By Taylor Griffin
NEW YORK – Next time someone tells you to “get lost,” take it as a compliment.
For the past few weeks, I’ve done exactly that. Truly, the best way to acclimate to a new environment—especially one as daunting as New York City—is to venture out alone. Think of it as the most insane metropolitan scavenger hunt with a new prize at the end of each adventure.
Some of my best finds in the city have come from dropping off at a subway station and finding my way back to familiar territory—or at least to another subway stop. New York’s distinct neighborhoods have days worth of exploring to do, from the Bohemian vibe of Greenwich Village to the trendy Meatpacking District to the food halls of Chelsea Market.
Even working at NBC has become a daily adventure; I can’t begin to count the times I’ve lost my way wandering the many floors at 30 Rock. After a few weeks working there, I’m starting to believe the building’s elevators shift around like the staircases in Harry Potter.
As I discovered during my internship last summer in Washington, D.C., getting lost allowed me to see the city in a completely different light. The District is known for its diverse neighborhoods, all unique and waiting to be explored. Each weekend, I took the metro to a new part of the city and spent all day walking back to my apartment. Among the countless boutiques, farmers markets, interesting restaurants and more, I discovered much more culturally about the city than any travelers’ guide could depict.
I love to eavesdrop on others’ conversations on the subway or elsewhere, discussing the best burger house or antique store in a new area I have yet to hit; that’s always my cue to whip out my notepad and jot down an added stop on my running list.
I’ve happened upon the most incredible coffee joints in SoHo and Midtown, wonderful luck for a java junkie such as myself. Trust me when I say New York is the Mecca of this addict’s religion.
All those late nights getting out of a show or walking around with friends also give me an excuse to pass through Times Square. While it’s constantly swollen with tourists—another aggravating topic for a separate blog—it’s undoubtedly one of the most intense sensory experiences I’ve witnessed. This semester rounds out my fourth visit to the Big Apple, and yet the indescribable sight of it all has yet to ever leave me underwhelmed. Getting lost in Times Square is never a bad thing.
Though it’s rewarding, getting lost is not always the easiest or most convenient way of exploring, particularly when you have armloads of groceries while subway surfing down the N train with someone’s armpit in your face. That’s happened twice, both of which I took the train going the opposite direction home. Such joy.
Whether its bustling streets of New York or the reenergized downtown of Waco, I encourage anyone to go “get lost” and find something special—leave Yelp and Google Maps out of it.
As I look outside at the mild high-of-70 day outside, it’s as if the city is begging me to go for a walk; I’ve developed an instinct that tells me it’s time to go exploring. Who knows what I’ll stumble upon today?