Thursday, September 22, 2011

NY, NY. Second Take: The (Mostly) Bad

NY is not an easy-going city. You don't just drop-by on NY. To visit her, you need to plan, organize, coordinate. We didn't, and suffered the consequences.

Had to get NY's metro system like the palm of my hand
All in all I was seriously underwhelmed by the big, bright apple. This might be anathema to many; certainly it is to the eight million people living there who tend to be hard core about the greatness of the city. But surprisingly it is also the case for many non-NYorkers who swear to love NY. 'How can you not?' was the accusatory response I got after I posted the 'underwhelmed' remark on Facebook.

I blame it on having missed out on everything.

Prospect Park, in Brooklyn, a recommendation by two very different sources and conveniently within walking distance from our apartment, had just held its last event for the summer and was basically closed for the season. You could still wander around -which we did, plenty, as we got lost-, but completely empty it was slightly heavier on the spooky side than on the relaxing one.

Deadly traps or direct passages to hell everywhere.
I spent too much time and money being carried underground, in the most dingy, hot, grimy and stinky metro system I've been schlepped around. It provided me, though, with a deeper understanding of why US movies so often portray extremely bored, pretend-sleeping, and not-pretend-crazy people in the NY metro: that's exactly how things are. And on the plus side, it did help renew my appreciation of Vancouver's metro system Translink on a whole other level. Gotta love Skytrain...

And say what you want but NY is not a walkable city. Is the 'big' on the Big Apple that makes it a problem. It's just too much ground to cover! Portland, Maine: pleasantly walkable. New York: too exhausting. And I very much like walking.

While we were there, NY authorities announced the bike sharing program was to  begin sometime during the summer of 2012. In the meantime, we were considering other  transportation options:


Among the failures due to lack of planning was that I wasn't able meet with two ex-students of mine who happen to be local NYorkers. They were eager to share their city, and seeing it through their eyes would have certainly helped me to appreciate it. But they happened to be in Paris and Madrid at the time. It makes perfect sense to me that one thing that makes NY special is the fact that you can escape from it quickly and cheaply by flying anywhere on a moments notice.

We did manage to meet with a couple of old friends, NY transplants who also loved NY on a have-to-love-it-because-I-live-here kind of way. At least that's the impression you get when they tell you that in order to live there they basically have to work ALL the time. Seriously work: 14+ hours a day and round the clock availability (damn connectivity!). Which, they agreed, somewhat beats the purpose of living in NY, as you don't have time to enjoy what the city supposedly offers in terms of entertainment yada yada yada. It made me wonder about the whole liberty and human rights stuff, as it looked very much like indented labor to me. Just not cool. It also made us doubly appreciate the time they took to meet with us -which they were undoubtedly subtracting from their already sleep-deprived lives-, show us a little bit of their NY, and even manage to smile and utter interesting conversation.

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