Monday, July 27, 2015

Blog readers coming to NYC for this weekend's conference

I'm seeing a lot of chatter in the comments about youze guyz coming to NYC for the Writers' Digest conference this weekend.

Here are some tips:

1. Don't take a cab from JFK if you're watching your pennies. The AirTrain at the airport goes to the A-train (subway) for $8.00

However, don't worry about being gouged by a cab driver if you do get an airport cab. The fares IN to the city are flat fee, and regulated.

2. If you're worried about the cost of food at the hotel, remember you are steps away from other places to nosh.  Get on your walking shoes and head EAST from the hotel to Lexington or Third Ave.   There are small diners, and what look like small grocery stores to you. Every small grocery store (what we call a bodega) has a deli and a grill.  For breakfast, they'll make you a bacon egg and cheese on a roll (or bagel) for $5.00 Add a large coffee and it's $7.00 total.  For lunch, a turkey sandwich on a roll is about $5.50.

Many of the delis have buffets too. They charge you by the pound. The buffets close to our office are $9.00 per pound.

Now I  know that's more than what you pay out there in places like Muncie Indiana (where I nearly fainted at how little it cost for great Thai food on Friday night) but it's cheap for NYC.

3. One of the best things to do in NYC is ride the Staten Island Ferry. It's free. Take the 4/5 train downtown, or the 1 train downtown. Get off at Battery Park, and the ferry terminal is right there.  Doing this at night is a GREAT way to see the skyline.

It's totally safe, even at night.  Be city smart of course; don't flash large rolls of cash and don't carry your wallet in your back pocket.

4. Don't be afraid of the subway. It's clean (by our standards) safe (by your standards too) and it runs all the time. So do the buses. Public transportation is really good in this city and MUCH safer than driving if you're not used to our pedestrians.

If you need to figure out which subway will take you to your destination, use HopStop

If you want to find out if your subway or bus is having issues, consult the  MTA site

5. Prepare for hot humid weather. Wear cotton rather than polyester clothes. Bring good walking shoes. Leave your heels at home, you do NOT need them here and those subway grates in the sidewalk are a menace to the unwary.

6. New Yorkers are kind to visitors but impatient. If you're lost, you can ask for help. Do it succinctly:
"Where is the subway"
"Is this the place to get the bus"
"Which way to the ferry?"

Under NO circumstances do you stand on the sidewalk with a large unfolded map trying to figure out where you are.  If you need to pause and reconnoiter, stand to the SIDE of the traffic flow.

7. Do not ask a cab driver how to get to your destination. Simply give him the address. Many cab drivers now have GPS and don't need directions. Asking a driver is asking him to take the scenic route.

8. ALWAYS note the cab number of the cab you get in. If you lose something, that's the only way you can get it back.

9. If you're hailing a cab, you may be approached by town car drivers. Be aware these guyz are UN-metered cars and frequently upcharge from what you'd pay in a taxi. Negotiate before you get in the car.

10. NYC seems hot dirty and impatient to many visitors. It may be, but it's also the center of the world, and full of people doing amazing things. I love this town with a passion that borders on the irrational and I hope you'll see some of why I do while you're here.


Adib Khorram said...

Whoa! Am I first?

I have never been to New York but I hope to make it there one day. David Gilmour is playing Madison Square Garden on my birthday but I already have tickets to his show in Chicago. I am not complaining. ANY David Gilmour tickets are good David Gilmour tickets.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Thai restaurant in Muncie too! I had it for lunch on Saturday, which in retrospect was a risky move since I had a critique that afternoon. If it had NOT been good...I shudder to think.

Street signs! That's new.

Anonymous said...

I've never been to NYC. My dad and uncles were. One uncle won the bronc riding championship at Madison Square Gardens in the '30's.

I see Kari Lynn was there again. Much respect for her. I am not afraid of much, but large cities intimidate me. It would take a very big stick to beat me to one methinks.

DLM said...

Been a few times, and even driven in NYC, it's been TOO long. Hope everyone has a great time! Great walking shoes have become A Huge Thing in my life just since my very first NYC trip. Great walking shoes are crucial and glorious.

Not in NYC right now, but have some walking to do in WA. Currently wearing: great walking shoes. Janet, suggestions in Seattle also welcome! :)

Gossamer the Editor Cat staying with his grandma and SEDUCING HER WITHOUT ANY SHAME. I worry I may not get him back. It's a good thing he poops. The litter box is my only hope.

Julie said...

You. Rock.

T-shirts and jeans or sweaters and skirts?

