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

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

What you shouldn’t miss in Central Park!

What you shouldn’t miss in Central Park!

Central Park is located in the heart of Manhattan. It is one of the most mythical places in New York. Jogging, picnic, rides with bicycle, all is allowed in this gigantic garden which extends from the 59th to the 110th Street. Let’s go for a personalized tour!

Credits: ZeroOne

The green lung of Big Apple

Space was arranged but one also finds there parts of nature that have remained wild. Central Park accommodates more than 35 million of visitors per year it increases every year.

Throughout the year, the park offers a great diversity of tourist sites and activities. In short, one is never bored there! As indicated previously, Central Park offers multiple sites to be visited. You may not be able to discover it all on your first visit, this is why I have selected  “the best of the best“ for you!

The unmissable of Central Park

Great Lawn (from the 79e to the 86e street – West Side)

It’s a green space of the park which has the characteristic to count many grounds of baseball and playgrounds. In summer, many events are organized there: projection of films in open air, gigantic picnic, “white dinner” etc

Strawberry Fields: Remain of John Lennon (from the 71rst to the 74th street – West Side)

Strawberry Fields is a monument in memory of John Lennon and a symbol of peace. It was inaugurated at the exact place where the famous singer used to talk his walk. Every day, the fans of John Lennon lay there flowers, poems and candles to pay him homage.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Réservoir (from the 85th to the 96th street – West Side)

Credit: Patrick Gruban
Credit: Patrick Gruban

In 1994, this Tank was renamed “Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir” in honour of the latter which was accustomed to practising the race with feet there. It is one of the places most attended by the runners.

Madagascar at Central Park! (From the 63rd to the 66th street – East side)

Credits: MusikAnimal
Credits: MusikAnimal

The zoo of Central Park is in the south-east of Central Park. It is managed by Wildlife Society Conservation. One can visit a tropical greenhouse, see polar bears and otaries. It preserves animal species in danger such as the tamarin, the clamping plate of Wyoming or the small panda. Most large animals were transferred to the zoo from Bronx.

The place was popularized thanks to films such as The Wild and Madagascar and especially, the series derived “the Penguins from Madagascar”. Opening hours: In winter from 13:00pm to 4:30, in summer of 10:00am at 5:00pm and the weekend of 10:00am to 5:30pm.

The Belvedere Castle (79th street, in the center of the park)

“Belvedere” means in italian “beautiful view”. This castle with uncommon architecture was built at the top of the Vista Rock, which is a 450 millions years old rock! Until the Sixties, this place sheltered the buildings of the weather observatory of New York. Today, the place is especially snuffed by the romantic ones.

Sheep Meadow (from the 66th to the 69th street – West Side)

Credits: Ed Yourdon
Credits: Ed Yourdon

Sheep Meadow is an old pasture with sheep (which justifies its name). It is the place of relaxation “par excellence” at Central Park. During the summer time, visitors get sun baths every day.Since this lawn, you will be able to benefit from a spectacular sight on scrapes-ciels surrounding the park.

Shakespeare Garden (79th and 80th street – West Side)

The Shakespeare Garden is a real tribute to Shakespeare’s work. It counts many trees and a special mulberry tree which one says that it was put out of ground by Shakespeare himself in 1602.

The garden is located near the Delacorte Theater where many plays take place between May and August. Thus, celebrities such Al Pacino, Mery Streep or Natalie Portman already worked there. The free tickets are limited. If you absolutely want to try the experience ,you will have to be armed with your patience (queue: approximately 3h)

The Bethesda Terrace (On 72nd street)

Credits: Jon McIntosh
Credits: Jon McIntosh

The Bethesda Terrace was drawn like the heart of Central Park. The staircases offer a marvellous lake view and on the Great Lawn. For the music enthusiasts, you need to know that many travelling artists choose to occur there because the place presents amazing acoustics naturalness. In the middle of the place, there is the Bethesda Fountain called  Angel of the Toilets. The four cherubs being located below the angel represent the virtues: Temperance, Purity, Prosperity and Peace.

Some practical information to visit Central Park like a pro!

From the end of October to March, two ice rinks are installed in Central Park: The Wollman Rink (entertaining skating rink) and The Lasker Rink (for the hockey). If deep in your heart, you feel like a Chris Creveling, you should absolutely do it!

Wollman Rink: 59th Street and 6th avenue

Lasker Rink: West Side, 110th Street

3 best ways to discover Central Park

You can obviously discover the park by walk, but there are also other options for you. let’s find out together which way would be best for you.

1) Ride a bicycle!

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

I think the best to discover Central Park is by bicycle. My advise for you is  to book your bicycle a few days in advance especially if you have a family. Keep an eye on the road, there are professional runners  police officers and horses!

Price: Approximately $30 dollars per person fo 90 minutes

Harlem Spirituals is happy to make an exceptional offer for our readers: “Central Park Bike rental for 2 hours” is only 22 dollars. if you want to book it with us, CLICK HERE 

To see all of our biking options, CLICK HERE

2) Culture in Velotaxi/VeloTour or Pedicab

Velotaxi/VeloTour is a very interesting activity if one wishes to ride a bike accompanied by a guide. Indeed, it’s great to get funny anecdotes about New York and Central Park while keeping a certain independence. It will cost you $60 per hour for an adult and $50 for a kid. As for Velicabs, which, obviously is very snuffed by the tourists, it makes it possible to discover the park under a different angle. Note that the pedicab can carry only 2 people  maximum.

Prince: approximately $130 per hour.

3) Romance in Horse Carriage

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Have you ever dreamt to rent a horse carriage in Central Park? it’s totally possible, Love Story guaranteed! Indeed, it’s an unforgettable experiment. You will be able to discover the innumerable bridges, fountains and statues of Central Park. This activity is a true privileged moment. Family, friends or even only for yourself!  it is a single way to explore one of the most famous parks in the world. A blanket will be offered to you to warm you up.

Price: Between $180 and $220 for 45 minutes. If you book it with our agency, you get the lowest price because we have privileged partnerships.

Harlem Spirituals offers this tour for $150 (4 people). if you want to book it with us, CLICK HERE.

That’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed our Central Park tour!  If you have tang question about New York and its secret, do not hesitate to write me a message on Facebook or to come say hi to your office/boutique localized near Times Square.

Salvatore