Here’s why you need to be in New York for Thanksgiving!

Every November, the US celebrates Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday when families come together to spend time, share food and enjoy parades. Celebrating Thanksgiving in New York City is a favorite occasion for many locals but it’s also a wonderful opportunity for tourists to learn more about American culture. It is actually one of the big six holidays of the year! What will you do that day? Here are some tips and activities suggestions for you to make the best of it! First, let’s start with some History.

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When is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday of November, this year: Thursday, November 23rd.

What you need to know about the celebration, in short

Most government offices, businesses and schools close on Thanksgiving Day with many closing on the Friday after, too, giving their employees a four days weekend.

The traditional Thanksgiving meal revolves around turkey, stuffing and vegetables. You’ll also hear Americans talking about eating yams. Yams are a starchy root vegetable widely grown in the Caribbean.

Traditionally, the meal is rounded off with pumpkin pie, delicious. You should try even if you are not planning to do the whole Thanksgiving dinner.

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What’s the history behind Thanksgiving?

It originated as a harvest festival. Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, after Congress requested a proclamation by George Washington.

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It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1864, when, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Together with Christmas and New Years; Thanksgiving is a part of the broader holiday season.

What goes on Thanksgiving day in New York?

Since 1924, the Macy’s Parade… lasts for three long hours. With more than 3.5 million spectators and 10,000 participants, it is one of the largest parades in New York.

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At the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you can expect dazzling musical performances, cool floats, costumes and awe-inspiring helium balloons in the shape of cartoon characters including Mickey Mouse, Pokemon, Felix the Cat and many more. Bring your camera because kids go crazy and it’s free.

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Another long held Thanksgiving tradition is watching American football. NFL, college, high school and amateur teams have played over the Thanksgiving weekend practically since the game’s invention, and it’s one of the biggest days in the football calendar.

Looking for something less crowded?

Thanksgiving falls in the middle of Autumn, it is to me the best time to enjoy the outdoors in New York City, trees are turning red and yellow, there’s a little wind in the air, a perfect time to wrap you up in a long scarf to explore the city. Our team of experts is here to help you to make the best of your trip:

– Williamsburg & Bushwick Private Walking Tour-

The tour (one to 6 people) starts at your hotel where your guide will pick you up for 4 hours of fun and amazement. You will take the subway and head to Brooklyn.

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Start with a visit through Williamsburg. Its once gritty industrial landscape has since transformed into a flourishing and vibrant artistic community. View cutting-edge graffiti murals from some of NYC’s most emerging artists.

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Take the opportunity to shop at some of Brooklyn’s trendiest stores. Then delve into the dynamic neighborhood of Bushwick through an exploration of its street art, part of the contemporary American culture.

If you want to book it, CLICK HERE!

-Soul Food and Jazz Tour-

See the site of the original Cotton Club, where Duke Ellington and Lena Horne spent hours wowing crowds from around the world. Drive past the site of the Savoy Ballroom where Benny Goodman and Chick Webb fought it out during their “Battle of the Bands,” and where the Charleston, “Lindy Hop” and the “Big Apple” dances were firmly cemented into American culture.

Visit the world-famous Apollo Theater, where Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald won the popular “Amateur Night.” Pass by Minton’s Playhouse, where bebop was born and where Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk started the tradition of musical jam sessions.

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Discover one of Harlem’s hottest clubs, where jam sessions and musical collaborations go on into the wee hours of the morning. Dinner is at Sylvia’s legendary restaurant – “The Queen of Soul Food” (Family style dining).

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On Mondays, swing dance the night away to the beat of a terrific, twelve-piece band. Free dance lesson included! We pick up the tab for your first two drinks at the Jazz club.

On Thursdays, experience the essence of Harlem and enjoy the convivial atmosphere as you mingle freely with the locals, while enjoying the sounds of a jazz or rythm & blues band. We also pick up the tab for your first two drinks at the Jazz club.

What is “Soul Food?”

Soul Food is the traditional African American cuisine that originated in the South of the United States. It consists of spicy ribs, collard greens, freshly cooked corn bread, black eye peas, and not to mention the best crispy fried chicken!

To book this activity, CLICK HERE!

If you have any question, feel free to send me a message!

Salvatore

Enregistrer

Things to do in Brooklyn, The Bronx and Queens !

