New York, New York

Bi-weekly columnists loses his preconceived New York notions

Gord Turner

The “Big Apple” is not a city I ever wanted to visit. In fact, in some ways I was afraid of it. For years I’d read about the muggings of innocent travelers and the rude way New Yorkers treated outsiders. Our recent trip to New York proved me wrong in so many ways.

I’d been told that everywhere you go in New York the crowds are impossible—masses of people. Not true!  When we took the ferry over to the Statue of Liberty, the ferry was only partly filled. When we walked on the Island looking up at the green statue heralding America, no one jostled us or got in our way.

Our subsequent visit to Ellis Island to view the buildings where the immigrants once were registered before entering the United States was much the same.  We were able to wander almost by ourselves through many rooms and examine photographs from the early 20th Century. Later, when we walked up through New York to the new 9-11 Museum, a magnificent tribute to the heroism and efforts of that time, we had no problem with crowds.

I’d heard that travelers had to worry about being accosted by derelict characters who were after your money, possessions, or even you. On the three days we were actually in New York, nothing like that happened. We saw a few beggars, but we never saw any gangs, and we never really feared anything.

I’d been told that New Yorkers were unfriendly, that they couldn’t care less about those visiting their city.  Absolutely untrue! If we needed information, everyone we approached couldn’t do enough. In some instances, they would walk to a corner with us to point out where to go.  No one was abrupt or distant, and most were approachable—police personnel in particular.

On two different days, we took a bus from Fairlawn, New Jersey, to the Port Authority (bus depot) in New York.  The bus was clean and modern with padded seats, and it only cost $5 for a return ticket. Arriving in the depot, we walked out into the sunshine of 8th Avenue and then a few streets over found Broadway and soon were immersed in Times Square, which was busy, but not so that we had to worry about anything.

We couldn’t find the discount ticket office, but two friendly policemen pointed us up toward 49th. Then after standing in line and chatting with both vendors and ticket-buyers, we reached a wicket where the clerk was exceedingly helpful about our ticket needs. And the cost for a fairly decent Broadway show ticket was about one-third of what we would have paid ahead of time.

I’d heard stories about how New York taxi drivers ripped people off. Our experience gives the lie to that statement. On our second day on our own in New York, we took a taxi from the Port Authority to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Avenue. It was quite a ways actually, but our driver didn’t overwhelm us with talk, and the fare was $12.

After we spent several hours viewing mostly the Metropolitan’s impressionist collection, we took a taxi back to the Port Authority where we were to catch our bus. The taxi back cost us $12.20, and our driver was a pleasant individual. We could tell by the similarity of the prices that we were not being ripped off.

Truly, during three full days in New York City, we were treated exceptionally well. If we had a chance to return, we would not hesitate.

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