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Notes from a Medium-Sized Island [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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[Apr. 16th, 2009|08:18 pm]

Some miscellaneous impressions of NYC from wandering around a little bit today after the interview; walked up Broadway from 12th where the Strand was (verdict: a shit-ton of books, but a lot of duplicates and not actually a lot of stuff that I was interested in), to 51st where my hotel was. So, you know, impersonal, as befits a major city, but not rude.

People: generally attractive, but more smokers. They do not notice you, or smile at you, unless they are other tourists in your hotel. They do however keep out of your way mostly and say "excuse me" or the like if they fail.
Language: I have heard plenty of spanish, french and german a couple of times each, russian once, and I think once portuguese. A couple of different southern england english accents, and a family of people very clearly from ireland.
Times Square: boy, outdoor imaging technology has come a long way, hasn't it?
Pizza: approaching sublime perfection. Can't remember where it was that I had a slice, but it was great.
Public Transportation: Love it. For a while I was going to get a cab from the hotel to the interview, but talking to spoons convinced me that I should just take the damn train. In hindsight not to have done so would have been absurd, since it basically went straight from where I was to where I was going. I was bit by the fact that train stations don't necessarily work like I am used to from, say, Chicago, which is that you can always get to the other side of the tracks after you pass the turnstiles, so I wound up paying once uselessly.

[User Picture]From: bhudson
2009-04-17 12:51 am (UTC)
Yeah, I screwed up the direction on the train at least once myself back in the day. I've not seen another system where you have to commit to a side of the tracks before even paying.
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[User Picture]From: mpnolan
2009-04-17 02:13 am (UTC)
... so, how many people have tried to somehow cross the tracks? (Assuming that's how it's set up.) :P
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[User Picture]From: bhudson
2009-04-17 02:17 am (UTC)
you would have to be a very special person to want to try.

For one, the rats are scary.
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From: _wirehead_
2009-04-17 01:35 pm (UTC)
fwiw, you CAN get to the other side at most stations. if this happens it is often useful to take the train up or down one stop. it is usually the smaller stations that have this issue.

also, the trains drive on the right, just like cars. so if you want to go uptown, you generally want to enter on the east side of the street.

also also, the stations where you can't cross over are clearly labeled on the sign as you enter the station. if it specifies "uptown only" or "downtown only", and that isn't the way you want to go, the solution is to cross the street.

maybe i've lived here too long, but i'm just not sure why this is hard. when i first moved here i found the local/express stop thing MUCH more confusing. :)
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[User Picture]From: bhudson
2009-04-17 02:14 pm (UTC)
The only difficulty is that it is a concept that does not exist in most other transit systems.

Express trains are another issue. But if you get directions from a local, they'll go on and on and on about the express train. You won't understand at first, but at least you'll know it as a concept to think about.
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[User Picture]From: jcreed
2009-04-17 02:17 pm (UTC)
if this happens it is often useful to take the train up or down one stop

aaaaaaah that's brilliant.

My secret shame, btw, which I think must have been due to the train running perpendicular to the street the stops were on, is what actually happened is I paid unnecessarily twice. Complete story:

Enter subway, pay, stand by tracks and fail to see any way to get across. Leave, ask station attendant if there is any way to get across, she says, no, you have to go across the street. I go across the street, enter the subway station, pay, stand by tracks, remark to myself how, haha, all the little magazine stands just like one other. Waitaminnit...
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From: _wirehead_
2009-04-17 02:52 pm (UTC)
aww. it's okay, we've all done things of that ilk. (especially while traveling -- not only are you somewhere unfamiliar, but you've also got a LOT more on your mind than usual.)

many stations have several entrances, so you can sometimes get in from all 4 corners of the intersection (or, as sometimes happens in the larger stations, a few blocks up or a few blocks over).

and there are certainly situations where the hints i gave above don't help -- some stations aren't labeled well, and there are areas where the train actually runs diagonally under the street, or is traveling crosstown though it's ultimately headed up or down.

the one about just taking the train a stop or two pretty much always works, though. as a bonus, if you go one stop and still can't cross over in the station, when you leave, cross the street and swipe back in, i believe it will count as a transfer (NOT charge you another $2).

(the whole wrong-side-of-the-platform mistake is actually more annoying if you're a local, because the unlimited metrocards only allow one swipe every 15 minutes, so you have to basically wait around until it lets you swipe again. if you have a pay-as-you-go card, i don't know if the extra travel time involved in going one stop and then switching back is worth $2.)
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[User Picture]From: _tove
2009-04-17 08:45 pm (UTC)
This also happened to me the last time I was in NY, complete with the doing it twice (though I figured it out before the card swipe the second time.) I was using a three day pass, so I didn't literally have to pay again, but I did have to wait the fifteen minutes. It was tremendously frustrating to watch the train go by at about the fourteen minute mark.
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[User Picture]From: mdinitz
2009-04-17 01:05 am (UTC)
That was my impression of the Strand the last time I was there, too.
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From: _wirehead_
2009-04-17 02:53 pm (UTC)
yeah, me too. i don't know if it's just that i'm not that much into non-fiction, but i've never found anything there that i was that interested in.
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[User Picture]From: ssaiscps
2009-04-17 02:12 am (UTC)
I've also made that mistake. "Hey, first let's just get into the station, next we can figure out which way to... doh!"
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[User Picture]From: beevek
2009-04-17 02:31 am (UTC)
a reasonable assessment of nyc! my other favorite reason for riding the train is that there are always all sorts of wacky people on board. much more fun than a cab, unless you get an interesting driver, which is fairly rare.
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[User Picture]From: gwillen
2009-04-17 04:38 am (UTC)
Did you tell me that Neil was going to be staying in our house? I was surprised when he showed up at the door. :-)

Also, nobody mentioned that apparently (according to Neil) Pete was supposed to show up at like 9? When I wasn't here... so I have no idea where he is.
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[User Picture]From: gustavolacerda
2009-04-17 07:36 am (UTC)
I had several *good* conversations on the NY subway (at least 3). NYC has some smart folks.
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[User Picture]From: easwaran
2009-04-17 08:42 am (UTC)
They do not notice you, or smile at you, unless they are other tourists in your hotel. They do however keep out of your way mostly and say "excuse me" or the like if they fail.

Interesting - I somehow got the impression on this last visit that people were happier and more friendly than I"m used to them being in California. As though New York is a city where life is really good right now, as opposed to San Francisco and Los Angeles, which are still trying to figure out how to make a workable transit system.

I did have the same impression of the languages.
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[User Picture]From: krasnoludek
2009-04-17 06:16 pm (UTC)
the last time I was in NYC I was surprised at how much more French was being spoken on the streets. I hardly ever remember encountering it in high school on the street. I think there's just many more British, French and other tourists visiting now.
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[User Picture]From: cdtwigg
2009-04-18 05:56 pm (UTC)
People who live in big cities learn very quickly not to look at anyone on the street because they invariably ask for money. I don't think it correlates with how happy they are :)
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[User Picture]From: jcreed
2009-04-18 10:42 pm (UTC)
Not by myself, no. Only once on a family vacation during which very much didn't feel like it counted.
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