PS: You. Rock.

(Putting away my Xanax and planning not to tell my husband the bit about not needing cab fare).

Julie said...

PPS: Been to NYC twice.
Once I made it the entire block around Grand Central Station. Far enough to find food and my hotel and I was alone and terrified and that was the sum total of my trip.

The second time I was interviewing for a Peds Neuro position somewhere and the rents made the entire interview process simply stupid except that I got interview experience. I negotiated $50 for a cab from where I was to the MegaBus stop and the cabbie decided midway that it wasn't enough and when he found out that what I actually had on me was $50 - no more, no less - he left me in the median strip between two three-lane bits in the middle of a heavy snowstorm with a backpack, purse, and suitcase with one wheel broken off and I had no stinking clue where the MegaBus stop was and I missed it. Thank goodness there was another one, because I really did only have fifty bucks, and I have no idea what I would've done. Slept on my suitcase in the snow, I guess.

I did have a pretty good hot dog outside Columbia.

Which is why the first thing I asked after Brian said "Yes" to the conference was a follow up with "Can I also stay at the Conference hotel, because I don't want to get lost and stuck on a median strip in the snow?" (Never mind the bit about it being August, it's me we're talking about).


Those are my NYC stories.

Amy Schaefer said...

I used to be in NYC every few weeks for work, but I never saw enough; I'd love to go back as a proper tourist. The problem is, I only seem to end up in North America during the winter, and I don't really fancy slogging through the streets of Manhattan in February.

Mary B said...

Regular blog follower (though not commenter) over here! I will be at the Writers Digest conference and am also an inhabitant of the city, so if anyone wants or needs a buddy I am happy to make friends!

Also, if you're staying at or near the conference hotel, the AirTrain runs to the E subway line as well as the A line. I think it might even be 5 bucks instead of 8. (Just be careful -- there are two AirTrains that run on the same track. If you're taking the E, you want the one that goes to Sutphin Boulevard; if you're taking the A, you want the one that goes to Howard Beach. I got them mixed up last time I flew into JFK!) You can take the E subway to 53rd and 5th and walk south a few blocks straight to the Roosevelt Hotel!

Julie said...

@Mary - THANK YOU!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I used to live in Jersey and drove over to the city all the time. My favorite was the bus, then I didn't have to worry about taking out the pedestrians that continue to cross even though the light is against them. Never really felt bad about them pesky law breakers because when I was walking around I did the same thing.

ABSOLUTELY take the Staten Island ferry. It's an awesome trip and at night, it's magical. When I rode it, it cost a nickel.

I haven't been to the city in years.
The last time was when Fox News interviewed me because of a "Real American Story" video I sent them about 125 letters (I found) that my mother and father sent to each other while separated by WWII. They actually sent a limo to pick me up. I did the whole green-room thing, had my hair and makeup done for five minutes on screen. It was exciting. I just felt so famous for a day.

They were very nice to me and the producer convinced me that my story was another "THE NOTEBOOK". Funny how Teresa Park never replied to my query. I'm thinking it was because I told her what the producer said and, oh, BTW, I haven't started the book yet. I am amazed how delusions (and TV producers), can skew the thinking of an otherwise intelligent person. Me, I think.
Fox News, can't stand'em. Well, you now know where I stand politically.

Anyway, enjoy the big city, it's awesome.

french sojourn said...

King Tut's wah-wah hut, The Gas Station and Lucky Strike. Those were some of the New York bars I occasionally road tripped to from Bahston.

A lot of my friends were in bands in those days. I'll never forget one of my friends was lead singer and we were taken to this large truck that drove around in the wee hours. We were in the huge box of the truck that was converted into this real plush bar with a skylight above looking up at skyscrapers as we toured the town.

Great City. Nice post, it reminded me of way back when Hector was a pup....playing a fretless bass.

Cheers Hank

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Wow. Was that a smidgin of desire in my heart to come to NYC? I've long been intimidated by that ginormous City. (But not by London, Glasgow, Berlin, or Toronto. Hm.) And this blog just chipped away at that long-abiding fear of my woodland nature not being able to get back out alive from the busy sophistication of NYC.

Julie said...

Feeling a wee bit Piglet, but surrounded by all these Christopher Robins... P'raps... :D

In the words of Julian of Norwich... "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well..."

And if Captcha asks me to choose all the boats and throws in a picture of the Costa Concordia, does that count?

Christina Seine said...

Janet, thank you!!! You are amazing and kind.

