll admit Sydney has spoilt me. Sure we are a large city but it’s nothing compared to NYC. Mumbai has crowds like this — where people swarm from one side of the footpath to the other. I have gotten used to space in Sydney and crowds like this make me claustrophobic.

All in all, I was disappointed with NYC. While I admit, I didn’t get to wander around much on my own, I kinda didn’t want to. I also understand that I didn’t get to experience much of the arts and food but that was probably the only thing I missed out on. I wasn’t keen to shop after seeing the prices in some places.

Visiting New York City felt like someone had just revealed that the Emperor was in fact, naked. Sure there were skyscrapers and bright lights but all of that to me, seemed a superficial cover up for the lack of heart and the everyday struggles in this bustling city.

Have you visited NYC? 

What were your thoughts and experiences?

Do share!

You can follow my travels on Instagram or by liking my Facebook Page

***Linking with Raychael for Worth Casing Wednesday and Malinda for Wednesday Wanderlust***

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

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  • jess
    17 June 2015 at 11:11 am

    Everyone is valid to their own opinion, but I had the exact opposite experience! I think several factors that made my trip so great was that it was during winter so it was more quiet, snow falling, beautiful cold air and the streets were less crowded. Also, we stayed for 2 weeks, so we were able to truly soak up the local neighbourhoods and vibe of Chelsea, do some of the touristy things but also just hang out. I think 2 days in the summer time just doesn’t allow you to have the same experiences. But every city isn’t for everyone! 🙂

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      17 June 2015 at 11:18 am

      I agree two days wasn’t enough but I wanted to go home after the first! Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in Mumbai for 15 years of my life and the fact that NYC wasn’t any different was disappointing. Give me Australia any day!

  • jess
    17 June 2015 at 11:11 am

    Everyone is valid to their own opinion, but I had the exact opposite experience! I think several factors that made my trip so great was that it was during winter so it was more quiet, snow falling, beautiful cold air and the streets were less crowded. Also, we stayed for 2 weeks, so we were able to truly soak up the local neighbourhoods and vibe of Chelsea, do some of the touristy things but also just hang out. I think 2 days in the summer time just doesn’t allow you to have the same experiences. But every city isn’t for everyone! 🙂

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      17 June 2015 at 11:18 am

      I agree two days wasn’t enough but I wanted to go home after the first! Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in Mumbai for 15 years of my life and the fact that NYC wasn’t any different was disappointing. Give me Australia any day!

  • Alolika
    17 June 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Hey lovely blog! For a person who has never been to New York, the blog helped me find out various unknown facets about the city, which many say is made of dreams.

  • Alolika
    17 June 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Hey lovely blog! For a person who has never been to New York, the blog helped me find out various unknown facets about the city, which many say is made of dreams.

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      25 June 2015 at 1:06 am

      Welcome here Alolika! Yeah, I keep hearing about NYC being the city of dreams but it appears that unless you work in the financial district or are a movie star, you probably just continue to dream of living there! They don’t tell you that on TV or in the movies.
      Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life recently posted…Travel Tales: Montreal. The Vibrant City.My Profile

  • elly stornebrink
    17 June 2015 at 5:44 pm

    I haven’t been to NYC, though if I did I would see at least one show in Times Square – that’s what it’s known for and I love musicals! 🙂 Sorry to hear you didn’t have as good a time th9ugh understandable as the crowds and traffic would get to me too! I do love the architecture too though: thanks for sharing! <3
    elly stornebrink recently posted…Wordy Wednesday: The world is a small placeMy Profile

  • elly stornebrink
    17 June 2015 at 5:44 pm

    I haven’t been to NYC, though if I did I would see at least one show in Times Square – that’s what it’s known for and I love musicals! 🙂 Sorry to hear you didn’t have as good a time th9ugh understandable as the crowds and traffic would get to me too! I do love the architecture too though: thanks for sharing! <3
    elly stornebrink recently posted…Wordy Wednesday: The world is a small placeMy Profile

  • Malinda @mybrownpaperpackages
    17 June 2015 at 8:26 pm

    It is refreshing to get a real review of a city, warts and all, people often just post the good stuff. I haven’t been to NYC so can’t really pass comment on it. I had heard that the traffic is bad, but it sounds worse than bad.
    Thanks for joining in #wednesdaywanderlust
    Malinda @mybrownpaperpackages recently posted…Wanderlust Budapest & LinkyMy Profile

