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touristy cities

Marc says he wants to go back to new york city someday. That's a subject where we disagree, I'm afraid. I liked some things about New York, liked the shopping and the styles and public transportation, but I found most of the city to be so unaccomodating it left a bad taste in my mouth.

I'd heard that people weren't nice but shit, I almost got my ass kicked at a bar because I dropped the lid on a water bottle and it got into somebody's space, every little thing brings on the meanest looks.

And then there were practical issues that are probably offshoots from the base hostility... like, no public restrooms anywhere. I can even deal with the "you have to buy a coffee here to use our bathroom" idea, but cities that get lots of tourists don't even have that. They don't have to be nice to people. Every business owner says it's not his problem.

I started my anger at the guggenheim because we went on a discount night, and everyone there clearly HATED all of us who came on discount night. Intentionally making the line slow to get in, and every single bathroom was literally the worst thing I'd ever seen in my life, like they hadn't cleaned all week just to save up the disaster for us. I mean come on museum... if your entire staff hates everyone who comes on discount night why even have one?

And then we were in new york hell, on the north side with a hotel on the south side of Manhattan, I wanted to see more of the city but we had to just end the whole night because every business had a giant sign posted about how there was absolutely no public bathroom. I was desperate, started crying on the subway about it, because by the time we finally made the call to give up and go back to the hotel I was in physical pain so waiting another twenty minutes was unbearable.

What the hell do people with kids do? I guess just never go to new york city.

And I know some snob could read this and say "we're not going to accommodate you backwoods kansas hicks" and I'm saying "fine".

Where I live, we appreciate tourists, a lot, we'd love them. And I also know someone will read this and say "Well sure Kansas appreciates tourists, you don't GET ANY because you suck."

So we're topographically boring. Economically boring. Whatever you're going to say about us, at least we aren't pretending like we don't need toilets. What's the point of visiting a place like that? There's no magic for me, I can't love it. There are plenty of interesting cities that show a tiny bit of accommodation, I can go to those.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 2nd, 2013 08:48 pm (UTC)
Ahhhh sorry I promise we aren't all like that!
Dec. 2nd, 2013 11:01 pm (UTC)
Sorry you had such a bad experience the last time with New York City! :(

The Guggeinheim thing-- I don't it's particularly geared towards hating discounters, but you have to admit the kind of crowd that comes during discount night is very different from their regular patrons. Discount nighters tend to have less interest in the arts than a regular patron, as evidenced by that given the noise level and the crowd situation, a regular patron who wants to enjoy the arts will pay the extra to come during regular hours, further goes to emphasize that you are there to do a tourist drive-by and not really appreciate it. I'm not saying it's right or wrong because when I was in college, I certainly grit my teeth and went during discount night, but if you can afford it, dont go during those hours; and for the workers, they face ill-informed patrons, patrons who expect everything in a short amount of time, and patrons with questions like "how do I see everything here in 10 minutes?!" It wasn't that they hadn't cleaned the bathroom in weeks. It's really the kind of patrons that come during discount week really DO treat the bathroom like that. Sorry to say.

Erika is a toddler and we go to the city once a month. She has never had bathroom issues. Stop at a coffeehouse or restaurant and buy a drink or an appetizer or a beer and use the bathroom. Go to the public libraries (one every neighborhood). Every subway stop has a bathroom, especially the big ones like Penn Station, Port Authority, Financial District, Grand Central, etc. I mean, c'mon, spacefem, surely you see toddlers in NYC and they seem to survive, right? :)
Dec. 2nd, 2013 11:06 pm (UTC)
I know this may sound counter-intuitive, but try the off-the-beaten-path for NYC maybe? Instead of hitting all the big spots like the Guggenheim and the Met and Times Square... maybe look for some smaller museums that you may like, like The Cloisters or New York Hall of Science? Or try a small jazz scene or a live open-mike coffeehouse at night? A small artist/troupe performance of Shakespeare or look for NYU's music school performance. I like Barnard College's dance and choir program, personally :) Go to indie art galleries or a farmer's market downtown. There are great parks for kids aside from Central Park, so check those out. Erika actually hates Central Park-- too big, too many people, too touristy.
Dec. 2nd, 2013 11:45 pm (UTC)
Wow, your experience with NYC is so different than mine. We brought Will there when he was 8 months old because my brother was getting married in Central Park. It was a whirlwind 4 day trip, but we didn't encounter any overt rudeness at all, and everyone was very kind to us when we'd bring Will into restaurants and such. He usually fell asleep lying across my lap while I ate.
We loved NYC so much that we decided to go back this past May when I was 6 months pregnant and Will was 2.5 years old. Had a BLAST! We went for virtually free thanks to my frequent flyer miles and hotel points hobby, so we decided to spring for taxis most of the time instead of taking the subway, which was a huge help with a kid who was still in a stroller. We also stayed in midtown so it was less of a hike in either direction to get to Central Park or downtown. Will was not yet potty-trained, so that certainly made things easier, but still - at 6 mo pg, I had to stop to pee pretty often myself. It IS a bit of a pain to buy something and then go to the bathroom, but not unmanageable. And with Will in tow, we usually did 1-2 activities then stopped back by the hotel for some downtime (and used our own bathroom) before heading back out. NYC was probably our favorite family trip, but then, we are not ones to shy away from traveling to big cities with kids in tow... we brought Will to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then on a 3 week trip to France at 14 and 25 months respectively, but NYC was awesome! Will loved the butterfly exhibit at the Natural History Museum, playing, running, and riding the Carousel in Central Park, dancing on the "Big" piano in FAO's, looking at the big buildings and hundreds of taxis, sampling treats from the Union Square greenmarket, feeding the goats in the Central Park Zoo, and trying gelato. Sure, it was harder with him than it would have been without him, and yes, we did have to seriously scale back our plans from what we could have seen if we were there on our own, but going as a family gave NYC a special kind of magic all its own.

