In­sider trips for a stress-free visit to New York City,

Travel ex­pert’s tips for a stress-free visit to NYC

The Arizona Republic - - SUNDAY A&E - Beth J. Harpaz

NEW YORK – New York City can be an in­tim­i­dat­ing place for vis­i­tors. But travel ex­pert Pauline From­mer is here to help with a new book, “From­mer’s EasyGuide to New York City 2018.” ❚ Here are some tips and ad­vice from From­mer’s re­cent in­ter­view with AP Travel’s “Get Outta Here!” pod­cast.

Deal­ing with New York­ers

Are New York­ers scary? Will they step over a body ly­ing in the street or will they help a stranger?

“New York­ers are in­cred­i­bly busy peo­ple. But kind as well,” From­mer said. “So if you walk up to some­body who’s rush­ing by, and ask them to stop, they may not stop. But if you stand on the street cor­ner with a map, within sec­onds, you will have three peo­ple of­fer­ing to help you.”

As for crime, New York is sta­tis­ti­cally one of Amer­ica’s safest big cities, but do keep an eye on your wal­let and your purse.

And here’s From­mer’s ad­vice for deal­ing with peo­ple who ap­proach you on the street, like cos­tumed char­ac­ter ac­tors in Times Square who of­fer to pose for pho­tos and then de­mand pay­ment: “Pre­tend you’re deaf. You just keep walk­ing. … You maybe can be po­lite and say, ‘Sorry,’ and keep walk­ing, but you can’t give them an open­ing.”

Ho­tel ad­vice

The idea that you’ll be in walk­ing dis­tance from every­thing if you stay in Times Square or mid­town “is a myth,” From­mer says. So con­sider stay­ing in down­town Man­hat­tan or even in Queens, in­clud­ing Long Is­land City, which is just a sub­way stop or two away from Man­hat­tan. You might end up in “a chain ho­tel, it might not have that much char­ac­ter,” but rooms can be had for $149.

To re­ally save money, “visit in Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary,” From­mer said. “You can get a re­ally nice ho­tel room in Fe­bru­ary for $99, and that same ho­tel room in Oc­to­ber will cost you $329.”

Get­ting around

“Don’t be scared” of the sub­way, From­mer says. New York­ers love com­plain­ing about their trains, but From­mer says com­pared with cabs, they’re cheaper ($2.75 per ride) and usu­ally faster. The trick­i­est part: Make sure the train is go­ing in the right direc­tion be­fore you swipe your fare card. If not, you may have to exit and pay again on the other side, de­pend­ing on the sta­tion (some pro­vide free trans­fers in ei­ther direc­tion).

By cab, From­mer says, it’s of­ten faster to hail yel­low taxis on the street than wait for Uber or Lyft driv­ers to ar­rive. An­other op­tion: the Via ride-shar­ing ser­vice, which charges a few dol­lars a ride.

Ci­tiBike, a bike-shar­ing sys­tem, is $12 a day “for as many half-hour rides as you want,” From­mer says. “Bik­ing is the fastest way to go any­where. And there are cer­tain streets now that have re­ally good bike lanes that are sep­a­rated from the traf­fic.”

A few From­mer fa­vorites

❚ Mu­seum: The Metropoli­tan Mu­seum. “Not only does it have some of the great­est art­works in the world – Ver­meer, Rem­brandt, Sergeant – but it also has things that will en­gage the imag­i­na­tions of his­to­rylovers. You can go into an ac­tual Egyp­tian tem­ple. You can go into a room de­signed by Frank Lloyd Wright. And for those who don’t love mu­se­ums, try this: You go into a gallery. You find one thing that in­ter­ests you and just stand in front of that one thing for two min­utes and let it work on you. … Try and com­mune with it.”

❚ Free­bies: The Staten Is­land Ferry and Shake­speare in the Park.

❚ Cruise: “The Cir­cle Line hires out-of-work ac­tors as its guides. So they’re also very well-spo­ken. They love the his­tory. They know how to tell a story. … The key is when you en­ter, sit on the right side of the boat so you’re fac­ing in­wards to­ward Man­hat­tan.” P.S. “The three-hour tour is too long; take the shorter one.”

❚ Neigh­bor­hood: “I’m a big his­tory buff so I love tak­ing friends down to the Fi­nan­cial Dis­trict.” Sites in­clude St. Paul’s Chapel, where Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton prayed, and Fed­eral Hall, where he took the oath of of­fice.

❚ In­ex­pen­sive restau­rant: Dhaula­giri Kitchen, 124 Lexington Ave., serv­ing Hi­malayan food in­clud­ing fiery cur­ries.

❚ Bar: The Aviary NYC, on the 35th floor of 80 Colum­bus Cir­cle, with “spec­tac­u­lar” views. “Ev­ery drink there foams or steams or changes as you drink it. … It’s like a Broad­way show!”

❚ Jazz: Smoke, 2751 Broad­way. “They have great bar­be­cue while you’re lis­ten­ing to the mu­sic,” she said. “They have re­ally var­ied pro­gram­ming, so one night Brazil­ian jazz, an­other night a clas­si­cal gui­tarist, and it’s a real neigh­bor­hood place.”

❚ Week­end itin­er­ary for first-time vis­i­tors: “Get up high and go to the top of the Em­pire State Build­ing or Top of the Rock. … Go to one of our great mu­se­ums, maybe take a walk­ing tour. There’s some re­ally good ones; some of them are free. And then, I think it’s not re­ally a week­end in New York if you don’t see a show. It doesn’t have to be Broad­way. … And don’t for­get New York City is in­cred­i­ble af­ter dark. So also go to one of our great bars.”

AU­DREY TATE/USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

BEBETO MATTHEWS/AP

New York­ers love com­plain­ing about their trains, but From­mer says com­pared with cabs, they’re cheaper and usu­ally faster.

MARY ALTAFFER/AP

The Metropoli­tan Mu­seum of Art is home to some of the great­est art­works in the world, but it also has things that will en­gage the imag­i­na­tions of his­tory lovers.

Pauline From­mer

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