Random Travel Observations in NYC During Last Year’s Visit

My wife and I visited NYC in February 2011 and this article was intended to be published then. In lieu of the 1 year anniversary of our visit, I decided to publish my impression and experiences of visiting New York City for the first time in many years.

 

MARRIOTT HOTEL
Even the bellman (concierge) has a business card. It appears that American Capitalism is alive and well in Manhattan! I tipped the bellman because he smiled, was friendly and helpful – that tip worked out a few days later when he helped me out of a pinch! If you’re luck, your concierge helps with directions or interesting happenings around lower Manhattan.

 

A free USA newspaper outside my door. What’s the added cost to replace with the New York Times or Wall Street Journal?

 

If anyone touches your bag and begins to move it, it will cost you in a form of a tip. If you’re capable of moving it yourself, keep that in mind.

 

At the Marriott Hotel, I requested additional coffee filters during the early evening at the front desk and no one delivered…

 

Internet access was $12.95 per day. This, after the average hotel stay was $249.00 for two double beds but no free Wi-Fi in 2011. Bottle water in the room was $5 and $7 respectively. Nice view of the Hudson River and Battery Park but expensive. I feel nickel and dimed by this hotel.

 

I quickly learned no breakfast with your stay – the continental breakfast included, that would be an extra charge of $17 for your first meal of the day… Is NYC different from the rest of the country with Wi-Fi and continental breakfast?

 

The bed and furniture in the room were very comfortable and again, the large windows provided a nice view of parts of lower Manhattan.

 

Housekeeping was requested to address a plumbing issue in the bathroom although there was so much water used to disinfect it that it didn’t completely dry until the next morning.

 

Having a semi-powerful air ventilation fan in our hotel room bathroom would have helped dry out the bathroom after the minor water damage.

 

LA GUARDIA AIRPORT
Guess what, there’s another public place without Wi-Fi – LaGuardia Airport.

 

To oblige, American Express is nice enough where they give you 20 minutes of free Wi-Fi – with a credit card number, you are entitled to 45 minutes of free browsing. Time to get a smart phone? I just had several emails to review so I choose the 20-minute option.

 

At LaGuardia, they confiscate my unopened bottle of water. Oh well, at least I’d try it…and they went on to scold me. Bad boy!

 

Traveling can help expedite dehydration so I’m what to do…there’s a long line for juice or bottled water so I look for a drinking fountain, which is out of order. Interesting, my curious mind wonders how long that’s been out of order. What a business opportunity for those juice and soda vendors if that drinking fountain remains out of order? The inconvenience of travel.

 

Travel sometimes can be terribly inconvenient. I struggle with getting free Wi-Fi at the airport after realizing they confiscated my water bottle, notice the drinking fountain is out of order, and there’s a line for juice and water purchases. Is there anything in NYC, which is free or convenient?

 

La Guardia hasn’t been updated in 20-25 years. It badly needs a face-lift!

 

MANHATTAN
If you think parking in Chicago is crazy @$45 per day, I’m sure it’s worse in Manhattan. They don’t even advertise the price. I guess if you have to ask much it costs to park your motor vehicle in Manhattan, you can’t afford it. I saw one sign in an electronics store advertising 2 hours of free parking. Does the clock start after it’s parked or once you’re inside the parking structure gate? The caveat for 2 hours of free parking is the purchase of at least $200 of electronics. That would provide enough time to walk from the store (Manhattan to Brooklyn and back). Fun, fun. Is there any free parking in Manhattan without a catch?

 

Being hungry and in Times Square, I decide to order a slice of pizza. I asked for cheese pizza and the person said, “Do you see any cheese pizza here? I have no cheese pizza.” Interesting cheese is $2.80 and the pizza has toppings with the price of $5.60. Funny, no cheese pizza, even though it’s the most inexpensive pizza. If there’s such a demand for cheese pizza, why not make more of it? On the other hand, maybe they make it only a few times a day and when it’s gone, they steer the consumers to the pizza at twice the price.

 

Manhattan is terribly interesting – it’s entertaining enough just to watch some pedestrians maneuver the landscape of this concrete jungle.

 

My wife purchased about $10 worth of candy at the M and M store near Times Square. It was certainly way over priced but the store was engaging and fun so we made the most of it. Interesting that outside the store at a corner kiosk, she could have purchased the same candy a quarter of the cost. I guess the old adage comes into play – what the market will bear! Or shall I say, “location, location, location.”

 

STATUE OF LIBERTY
Is it not poignant to see such strict and thorough security at a symbol of our nation’s freedom? Because we had flown that same day, we went through similar security at the airport and then boarding a ferry for the Statue of Liberty.

 

That got me thinking, what’s the security like for Europeans or South Americans boarding a plane in 2011? Do Europeans also have security checkpoints for their domestic and international trains? Are the guidelines for what they can and can’t bring on the plane as strict as what the TSA has recently imposed?

 

BROOKLYN BRIDGE
If you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from lower Manhattan, figure it will take about 25-30 minutes. Don’t be surprised if you run into tourists who want you to be their quick photographer as they over look the East River.

 

I was intrigued to see the ‘No salt zone’ signs on certain parts of the Brooklyn Bridge. On a windy day in February, let’s just say it adds some urgency to your walk.

 

NYC CHAUFFER
Our chauffeur from the Marriot Hotel in lower Manhattan to LaGuardia says he typically has 6 different routes choices. That man is well prepared and he takes his job seriously. I wonder how often he exceeds expectations? In other words, people traveling by taxi or limousine in NYC plan for worst-case scenario. If he’s good and knows many ways around construction areas, he might exceed expectations. That might bode well for his performance and brand.

 

It’s interesting how he handles the traffic issues and chaos of New York City. He calmly gives a play-by-play description on what might happen or what other drivers are trying to do as he maneuvers around town. For example, when addressing the driver in front of us driving slowly, he doesn’t use his car horn, but politely says, “This driver doesn’t appear to have driven in NYC before.” Later on, there’s a moving truck that wants to merge in front of our limousine and he says, “This truck driver thinks I don’t see what he wants to do. I’m on to him.” As he pulls up to the departure gate, which is, just for loading and unloading, and ahead of him is a Volkswagen and he calmly gives in a play-by-play mode, “This Volkswagen driver thinks this is long-term parking.” He continues, “I see a passenger nonchalantly leaving the vehicle going towards the trunk but the driver is busy tuning the radio to notice the trunk latch needs to be opened. This could take a while with so many bags but he slowly removes only 2 and casually closes the trunk.” It’s both artistic and interesting how he calmly describes the mad scramble going on.

 

From what he said, about 90 percent of the time, his driving his highly stressful. To mitigate, his “play by play” certainly helps. I wonder if it’s a cathartic way he’s learned to deal with the madhouse, which is NYC?

 

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.