If I see you at the bar, the next round's on me. :)

Beth H. said...

I'm jealous of all you guys going to New York! I've been a few times. The last trip I had was the best, despite having violent stomach flu. I'm almost tempted to go jump on the Amtrak right now.

E.Maree said...

Never been to New York, and as a (very very) rural Scotland lass, I think it would be quite an anxious environment to be in. Then again, you never know...

I do *love* a well organised, efficient transport system. I adore that about London: big, easy to follow signposts everywhere, and you're never five minutes away from the next train. Such a lovely change to my neck of the woods, where missing a bus or train means you're stranded for one hour... two hours... the whole night, sometimes.

I really do want to experience that Staten Island ferry trip some day.

KC said...

To NYC visitors, if you're taking a subway over the weekend, definitely check with HopStop or the MTA trip planner which incorporates the multitude of weekend service changes. And I'd second Janet's comments that if you do need help, just ask. Though not that woman with two kids and five shopping bags.

Craig F said...

I was almost run over by the Staten Island Ferry. It was a couple of years ago during the Mayors Cup Kayak race. I was trying to stay away from the refractive waves in the stretch between the Upper Bay and the East River. I believe that the Ferry was supposed to be watching but the currents caught it. The Captain had to power up to gain steerage. Missed by just a couple of feet.

Russell Buyse said...

NYC seems hot dirty and impatient to many visitors. It may be, but it's also the center of the world...

You forgot to add understated and humble, like The Donald. :-)

Marc P said...

What was wrong with the old York?

Jillian said...

ooook so how awesome is it that you took the time to post this advice.
Love the imagery of the map on the sidewalk HA!

Colin Smith said...

Janet: Could you post this as a permanent page somewhere? I won't be in NY for the WD conference, but I'd like to go visit NY properly sometime. This is invaluable info for the Southern tourist. :)

Donnaeve said...

I've been through NYC on my way to Maine - it was a mistake b/c I remember Dad asking someone for directions to get back on the Interstate and for the life of him he couldn't stop laughing at being told to go down "Toidy Toid Street" and take a turn. I as seven.

And, another time I was in NY, (not the city) and we had to stop in Saranac b/c my case of poison ivy had become so horrendously bad, (fever of 105 and it was even in my mouth) all I remember is the ER staff surrounding my bed and staring at me in horror. They'd never seen a case like it. After, I don't remember much. I was eight.

Anyway, I agree with Colin - it'd be GREAT to see this saved somewhere easy to retrieve for future reference!

Donnaeve said...

Correction: It was a mistake as in we took a wrong turn. :)

Calorie Bombshell said...

I lived in NYC back in 2002 - right across the street from Gramercy Park (had a key to the park and everything). Great location - close to everything. I loved every minute of my time there and took advantage of everything the city had to offer. I spent so many evenings in the flagship Barnes & Noble and attended many a author signing. I did suffer from the lack of sunlight and grimy, polluted air in terms of allergies, etc., but I made sure to have a facial every couple of weeks to unclog my stunned pores. I found New Yorkers to be cautiously friendly. Years of living atop each other makes people crave friendship yet value anonymity. Once I was "part of the crowd," I found them to be some of the coolest people I've ever met. It's funny though, I'd get a call at 3 am asking if I wanted to get a cup of coffee and they wouldn't believe me when I'd tell them I'd been asleep for five hours. If I ever win the lottery, one of my first acts of fabulousness will be to buy a place somewhere near Gramercy Park.

AJ Blythe said...

After I graduated from uni I worked for 6 months than packed my bags and backpacked around the US for 3 or 4 months (this was many, many moons ago). The first place I visited was NYC. I did a day tour which took me to the sights of NYC, and helped me find my feet. I think my fave from the tour was Ellis Island. The history there was incredible.

I would guess this is still the same, but I caught a ferry to the Statue of Liberty (which I climbed to the top of - not sure if you can still do this?), and then the ferry went to Ellis Island.

My first impression was how grey the city was. Footpaths and buildings met with little greenery in between. And on that first day the sky was grey as well. But once I got used to that (and discovered Central Park) the city fascinated me. Coming from Australia the subway was intriguing (we don't have any here), especially the vents in the footpaths. The street parking was puzzling, but I eventually found out how it worked. Eating food from street vendors (hot dogs and pretzels) and talking to the locals - when I could get some to slow down - was huge fun.

I went to some shows on Broadway (something I had wanted to do for ever). This will probably date me, but I saw Grease and Phantom of the Opera.

