What is it about NY that makes it so fascinating? Is it the unashamed directness of the populous that inhabit Manhattan? “Excuse me” says the man who has just begun his walk down 5th Ave, “Can you tell me the way to the Statue of Liberty, or should I just go fuck myself?” Is it the food? Every second store front is selling some kind of sustenance that is either regarded as ‘the best on the planet” or “world famous”! How many secret recipes can there be? According to my simple math after walking down 8th Ave this week, probably tens of thousands, and each one claiming to be better than the other. Is it the tourist attractions? New Yorkers can be found dressing up as Elmo or Mickey Mouse in Times Sq and threatening every 5 year old boy and girl that walks past them and doesn’t tip after requesting a picture? Is it the constant heat and humidity at this time of year, made all the worse by the uneven overly populated concrete sidewalks that carry more smelly human beings than any European sauna? Or is it just the continual putrid smell of urine wafting through endless tunnels where a never ending and confusing stream of sweaty locals are transported daily from one end of the island to another?
I think it could be all of the above, but frankly speaking, and after many visits to the city over the past thirty years, I am at a loss why anyone finds New York attractive.
I’ve written about this before, and I’ve received countless responses from some who chastise me and others who just applaud my candor, but seriously, is there anything in that city other than great food that can be worth chasing? The cab drivers are rude and incompetent. The pizza is $20 a slice. The museums are amazing, but does anyone in this instantly bored generation give a damn? The subway is a mess, the shops are expensive, the people are just permanently sour, so why bother?
I just spent three blissful days in NY. Blissful? Yes, because I stayed in Hoboken New Jersey, located just at the other side of the Hudson river, 10 minutes on the Path train to Manhattan and as serene as any holiday resort I have every stayed at. The place itself is small, but its character is huge. It’s feel is New York but without the madness. You can sleep at night and never hear a single car horn or police siren. You can walk the streets with the absolute certainty that people will be nice to you and you can run outside on the waterfront without ever smelling one ounce of pollution. All in all it was paradise in comparison to Manhattan, and all in all I was delighted to tell my friends that at last, after all these years, this was the place to stay when a trip to NYC is required. I ate well, slept well and returned to CA so much more refreshed than wherever I had stayed on the opposite side of the water. It’s only 20 mins to Newark airport and the nutters, as depicted above, seemingly do not exist in Hoboken. The view of the Freedom tower was to die for and the general consensus was positive.
So no matter how bad the smells is in NYC, no matter how rude the people are, no matter how expensive the food seems to be, Hoboken offered a refuge that was quite unexpected. Except for the thought that each day I had to venture across to the other side, I was happy to spend my time contemplating just what other people’s fascination about Manhattan really is! The answer? I have no fucking clue!!