New York Subway - Bronx Bound

The Verdict Is In

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Remember this? How, after three weeks in London, we weren’t particularly thrilled with our time there?

We sure do. Because we still get flack from it.

We chalked a lot of our feelings of indifference to the fact that it’s a big city, and we ain’t big city folk. We much prefer the slower, friendlier pace of smaller towns in the country, and this inclination has been tested time and time again. We liked Trim over Dublin, Trapani over Catania, and so on.

So when we came to our conclusion about London, which was after we had booked our housesit in New York, we began to worry.

One massive city to another. If we were anxious to get out of London after three weeks… how would we feel spending six weeks in New York?

It took only the first few days to diffuse this apprehension, thanks to one Big Apple icon that continues to surprise. For it’s frequent stench of urine, our first sighting of a rat (ever! in our life!) running along the tracks, and the excessive, jolting brake force used by drivers – the iconic Subway impresses a large smile on our face each time, and leaves us with the feeling that we are having an indepth cultural experience, a true taste of the eclectic humanity that drives the energy of this city.

New York Subway - Bronx Bound

Like when, on our very first day out:

One man asked a crowded car of people for spare change in order to find his way back to New Jersey. Someone behind him shouted “Man, what you wanna go back to Jersey for? I just paid to leave that dump!” to the mass laughter of everyone else.

To help support this man’s plea, a lady started reciting bible verses loud enough for the entire train car to hear.

Behind me, two young girls rolled their eyes and continued their conversation of which hotels were currently reported to have bed bugs.

Another girl, holding onto the same pole as me to brace against the repetitive pounding of the brakes, constantly flipped her dyed-blonde hair with her other hand in an attempt to flirt with the man standing next to her. She was discussing a commercial she was just in along with other auditions in the works.

Β When we got off that train at Times Square station, we passed a gentleman sporting a fleece hat decorated with teddy bears, playing the christmas carol “Joy To The World” on his kazoo.

A little further down, a fairly talented folk band was playing in a busy corner with many people crowded to listen. Just off to the side, three girls were having their own dance party to the music (presumably induced by some “liquid courage”).

When we boarded the next train, we found ourselves in the midst of about six or seven strangers in a heated discussion about the differences in criminal laws in the city and state of New York. At the next stop, several of the participants left, and a mother and her child sat down in their place. All conversation stopped, and the young girl hopped up on her mother’s lap, resting her head atop her hands in a prayer position against her mother’s chest. We all sat silent and smiling – the drastic adjustment in mood was just so abrupt and sweet.

On a train later that night, an older man did a jig down the center of the empty car, erupting into bird noises after every chorus sung. He clung to a beat-up ball cap with his right hand, showcasing the few coins it held.


Harlem Bound

For that first day and each Subway experience since, we’ve left with a lighter step, not only from having dispersed all extra change in our pockets, but from being uplifted by the tremendous energy that exists underground. It has so far been my favorite big city experience. Ever.

In our three weeks in London, we saw barely a fraction of the character we’ve seen in one day here. Highly aware of the fact that a few days or weeks experience is hardly the basis for ultimate judgment on any one place or any one thing, I’m going to do it anyways.

New York kicks ass.

 

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71 Comments

  1. The New York subway was definitely a melting pot of entertaining people, but I found that pretty much everywhere I went in New York. No lack of character, just a lack of manners.

    1. It’s funny – we’ve found some people with a complete lack of manners, and then some really awesome people that go out of their way to be helpful and friendly. It’s all a part of the charm! πŸ™‚

    1. Oh YES, for sure. There is stuff that happened that I haven’t even included on this list. What we saw on our first day out alone was pretty enlightening.

    1. I prefer to think of them as “eccentrics” and not “looney toons”! That is one great thing about this city, there is a place for everyone, right? There are all kinds walking around here. πŸ™‚

  2. Yay, awesome!!! I loved this little peek into NYC. You are so lucky to spend a length of time there and really experience the place. Please write about your favorite experiences, I want to pick the best and do them myself when I’m there in June!

  3. Loved your post. We live in CT and are very close to NYC and love love love it. When we travel outside the country I always need to get to NYC soon after we get back to re adjust my head. I agree with you New Yorkers are so honest and out there. The city is alive and the people are amazing!!!

    1. Thanks Amy πŸ™‚ The people have been nothing short of amazing and it is definitely one of the many reasons we’re falling for this city.

  4. I love your positive take on things! When it comes to ‘the glass being half empty or half full’ your’s is overflowing! Bet Uncle Cal’s given up trying to figure you two out!

