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New York Impressions and USA general

Australia
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New York Impressions and USA general

We just returned from a trip to the USA. We spent 7 days in New York, 3 days in Washington DC and 2 days in LA. Our budget did not allow us to stay in anything above a 2 star hotel. In New York we stayed at the Super 8 Hotel near Times Square. We were rather worried about the condition of this place, as the reviews about this hotel seem to be split between good to outright disgusting. When we entered the room to our horror the first thing we saw was a cockroach. We never saw another one during our 7 days stay. The room was small, adequately furnished with a shower and toilet. The heating was turned up so high we had to turn on the air-conditioning to cool down the room to a liveable temperature. Breakfast was included in the price which included a reasonable selection bagels, doughnuts, fruit, and drinks. The only draw back is the canteen type of dining room with small little tables and at times standing room only to eat the breakfast. The hotel itself is not all that clean. The staircase has not seen a broom or a duster for a long time. And about the bead bugs in some of the reviews, yes there were bed bugs in my bed; I still suffer from an itchy back.

New York did live up to our expectation. It is easy to get around in this big City. The 7-day Metro Card is a must and a bargain at $21.00. We also bought a New York City Pass, which gives you access to 6 attractions at a discounted rate. Since we were in New York out of season and never had to que up anywhere we could have bought individual tickets and probably done it cheaper this way. We found a few 2 for one offers and the Guggenheim museum had a reduced entry fee because 2 floors were closed for visitors, which was disappointing, also the Intrepid offered a reduced entry fee because the USS Growler Submarine was also closed for visitors. If you are thinking of buying electronic gadgets do not buy anything from stores around Times Square. The will rip you off big time. We felt safe in New York at all times. Be sure you are bringing with you a pair of comfortable shoes to wear, as you will be walking a lot in this City.

We took the Greyhound bus to Washington DC where we spent 3 days. We stayed at the Double Tree Suites at Foggy Bottom. This is a very nice location only a few steps from the Metro. Of course we visited all the war memorials and a lot of museums, which are free to visit. Unfortunately 3 days is not enough if you really want to get involved.

We flew to LA where the weather was horrible; we decided to cut our visit short and return home early.

It was an interesting holiday but besides the nice memories I would not return to the USA again. I find that you are constantly being ripped off. The hotels are expensive, the quoted prices do not include taxes which adds extra dollars, and on top of all that the guest hast to chip in with tips to anyone and everyone who does a service for you. In my country, Australia where the living standard is equal or higher than the USA the living costs are cheaper and every worker is paid a reasonable wage, no tipping is required. I also found the constant begging a turn off. This was particular rampant in Washington.

Scotland
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41. Re: New York Impressions and USA general

pbuyse2

Not surprised qantas has not got involved again. If my memory is correct it was his first post. Many people find it hard to bite the bullet and actually post threads rather than simply read and enjoy others. For his first post to be a full trip report was a commendable effort. I am sure he did not expect the reaction he got.

My tuppence worth on the actual content of the original post for anyone who is interested!

I too watch the threads more than I contribute. During my time doing this I have seen posts complaining about poor hotels, bed-bugs & begging, taxes & tipping, attractions being closed and -yes - even the weather. All of these have prompted responses either agreeing or not - but certainly without the invective that qantas has incited. Reading the report it seems he made one mistake only - giving his opinion that he would not return to the States. As someone who is making his second visit this year I clearly do not agree with him but nor do I feel he was making some sort of derrogatory statement concerning the entire country and its people.

While stating the intention not to return so blatantly was a little unwise it was not a reason for him to attract the attention of the redoubtable US immigration officers should he ever change his mind! Please, read the report again but minus the final paragraph - I think he actually had quite a good time!!

Floyders

Durham, United...
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42. Re: New York Impressions and USA general

DM,

we agree then! that makes me feel less nervous about tipping while I'm over there. Just knowing that not everyone there sees it as expected, even for poor service. (a post from another brit about being chased out of a restaurant in times sq - the name escapes me - has worried me a lot!)

I'm very pleased you enjoyed London too! You should try a few other of our cities (my favourite is York, the history there is just unbelievable!)

UK
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43. Re: New York Impressions and USA general

I just wanted to add my thoughts on tipping / pricing....

In the UK, everything is priced so that the figure you see on a ticket / menu is the price you pay. It is completely engrained in our minds. That is so different to the US and especially NY. Getting used to looking at the price of something and knowing immediately that it doesn't actually cost that price takes some time.... far longer than the few days most tourists spend in a place.