When someone hears of the words “New York” the first images that usually come to mind are those of Times Square and its giant luminous boards, Central Park and its mythical lake, or Greenwich Village and its brownhouses, typical of the New York architecture. Today, I choose to widen your horizons and make you discover districts like the Bronx, Queens or Brooklyn, each seeped in history and culture in their own unique way.

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Credits: pixabay

To live like a true New Yorker let’s get off the traditional tourist path of Manhattan. This time around, I am taking you deep into the real New York! No need for a bulletproof jacket, I have secured the place for you 🙂

The Bronx

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

The Bronx is the most northern of the five boroughs of New York City, within the U.S. state of New York. It is geographically south of Westchester County; north and east of the island and borough of Manhattan to the south and west across the Harlem River; and north of the borough of Queens, across the East River. Of the five boroughs, the Bronx is the only one that has the majority of its area on the U.S. mainland and, with a land area of 42 square miles (109 km2) and a population of 1,455,720 in 2016. The naming of « the Bronx » originates from Jonas Bronck, a swedish immigrant who was the first to colonize this area in the 17th century. That part of the land was designated by the Siwanoy Native Americans « Rananchqua », later on the settlers named it « Broncksland » or « Bronck’s farm » and finally « the Bronx »

The birthplace of the Hip Hop Culture

It is true that The Bronx does not benefit from a very flattering image as it has been considered one of the most dangerous districts of New York for a long time. Countless criminal acts and gang wars happened there in the Seventies and Eighties.

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Credits: pixabay

Today, the neighborhood is very far from its former reputation, and the memories the district has preserved from this “Golden Age” are the graffitis and local paintings. Street Art is inspired by all these actors of the streets and the pionniers of Hip Hop which have made the Bronx a legendary place in that field.

Celebrities who grew up in the Bronx

If you are a fan of Pop Culture, you know Jennifer Lopez aka Jenny from the block lived a big part of her life in the Bronx. She mentionned it quite a few times during interviews. Some other amazing stars have lived there : Woody Allen, Lauren Bacall, Peter Falk, Fat Joe, French Montana, Billy Joel.

What you don’t want to miss in the Bronx

The Yankee Stadium, homebase of the NY Yankees baseball team. You do not have to enter the arena but if you have the opportunity to be close by, go snap a picture in front of it ! It is a staple of NY culture.

The Italian district around Arthur Avenue, the “real” Little Italy and its farmer’s market with fresh produce. If you wish to travel down to south Italy without leaving New York, you should absolutely head over this district full of Mediterranean flavors. Most of the craftsmen are Italian immigrants who arrived in New York about forty years ago. They are always willing to have a conversation with visitors while having coffee! If you are a fan of cheese or charcuterie, search no more and buy their fresh produce. They are, at least, half cheaper than those sold in Manhattan.

Identity of the Queens

Credits: pixabay
Credits: pixabay

In 2013, its population was of 2,296,175 habitants. The Queens accommodates the international airport of New York-John F. Kennedy as well as the airport of New York-LaGuardia. Created on November 1st, 1683, it was baptized in honor of the queen consort Catherine de Bragance, wife of the king Charles II of England.

The Queens: A true melting-pot

Credits: pixabay
Credits: pixabay

The district is quite cosmopolitan and is composed mainly of districts accomodating the middle class, as well as upper middle class districts where one can find hotels, large parks and golf courses. It coincides with the county of Queens (administrative unit of the State of New York). However, strictly speaking, the latter does not function like a county, as it does not have any power and depends entirely on the municipal authority.

The personalities who grew in the Queens

He can be seen everywhere these days, the most emblematic figure to date to represent the Queens is no other than the current president of the United States, Donald Trump! Other celebrities resulting from other horizons also were born in this cultural melting pot: 50 cents, Ja Rule, Nicky Minaj or Lucy Liu.

The not-to-be-missed places:

Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadow-Corona Park is where the team of baseball the New York Mets, plays. It was the first stage to host a concert (the Beatles on August 15th, 1965). The park of Flushing Meadow also hosted the World Fairs of 1939 and 1964.

The residential district of the millionaires of the Queens: You will be able to admire the prettiest houses which can remind us of Californian residences with green lawn, white picket fences and swimming pools.

