Is Uber Ruining Tourism?

Is Uber Ruining Tourism?

I have travelled to New York City several times, pre-Uber and post-Uber. Pre Uber was a lovely time when you could stand with one foot off the sidewalk and scream “Taxi!” Just like they do in the movies and the smiley yellow beast would glide up next to you and sweep you immediately off to your destination without any drama.

Times have changed.

A visit to The Big Apple last Spring has inspired this post. I was with my best friend in our hotel room excitedly getting ready for our Sex and the City tour which we had been planning for actual years!!

(Don’t laugh. )

The pick up address was outside the Plaza which wasn’t on an easy direct train route from our hotel.

“That’s cool, we’ve got plenty of time, let’s get a cab.” I said.

BIG MISTAKE!

Of course it was pouring down with rain. We had an hour to make a 15 minute cab journey. The rain didn’t help matters but no cabs were available. There seemed to be mysterious spots that New Yorkers would magically get picked up from. We even spoke to some locals and got tips and split up to face different directions of traffic, all to no avail. What were we doing wrong? Then we realised it. All of the locals were booking their cabs through Uber (an App used internationally for pre-booking private transport through a paid online account – a nifty idea in theory). But it’s not much cop when you’re travelling on a budget and have no internet access on the go!!!

We were down to 10 minutes remaining to make the 15 minute journey without wheels and now suitably soaking wet and pissed off. It was at this moment that all grown up ‘Adultey’ sense and logic left my mind and I actually burst into tears. Yup. Manahattan reduced me to tears, in public, in broad daylight. In front of other human beings.

Did we make it you ask?

Well things went from bad to worse. Against my better judgement I “Accidentally” stole a taxi from a New Yorker who had pre-booked with the fabulous app! Naturally, he challenged me. I turned to face him, tears streaming down my face and yelled “PLEASE!! PLEEEEEAAAAASE!!!!!! We’ve been waiting an hour, we’re going to miss our tour! PLEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAASE!”

He looked mostly confused.

And yes I am aware that this is not how New Yorkers interact with each other. Or humans, mostly.

But the chap gave in and let us take the cab. Through fear or kindness, I don’t know. But I’m going to go with kindness.

Sowhoever you were, thank you very much for letting us take your cab. It turned out to be one of the best days I have spent with my dearest friend and the tour was fantastic!

Cuddle Your Globe

The Cheapest Way from Newark airport (EWR) to New York City…

The Cheapest Way from Newark airport (EWR) to New York City…

Having just returned from a trip to New York City, I noticed how expensive taxis have become compared to my last visit 5 years ago. I recall paying $50 for a taxi to and from the airport. This has now doubled! A round trip in a taxi will now cost around $200! I can’t comment on JFK as I didn’t commute this way, although from what I heard the taxi’s cost almost the same heading that way.

There is an alternative which is almost as convenient and considerably cheaper. The train!

On arrival to Newark airport, follow signs for ‘Air Train’ which takes you from the terminals and then get off at the ‘Train Station.’

   
 Here you can purchase a train ticket from the NJ Transit machines which currently charge 13 bucks to Penn station. This is the stop you want for Manhattan and is directly next to Madison Square Garden and next to Macy’s.

  
Make sure you do not get off the train at Penn Newark, this is not correct for the city. Once you arrive at Penn station (New York), exit onto 7th avenue and you will find Madison Square Garden and a large taxi rank in front of you if you need wheels to get to your hotel.

Trains run approx. every 30 minutes. I used it both to and fro the airport and it was reliable and convenient for me. It can be annoying if you have large suitcases as there is not much room on the trains to store luggage, but I managed.

30th May 2016.

Cuddle Your Globe

Hotel Pennsylvania, Midtown Manhattan 

Hotel Pennsylvania, Midtown Manhattan 

Hotels in Manhattan are notoriously overpriced in general, so on a recent visit I was keen to cut back some pennies. I have known of the hotel Pennsylvania 2* for many years having booked it for thousands of clients and I actually walked past it 5 years ago. It’s well known for being a good budget hotel (starting rates around $150 per night) in the city centre. I have had mixed reviews about the hotel and was honestly not expecting much at all on arrival on a recent six day city break.

The first thing that shocked me was the size of the hotel, it has around 2,000 rooms and towers high (much like many New York buildings) and the queue for check in.


After a long day of travelling, a 45 minute wait to get to the front desk was not ideal. Properties of this magnitude will always have drawbacks. BUT, on the flip side, having a room on the 12th floor meant so much of the New York noise couldn’t be heard when sleeping which is a massive bonus and something most people do not think about when booking a hotel. The check in staff were very friendly and professional.. Worth the wait.

