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Last spring, I took an unplanned road trip to New Jersey from Virginia with a long lost sister of mine I had just met 2 weeks prior in Memphis – Tennessee. It was a kinda trip with no plans or expectations but turned out to be one of the most meaningful and enriching experiences. While in New Jersey I took several day trips to New York City. And it was like a movie 🎥 scene! I didn’t understand how powerful Hollywood was until I got there and realized like I was living in a déjà-vu – everything seemed so familiar yet so strange and fascinating.

I couldn’t keep my head down, my neck was up all the time looking in fascination, the high rise building, the chaos, the hustle at every corner and yet so grounded but street smart like a Yankee so I don’t get pickpocketed. 


Along the way, I learned some things about NYC I did not know prior, so if you are heading there anytime soon or have it on your bucket list; be sure to bookmark this article of the 9 things you need to know about New York City before you arrive in order to have a better experience: 


  1. It takes more time than you think to get around

It takes an extra 20 mins to get just about anything else. If a train ride is 10 mins, plan ahead and assume its 30min; If it will take you 20 mins to get to the show on Broadway; bear in mind it will take 40 because of the queue you will meet at the door. So set off earlier than usual, don’t get worked out when the bus or subway arrives 5 mins late; knowing this will give you a better experience. 


  1. Avoid empty subway car

Don’t think you’ve hit a jackpot if you find an empty subway in the same direction where the other ones have people jam-packed like sardines. It may be unoccupied for a reason, and you better not be the one finding out what that reason is. 


  1. Don’t stop in the crowd: Keep on walking:

Even when you are lost; keep on walking until you find the closest sidewalk with fewer people or coffee shop then stop by to ask for directions or check your maps. 

Another thing is if you as a tourist see a photo opportunity while walking; make sure you do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk to snap it; because it will annoy a lot of people since the crowd moves like a perfectly organised orchestra! So the best thing to do is move away from the crowd to the sideway to take that photo. 


  1. There are 5 boroughs in NYC

It’s not just Manhattan, there is Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. That brings me to the next point:


  1. You have not seen the real NYC until you have left Manhattan :  

Definitely don’t skip downtown manhattan, do and visit all the cliche stuff! But make sure you go outside of Manhattan to see the real New York. During my trip, I was fortunate to run into a New York senior citizen on my way to Staten island whom I ended up spending over 6 hours with experiencing New York from the eyes of a New Yorker. Take the subway to Queens, escape to Brooklyn Botanical garden, see some art at MOMO, take a mast brothers chocolate tour, visit the Bronx, just go outside Manhattan and experience a different realm. 


  1. For best views, minimal crowds and fresh air: Riding the East River ferry

When I hear New york; my imagination goes to stellar skylines and it would be a disservice to your visit not to see one. So be sure to take on this local ferry which runs down the East river with stops starting in Queens all the way down to the Financial District in Manhattan. 


  1. It doesn’t have to be expensive: there are a lot of free and inexpensive things to do, to see, to eat and to experience. So don’t stretch yourself too far all in the name of enjoyment; I will guide some more tips on this later 


  1. Save money on sightseeing: In fact, I can say a lot of attractions are free in new york, it cost $0 to take the ferry to Staten Island, Walk on time Square and see all the iconic building, take a photo on wall street with the Brave girl and by the bull, You can walk to Brooklyn Bridge, New York Public Library, St Patrick’s Cathedral and Visit the Socrates Sculpture Park, Grand Central Terminal, Walk across the Central Park and perhaps even have a picnic there: it’s all free. Some museums also have free days so be sure to do some research ahead of your visit  


  1. Dress up like a New Yorker: don’t ask me what to wear; style is but a feeling! So dress accordingly to where in New York you are going.


  1. It looks just like the movies & more: I just had to add this one to the list.

  1. Last but not the least, You will get lost or may miss the subway: and that’s okay! Make it an adventure!


Do you live or have you been in New York City? What else would you say are the most known before anyone arrives? Are you heading to New York City or know anyone who is? Share this article with them and they will thank you later! 


Happy Travels

Africans Living Fully

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