Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Secrets of NYC: Getting Around - Colossal Calf Muscles

Stars show up at 12am in the East Village!
I love the East Village because it has the most balance between a neighborhood feel, food and fun – plus it’s still very central. Sure, you’ve got to exit on foot to reach the subway but walking is the main-stay of New York. Not only is it more social (great people watching) but it keeps you fit (as long as you don’t get hit by a taxi). Plus you never know whom you’ll run into. Walking through my hood, I happened upon Steve Buscemi and Nathan Lane filming a scene for the Jim Gaffigan Comedy Show on my way to a (thus) interesting but in the end unsuccessful Grindr date.

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But of course you can’t walk always – this is a big city! After my first night in the EV (and my first post), I decided to investigate my subway commute – a pretty penny at $2.75 to enter but weekly (for tourists) or monthly passes are smart to get. A quick 20 minutes down to Wall Street for me; Union Square is a 10 minute walk – and the 4/5 Express can zip you right down. Unless of course there are delays, when it’s likely that the 6 local trains work faster. For the most part, you should remember that “express” trains in Manhattan only get you places 2-5 minutes faster (in the best circumstances) – they are usually slower moving even if they make less stops – and are subject to more delays during rush hour.

Citibiking along the FDR Bike-way
I’ve seen smartly dressed commuters leave the 1 local train from up in Harlem (when I was living there) while I decided to continue riding; 15-20 minutes later they would re-enter my same train to get to local stops in lower Manhattan. Their attempt to ride “express” failed!

In the summer I try to avoid the subway, especially for a commute. Trains can work effectively for many trips – especially from Wall Street to the uber-gay Hells Kitchen area - but the subway can wear you down, especially at crowded & delayed rush hour. Not only is it dirty – but it’s smelly. Of course, the buskers make it fun – and I always hand over a few dollars for making this dreary place livelier. Still, you have to face facts – the NYC subway maybe the longest, most “efficient” US subway system but there’s little competition – and it’s the largest default homeless shelter in the world as well!

Beautiful East River views
Besides walking, what also builds great NYC calf muscles is cycling; Citi-bike-share is also an available option for traversing – though fraught with peril as you compete for space from delivery guys speeding (on electric bikes) the opposite direction on one-ways. Yet there are protected lanes in the city and picturesque spots that you only see while riding.

Nothing beats the Brooklyn Bridge
Thus on my return commute, I discovered my new top option for the summer’s commute! My bike trip takes me down the FDR Bikeway – sadly under the FDR expressway. A blessing in the summer heat (I’m sure) – but on this cool spring day I wanted some sun. The trail isn’t located in an ideal space, but the view out is beautiful with the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge flowing out to Brooklyn and the East River before you. The Westside has a more open outdoor bike trail – and a few major streets are ok to bike down (at least late at night!) definitely avoid the 8th Avenue bike lane – it’s just too full of taxis, pedestrians or food carts!

Yellow cabs are everywhere!
Of course, New York is known for its taxis – and there are obviously times – and places - where they are the most effective means. But certainly not during rush hour periods in midtown or weekend evenings. Uber can be an alternative as well – but usually you can get a cab more quickly and the price is not so different. Getting across town may be a good time to cab – especially if you’re with people – but don’t forget about buses too. Just remember to pay for your fare before you enter the bus at certain (usually busy) places – look for ticket dispensers or signage at the bus stop.

This is very critical on the M60 bus – if you fly into (or depart) LaGuardia Airport (LGA) (and don’t want to spend $40-60 on a cab) you must be sure to purchase your fare and get a receipt before boarding the bus. MTA transit police love to harass tourists in the city who don’t know better – police have boarded my bus on 3 different occasions! It’s a $150 fine if you don’t have your receipt. Flying into JFK is easier – but you can’t avoid paying $7.75 to take the AirTrain and Subway to get into the city.
This guy was in the ad!

So build up those calf muscles – also by carrying your suitcases up and down subway stairs – this is the city where you don’t need to worry about implants; you’ll have strong, sexy "calves" in no time living here. Whether that’s walking, biking or just standing & “surfing” on the subway. Besides, who knows who you might meet in any of these public places – if you’re willing to smile or say hello – I’ve had a few subway “boyfriends” and met more than one group casually on the street; secretly, New York is also friendly if you’re willing initiate.

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