NYC: A Walker’s Favorite Place
NYC Week cont.:
As I’d never been to New York City before this trip and as the trip was only four days, I devoured as much information as I could before we went. I was studying maps and planning the most efficient routes in order to see as much as possible. I was buying tickets in advance and asking friends and family for pointers.
My one question as I poured over all of the information was, how long is a block?
A block in Seoul can range anywhere from three buildings to ten and when you ask people for direction they’ll just say “joooooooooook” and point, which can mean anything from it’s a 3 minute walk to a 30 minute walk. Can I walk from Central Park to the Empire State Building? Is riding the subway a necessity if we’re just staying in Manhattan? These questions abounded and my mom offered up some advice, “Manhattan is known as a walking town. You should be able to walk around the area just fine, as far as I know.”
We took her advice to heart and stuck to the sidewalks and figured with only four days, what we wanted to see was above ground anyway, so taking subways back and forth would not be an efficient use of time. Boy am I happy we decided to walk everywhere and boy am I even happier that the weather was gorgeous even though it was December and could have been miserably cold or snowy. We got to know the streets, which thankfully are a very easy grid to figure out, unlike Seoul, and saw as much as we could. The architecture and old buildings were amazing and the energy of the city hit us on all sides and poured out of the people.
Walking down the street for one block at one point I decided to count how many conversations in different languages I could hear.
It was amazing to be someplace where there were just so many people from so many different places. Maybe it was the lack of differences in people in Seoul that made it an even more apparent difference to behold, but it was confusing and welcoming at the same time. Our romance with this city was clearly continuing.
My husband’s main concern about the city before we went was danger. Of all of the TV shows that have made it big in Korea the majority of them are crime shows and many of them are based in NYC. It’s no wonder that Koreans think the States are so scary. I was also concerned, but at the same time I thought the city couldn’t be all that different from every other place in the US that I’ve visited. It can’t be any more dangerous than Miami, and I lived there for two years. It can’t be more dangerous than Dallas, and my family there has been just fine. The first two days we kept our eyes and ears open to possible danger. On one sidewalk a stranger told me my backpack was open and we thought, “had I left it open?” “Had someone tried to open my bag without me noticing?” After two days though and lots of walking outside we began to notice how many police officers and tour guides are everywhere. We couldn’t go a block in any direction in Manhattan without seeing a police officer or a guide for tourists with a brightly colored jacket on.Our fear, more so in my husband, subsided, though that didn’t save him from obvious street salesmen antics. One guy approached us with a CD in his hand and tried to hand it off to us. I know this stunt from my travels around the world. Never take something from a salesman on the street, they won’t take it back once you have it in your hand and it’s harder to say no to the purchase then. My husband did not know this trick though and once it was in his hand the guy explained how he’d recorded the CD and my husband would probably enjoy it. “Thank you,” my husband said, only to have the savvy salesman remind him, “well, it did cost me money to record though.” Did it really? How much did it cost you to burn that CD off of your computer? Not to mention, who knows what is actually on it? My husband couldn’t hand it back and ended up giving the guy $5, but in the process showing the guy that he had $20 more in his pocket. Lesson 1: Don’t take any object from someone handing it out in a tourist area, though flyers and pamphlets are fine which I also had to explain later as my husband made a huge side step around a woman passing out flyers later that same day. Lesson 2: Always have $2-$5 in one pocket that you can grab easily.
And the trip continued as we enthusiastically took in the sights around us.