I spent one day just walking around and discovering NYC for myself. It was fun (although I was a little nervous not having any idea if where I was walking was safe or not). But I didn't have any problems there at all (unlike San Fransisco where I couldn't leave a restaurant one night because of a gun fight outside, and one day where I got told to 'turn around, walk back the way you came, and stop looking like a tourist'!).

The most heartbreaking thing for me in NYC was the number of homeless begging. We have homeless people who beg in Australia, but just not in the numbers I saw in NYC. At least, not in the cities I've been to in Oz. It was really hard to know how to deal with them (I was living on the smell of an oily rag myself, so didn't have a cent to spare).

Of course, the thing that aggravated me the most (and this was for all the US) was the tipping. How much do you leave? Who do you leave tips for? The guilt when I realised I forgot to tip! Apparently Aussies are renowned for being bad tippers - but it isn't part of our culture so we aren't used to it.

I really enjoyed my time there. In fact, at the end of my trip which ended in Washington DC (I did an anti-clockwise, zig-zaggy holiday around the US) I grabbed a chance to pop back up to NYC for another 2 days to squeeze in some things I'd missed the first time.

If you get the chance to go you should. Having been through many US states I can say that NYC was nothing like any of the other places I visited. And if I can navigate NYC as a young foreigner, you locals shouldn't have any problems =)

Jennifer S. Brown said...

The best tips for tourists is Johnny T's NYC Tourist Tips. Seriously. Funny. And true. :-)

LynnRodz said...

Janet, you're such a sweet shark for giving all that information. I love NYC. My only advice is don't go to Times Square on New Year's Eve! I love big cities and I love discovering them on my own. Walking is the best way, the only city I was afraid to walk alone in was Cairo, but that's another story.

I had to laugh about #6. It's so true, I have a bit in my WIP about how impatient New Yorkers are if you don't get their directions the first time, or if you take too long to ask them what you want. It's exactly like you say, you have to ask fast and as short as possible. None of this, "Hello, could you please tell me how..." by the time you get to your question, they're gone.

Now this would not work in Paris. If you don't start by saying, "Hello..." you're off to a bad start.

DeadSpiderEye said...

New York seem interesting, it might even be better than Weston super Mare.

Colin Smith said...

DeadSpiderEye: I don't know... I have some happy memories of Weston Super Mare from my childhood! :)

Timothy Lowe said...

I second Janet's comment about hot. I visited a cousin in NYC on Thursday and the kids (5 and 8), wife and I walked from Penn to about the Brooklyn Bridge. Not a real hot day but it was hot in the city. My cousin made an interesting point - think about all that air conditioning venting out onto the streets, he said. That heat's gotta go somewhere. That, and the concrete and pavement that invariably heats, and the breezes trapped by the buildings, and all I can say is dress for hot.

Kids did well, BTW. Have to hand it to them. Only a little grumbling and a few blocks of carrying the 5 yr old. That's what you get in NYC when you're too stubborn to ask directions from a subway worker (or when the line's too long, like we found at Penn). We found the MacDonald's at Union Square to be a wonderful respite. Where else in NYC can you get an ice cream cone for a dollar?

If you can find one, I know there are quite a few underground bars that (at least, used to) serve PBRs for two dollars too. That is, if you really want to go slumming, which I've never had a problem with.

AJ Blythe said...

Following tlo's comment, I have to comment with my professional hat on... yep, the effect of Urban Heat Island's are a well known scientific phenomona. It's why my home town of Canberra is the coldest capital in Australia (we regularly sit below freezing at night and a few degrees above during the day, I think it converts to 20'F to 48'F) yet during Australia's recent Polar Vortex weather we were left without snow while places in the sub-tropics were white *sigh*.

Anonymous said...

No, I think I'll pass on NYC. I have a friend on Long Island who insists it isn't that bad, but if this hick ever got lost they'd never find me.

"Excuse me, I hate to bother you but--" Hmm, maybe the thirtieth person will know.

I'm sure it's a magical city, but sometimes when you tempt Fate, Fate says, "Hey guys, get the R O C Cola and watch this." This is how adventures or news at eleven stories start.

Julie said...

Me: "Oo! I'm gonna go out tomorrow and buy a stuffed shark. D'you think she'll sign it?"
He: "She's gonna kick you off the blog."

Captcha: "Select all pictures with SALAD" --> Green cake with kiwis on it.

Honestly, Captcha, what gives? Do you hate me? Or are you honestly just trying to prove I'm an idiot?

Julie said...

