Visit the Hamptons while you are in New York !

If you appreciate the contrast between new and old, you will love Long Island. It’s a little paraide located in the North-East of the United States, extending off the coasts from the State of Connecticut to the south towards the Hudson. Long Island is known to be the theater of a real New York melting pot. Indeed, here, old buildings mix with the last trendy clubs, the young people and the less young share the beach in harmony.

Credits: nytimes
Credits: nytimes

The Hamptons, the St tropez of New York

Some History… It’s a simple part of the island where virgin nature and fishermen were immortalized under the brush of some great painters, The Hamptons quickly became a dynamic destination. In the early 70s, this heaven on earth becomes the new place with the visit of the biggest celebrities. This area is now visited every year by the New Yorker socialites and VIP who are looking for a little escape under the perfect breeze from May to September ! (Like Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband Matthew Broderick)

credits:people
credits:people

Visit the Hamptons with Harlem Spirituals

Begin your trip with a stop at Riverhead, for a warm and typical country breakfast, then continue east as you pass the Long Island Duck, before arriving to the famous Southampton where residents such as Jerry Seinfeld, Paris Hilton, David Letterman, Steven Spielberg, and others have made it their home.

Credits: nytimes
Credits: nytimes

Start the tour strolling down the picturesque main street, before heading down through the historical area, the harbor and along ocean drive, passing by the homes of the rich and famous along the way. You will then continue to Sag Harbor a picturesque and quaint town that invites its visitors to enjoy it’s unique atmosphere. Take your time to tour the harbor and see the yachts, then stop at the antique stores or the old world shops for some real bargains.

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

After lunch head west towards the Tanger Outlets where you’ll pick up your mall goodies and then explore the stores. Find your own bargain with brand name stores for less! You’ll conclude your visit in the late afternoon, and depart west for an evening arrival in New York.

If you want to book this trip with us, CLICK HERE

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

Salvatore

What’s the best way to get from JFK Airport to Manhattan?

JFK, is the primary international airport serving New York City. It is the busiest international air passenger gateway into North America, the fifth busiest airport in the United States and the busiest airport in the New York City airport system, handling just under 59 million passengers in 2016. Over ninety airlines operate out of the airport, with non-stop or direct flights to destinations in all six inhabited continents.

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

If you want to start your visit to New York City off on the right foot, you’ll want to make your arrival to the Big Apple as easy possible. So, how do you plan on getting from JFK Airport to your hotel in Manhattan?

Well, here are five ways you can travel from JFK to anywhere in Manhattan. What’s best for you depends on your budget and any time constraints you may have.

The Train

If you want to save some money traveling back and forth to JFK Airport, then the Airtrain to the subway, and the subway to your hotel is the best way to go. It will only cost you a very economical $7.25 per person.

Credits: Wikimedia
Credits: Wikimedia

But be forewarned, you’ll have to drag your luggage up and down a lot of stairs, and then you still have to get from the subway station to your hotel.

You can board the Airtrain in the airport and travel to either the Howard Beach Station, where you can catch the A Train, or Sutphan Boulevard Station, where you can catch the E, J or Z Train. The Airtrain costs $5.00 and entrance to the subway system costs $2.75 totally $7.75.

The Yellow Cab

This is by far the easiest way to get from JFK to anywhere in Manhattan (anywhere in the entire city really) for up to a party of four, but of course it’s not the cheapest.

Credits: Wikimedia
Credits: Wikimedia

According to rules set out by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, for trips between (to and from) Manhattan and JFK International Airport, the flat fare is $52.00 plus any tolls and a NYS Tax of $.50. There are signs that will direct you to the taxi stands outside ever terminal in the airport. There will be queues/lines of taxis waiting to take you where you want to go. An attendant should be there to answer any questions

How Long Should it Take? That depends on the traffic. If you fly into JFK at 5:00 PM (rush hour), you’ll be luck if it only takes you two hours to get to your destination. Typically it should take an hour or so. Beware of gypsy cabs, if someone offers to give you a ride. It’s probably a scam. Some of them son’t hesitate to charge you $200!

The Shuffle

There are several Airport Shuttle companies to choose from and truthfully, if you have a large party traveling with you (more than 4 adults), this might be the best way to go unless you hire a private transportation.

