• Lavanya Nair

Navigating NYC: A Small Bite of a Big Apple

One of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, has to be New York City; its vibrancy, diversity and exuberance propels it to occupy a high ranking among even the most budget conscious tourists. Since it tends to leave many quite overwhelmed due to its looming skyscrapers and larger than life vibe, here's a few tips to help you conquer the city like a true New Yorker!

Times Square

1. Pay Attention to the Grid System:

Most of NYC is laid out in a grid like fashion with vertical roads being indented at equal intervals and branching out into horizontal streets; adequately numbered so as to minimise confusion. This makes navigating the big city much easier as all you have to do is pay attention to the signs that highlight what number street you are on. As you will find that walking is one of the best forms of transport, the grid system will prove to be beneficial as when using apps such as 'Maps' on the iPhone, you won't get as flustered as you might usually do in other cities. I have no sense of direction whatsoever and the perpendicular structure that Manhattan is known for really does come in handy when attempting to visit Times Square or Macys.

2. Tip for Tipping:

The tipping culture is something that we Brits find to be quite absurd along with many in other countries, especially tourists who visit from the East view tipping to be highly disrespectful since you are essentially 'taking pity' and throwing excess money at servers for doing a job that they're supposed to be doing. Nevertheless, when in Rome, do as and that includes knowing how to give tips that are not too stingy but also ensure that you're not blowing your entire salary either. The general rule of thumb is that you are supposed to double the tax which is always printed on the bill you receive in a restaurant. The tax can vary from being $3 to even $10 depending on the establishment. Therefore the tip should range from $6 and over. Of course most of us are not at liberty to be so generous when tipping so a safe amount to tip in restaurants is usually $5.

3. Buy a Metro Card!

While NYC is great for walking and burning off calories, not everyone is able to physically manage without another means of transportation. The subway provides a quicker alternative to taking taxis and allows you to arrive at your destination in half the time since chock a block traffic is what usually prevents speedy trips above ground. In order to gain unlimited rides for the duration of your choice, a metro card is definitely the way to go! The passes may prove to be quite costly so keep in mind the length of your trip. If you're only in New York for a few days, stick to walking. If you're gonna be touring the city for longer than a week then a subway pass/metro card will prove to be more economic in the long run.

4. Street Food Vs Fine Dining:

NYC is home to some of the tastiest street foods that range from typical American classics, to Middle Eastern staples and Mexican treats. They are also shockingly cheap which also adds to the appeal of opting for fast and expedient takeout instead of dining at an expensive restaurant which will essentially bleed you dry; most of the time. Nevertheless, some restaurants offer what street-food can't; the dining atmosphere. For example, a fantastic Korean BBQ restaurant on 5th Avenue, Let's Meat, offers grills where servers bring unlimited amounts of meat for a set price along with various side dishes. You can then eat like a Korean in South Korea by grilling your own meat and enjoying traditional staples such as Kimchi and Soju (Korean Alcohol). I recommend that you sample both Street Food and Restaurants, since there are some dishes the other can't produce with the same flair and flavour.

These are my tips to help you get through what can appear to be a very confusing city so you can make the most out of your experience.

Lavanya Nair

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