Brooklyn

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

Brooklyn is one of the five boroughs of New York. It is part of the county of Kings (Kings County), administrative unit of the State of New York. However it does not operate like a county strictly speaking, because it does not have any power and depends entirely on the municipal authority. With a population of more than 2,636,735 habitants in 2015, it is the most populated district of New York.

Historical facts about Brooklyn

The Dutch were the first Europeans to colonize the Western area of Long Island, which was hitherto inhabited by the Carnasie Amerindian tribe. They established themeselves in Midwood in 1624. They bought the territory to the Mohawks which extends itself to the current districts of Gowanus, Red Hook, Brooklyn Navy Yard and Bushwick. The Village of Breuckelen (named after the town of Breukelen in the Netherlands) became authorized by a dutch Company of the Western Indies in 1646 and became then the first municipality of the Nieuw Nederland.

Places not-to-be-missed

Williamsburg: the quintessential hipster neighborhood of Brooklyn made of small diy artist boutiques, street art, coffee shops, trendy bars and vibrant nightlife.

Dumbo: It is one of my favorites part of Brooklyn, bordering the waterfonts, it is ideal to take a picture with the buildings of Manhattan behind you. The possibility of taking a boat to join the city is also a good idea to admire the environment with impressive architecture.

Bushwick: The area a little less popular than Williamsburg but is up and coming, a lot of young people relocate there as it is cheaper.

Personalities associated with Brooklyn

Jay-Z, Mike Tyson, Aaliyah, Al Apone, Cindy Lauper, Barbra Streisand, etc: the list is long!

Would you like to take a tour with us ?

Harlem Spirituals can take you along an unforgettable adventure…
Discover the heart of New York ! After meeting with our tourguide in Times Square, get on the bus to get started on your tour of NY. First stop : the Bronx, also known under the appelation « boogie-down Bronx » and the only burough attached to the american continent. Explore the South Bronx, famous for its influence on latin american music and its involvement in the rise of the hip hop culture : breakdance, graffitis. Go admire the Yankee Stadium and Grand Concourse, the main street of the Bronx known for its many art deco buildings.

Credits: pixabay
Credits: pixabay

Continue your adventure in the Queens, second biggest borough of New York that will surprise you by its diversity and culture richness. Admire Astoria’s street art and murals and stop by Socrates sculpture park : a nice area by the water hosting sculptures and art out in the open.
Visit Long Island City, growing neighborhood with the most art galleries around, museums and art studios of NYC.

And finally, Brooklyn! A real example for fashion and crafty work, Brooklyn is also the most populated burough and one of the two (Queens being the other one) that is the most diverse culturally. Discover Williamsburg, the « hipster capital » with its numerous trendy coffee shops, small vintage boutiques, wolrd restaurants and art galleries. This former industrial neighborhood is today the home of the most hip community around, and its waterfront provides one of the most spectacular views of manhattan bordering with many green parks.

The tour ends in DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass), a dynamic part of Brooklyn with a beautiful view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the skyline, before the bus takes you back to Times Square.

To book this tour please click here !

As always, don’t hesitate to shoot me a message on Facebook if you have any questions! I’ll answer immediately 🙂

Salvatore

Enregistrer

Activities to do with kids in New York !

Grand Central – Free

Credits: Pexel.com
Credits: Pexels.com

Though 750,000 visitors pass through its doors daily, the celestial ceiling above Grand Central Station’s main terminal has the power to practically stop time. But despite its beautiful, dark green and portrayal of the traditional zodiac, there’s just one problem: It’s technically inaccurate. Shortly after its installation in 1913, a visitor noticed certain astronomical inconsistencies, for instance, the placement of Orion. Kids, however unless they’ve just finished a particularly intensive constellation unit in school will be awed nonetheless !

 

Take a walk along the High Line -Free

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

Consider this park NYC’s best example of recycling on a mega scale: Built atop an abandoned train track, the High Line offers more than twenty blocks’ worth of car and bike-free strolling. Besides plenty of seating and a killer view of the ritzy Meatpacking District and Chelsea, there’s also weekly free drop-in workshops for kids during the summer, like art projects every Saturday, insect and plant life classes on Wednesdays, plus Thursday morning structured lawn time, where families can enjoy stories, bubble-blowing, music, and storytelling.