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Once you reach the airport, you can proceed to the Ground Transportation desk to get information on where you catch your shuttle, or you can use one of the courtesy phones in the baggage claim area. Keep in mind that you may not be the only passenger in the van, and you may have to go along for the ride while other passengers are dropped off at their destination first.

If you want to book your ticket with us, CLICK HERE

Book a comfortable SUV

Begin your New York City vacation with peace of mind! Skip the waiting lines and the frequent stops, and enjoy a comfortable and convenient luxury sedan ride to your hotel from JFK Airport. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from JFK Airport to any hotel in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Credits: Harlem Spitituals
Credits: Harlem Spitituals

Once you arrive, you will be met by one of our representatives at the airport. For domestic arrivals, your driver will be waiting at the bottom of the escalators leading from the gates to the baggage claim area. For international arrivals, your driver will be waiting outside customs by the door leading from the customs area to the terminal. Your driver will be wearing a dark suit and a tie, and will be holding a sign with your name, or party’s name, on it.

We take pride in providing you total satisfaction along the way, through excellent service, professionalism and dedication. If you want to book it with us, CLICK HERE

The Limo Transfer

Begin your New York City vacation in style! Skip the waiting lines and the frequent stops, and enjoy a comfortable and luxurious stretch limo ride to your hotel from JFK Airport. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from JFK Airport to any hotel in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Credits: Jeff Murphy
Credits: Jeff Murphy

Once you arrive, you will be met by your driver at the airport. For domestic arrivals, your driver will be waiting at the bottom of the escalators leading from the gates to the baggage claim area. For international arrivals, your driver will be waiting outside customs by the door leading from the customs area to the terminal.

Your driver will be wearing a dark suit and a tie, and will be holding a sign with your name, or party’s name, on it.

If you want to book it with us, CLICK HERE

For more information on the Airtrain, go to The MTA’s Website.

If you have questions, write me on Facebook or come at our office located near Times Square! 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

A Guide To Some Classic NYC Food Experiences

Nowadays it’s not enough to just know about the latest food craze or trendy restaurants. The real pursuit is in finding the hidden gems – the under-the-radar eateries where real New Yorkers go for deliciously unpretentious bites that always manage to hit the spot. But how do you know where to go when New Yorkers like to keep their favorite places a secret so it doesn’t end up like every other crowded joints in NYC?

If you’re planning a visit to NYC or have guests coming from out-of-town, skip the typical tourist spots. And if you don’t know where to go: join us for a tasty BBQ lunch in Brooklyn or for fresh seafood lunch in a small, charming NYC seaside neighborhood that is off the beaten paths and frequented by mostly locals, on our Hidden Treasures tour of The Bronx with Lunch at City Island. Because why would anyone settle for average food options in NYC of all places, when you can essentially travel the world one plate at a time without ever leaving this city!

Here is our insider guide to good eats in the Big Apple.

Pizza

Pizza-NYC(Photo by Katrin G)

As a quintessential NY food, you are probably not surprised to see pizza on this list. Now, what is the best pizza in the Big Apple? Thin crust, thick crust, NY style, deep-dish, wood-fired or coal-oven… the answer is anyone’s guess and the good news is that regardless of your preference, New York City has a style of pizza for everybody and you can decide where you fit by looking at our list of The 10 Best Pizzas in New York City including the places where you can eat them.
Staff’s pick: Some of our favorite pizza places include Motorino, John’s on Bleecker Street, and Roberta’s.

Barbecue
Originating in the South, American Barbecue is more than just a culinary style; it’s a whole subculture with fierce fans. While New York City may be a mecca of food, it’s not the largest BBQ hub in the United States. You will be surprise by how far Barbecue enthusiasts in the Big Apple go to get their authentic BBQ fix in this City. No need to worry about finding one if you have been on our Triboro from Hip-hop to Hipsters tour complete with a finger-licking authentic southern style Barbecue lunch in Brooklyn! If you haven’t booked it already, do it now and you won’t regret it.
Staff’s picks: Other Barbecue restaurants that some of us cherish are Hometown Bar-b-que, the Smoke Joint, Blue Smoke and Hillstone

Soul Food

Chicken n Waffles(Photo by Flickr U)

What is soul food, anyway? It’s a token from the south of the US brought to NYC. The name “soul food” was coined by soul music, and initially used by Jazz artists in the ‘50s. Soul food is nothing new to New York City; it’s been around for decades. In fact, ‘til this day there are still some very good soul food eateries in the city that serve the most authentic version of this dish such as the restaurant we go to during our Soul food and Jazz tours as well as our Harlem Gospel tours with soul food lunch on Wednesdays or soul food brunch on Sundays.
Staff’s picks: When we want soul food on days our tours aren’t available we go to Bobwhite, Londel’s Restaurant or Manna’s to fix our cravings.