Edited at 2013-12-02 11:55 pm (UTC)
Dec. 2nd, 2013 11:48 pm (UTC)
Oh and also - on our first trip there, we used a nanny/babysitting service for Will so we could go to my brother's wedding reception. (It was held at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at the London hotel, so it was too fancy for us to feel comfortable bringing him.) I was reeeeeaaaallly nervous about leaving him with a 'stranger' (albeit a very well vetted and qualified stranger!), but it worked out great. Quite expensive, at about $20-25/hour, but if there was one super-special thing you and Marc were dying to do alone, it might be an option.
Dec. 3rd, 2013 12:56 am (UTC)
I haven't been with kids, but NYC is one of the places I totally would take my kid. I didn't find it hard to find bathrooms, and didn't find people overtly rude. Thinking about it, I'm pretty sure I hit a restroom at at least one museum, and at Penn Station, and it was fine. Other than that, I think I mostly went at restaurants where we were eating. Most of the "no public restrooms" signs are really "restrooms for customers only" signs, as far as I remember. Mostly intended to keep people from loitering. I've been a few times, and I will say the culture of the city changed a lot between the 90s when I first went, and 2008 when I was there last. For the better, in general, especially for tourists. Times Square is a totally different place now, practically a theme park.

We didn't hit the Guggenheim last time, but we did some really touristy things that wound up being fun and pretty low key. Circle Line, the Met, the park, Bronx Botanical Garden. It was nice. We stayed near Secaucus, cheaper hotels, quick shuttle to get a train into the city. Overall, it was really nice.
Dec. 3rd, 2013 01:32 am (UTC)
I've found NYC really challenging with kids, which is why we hardly visit despite having grandparents and my brother there. I've heard Hawaii is the best place to go with children.
Dec. 3rd, 2013 04:39 am (UTC)
I've never been to NYC, but I have a similar feeling towards Seattle, which it seems is a place that everyone else loves. Maybe I had high expectations going in, but we encountered several rude people, couldn't even ask for directions - people wouldn't even acknowledge you were talking to them, were definitely being trailed by a pick-pocket, encountered a gang-fight on the bus system, etc. A few others in our group had similar stories, but then others didn't notice a thing. But, I have always known I am not a big city person.

But, it is hard to get past first impressions. There are so many places yet to travel to that I haven't added my bad experience back to the likely-to-visit-again list yet.
Dec. 3rd, 2013 06:26 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry you had such a bad experience visiting NYC (a place I love but don't want to live in). One tip for finding bathrooms in big cities is to walk into any hotel lobby. There are usually well marked signs for the bathroom and if you walk in like you know where you're going and head straight for the bathroom it works great (and they're very clean).

A thing you might love about New York is the Peanut Butter Company store since I know you love PB. Not sure if it's worth the trip just for that but just thought I'd throw in a shout out for them.
Dec. 3rd, 2013 07:57 pm (UTC)
uggh bathrooms were a challenge to find. We went recently in May with two elderly people who needed frequent bathroom runs and a 3 year old! But we always were either at some venue with bathrooms or would stop at an eatery (with a bathroom), so that solved the issue. One day it sucked when we had packed lunches and didn't really want to spend money on coffee, etc. But managed through.

I enjoy NYC every time. Never would live there, as yeah people are always is such a rush! But never had an unfriendly encounter!
Dec. 14th, 2013 07:46 pm (UTC)
Come visit Tokyo! I promise you can use the bathroom in any convenience store and pretty much any place with a bathroom, and all of the bigger subway stations have public bathrooms. (Plus, most people who work in Tokyo speak better English than I do-- I think there hasn't been a language barrier there since 1987.) I swear, that is one of the little things I love about Japan-- like, I can go out for a run, and not worry about needing to pee and coming back. That was one of the little things I hated about working in a convenience store in Boston: we weren't allowed to let people use the store bathroom, and I hated turning people away.

Edited at 2013-12-14 07:47 pm (UTC)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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