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What Aussies need to know while travelling in New York

New York, the large apple, the city that never wakes up - literally dozens of movies and a crap-ton of books have all been set down its garbage-strewn streets - so it's no surprise that it's a popular tourist destination. And while I've only been here for two days, this is the perfect time to give some tips before I become super blase and start riding subways by sitting on the roof like a carefree John McClane, so here are some things worth knowing, from me to you.

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1. How does the subway work?

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You'll hear it first, a deep drumming noise coming from deep under the ground. If you go down the holes in the side of the street, there is the sound of a screaming banshee taking off! Don't worry, that is just the train, and it is not angry at you. It is the scream of success.

There are three rules to catching the subway - everything is divided into uptown and downtown. If you are not certain which direction you are going, look at a picture of New York and work it out. Then catch the train in one of those two directions. If you are going ACROSS the city, you have made a mistake and nobody can help you. The second rule is discovering which hole in the ground to enter - most of them are different for if you are going uptown or downtown. If you cannot find the one you are looking for, it's usually across the street. The third rule is that you are not allowed to sing Uptown Funk every time you catch the subway uptown. The reason for this is that there is no song for downtown.

2. How to walk

People in NYC are very busy and angry and walking is their #1 concern. The trick is every time you walk, hold your breath and pretend you are trying to escape the explosions in Independence Day and you have to shuffle yourself as fast as I can to hide in a cupboard with Will Smith's stripper wife. If you have to do something touristy like look at a map or mistily remember home, dive to the side and do it there. Remember to treat it like you are driving and walk on the right side of the path. Remember that American's drive on the right side of the road, and don't get mad at an entire city pushing against you.

3. How to give acceptable amounts of money so people don't hate you

It's very simple. To tip, just move the decimal point up one space, double that number, screw your face up and say in a whiny baby voice 'I don't know how to do this, I'm a widdle baby.' Leave your tip near your drink or with the bill, and don't thrust it towards the bartender and say loudly 'your extra money, sir!' while winking.

4. How to find an American somewhere

If you are in Brooklyn, it's going to be very hard to find an American to talk to, because everyone there is from Australia. Your best bet is heading into Manhattan and staying clear of the museums. Your AirBnb room mates are probably grim Lithuanians.

5. How to not be scared that you've woken up in the trash dystopia of your nightmares

One day you will walk the streets and realise there is garbage everywhere, just bags of it all over the roads and you will think 'oh no, is this a parallel universe? Am I in a YA novel where I am the only teen not OK with our gross and divisive society?' No, it's cool, they're just really chill about garbage over here. Enjoy it! Throw something on the ground. Those scary people from Clean Up Australia day can't find you here!

6. How to find a plant

As Australian's we are used to eating plants, but it is hard to find edible plants in this city. My recommendation is to decide that pizza is a great substitute for baby spinach and to alter your recipes accordingly.

7. How to go to the big lady

The big lady who holds up her torch and defends the waters around NYC is a must see, except that actually she's not very near the city and you'll have to spend a lot of time waiting with other tourists, so don't feel bad about hard-passing, just go and see a disaster movie instead, she'll show up!

8. How to go up the big ape building

This is one tall building, and the only thing higher than it is maybe a few other more recent buildings and also its expectations. The Empire State Building doesn't believe in sharing its view with you unless you WAIT FOR EVER and learn some things about yourself and also the cooling system inside, which it has illustrated with a series of light-up dioramas.

9. Don't step on subway grates

Nothing will happen, but you will have a small existential crisis when you look under your feet and realise that's where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live, and also your phone and keys will suddenly feel like they are going to fall down there too. Also you will remember every story about rat kings that you've ever heard.

10. Only sing songs about NYC


Why bother listening to songs about anything else, because every single artist has at least one song about New York. Welcome to New York - it's been waiting for you! If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere! They did the mash, the monster mash!

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