As for tipping, in the UK we tend to look at the price of a meal and think that's what it's going to cost us.... If we add on a tip, it's usually about 10%, so doesn't affect the full cost all that much. However, when you have to tip 15-20% you really need to figure it into the price you see on a menu, as it makes a bigger difference to the overall cost. Again, we are just not used to doing that.

It's not that we Brits / foreigners are mean (I don't think so anyway) it's just we are so used to paying the price we see that when there are 'hidden' (to us) charges I wouldn't say we feel 'ripped off' but just a little misled maybe....

manchester england
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691 posts
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44. Re: New York Impressions and USA general

i am surprised quatas has not come back he had a lot to say and i am surprised he cannot contribute more

everyone has an opinion thats what this site is for but there are ways of saying this

every country is different that why people travel but this sight bring an a amount of experience re hotels etc and this is a choice that you wish to adhere to

Ghent, Belgium
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2,559 posts
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45. Re: New York Impressions and USA general

Having been to the US over 30 times the past 25 years I can not stop wondering why the taxes in stores are not included in the prices shown on the items, or in restaurants for that matter.

You pay taxes anyway, at least in those states where they have sales tax, so why not already add it so you actually know what the items costs before you pay at the checkout.

Is it that Americans really want to know how much tax they pay and are afraid their governemnt is going to sneak some extra tax in there while they are not watching ?

Over here taxes are way to high so I can see why out governemt wants it included in the prices to not upset people to much but taxes being so much lower in the US I do not see why they could not be included.

Bakersfield, CA
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46. Re: New York Impressions and USA general

I'm surprised this thread hasn't deteriorated into "my country could beat up your country." The point of travel, especially abroad, is to experience things different from your own culture and way of life. I agree that a person should stay at home if they cannot accept and even embrace changes from their own monolithic existence. You mean to tell me that customs and conventions are different in foreign countries? Hard to believe.

Rowe, New Mexico
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47. Re: New York Impressions and USA general

Ruffian42: Spot on, as they say in Oz. It's interesting that the whining (whinging in Oz-speak) "qantas747" makes in this commentary is their very first post to this forum. Perhaps if this person had bothered to make enquiries and research more carefully, they might have been better prepared for their trip.

One thing I know for sure, if I checked into a hotel that had cockroaches and bedbugs, I would be out of there so fast it would make the front desk clerk's head spin. That would be after receiving a refund from the manager. When I'm staying in really cheap hotels (which I do with great regularity all over the world), I have the names and phone numbers of at least 4 other hotels to try in case there are problems. There are several good budget hotel choices in NYC, my usual choice is the La Quinta and I have never had a problem there.

I also have one comment concerning the mewling about the weather in L.A. This time of year is the rainy season, it's winter, hello! When I travel I know that I might encounter rain, anywhere and at any time of year. I always have activities planned that can be enjoyed in foul weather. L.A. is home to many fabulous museums, that's the first bad-weather activity I would try. What a shame to miss seeing anything in that fabulous destination because (whine) "it was raining."

Yes, some people are better off staying home. Thanks for your report and please enjoy future holidays in your home country where all is perfect...

Western...
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48. Re: New York Impressions and USA general

pbuyse2,

I am not an expert on US taxes, but they are more complicated than most people realize (even Americans). I believe taxes are not included because not everyone may pay the same amount! For example: I live in Massachusetts, where the sales tax is 5%. Next door in New Hampshire, there is no sales tax. If someone from Massachusetts drove to New Hampshire to buy a dinningroom set and decided to take it home with them, they would not be charges a sales tax. If however, they decided to have the store deliver it to their home, they would be charged 5% sales tax!

In another example: If I decided to buy a car in New York state where locally the sales tax is 8%, I would only need to pay 5% because I'm from Massachusetts! Confusing? Don't even get me started on internet sales!

Westernmass

los angeles, ca
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49. Re: New York Impressions and USA general

I agree with Westernmass, when I used to live in Seattle, Washington, we sometimes go down to Oregon to go shopping because they do not have sales tax. But in Washington State, we don't pay state income tax. So, taxes can be confusing and varies from state to state.

By the way Westernmass, thanks for sharing the link, very interesting!

New Orleans, LA
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50. Re: New York Impressions and USA general

Hey Qantas,

F.Y.I., you visited the three most expensive cities in the U.S. But even in those places you can find very nice lodgings and meals at bargain prices if you do the research. I recently stayed at the Hotel Lucerne in NYC for $159/night. It's a beautiful hotel in a great location, and take it from me--that's a great price. And my friend from the UK thought the trip was a great value. Right now there's a favorable exchange rate for almost every foreign currency in this country. And anyone who thinks the sales tax is bad in NYC hasn't been to the UK, where the VAT is killer!

I agree with the others in this thread--you get what you pay for!