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Baby’s first out-of-town guests

19 Nov

Entertaining guests can be a daunting experience when you’re new here. Knowing your way around remains a challenge for months after you arrive, and when you’re responsible for guiding someone else as well, it can be a LOT to handle.

Here are some basics on preparing visitors — especially first-timers — for what to expect:

• Emphasize the vast amount of walking involved. For the largest subway system in the world, it still doesn’t go everywhere — especially the far east or west sides of the island (Alphabet City, Meatpacking). Many people land in New York with a suitcase of their most city-chic shoes and outfits, but do encourage them to forfeit at least some vanity while here. Even comfy footwear causes blisters after a day of walking, so have them pack a foot-fixer kit of moleskin, neosporin, band-aids and gel insoles.

• Have them write out a ‘must-see’ list. A friend of mine claims he doesn’t let tourist visitors crash on his floor unless they arrive with a written-out list of 10 things they want to do. Encourage your guests to do their own research before they arrive. Because there’s nothing worse than waking up to a houseful of people asking, “So, what are we doing today?”

Keep a spare set of towels, shampoo and (if you don’t already use one) a small hairdryer. Because these things are a pain to pack. 

• Warn them about the smallness. Their bathroom at home is probably bigger than your bedroom.

• If they want show tickets to things that book up months in advance, like Wicked, let them know months in advance.

• If they have an iPhone, have them download Hopstop or CityTransit. Life savers.

• Ask for their food preferences and have restaurant ideas in mind. This is one thing that is easier done by you than them — and it will keep you from wandering around the city going, “Let’s just walk until we find a place to eat.” Twenty minutes later, no one can decide and everyone’s hangry.

• What’s in it for you: Out-of-towners allow you break routine and be a tourist in your own city. You’ll love the looks on their faces when they see for the first time what you see every day. Plus, what are the odds you’d ever go to Ellis Island with your friends on a random Saturday? Yeah, you so wouldn’t.

I’ll stop there — I could add to this list forever. What’d I miss?

Coming soon: Where to take your out-of-town guests! Advice on how to handle the most touristy places on your checklist, as well as where to show them slices of real New York life.

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Hey, it’s OK…

16 Oct

• to refuse to take a flyer from that annoying, sandwich board-wearing person in the street, even if they wave it right under your nose.
• to congratulate yourself and your S.O. for surviving the mayhem that is Trader Joe’s, and still holding hands after.
• to pretend you’re running late when a clipboard-wielding Greenpeace volunteer tries to get you to sign something in Union Square.
• to tune out when your friends in other cities talk about how big their apartments are and how cheap their rent is.
• to decide not to buy something off Craigslist when you arrive and find it is not what you want, not what was described or in worse condition than promised.
• to get giddy when “New York, New York” comes on — or whenever you’re in Times Square. (Previously: Stay a Tourist Forever.)
• to bow out of yet another trip to the Met with out-of-town guests.
• to respond to a friend’s story with, “This totally reminds me of that episode of Sex and the City where…”

(The title of today’s post was inspired by my favorite feature in Glamour magazine.)

Can you walk and not piss people off at the same time?

1 Oct

The natives get restless when tourists and newcomers use the sidewalk, subway platforms, escalators or stairs to do anything other than get the hell out of their way. It’s true: The two most important words for pedestrians on the New York City streets is KEEP MOVING!

Here are the top 10 “violations” guaranteed to draw scrutiny from the stressed-out masses:

1) Exiting the subway, then standing at the top of the stairs while you reach for your phone, sunglasses, umbrella, coat, map, whatevs.
2) Texting while walking. Even if you think you’re good at it.
3) Standing in the middle of the sidewalk to admire the skyscrapers (or rummage through your purse, or do anything).
4) Walking three or more abreast. Broadway in SoHo is especially bad, what with the gaggles of shopping girls linking arms.
5) Smoking for a captive audience. If there are people who can’t avoid being downwind of you, and you’re exhaling every which way, people will be VERY pissed off. And by people, I mean me.
6) On a related note, each time you indiscriminately litter by chucking your cigarette butt on the sidewalk? Make sure you don’t hit a passerby. Because ouch. And also because LAWSUIT!
7) The four magic words for public transit*: LET PEOPLE OFF FIRST.
8) Spitting on the sidewalk. Gum on the sidewalk. Loogies on the sidewalk.
9) Closing your soaked umbrella any way but verrrrrry slowly. Get in the line of fire, and those things are worse than a wet dog drying off.
10) Being That Guy with a golf umbrella only OctoMom should be allowed to use. Especially under scaffolding. Shut it down!

Quick tip: On especially packed sidewalks, I walk that little strip of street between the curb/scaffolding and the parked cars. It can be kind of grimy there (watch for puddles and grease), but it’s like being in the HOV lane. Beep beep, y’all.

*Also, this is my one-sentence rant on subway pole leaners. Because no.