Living in The City and traveling to the Big Apple are two very different beasts.
As someone who is currently living in New York City but has visited the city a number of times as a tourist as well, I am as qualified as anyone to reflect on the travel-ability of New York after the devastating hurricane two weeks ago.
For those of us living here, we realize the typical chaos of the city has reached incredible new heights with 30,000 to 40,000 people displaced and looking for housing, the subway system running at around 80% service and nearly 140,000 houses and apartments still without power.New York may not have the cleanest subway system in the world, but trust me, every New Yorker is glad the trains are running again.
New York may not have the cleanest subway system in the world, but trust me, every New Yorker is thankful the trains are running again!
However, none of this chaos stopped Aerosmith from playing on the “Today Show” last Friday for their “Global Warming Tour” (ironic much?). Actually, most of the entertainment industry, including Broadway, is pretty much back to normal, as power has been restored to downtown Manhattan.We’ve come a long way since November 2, when military vehicles were brought in to supply water to residents of lower Manhattan!
So…is it worth taking a trip to New York now or should you postpone your travels?
Honestly, it all depends on what you hope to get out of your visit.
New York right now is rough, raw and real. In lower Manhattan and surrounding boroughs you’re likely to see signs dangling precariously from storefronts, missing shutters, and in some areas like Staten Island and Long Beach, homes totally destroyed. The subways aren’t functioning perfectly and the gas shortage may persist for a few days.
These setbacks don’t mean that you can’t find a cab anywhere or that the subways are totally unusable. Most businesses are up and running again, and are in desperate need of your tourist dollars, so they may even go the extra mile to earn them.
And although the entire city is struggling to get back to normal and salvage their routines while relatives crash on their couches and use their showers, you may just find New Yawkers are more willing to chat with you than they were before the hurricane.
I’ve had more conversations with random people here in the past week than I have in the past three months. These conversations are often peppered with complaints about Sandy-related misfortunes like lack of heat or long commute times, but I’ve also found many people who don’t hesitate to throw in a comment or two about how thankful they are for something. To me, that is a huge improvement from the stand-off attitude I’ve come to associate with the city.
Times Square is brightly lit and buzzing like always. (Check out this cool time-lapse video of Times Square coming back to life after Sandy.)
And there are plenty of opportunities to earn some Karma points while you’re here (Here’s a great list of volunteer and donation opportunities).
So really it’s up to you to decide if it’s in your best interest to travel now or postpone. If you’d like to partake in the great shopping that New York City is so famous for, while helping local businesses when they need it most, then there’s no time like the present for you to come.
It’s a perfect way to appreciate who makes up the city you’re visiting.
Your Broadway ticket is supporting an ensemble member who has no power, and your after-show dinner is helping that Italian restaurant owner recover after a week without business.
If you’re looking for a perfectly relaxing vacation, free from any transportation delays and a little dirt, you might want to consider postponing. But who comes to New York City to sip margaritas and sit by the pool anyway?
Christina Gmyr is a travel addict with a degree in Political Science and a passion for authentic living. Understanding that politics and authenticity are polar opposites in the world today, she is pursuing an education in Life, while temporarily residing in NYC. She laughs a little too much, has trouble staying in one place, and you can follow her travel adventures at fleetinglife.com or contact her at www.facebook.com/cgmyr.
Editor: Lara C.
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