 

One World Observatory – $28

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

One World Observatory at World Trade Center lets visitors experience panoramic views of NYC on levels 100, 101 and 102 from atop the tallest building in the United States, 1,250 feet above the ground. Kids will love arriving at their destination Jetsons-style via Sky Pod elevators (some of the fastest in the world) which lead to a two-minute video presentation of gorgeous city images on the 102nd floor. Check out City Pulse on the 100th floor, showing HD videos featuring notable NYC landmarks and neighborhoods, then daredevil kids (and parents!) can brave the Sky Portal, where a 14-foot wide circular disc gives you a view of real-time, high-definition footage of the streets below. CLICK HERE TO BOOK IT WITH US !

 

M&M’s World in Times Square- free

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

The New York City store is within a 24,000-square-foot (2,200 m2), three-level glass box, in Times Square. It includes a 50-foot (15 m)-wide, two-story-high, “wall of chocolate“, made up of 72 continuous candy-filled tubes.

M&M’s World in Times Square is New York City’s largest candy store, and offers merchandise such as themed clothing, dishware, watches, and piggy banks. Before it opened in 2006, nearly 13,000 people lined up for the 198 jobs, which were in demand because of a more generous health benefit package than is usually offered for an entry-level retail job in New York.

 

Feel Festive at the Radio City Chritsmas Spectacular – Tix starting at $49

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

New York is world famous for it’s over the top dedication to the holidays each December, and few places in Gotham better sum up this city’s love for the season than this annual tradition. Since 1933, the Radio City Rockettes have been bringing cheer to audiences faces with each in-unison high kick in their fabulous, sparkling costumes. The massive set pieces and new technology mix with classic elements like the dancing Santas and wooden soldiers to create an experience nostalgic grandparents and first-time viewers will equally enjoy. Afterward, make sure to grab a picture around back at Rockefeller Center’s gigantic holiday tree.

 

Walk accross the Brooklyn Bridge – Free

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

A must-do for any city kid worth her salt, the mile-long stroll from end to end of the Brooklyn Bridge offers spectacular views of downtown Manhattan, including the Freedom Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, and of course, the iconic double arches that have come to signify NYC’s hippest borough worldwide. While you’ll mostly be joined by the thousands of other tourists and locals crossing the East River, be on the lookout for the occasional cyclist attempting to make their way through the crowds. If you’re coming from Manhattan, reward tired legs with a scoop of strawberry at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, handily located at the base of the bridge in DUMBO.

 

The American Museum of Natural History – $16

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

The Museum’s collections contain over 32 million specimens of which only a small fraction can be displayed at any given time. It also boasts habitat groups of African, Asian and North American mammals, a life-size model of a Blue Whale suspended in the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life, the 62-foot (19m) Haida carved and painted war canoe from the Pacific Northwest, the massive Cape York meteorite and the “Star of India”, the largest blue sapphire in the world. The circuit of an entire floor is devoted to vertebrate evolution. Take time to explore extensive anthropological collections including the Asian Peoples, Pacific Peoples, Man in Africa, Native Americans in the United States collections, general Native American collections and collections from Mexico and Central America. CLICK HERE TO BOOK IT WITH US !

 

Visit Harlem and see a Gospel mass – $49

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Learn about Harlem from its origins as a rural Dutch community to its transformation into a summer retreat for New York’s most prominent families. Journey into the past and see the African-American Mecca for writers and artists at the turn of the century. Hear about Harlem’s troubled past during the 1960’s and 1970’s and view its present day community beam with pride as it revels in Harlem’s renaissance.

See famous NYC sights and landmarks such as Columbia University, City College, Morningside Heights, the Morris Jumel Mansion, Sylvan Terrace, Strivers Row, the Cotton Club, the Apollo Theater, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Sugar Hill, Duke Ellington’s apartment, the famous 125th street and many more. End your tour of Harlem by joining a local congregation* for the Sunday worship mass service and experience the soul-stirring power of gospel music with a live gospel choir! CLICK HERE TO BOOK IT WITH US !

 

Bike in Central Park – $19

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Experience the world-renowned Central Park via bicycle. Plan a sightseeing trip with the help of an illustrative map and see breath-taking attractions all over its 843 acres. Explore the sites in a fun and convenient way.