  • Zita
    18 June 2015 at 8:10 am

    I am a little surprised by some of your feelings to be honest! I am not finding it that bad at all!! Maybe because my experience with traffic, beeping, people and population lately has been Phñom Penh in Cambodia and New York ain’t got nothing on it!! There is nowhere near the beeping I was expecting and when there is it’s usually because some moron is crossing the street when they’re not supposed to! The line ups are long but that’s to be expected.. Haven’t noticed any bad smells… I will also say the people are nowhere near as nice here as they were in Nashville!
    Zita recently posted…Where am I WednesdayMy Profile

  • nabanita
    18 June 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks for taking me through NYC 🙂 I feel like I too had a glimpse of the big apple through your post
    nabanita recently posted…Oh inspiration, where art thou?My Profile

  • Rajlakshmi
    18 June 2015 at 8:06 pm

    wooa that’s a very different picture of NYC… indeed no one shows these things. Thanks for sharing you travel stories 🙂
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…The Whimsy Yogi !!My Profile

  • Lata Sunil
    18 June 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Aww.. thats sad. But, when I went to London, I felt it reminded me of Mumbai and loved it even more. But first impressions do last.

  • Viji Venu
    19 June 2015 at 2:24 am

    Hey…glad you could see the city. You are so right, the madness and rush this city offers is there no where. I got a very different opinion about the city. I like the places — Central park, Maddison Square the parks, Liberty place and Brooklyn Bridge being my favorite. Whenever I visit the place, it hits me like this is where I want to be. I am in love with the city. I like the fast life, the commute style, the places, food, shopping options. It always make me feel that I can stay there all alone and still be happy about it.

    I would advise you to visit the place sometime with no intension of sight seeing but to feel the city. I am sure that the opinion may change!!! :)…Cheers Viji
    Viji Venu recently posted…BrokenMy Profile

  • Shilpa Gupte
    19 June 2015 at 2:56 am

    Sanch, I enjoyed looking at your picture album of NY, but, it so resembles Mumbai! I am sure, I, too, will enjoy Central Park, if I were to visit the place!
    Shilpa Gupte recently posted…Impressions.My Profile

  • Janet aka Middle Aged Mama
    19 June 2015 at 10:27 am

    It’s on my bucket list … we’ve just returned from our first trip to Europe, and yes, crowds of tourists were one of my least favourite things. That and the fact that smoking is a lot more prevalent than in Australia!
    Janet aka Middle Aged Mama recently posted…Shelf Style: Pinky PoinkerMy Profile

  • Janet aka Middle Aged Mama
    19 June 2015 at 10:40 am

    Couldn’t agree more … I’ve just returned from 4 weeks in Europe/London where the temperatures were much the same as what you experienced in the US. I think you had a lot more colour in your wardrobe than me though, I stuck to neutrals with just a bit of pink and plum to liven things up!
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  • Geets
    20 June 2015 at 3:37 am

    I never thought NYC would have the problem of traffic and air pollution. I thought India is one popular country famous for the tags you’ve mentioned. Glad to read your experience Sanch.. Hope you’re doing good after coming back..

    Cheers
    Geets recently posted…SecretMy Profile

  • Julie Vaillancourt
    20 June 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks for letting me see New York through your eyes. I’ve never been there and it’s on the list. You have made me realize a few things to watch out for. I too am sensitive to noise and pollution. Now, I can prepare myself for the good, the bad and the ugly things of NYC 🙂

  • Allen
    20 June 2015 at 9:14 pm

    NYC and Mumbai? No way! It’s no where near as crowded, chaotic, unorganised as Mumbai. I think you let your negative experiences in Mumbai taint your NYC experience. I suggest you visit in the non-tourist heavy season to get a better feel of the city.

    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      25 June 2015 at 1:09 am

      The things I don’t like about Mumbai are the traffic, the crowds, the noise, the air pollution and the smell and sight of rubbish. I witnessed all of this in NYC too and didn’t like it. Like I said, they don’t show you all this on the telly. For non-tourist season, I’d have to go in winter and trust me, I’m not keen to visit in the snow. Maybe if I’d gone to NYC straight from Mumbai, I might have been ok with it. But Sydney has spoilt me with it’s space and cleanliness and clear blue skies.
      Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life recently posted…Travel Tales: Montreal. The Vibrant City.My Profile

  • CookieCrumbsInc.
    22 June 2015 at 2:26 am

    My NYC bubble is burst:( Is it really that bad?
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  • Alyssa
    27 July 2015 at 11:34 am

    Wow, the photos you got are stunning and that view from the Empire State at night is spectacular!
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