Three and a half years in a fast-paced city like New York can take its toll on you. And on your perception and appreciation of this oversized town called the Big Apple. When I came back from my trip, it took me a couple of weeks to adjust. To the ruthlessness of the people, the weirdness going on in the streets, and the eeriness of noise and chaos altogether. Well, you know, eventually you adjust to everything and friendly persons sometimes make that process easier than without.
Aside from some loyal people and lots of booze, what else is good to snap you out of the unappreciative state of mind? Find the complete list below.
1) Do typical tourist things
Sounds obvious? Well, most people who have lived here for more than a year somehow end up not doing the things tourists are attracted to in the first place. When was the last time you walked the Brooklyn Bridge? Or took the ferry to Staten Island and saw the Statue of Liberty up close? Not to mention checking out Magnolia Bakery and its tasty banana pudding! I know – all of these things are also the same items that repulse most locals and natives from ever setting foot into an overcrowded area. Just the idea of being part of the face- and characterless masses… Scary!
But seriously, there is a reason as to why Dumbo is flooded by camera-snapping Asians. Not to mention all those Europeans running into Central Park. The best part about this city is that you have some fantastic movie-set-scenes as soon as you step out of your door. Why not take advantage of them?
You can’t believe how re-connected I felt with this city after taking a first bite of a cupcake in what seemed like… ages, if not months at the very least. There is NO BETTER way to appreciate New York than through cupcakes and bagels (and perhaps that cronut, if I can ever lay my hands on it one day…).
2) Do untypical tourist things
Hike to Brooklyn and check out Greenwood Cemetery. Or take a stroll over the Pulaski Bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Queens. Find out where the trainyard cemetery in Queens is and go on a discovery adventure. Or take a free tour featured on brokelyn.com. Two weeks ago I got to see the interior of a factory that made Kombucha Tea, how cool is that? It’s all about coming up with things tourists would possibly put last on their list, if even at all.
And nothing beats a stroll through the neighborhood, especially if it’s in Brooklyn or Queens – far away from Manhattan, which has sold its soul to the masses. I usually make a point in catching up with some neighborhoods I am not close to at least once a year, if not more often. Recently I checked out Bay Ridge again and was reminded how peacefully people spend their lives in this secluded part of Brooklyn.
3) Do local things
Go for brunch, even better if it features unlimited mimosas and Bloody’s. Get a manicure and pedicure done at one of those cheap salons all over the city. Enjoy the free days at museums and other cultural institutions. And here is a good one: Be an extra in a movie (even if unpaid). This site takes $36 out of your pocket to sign up, but if you get a deal with the Michael J. Fox Show or True Blood, you can earn up to $200 a day by just standing around or jogging down a path. I kid you not. Of course you have to be selected from the highly competitive crowd. It might be worth the try.
My point is: Just go out there and explore this city. Watch the people around you (and put that phone aside!). Participate in a bootcamp class. Or explore some culinary tastes only you as a local will know of and appreciate.
And maybe one day, at Columbus Circle, on the B-Line to Brooklyn you will get that feeling again. Amidst the Mexican street performer strumming tunes on his guitar or the two students who took the wrong train and are jumping off, very last minute. The guitar being the perfect background music for the scene unfolding in front of you (I’m telling you, NY by itself is a movie.) There you might have it again, that once-upon-a-time feeling you had almost every day in your first year here:
New York is special. New York is unique. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.