During your bicycle escapade see many famous sites like Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Fountain, and Shakespeare Garden. Be sure to also visit Central Park’s lesser-known treasures such as Wagner cove and admire views of scenic landscape. All Bike Rentals include an illustrative map, helmet, chain/lock, and basket. Bikes can also be ridden throughout the city. CLICK HERE TO BOOK IT WITH US !

 

The Beast Cruise – $24

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Don’t miss The Beast, New York’s very own thrill ride! Hold on to your hats as this 30-minute, fun-filled cruise takes you for a wet n’ wild ride through the New York harbor. Hop on board this cruise and soar past NYC’s skyscrapers at a heart-pounding 45mph. This thrilling cruise will pause for a few minutes for a close-up of the Statue of Liberty, where you’ll have time for a photo-op before roaring back to life across the New York Harbor. CLICK HERE TO BOOK IT WITH US !

 

Statue of liberty – $15

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

Lady Liberty or Liberty Enlightening the World, as she’s officially known was a gift from France on America’s 100th birthday. A universal symbol of freedom, the copper-plated sentinel stands 305 feet tall from the bottom of her base to the tip of her torch. The monument’s grand reopening on the Fourth of July 2013 comes after almost two years of construction and Hurricane Sandy-related closures. CLICK HERE TO BOOK IT WITH US !

 

Madame Tussaud – $33

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Come see your favorite celebrity wax figures at the world famous tourist attraction, Madame Tussauds and mingle with the stars sprawling Times Square. Get up close and personal with top cultural figures, world leaders, sports stars, characters from your childhood, Bollywood, Hollywood and TV stars, Pop stars, historical icons and political heavyweights. With so many celebs in one place, it’s no wonder Madame Tussauds is one of the top attractions in New York! Madame Tussauds opened its doors in the heart of Times Square in New York City in the year of 2000. Today visitors are sent on a unique journey through the realms of history, power and fame. CLICK HERE TO BOOK IT WITH US !

 

Triboro Tour from Hip Hop to Hipsters with Lunch – $109

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Your New York City adventure begins! Visit the three largest boroughs of New York City. Grab a seat on our climate-controlled coach to The Bronx often referred to as the “Boogie-Down Bronx”; the only borough of New York City that is attached to mainland USA. Explore the South Bronx known for its influence on Latin music and greatly recognized for its impact on global pop culture with the emergence of Hip-Hop, Breakdance and Urban Graffiti.

See the new Yankee Stadium and The Grand Concourse; known for its many iconic Art Deco buildings. Head on over to Queens; New York’s 2nd largest and most ethnically diverse borough. See Astoria with its exciting local art corridor of murals and stop at Socrates Sculpture Park; the only NYC metropolitan area dedicated to large scale sculpture and art installations in an outdoor environment. See Long Island City’s expanding waterfront community with one of the highest concentration of art galleries, art institutions, and studio space in New York City.

Finally: Brooklyn! Synonymous with all things trendy and artisanal, Brooklyn abounds with energy and diverse cultures. Stop in Williamsburg, the “hipster capital of the world” and a great place to “People Watch”. Spend some time exploring its cool and laid back atmosphere with unique cafés and local shops.

Indulge in an authentic down-home BBQ lunch in Downtown Brooklyn then see DUMBO a unique neighborhood nestled between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. CLICK HERE TO BOOK IT WITH US !

 

The Bronx Zoo – $28

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

The special Children’s Zoo is something you cannot skip when you visit the Bronx Zoo with kids. The Children’s Zoo is like a mixture between a playground and a petting zoo, where children learn how to live or move like an animal, and where they can feed lambs or lama’s. Also the Madagascar! part of Bronx Zoo will put smiles on their faces, especially with kids that know the movie. At Madagascar! you will not only find the animals that belong on the African island – you will find them in an environment that is a perfect imitation of their own surrounding.

 

The Empire State Building – $27

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

Located on the 86th floor, 1,050 feet (320 meters) above the city’s bustling streets, the Observatory offers panoramic views from within a glass enclosed pavilion, and from the surrounding open-air promenade. Since the Observatory opened to the public in 1931, almost 110 million visitors have enjoyed the awe-inspiring vision of the city beneath them.

