Thursday, 24 July 2008

Creaking city

Although New York thinks of itself as a five-star city with a reputation for high-class services and superb hospitality, I beg to differ. Just about everything Jenny and I did ran into some unexpected glitch.

* At the Whitney Museum we went through a door marked Exit which set off an ear-splitting security alarm. There was no warning the door was alarmed.

* There was a one-hour queue in scorching heat for the Ellis Island ferry, as it goes via the Statue of Liberty. They don't have a ferry for each island.

* My plane from New York to Chicago touched down 3¼ hours late. This was put down to thunderstorms and air traffic control problems.

* The water only ran hot in our hotel room after 8 am. Before that it was cold. According to the hotel, we weren't running the taps for long enough.

* One pizzeria menu included a personal pie, a regular pie and a large pie. When we asked the waitress what sizes these were, she didn't know and recommended slices instead. It's only my second day, she pleaded.

* Virtually all the museums and galleries were closed on Monday, as opposed to Chicago where most of them opened on Monday.

* The signage to tourist venues was so poor we were forever asking people for directions. Even the Ground Zero Visitors Centre was hard to find.

* The key cards for our hotel room kept failing and we were constantly getting them reprogrammed. The hotel blamed over-sensitive locks and cards.

I could go on, but I think I've made the point. So many things weren't properly thought through, had technical faults, or were badly planned. It seems to me that New Yorkers are too complacent (or easy-going) about their malfunctioning city, and ought to be a lot more assertive and demanding.

Pretending everything is fine and making out we're just nit-picking tourists is an odd attitude to say the least. My answer is, Long Live Chicago!

Photo: The Whitney Museum of American Art


  1. Nag Nag Nag! as you jet set around the States. lol!
    I continuously have the same problem with key cards - very frustrating.
    Always order small or share a entre as the servings there are HUGE!

  2. Quicky - You're telling me re servings. Some of the 18-inch deep-filled pizzas would have fed an army rather than a single person! One or two slices was quite enough!

    And bring back good old traditional keys, I say! Not to mention good old traditional plugs rather than those unreliable pop-up jobs.

  3. Sorry it was less than perfect Nick. Clare loved NY apart from the people being 'rude' and accommodation being expensive. Maybe it's the age difference, the younglings will put up with that sort of stuff ... me? I want my bed turned down and a chocolate on the pillow! (A friend of mine asked for directions in NY and was treated like a beggar, they thought he was after money!)

  4. Baino - Don't get me wrong, we had a great time in New York, but it would have been even better if there hadn't been so many unnecessary gaffes! We actually found the impromptu "Happening" at the Whitney rather hilarious!

  5. My experience of New York was quite different to yours. I applied for a Green Card as soon as I came back based on the thrilling time I had there. I have only been in the burbs of Chicago and besides that I spent four weeks in Dallas so I don't know enough about other American cities to compare.
    The atmosphere of New York was like Berlin, Barcelona and early 90s Prague all rolled in to one. When I compare it to other big cities like London or Paris, New York wins hands down because the people are so amazingly friendly. Everywhere I went people started talking to me. I loved it and I can't wait to go back (not easy with our 3 little girls growing up).

  6. Hi Nick, good to touch base with you again. I am sorry you had a disappointing time in NY.

    I have sent you an invite to my blog based on the email address you sent Bobo. I want you to be able to get in and read it. Any problems, email Bobo at

    We have internet at home now, so blogging is possible once again.


  7. Aidan - I must have expressed myself badly! We had a fantastic time in NY but we thought there were a lot of things that weren't done well. It's certainly worth visiting, it's absolutely fizzing with life!

    Hulla - Great to hear from you! As I said to Aidan, not disappointing at all, great fun! Will visit your blog later.

  8. I loved New York, a city like no other - these sound like only little gripes to me - I don't think they merit the term 'malfunctioning city' :-)

  9. Conor - Okay, fair enough, let's say a city with a few rough edges - will that do?

  10. hehehe yes I will happily accept that - sure where would be without some rough edges to challenge us. You've got me really wanting to go to Chicago now... that lotto win had better hurry up!

  11. Conor - Yes, you must visit Chicago. Not many people know it's got loads of beaches! Plus the best pizza in the States (so they say). And some fantastic art at the Art Insitute.

  12. I know Nick it's hard to get past the irritants especially when one sees one's life pass by while waiting in humid queues!!
    It's odd, I've had that shrug of disinterest recently in restuarants when you ask a simple question like what's the soup stock base?
    "I'm new" doesn't quite cut it with no volunteering to check with the chef.

  13. WWW - It's especially irritating when there's absolutely no need for the queues. All that's required is a separate ferry! Our waitress did actually check with the manager but came back none the wiser. How do you explain that?