John Kuells: Lost in New York

A few weeks ago, I made my first visit to New York City. As a guy from the suburbs of the great southwest, I was as ill prepared as they come. Luckily for me, I have a Netflix account. After binge watching Friends, How I Met Your Mother and The Night Of, I felt adequately prepared to face everything television taught me I would find in New York. You know, like a tight knit group of friends that sleep together or a prison made acid bomb. For all you west coasters, here are my tips for surviving a trip to Manhattan.

Embrace the Tourist Label

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New Yorkers are notoriously a testy bunch. So when walking the streets, don’t try to keep stride. Avoid eye contact, grab a gimmicky “I Heart NY” shirt and for the most part they will leave you alone.

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Plus, there’s tons to see! Take the NBC Studio Tour and you can see where they film SNL and The Tonight Show. Take a boat tour on the Hudson River to get harbor views of the skyline and to get close to the Statue of Liberty. Want to walk Central Park? Go for it. Looking for a good sunset spot? Check out Top of the Rock.  Really, there’s no limit on activities you can do while in New York. Because of this, I’d highly recommend having a game plan. I was fortunate enough to see a Broadway show, The Book of Mormon, because we booked the tickets way in advance.

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Then again, some of the best moments came from spontaneity. One of the coolest moments of the trip was finding McGee’s, the inspiration for How I Met Your Mother’s McClaren’s. They had HIMYM inspired cocktails like the Slutty Pumpkin, Robin Sparkles, and The Naked Man.

The bar was strangely missing the "Disappointing Series Finale" shot
The bar was strangely missing the “Disappointing Series Finale” shot

The best way to approach your trip is to have a game plan but leave some wiggle room for spontaneity. But most of all, grab your fanny pack and tennis shoes and embrace your tourist nerd.

Find the Right Transportation

Ahh…the ever growing debate of what transportation to take. Manhattan is vast and you’ll need to get around. This is hugely important because in one weekend I clocked in over 26 miles of walking.  Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the different methods.

Cabs:

Pros – Omnipresent, good for when you’re on the go

Cons- Expensive, erratic, might kill you with aggressive driving

Ubers:

Pros –  Cheaper than cabs, convenient

Cons – Might be contributing to a Gangs of New York style turf war

Subway:

Pros – Cheap, good for long distances

Cons – Lots of sweat, smelly, random singing by passengers, might get flustered upon entry and rip a $20 bill in the ticket dispenser

Keep Your Phone Out

You never know what you’re going to see. New York has a lot of famous monuments and historic landmarks. It also has a lot of people from all over the world who can contribute to many snapshot worthy moments.

For instance, I saw a wedding take place whilst enjoying a sunset on Top of the Rock. It appears rom-com moments do exist in real life. It totally negates my article, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a beautiful moment. Whether it’s a Broadway star or pizza rat scampering by, you need to be prepared at all times for a celebrity sighting. My sighting? Shooter McGavin.

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I wonder if he still eats pieces of shit for breakfast?

Refuel Regularly

Listen, the city that never sleeps is no joke. When I joined my friends for a night out, we easily didn’t hit the bars until well after midnight. These people are animals. Don’t be a hero and try to power through with no fuel. You’re going to need some late night grubbing. My advice? If you’re in midtown, you can’t beat The Halal Guys. They’ve got combo plates for $7, which in New York is the equivalent to the dollar menu. They combine chicken gyros with falafel ingredients in a bowl of deliciousness. Add some of their mystery white and red sauce to your bowl and your 4 a.m. self will be in heaven.

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The 25-year-old equivalent of waiting to see Santa

During the day, hit up a bodega for essentials like water and snacks. Also, there’s a Ray’s Pizza on every corner where you can grub on an authentic New York slice.

Have a Crew

I was fortunate enough to enjoy my weekend with several friends from my high school days. They showed me awesome spots like The Frying Pan, a boathouse lunch spot with great views of the Hudson. On nights out, I got to see everything from rooftop bars in Midtown to the dive bars on the Lower East Side. In such a big and overwhelming city, it’s good to have people on your side who know what the hell they are doing.

Know Where You’re Going

Again, New York is big and confusing for people used to urban sprawl and the comfort of chain restaurants. There were several times when I had no idea where the hell I was going. Just take a look at this text thread between me and my friends trying to set up a casual Sunday brunch.

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Clearly, my friends have little faith in my ability to navigate a big city. Fortunately, I eventually found my group and avoided taking the subway all the way to New Jersey. Yet the point remains. I advise you to carefully check your iPhone directions prior to any outing.

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If you travel to New York, you’re not going to sleep, your feet will be calloused, and you’re going to spend most (if not all) of your money. But it’s worth it. For me, it was a perfect trip. I got to eat like a king, see where SNL is filmed, bar hop until 4 a.m., and see a top actor from a peak Sandler era classic. That’s the beauty of New York, there’s something for everyone. Cue that Taylor Swift song.

 

 

 

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