The building, one of New York City’s main tourist attractions, offers a variety of activities for its visitors. One can tour the Observatory 365 days per year, day and night, rain or shine for breathtaking views of Manhattan and beyond. Also, there are two restaurants, a sushi bar, three coffee shops, a drug store, a Hallmark card shop, a post office and two banks, in addition to the plethora of restaurants and nightlife activities in the surrounding area. CLICK HERE TO BOOK IT WITH US !

If you have any question, don’t hesitate to send me a message on Facebook!

Salvatore

Where to celebrate Bastille Day in New York?

Celebrated on July, 14, Bastille Day is the French national day and the most important bank holiday in France! Setting the storming of the Bastille in 1789 as an essential part of the French History. The 14th July has become a major public holiday, traditionally considered as the symbol of the French Revolution. There’s no shortage of parties to attend in honor of France’s National Day on July 14, which commemorates the Storming of the Bastille a turning point in the French Revolution.

Credits: Nicole Stalinsky
Credits: Nicole Stalinsky

Starting this weekend, several French restaurants will hold pétanque tournaments and block parties will fill East 60th Street, Carroll Gardens’ Smith Street and Harlem’s Saint Nicholas Avenue.

Where is Bastille Day in New York?

While the most popular Bastille Day celebration takes place on 60th Street between Lexington Avenue and Fifth Avenue on Sunday, July 9th, there are multiple events happening all over the city until Sunday, July 16th.

Credits: nypost
Credits: nypost

July 13

  • Bastille Day Ball 2017
  • Where: Club 404, 404 10th Ave. Midtown
  • When: 6 p.m. to midnight

The Committee of French Speaking Societies is hosting its annual Bastille Day Ball, featuring Chloe Perrier and the French Heart Jazz Band and DJ Olivier Meiji. There will be a raffle for two round-trip tickets to Paris with Air France, as well. Tickets start at $30.

July 14

  • Bastille Day Pétanque
  • Where: Cafe du Soleil, 2723 Broadway, Upper West Side
  • When: 6 p.m. to midnight

Cafe du Soleil is hosting a pétanque tournament on its terrace with live music and food and drink specials.

July 16

  • Carroll Gardens Bastille Day Celebration & Pétanque Tournament
  • Where: Smith Street, Carroll Gardens
  • When: Noon to 10 p.m.

Bar Tabac is back again this year with its annual Bastille Day celebration and pétanque tournament, with raffles, live music, food and drink by local businesses. Roughly 20,000 people are expected to turn out for this free event.

  • Bastille Day Block Party
  • Where: Maison Harlem, 341 Saint Nicholas Ave., Harlem
  • When: Noon

Maison Harlem and Bang Tidy, a Brooklyn antique and clothing market, are hosting a Bastille Day block party with live DJs, food, cotton candy, face painting and pétanque.

Credits: deviantart
Credits: deviantart

You can also go on any French bar or restaurant, I am pretty sure, you will have fun ! If you have any question, don’t hesitate to write me a message !

Salvatore

Tips, taxes, commissions, how to spend your money in New York?!

The common act purchasing something (food, goods, clothes, other equipment…) in your own country is quite simple: you have a good idea of the prices applied in your local stores and depending on which country you live in, taxes are directly applied on the displayed item. You do not get surprised at the view of the price of your final purchase!

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Therefore, you may feel a little bit lost performing such a mindless act when abroad. It can also become trickier when it’s not using your own currency. Get ready for some math calculations! In this article, I will explain to you how tipping works in New York, what your bank charges you per withdrawal and help you out with general money questions you may have.

How do I pay in New York?

Of course, in New York, the currency is the US dollar! See, you were not that terrible in school ! 🙂

1$ equals approximately to 0,77 British pound or 1,30 Australian dollar or 1,30 Canadian dollar or 3.49 Israel New shekels. The bills in circulation are the $1, $2 (new), $5, $10, $20 and $50 and $100. (sometimes business owners can be reticent to accept bills of $100) the coins in circulation are: the quarter (25 cents), the dime (10 cents), the nickel (5 cents) and finally the penny (1 cent). Generally, the most used credit cards, VISA or MASTERCARD are accepted almost everywhere. However certain business owners don’t take the American Express because this company charges them a higher commission. Banking checks from another country are not accepted.

