Thursday, October 29, 2020

The NYC Traveler: Getting Around, Part 4

 The NYC Traveler in NYC:

An Introduction to the City of New York

(practically speaking!)


The Series

Part 4: Getting Around

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Arriving to NYC and getting to your lodging is one thing. Getting around to see the sights is another. As you will read in many, many guides, the best way to see the sights is to use mass (public) transportation and then, once you reach your destination, walk. 

BONUS Tip #1: Read the NYC Official Guide and the MTA website for safety tips. 

BONUS Tip #2: Be aware of your surroundings, do not take your valuables out in crowded locations. Take your carfare or ticket out in a secure location and keep it in a front pocket to use when you get close to your destination.

BONUS Tip #3: Put a strap on your camera. Get a phone case that accommodates a strap. Make sure it is secure and stay alert.

BONUS Tip #4: Carry bags that can close up completely, can be put close you, like a crossbody or waist pack and are RIFD secure. Try to carry credit/debit cards rather than cash. Even better, make sure your electronic version is set up in your phone. Carry copies of your passport and keep the original in the safe in your lodging. You will need to carry one real piece of ID.

Here are your options.




1. Car: as we mentioned in Part 3, Arrival to NYC, driving in many parts of the City of New York is only for the most experienced and bravest of drivers (and this goes for all 5 boroughs). And it may not be because of navigation, but because of traffic and parking. Manhattan Island is only 22 miles in length and it can take you more than an hour to get from the Battery to the end at Broadway and West 220 Street, probably two. If you drive to NYC, invest in parking the car for your stay. If you drive a rental to NYC from another state, return it to the airport and then rent it again to return home. 


2. Subway: subways run in and to and from all five boroughs. Staten Island has a subway line that runs on the island only. To get to another borough, you must take a bus or ferry. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), has a website and an app, which has been upgraded. You can enter your starting point and destination and it will tell you how to get there (and how long it may take). You will need a metro card (still available as of late 2020) or you can use the new OMNY system, which links to your credit card or digital wallet. This would be if you are staying in the city for a long time. Not all scanners are in all stations, so it is best to get a metro card (See picture in 3). You put a certain amount on the card and swipe at the train station or to get on the bus. Metro cards cost $1 in addition to the fare. You can refill it at metro card machines. 


3. Subway lines are color coded and use numbers (1-7) and letters (A-G, J, L-N, Q, W, Z). The letter S trains are shuttles and there are 3. Visitors most likely will use the 42nd street shuttle to go from Port Authority to Grand Central. 

4. Bus: The buses are great for shorter trips. There are now bus only lanes in Manhattan and in some of the outer boroughs. The nice part about a bus in any city is that you can see the city. Use the MTA website and app to plan your trip. Beware of express buses. You must purchase the ticket at the machine at the bus stop before you board. Express buses are best for going from one borough to another or to LaGuardia Airport.



5. Cabs and car services: cabs can be hailed (waved down in the street) in Manhattan, called by phone in the outer boroughs and can be caught by standing on line at the can stand at the airports. Car services such as Uber and Lyft work the same way as any other place. Local cars, such as the "dollar vans" should only be used by locals (if you happen to be traveling with one). 

6. Walking: For all the glamour that is in NYC, everyone walks, even rich folk. Try getting off the bus or subway a couple of stops from your destination and walk the rest of the way. If you're stuck in traffic, it might be best anyway. Have a good map app on your phone. We use Google Maps.


7. Cycling: Bicycling around town increased tremendously in NYC during the pandemic. It can be a great way to see the city. However, if you are using it as a method of transportation, there are a few guidelines: you must go with the traffic, have a bell, have lights for dusk and night. Children under 16 must have a helmet and adults are strongly urged to wear one also. You should have 3 locks: one for the frame to the parking place (trees, poles and street lamps are illegal); and one each to lock each tire to the frame. Bike maps are free in bike shops. You can rent one from a bike shop or use Citi Bike and return it to a kiosk when you reach your location. By using Citi Bike, you don't have to worry about locking it up.

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8. Tour buses: you will see people in red jackets selling you tour rides in sightseeing buses. Hop on, hop off buses are great ways to see the sights and they plan the route for you. Some tickets include a location, like the Empire State Building. Since it is difficult to determine who is legitimate or not on the streets, it is best to buy your ticket online or through your travel consultant.  Big Bus Tours is the most popular.

9. Private tours are also available. Make sure you research very carefully; consult your travel consultant or hotel concierge. 

10. Local friends and family: asking a friend about getting around NYC can be valuable and you may end up with a tour guide. Many times, locals have not been to all of the sightseeing places and it could be fun for both of you.

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 This review is my personal opinion. I have Booking links.