So… I’ll come right out with my confession:
I went to New York City for two days and didn’t actually enjoy the place very much.
Let me tell you why and if you have been to New York, then I’d love to hear from you. Maybe you had the same experience? Or maybe I have misunderstood the place?
This isn’t popular opinion but I felt that New York lacked authenticity .
We came just before Christmas last year and hoped to get a feel for the renowned New York Christmas spirit.
I remember all the movies I’ve seen in my childhood, and in my teens watching Sex in the City. So many Christmas movies feature New York. You might be surprised to learn that for many a French kid, New York is the equivalent of Paris to others around the planet. I’ve never felt that way about NY but many friends did.
And yet, I didn’t expect to feel the way I did.
I didn’t mind getting ripped off on bus ticket as soon as I had emerged from the coach station. I didn’t mind that our cool looking hotel according to the photos was a very strange design of the tiniest room I’ve ever stayed in. I didn’t mind that we had to queue for ages at every good-looking cafe or restaurant.
I was sort of expecting those things. I came with my eyes open, not expecting a fairy tale.
As beautiful as it is, to me, New York City felt like one of those places built for the movies rather than filmed for its soul. You see, Paris for example seems its antithesis to me. Paris is the object of many movies but it wasn’t built for that purpose.
I love cities. Other than Paris, I love London, Amsterdam, Tokyo. These cities inspire me. When there I feel inspired by their expanse, webbing through space and time, creating their own cultural environment.
The city was truly beautiful. I loved Central Park. I enjoyed Grand Central Terminal. I was impressed by Times Square though I thought it was tiny. I had a good laugh when I realised that the statue of Liberty was tiny. I had a good time going all around the city by bus, with our very funny tour operator. I’m not usually one for these things but since we had forked out the money before we even realised, we felt we should go for it, and enjoyed it.
What gave me this overall impression was the following:
- I have come away with the impression that 90% + of the city was built to attract tourism cash, without a single care for the quality.
- Most of the ‘famous’ places we went to for food looked fab, but tasted drab. Tourist traps.
- We went to pick up our wedding rings from Tiffany’s. We were looking forward to that and had saved to get these, and unfortunately the customer service was not the experience you expect.
- Same thing at Macy’s. The place was so dated, but not in a good way!
- Empire State Building – I was glad to see the city from the top, but getting there was painful. I was so annoyed by the merchandising, and all the windows being shut the whole way up. The extra extra tickets for every turn you take. Getting randomly stuck in an elevator just me, my husband and this ‘celebrity’ I had never heard off, who felt he was giving us a grand tour. – Sorry man I have no idea who you are 🙂 – OK, I was truly intrigued by the experience of seeing someone feel entitled enough to randomly hijack a busy lift of the Empire State Building and stop at ‘private floors’ to show off the back of the famous lights.
- While I expected to see the bad stuff, I didn’t expect to only get that. Not one good customer service experience. Very expensive. Very low value for the cash.
- We were not able to get anywhere near any ice rink, or that big big Christmas tree.
- It truly is a melting pot. I always thought this meant that it is full of people with different ideas, lifestyles, dreams, all trying to make a stamp. I didn’t get that. I saw a rat race maze… a place that feeds from the contrasts of light and darkness, the darkness so great that the light shines brighter. I wouldn’t live there, but more importantly, I felt that the environment could corrupt the very nature of what it promotes: opportunities and dreams. I felt you could do a lot more elsewhere, and I didn’t really get the ‘if you can do it here you can do it anywhere’ thing. To me, there’s no point if there is no community feel.
So, I leave with some very pretty photos, lovely rings, and an overall good time because so long as you’re with good company you’re likely going to have a good time… but I wouldn’t make a big holiday out of NYC.
I have left with a sense of what’s good for me, and what isn’t. I feel that I’m quite glad I saw New York City, at last, and didn’t go all Marina and the Diamonds’ American Dream. I’m truly happy that I was able to tell that this city, this jungle, is someone else’s dream and not mine.
Sometimes if you keep thinking about something as if it were a faraway enchanted lalaland, and never stop to confront your true feelings, you miss entirely different opportunities elsewhere, where you are meant to be. You become afraid to cut ties in case you miss out, and you miss out because of that.
Still, I’m expecting I’ll be back in New York someday for one reason or another. It’s just one of those places that act like a magnet.
Maybe I missed a trick?
What do you think?