The bedrooms are a little dated and the bathrooms, although clean could certainly have a little revamp. The beds are very comfortable. I think the mattresses were the fancy hypo allergenic sprung types with a topper, which my back appreciated after battling the city each day.


A very bizarre thing happened during our stay. We had a ‘do not disturb’ tag on our door so house keeping did not visit. But, on our return, there was an extra fridge freezer in our room! We couldn’t understand why it had been brought in as we already had one and we certainly hadn’t asked for it. I half expected to find an oven the next day…!

The room keys frequently decided to fall asleep during our visit requiring a frustrating 60 minute round trip to reception and security etc etc to gain access to our room.

Facilities at the hotel are decent, hotel guests have access to an Olympic size swimming pool next door free of charge and if you are offered breakfast, take it!! It’s at a buffet cafe accross the street and is fantastic; salad, fruit, cereal, bagels, pancakes, toast, hot food, tea, coffee and juice…. I am salivating whilst writing this just remembering it. There are also a few stores inside the hotel and a coffee shop. Seating is available in the lobby, but there could be a little more given the amount of guests. The hotel is wheelchair friendly as there are ramps / lifts available.

The best bit by far, location location location!! The hotel is directly opposite Penn train station (which operates a direct train to Newark airport), and Madison Square Garden. The hotel also has several subway stations within a few minutes walk. Times Square is about a 15 minute walk north of the hotel and Central Park another 15 minutes north.

Overall, I was happy with my stay. Would I stay here again? Absolutely. Would I recommend it to others? Definitely. Suitable for all ages? Yes, although in my opinion it is perhaps a little more suited for 18-45 years. Friendly staff? Yes, and mostly very helpful.

I was pleasantly surprised by my stay and if you are considering staying here, do not let bad reviews put you off. It is budget accommodation so don’t expect a 5* hotel, but it’s a great gem in the heart of Manhattan.

New York City in a Nutshell

New York City in a Nutshell

One of the first thing that surprises me about New York is the size of it. Coming from London which is over 1,500 km2 and homes just over 8.5 million people, New York City is a measly (in comparison) 789 km2 and houses more residents at around 8.7 million. That’s 11,000 people per km2. Not accounting for the hoardes of tourists that flock to the city on the daily…!! You can actually rarely see the sky due to the vast amount of skyscrapers.

  
On arrival to the New York airports, prepare for severe interrogation from immigration. My officer actually asked me for the reason I broke up with an ex boyfriend I had travelled to New York with some five years previously. The only response I could give was, ‘he wasn’t a great egg..’

Whatever time of day or night it is, if you are near Times Square, daylight cannot be detected. At 10pm the skies are brighter than a summers afternoon.

You can’t smoke anywhere in the city! All bars and restaurants have made their outside areas (and within 25 ft) totally non smoking. You are not permitted to smoke in the parks. So if you’re a smoker, try to find a stoop or quiet sidewalk. This is not a bad thing!

The subway is gross. It’s cheaper than Londons equivalent – The Underground (which it actually copied the idea from), but you can tell. It’s quick and convenient, though.

Getting a taxi has become increasingly difficult during the summer months. One day, on fifth avenue in a desperate rush, I was actually reduced to tears and was bargaining with a New Yorker who was trying to get home so I could make it 15 blocks to an important meeting. If you can get the subway, do it!

If you’re in the world’s shittiest mood,  or ecstatically delirious, New York City just works. There is no inbetween.

World Trade One Observatory Deck and Ground Zero Memorial

World Trade One Observatory Deck and Ground Zero Memorial

Day 1 in New York City. Activity one was of course to check out the progress on the world trade site as its been five years since my last visit to this fabulous city.

The ground zero memorial site blew me away, totally. Two deep fountains sit in the position the two towers once sat proudly. Fountains flow down into a portal in the middle which is very poetic. You can’t see the bottom and I couldn’t help feeling it symbolises the fallen men and women who’s individual names are engraved around the sides.

    
    
 
Next I entered the world trade observatory building. Tickets are priced $32 for daytime entry, over $40 during the night. A lift takes you up 103 floors in just 38 seconds then you are taken on a mini tour before curtains are lifted, producing a magnificent panoramic view of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. It was a clear day and the horizon seemed unlimited. There is no external deck (like other buildings) so you feel a lot safer, which is more appealing to the faint hearted. It costs a lot more than the likes of the Empire State Building and the Rockerfeller Centre, but worth every penny.

   
    
    
    
    
 
On exiting the deck, the lift back down to earth plays a virtual screening shown above, which is a lovely touch.