Before coming to New York, I suggest you to pay your banker a visit to make sure your credit card is usable for your travel needs. You can also write an e-mail but do not forget to mention the dates of your stay! Indeed, if your credit card was never used abroad before, their security system qualifies your expenses as fraud and disables your CB instantly. While in New York, you can withdraw cash in ATMs. There are inside and outside most of the banks (avoid those at bars or placed outside small businesses where commissions are higher than in banks, even for national residents). During your withdrawals, I suggest you to choose “withdrawal from checking”. Depending on the partnerships that your bank has set up with local banks here, you may have to pay additional fees from $4 to $8 per operation. The best way to know is to consult the pricing online.

How much cash do I need to carry in New York?

When one goes abroad, it is essential to always carry a little bit of cash. Worst case scenario: imagine for a second that you lose your credit card on your first day… It is then necessary that you have enough money to help you get by for a few days while waiting for a new card or finding another solution! To gage how much you need in cash, do a quick calculation based on what you plan to buy/spend during your first few days. If you want to grab a taxi cab at the airport, the cost of the ride is between $65 to $70. I personally don’t think that you need much money on your arrival because for most cases, your accommodation has already been paid beforehand.

IMPORTANT: Please, don’t be fooled, avoid “black cabs” (illegal taxis), also called “gypsy cabs.” Their drivers are only looking to scam tourists and will not hesitate to ask you $200 for the transportation to your hotel! My advice to you is to wait on line for a yellow taxi (yellow cab) where an agent at the airport will affect you to a car, and it is one of the safest options out there.

Credits: Harlem Spitituals
Credits: Harlem Spitituals

If you want to plan ahead and avoid the hassle of finding a taxi cab after your long and tiresome flight, you can now book our comfy transportation service options from any airport to your hotel/apartment with us by CLICKING HERE.

Regarding the currency exchange, your bank is limited with economic solutions for your travel because their commissions are pretty expensive in my opinion.

Here are my 2 advices to you:

– pre-order US money online and withdraw it directly at the airport. Some Exchange Currency offices offer this service.

– if you have time, go to 2 or 3 Exchange currency offices near where you live to check what they offer, some of them (depending on your country) charge a little commission, other nothing. Explore all your options!

Service and leaving tips in the Big Apple

The average income of a waiter/bartender in New York is less than the minimum wage and that’s the reason why tipping is mandatory. It is very common to leave between 18% to 20% of the check in tips according to the quality of service you got. For your informaton, the tip is called “gratuity“. If you order a drink at a bar, the average tip is $1 or $2 per drink. If you are 6 people or more at a table, the waiter will automatically include a “gratuity” of 20% on your check/bill.

Credits: Liberation
Credits: Liberation

Tipping is not applied everywhere though. Indeed, if you eat in a fast-food like McDonalds or Starbucks, the concept of service doesn’t really exist because nobody will bring your order at your table! When taking a cab, like in most restaurants, you need to tip between 15% to 20%. If you pay in credit card, you will be able to select the options displayed on the small monitors behind the seats of the car.

In New York, the displayed prices don’t include taxes

On my first day in New York and doing some shopping, I was being cautious about the estimation price of my shopping cart while filling it. When I got to the cash register, I was surprised to notice that the amount estimated increased by approximately 10%! So much for my calculations… I asked the cashier to explain to me this price difference, and she declared the displayed prices don’t include taxes ! So beware of that.

What are taxes for the goods and services in New York?

The State of New York imposes taxes on services and goods on its territory.

When you see a displayed price, it is necessary to add 8,875% of taxes.

Taxes are composed this way :

– the tax of the town of New York with 4.5%,

– the tax of the State of New York with 4%,

  • the tax of Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD) of 0,375%. Nevertheless, some products are not subjected to this tax, it is the case of food (except for restaurants), drugs, diapers, magazines and newspapers… but also clothing and accessories like shoes if their cost do not exceed $110.

Example for a pair of shoes:

– If a pair of shoes costs $110 or more, it will be taxed up to 8,875%.

– If this same pair of shoes costs less than $110, no tax will be applied. Another example: You bought 3 pairs of shoes at $100 dollars per pair, the tax will not apply because each pair of shoes do not exceed $110 dollars. As soon as you buy an item that costs $110 or more, the tax will apply.

Credits: Glamour
Credits: Glamour

I hope you found this article to be useful before you take on your NY adventure, if you have any question, do not hesitate to drop me a line on Facebook!

Salvatore