@Julie - Oh, come on. You should come. We'll team up and make a News at Eleven. Maybe not in NYC, but somewhere.

Or at least we'll make a Plot Bunny or a Writing Prompt. "Two Julies, A Map, And A Whole Bunch Of Annoyed New Yorkers. And A Cucumber."

Julie said...

I know what let's do.
Let's ALL go buy those remote control inflatable shark balloons and bring them...... We can make our own "Conference within a conference...." Take over the thing...

Funny how some ideas seem SOOO funny this time of night.

Julie said...

I just looked at this map.
It appears that I shall need another airport to get me from JFK to Roosevelt in order to get past all of the streets. I'm going to get a really, really BIG Air Shark and fly MYSELF in.

Because that'll go over real well with the FAA and FCC.

(wait for it)
...a lead balloon.

In Town Transport

A.J. Cattapan said...

Sadly, I'm not going to the Writer's Digest conference, but I am totally storing away these tips for when I visit NYC in November!

Thanks for sharing!

S.D.King said...

Janet, how wise of you to zero in on the very things that visitors need to know - and how kind to share your wisdom.

Hope all who are attending have a great time. Me? At home, busy writing a magazine story about a sleepover gone wrong - for preteens.

Kate Larkindale said...

Gah! All this talk of New York has made me desperately want to return. I haven't been since 1999, but it remains one of my favorite cities in the world. Maybe one day I'll make it back… Hopefully!

DeadSpiderEye said...

Colin Smith:

Of course you're right, better than Weston -- what was I thinking?

Unknown said... I love that 'Your Sharkness' really 'gets' the city. Some people set up temporary quarters there, but never really open themselves to enjoying the heartbeat and rhythm of my fave city in the world. But, it may be the reason that I roll my eyes at people that take forever to get to the question. lol

kaitlyn sage said...

When I was last in NY for a conference, I managed to sneak away one night for a celebratory dinner at PRUNE, Gabrielle Hamilton's teensy tiny (and I do mean itsy bitsy- it's hard not to eavesdrop on your neighbors) little bistro on East 1st Street for one of the best meals of my life.

If you have the time and a little bit of extra dough to drop on a wonderful meal by an even better writer (her memoir, Blood, Bones, and Butter is a favorite of mine), get thee to Prune. But definitely call for reservations. It's wee, remember?

Theresa said...

It's great to imagine a whole contingent of this blog's readers meeting up at the conference!

Scott Sloan said...

I think the biggest problem with those who don't frequent NYC is all the built-up preconceptions one doesn't realize is floating around in your head. Having watched just entirely too many old TV shows set in the Big Apple (and weren't they all set in NYC?), it begins to form a mental background.

When I first came to NYC, low those many years ago, it was a bit like those old police dramas. But like any city, New York changed. Times Square is no longer an area of sex shops and drug addicts. If anything, it's gotten a bit Disney-fied, with the chain stores and the clothing stores and the chain restaurants, and the clothing stores, and the billboards and the clothing stores… did I mention the clothing stores?
There are some that feel the city has lost a bit of its character, with all the homogenization that has taken over in the more well-known portions of the city.
Guilty, Your Honor.

The biggest tip I can give any first time visitor is this… they're called side-WALKS. Not a side-STANDANDGAWK. Not a stand-WOOWHEELOOKATALLTHEBIGBUILDINGS. Not a side-FIDDLEWITHTHESETTINGSONTHECAMERA. Not a side-LETSGETAGROUPPICTURE.

New Yorkers live in the greatest city in the world, and the center of the known universe.
If this makes them a tad impatient, or always in a hurry, then that's the price you pay for all that fabulousness.
Please understand that they do not necessarily hold you in contempt.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
When in the Center of the Universe, do as the, um… Sharks do.

If you're the type of person to go to China, and demand grits with your breakfast (actually, there's a place in Hong Kong where I can make that happen for you) you're not gonna do well in NYC.
If you're the type of person to eat what the natives eat, and walk as the natives walk, you'll do just fine.


Laura Mary said...

Me and my hub went to NY for the first time for our honeymoon last December - We arrived at our hotel very jet-lagged, but determined to stay up for another 5 hours to try and set ourselves straight. I remember going out for an evening walk, doing a circuit of the National History Museum, dazed and sleep-deprived repeatedly saying 'I feel like I'm in London... Until I look up...' honestly, the sight of all those skyscrapers never looses it's impact.

We took the subway/walked everywhere and never once got lost. I've never felt so at-home so far from home! We're already desperate to come back. I want to see Central Park in every season :-)