  5. it is so spooky that I wrote earlier on your other blog that the tube would be a great place to see NY… we seem to be in tune. You mentioned seeing your first rat….one of my burning memories was the action of my son when we left the subway one night to see a mound of garbage bags stacked against a lampost…”Watch this Dad” (he had been living here for months) he said, kicking the pile…………try it and see….but beware if you are nervous!!!! :0)

  6. As a novice to blogging I have no identity!!! no face…perhaps as the expert you could tell me how to get a piccy up instead of the blank? ta

    1. Thanks for your comments Gary. To get a pic up instead of the grey silhouette you just have to go to gravatar.com and sign up. You register a pic to an email address and wherever you leave comments that pic will be used.

      1. Pete,

        Thanks…

        I think Laurence sorted me out but I have to wait to get home before I find out if the Gravatar is registered..fingers crossed.

        keep up the good work… must be tough!!! Ha

  7. New York is the bomb! (can’t believe I just said ‘the bomb’) Way more to offer than London in my opinion. I can totally understand why you would like it there more. Love the subway stories. Ah yes, I remember the urine and rats πŸ˜‰ So much character though. I always felt surprisingly safe on the subway in NY too, even at night.

    1. New York is wonderful, and agreed that is has way more to offer in London. We’ve felt extremely safe here as well, even late at night. Cheers!

  8. I left my heart in NYC. Grad school, first four years as a working adult, my first boyfriends, all of my friends, my dreams, lol. It all started in Manhattan! I’ve moved around so much, that my five years in NYC is my record, the longest I’ve lived anywhere. If it wasn’t so cold, I’d still be there. I can’t wait to see what you get up to!

    1. I understand why this city holds your record, it is definitely an easy place to spend some time in. I can’t believe we only have just over 2 weeks left and I’m already not looking forward to leaving.

  9. SO excited that you guys are in my favourite city. I love the subway – people always rave about the Paris metro because of all the great buskers – and they are wonderful – but I’ve always found the entertainment provided by New Yorkers on the train so much better =) Enjoy the rest of your time there!

    1. Thanks Andrea, the time seems to be just flying by, we need a pause button. Each time we get on the subway, something interesting happens. I wonder what will happen today….

    1. You’re welcome πŸ˜‰ We get the same feeling when we see posts from British Columbia and reminds of us of our home.

      1. Pushy people (being shoved into the wall by some women late for her train seems like overkill to me!), not enough maps in the underground (take London for an example… it’s impossible to get lost), bad weather, and even getting groped in day light while walking down the street!!!…… Nah Ill take London!

        1. Totally understand, it’s really comes down to personal experience (like any place). Your experience of NY was mine in London (minus the getting groped). Everyone in the Tube looked so depressed, nevermind you can hardly fit (height wise) in that thing if you have to stand. AND the (insert bad word here) that stand at the door and don’t let you get on when the aisle is completely empty and then curse at you when you shimmy your way on. grrrr.

          I’ve loved the metro system here in NYC compared to London, and found it actually easier and with e-maps, you don’t need to find the wall map anymore…

          Sorry to hear you had a bad run here. Deal, London is all yours πŸ˜‰

  10. I absolutely LOVED NYC but it could never replace London in my heart. Maybe its a cultural thing, or that I prefer historic architecture over modern – London has history around every corner. Or maybe it was the traffic pollution – I did love the subway but hated the roaring traffic on the streets and how people seem to use (big) taxis instead of public transport. I love your story about the subway but there’s plenty of ‘eccentricity’ on the tube and elsewhere! Great post.

    1. Thanks Natasha! Every place will mean different things to every person – I think perhaps I am more intrigued with the history of New York as it is so intrinsically tied to the modern history of our home (North America in general). And we just get a different feel here then we did in London – but, to each his/her own!

      1. Definitely overdue, would move back in a heart beat if someone offered us a job.
        Enjoy your time, no matter how long you stay, you’ll want more.

  11. Oh my you guys, this was so lovely to read. πŸ™‚

    I feel like we’re the same people…not attracted to or impressed by big cities in the slightest. But every now and then one comes along that just kinda makes SENSE…NYC and Montreal for me. I miss NYC now!

    1. We ARE the same people! I’m angered we’re not chosen as sexy travel bloggers too! Haha… πŸ™‚

      So ashamed that I haven’t even been to Montreal yet….but over the moon that we are enjoying this much time in NYC!!

  12. So glad to hear that you like New York. We were a bit sad that you didn’t like London, and are fairly convinced that if we had still lived there and could have hosted you, we may have turned you around on that!!! Having said that, NYC definitely has its own incredible character, and the entire time it just feels so electric to be there. Really loving your NYC adventures! πŸ™‚

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