Oh, the bustling metropolis that is New York. The unofficial capital of the world for all that is fashion, music and art related. New York is not what it seems, though, certainly not to me anyway. I’ve been to New York quite a few times and it’s a city that grows in my heart every time I visit. It reminds me of Toronto, only on a much, much grander scale. And because it’s New York, it doesn’t feel the need to prove it’s a cool city. It just is. Unlike hipsters in Toronto who try far too hard to make you understand they are cool, New Yorkers just are.
I must admit that when I went to New York the first time I hated it. I’ve never been a fan of large cities and this place is beyond ‘large’. Driving in on the New Jersey turnpike gives you an unabashed view of a sprawling city with an endless sea of skyscrapers. I’m not a fan of people very much and hate big crowds, but this is pretty much impossible to avoid while walking the city’s endless labyrinth of streets. Everything moves very quickly and you have to keep up.
During my first visit, trying to navigate the streets with my rental car, we took a wrong turn and actually stumbled upon a Karl Lagerfeld photo shoot. The amazing thing is that Karl, with his long silver locks, was actually behind the lens shooting some supermodel. Things of this sort happen in New York and you’ve got to be ready for them.
One thing I soon realized about New York is that you have to find your place. Some find it quickly, and some — like me — find it after a couple visits. There are so many parts to Manhattan and every part fills a certain niche. You just have to find yours.
My place is the Lower East Side, in the Bowery District. I feel really at home there mostly because it reminds me of Kensington market in Toronto (again, on a larger scale). It is quiet and a bit slower than that of Soho or Upper Manhattan. With its laid-back feel, it is the epitome of cool.
So then, what to see and do in New York? Well, to be honest, the best way to discover New York is to walk around. You may have to do some training before your visit to get your heart rate up. You definitely have to have endurance for a full day’s worth of walking the streets. You may even become afflicted with what one of my friends refers to as ‘New York Knee.’ Of course, it will all be worth it in the end.
One myth about New York that was quickly quashed is the myth of taxis being a difficult thing to wave down. Bullshit. Taxis are easy to find and surprisingly cheap. Yet, because there are so many operating at any given time, it’s no wonder. You can easily get from mid-town to the Lower East Side for about $9. Taxis, though, are about the only cheap thing available.