See the real New York

New York City has reclaimed its status as one of the world’s great tourist destinations, through new investment, better law enforcement and a subsequent lower crime rate, and a positive attitude that works very well. A tourism success story, by any standard, but many veteran visitors to the Big Apple are now complaining that the “new” New York is just a little too slick and Disneyfied. Theme restaurants and mega-musicals have their place, critics say, but New York has so much more of real life to offer.

The trouble is, how do you find it? One great new way to see the side of New York City that hasn’t changed too much is to take advantage of Big Apple Greeters, a free service that matches you up with a New York tour guide who can show you special aspects of the real city.

Knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers, known as “Greeters,” promote New York’s small town charm by accompanying visitors on 2-4 hour journeys in any of the five boroughs, free of charge. Although they can assist visitors in seeing the better known tourist attractions, their main focus as volunteer “friends” is to share their favorite neighbourhoods and to show visitors the little things they’ll oftemiss.

Whether you want to find the best bagel or unravel the mysteries of the subway system, Greeters give you a personal view of the city as only a native New Yorker can. To keep the personal touch, your party should consist of no more than an individual, a family or a few friends travelling together, ranging up to about six people. Volunteers greeters take tours simply because they love their great city, and are even forbidden to accept tips. They’ll share their personal favourites with you: – lesser-known sights and attractions, flea markets, street fairs and festivals, enticing shops and restaurants, as well as all the fascinating details which give a New York neighbourhood its color and flavour.

The program receives support from the office of the Manhattan Borough President and is funded by corporations, foundations and individual donations.