Seafood
New Yorkers love to have the best of everything and the seafood is no different, and they will travel to great lengths to find the perfect plate. For fresh seafood, join on our Hidden Treasures of The Bronx with Seafood Lunch, when we uncover the Bronx and this tiny coastal community known as City Island. On this tour, you not only get see a different side of New York City but you’ll also get to enjoy a delicious seafood lunch on City Island located in the Bronx.
Staff’s picks: Other good seafood options if you can’t make it to City Island are Littleneck Brooklyn, Luke’s Lobster or FishTAG.

Ramen

Momofuku Ramen(Photo via Momofuku)

Ramen noodles have been popular in New York City for a long time but this is one of the food trends that has yet to vanish and is enjoyed by people of all backgrounds in this melting pot. This dish continues to mesmerize many foodies and travelers in New York, as there are so several ways to enjoy it. Nowadays, upscale ramen eateries are popping up all over New York City and they are building a stellar reputation among food lovers in the Big Apple.
Staff’s picks: For a flavorsome bowl of ramen, we like Ippudo Ramen, Chuko Ramen, Ivan Ramen or Totto Ramen.

Bagels
What makes the bagels in New York City so special? Even some New Yorkers have yet to find an answer to this question. Some people speculate that it’s all in the water 🙂 whatever the case may be, we can all agree that they are amazing! New York City is home to some of the world’s best bagels and you’ve got a lot of bagel options. Most New York bagels can come anyway you like, whether you want something sweet or savory for breakfast. One thing for sure is that once you eat a bagel in the Big Apple; you will always be able to tell the difference when you go anywhere else.
Staff’s picks: We recommend you try Bagel Express, Broadway Bagel or Bagel Talk during your next NYC stay.

Burgers

Burger- Spotted pig(Photo via the Spotted Pig)

Whether you are visiting or have out of town guests in New York, keep in mind that when it comes to getting tasty burgers in this city, your options are all but limited. If you don’t believe in standing in long lines for a Shake Shack Burger, you can still get very decent burgers that are not fast food depending on the type you are looking for. And, remember that you can still enjoy some really appetizing burgers in this town without necessarily going to a burger-focused restaurant. Some good burger joints in the Big Apple to go: the Counter Times Square, the Corner Bistro, and the Spotted Pig.
Staff’s picks: Some good burger joints in the Big Apple that we like to go are the Counter Times Square, the Corner Bistro, and the Spotted Pig.

Hot dogs
When it comes to hot dogs in NYC, do yourself a favor and stay away from the hot dog carts on the street because there are so many other franks out there for you to enjoy. On independence day annually for instance, people go to Nathan’s famous in Coney Island to stuff tons of hotdogs down their throats for the title of “Nathan’s Hot dog eating champion”. However, if watching people eat lots of hotdogs in minutes is not your perfect image for entertaining, go to any Nathan’s just to get a taste of their famous dogs. Nathan’s has a number of locations citywide if going to Brooklyn seems a little to far away.
Staff’s picks: Our choice for best hot dog in NYC goes to Crif Dogs for all the fun and creative options they offer. But, if you prefer the classic NYC style dogs, try the New York Dog House 🙂

Well now, if you can’t make up your mind on what to taste first and where, we have the perfect solution: join our Uptown and Harlem Food tour  and enjoy 5 delicious and quintessential New York food experiences while also exploring the exciting neighborhoods.

Whether you are on the hunt for all-time classics, trendy bites or the off-the-radar food spots, these are ultimately what you may want to have on your list of what to taste while you are in Gotham. Even if you are not familiar with some of these dishes — don’t knock them until you try them. Challenge your taste buds! What is the dish that you most look forward to eating every time you are in NYC?

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6 Fun Free Things To Do in NYC This Summer

nyc-endless-summer

New York offers plenty of fun things to do and see which don’t cost a dime. Get the scoop on these and enjoy the end of the summer in the City without breaking the bank!

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