New York City (NYC) to Atlanta (ATL) and back.

I am going to write about what I would like to consider my experiences of the 2 cities in the space of seven (7) weeks and how I got to take this trip, and why I decided to start sharing my experiences.

A little background on who I am to give you a perspective of what kind of eccentric we are dealing with here ( I really don’t consider myself eccentric), I am what is generally considered a Generation X person, who started as a financial person but later decided to follow what he considers his true calling in the Arts and Entertainment as such can generally be view as different solely because I have a mind of my own and question things. Enough about me lets talk about me and the two   cities …….We start with New York City, NYC, The big Apple, my first experience of NYC was in the 90s after I had moved back to Nigeria (My country of origin even though born in London), I had live in England for over a decade and actually not travelled much apart from a school trip to France and I went to Belgium (Brussels) with some friends I had not traveled much outside England so when I moved back to Nigeria, had a good job, I decided I would travel whenever I got the chance to as such America was my first point of traveling adventure. Had relatives in New Jersey so I decided to stay with them so my cousins could show me around. I decided I would spend a month in America (which I did), I got to Union (Which is in New jersey) and it was not really the America I had in mind, my relatives were very accommodating but I was looking for more. I convinced my cousin (who really was not an outgoing sort a bit of a nerd to be honest but I love
him dearly) to let us drive out to NYC every other night to find things to do. I had to come with the possible spots to go and as I was new to NYC I was not exactly equipped to exploit the city to it’s fullest. Nonetheless i had a great time and the highlight of my trip was seeing Michael Franks in concert and meeting him personally. After that my cousin tried to persuade me to extend my trip by a couple of weeks and see George Benson which was tempting but I passed on that, I wish I didn’t though and hope to see him soon.

I have since travelled extensively (always relative) and still traveling, as of about 10 years ago I had done NYC
about 8-9 times and seen other cities as well. Now why is ten years ago significant? It was when I decided I was going to send myself back to school and I choose NYC, I had lived in London, Lagos, Ibadan, I guess in my head needed to experience living in NYC. I got an apartment in midtown Manhattan not too far from my school and was ready to become a New Yorker. In a nutshell I was in NYC for 6 months and after living in New York for a little while I realised that my perspective of NYC was never going to be the same, but what I did not realise was the sort of never ending discovery about the place called the Big Apple. I always have reason to pass through NYC every year, be it to see friends, or for a function, or just do what I now consider typical New Yorker behaviour (Some real New Yorkers might disagree ).

 

 

 

 

 

Now that you have that little information of me and NYC I feel inclined to also give you my relationship with Atlanta (ATL). I have a couple of brothers and my older Brother lives in London (He is one of the most traveled person I know he has been everywhere ) and my younger Brother  (Irish twin) lives in the US of A. My younger brother moved around America a little and whenever he moved to a new city I will visit so when he moved to Atlanta I visited and to be honest it was fun in its own way but if you have lived in London, Lagos, and NYC, you will find ATL slow and to be honest it was slow about 12 odd years ago the first time I went there. My second trip was when I was in NYC at school, went up to spend some time with him and again I thought nah……too slow for me, saw six cabs in nine (9) days. So about 9 years later decided to visit Atlanta again as my younger Brother decide not to move to another city and BOOM it was a different city. They had so much happening even though not at the NYC/Lagos pace but still vibrant and entertaining. While I was there I was informed of a family function that will take place the following summer and pretty much had to be there so I knew I was going to be back in America again.

Like I said as a New Yorker (again some might disagree….lol) I decided to come through NYC and see some friends in Brooklyn and do some of my NYC things, go to The Coffee Shop (Union Square I recommend it if you are ever in NYC) saw Billy Conolly there once, my Steak house in NYC, you tend to personalise things you do as yours anyway I am doing all my usual stuff and taking the crazy familiar NYC in and taking it in my stride then it hit me all of a sudden that there was something different about where I was (Brooklyn I had only seen it at night usually when attending a party), it had the craziness of NYC, the weird and unusual people, the noise, the mock, but it still felt different…… I realised that in Brooklyn you don’t get the usual tourist vibe that comes with Manhattan/Village/Soho you actually just had New Yorkers and they were living their NYC as usual. People jogging in the streets, coffee/bagel shops busy, dollar stores everywhere but gentrified neighbourhoods. I enjoyed a week of going to the park, saw “Antibalance” (Afrobeat Band) for the first time, ate at a Caribbean restaurants and tried different things in Brooklyn. I realised the New Yorker in Brooklyn is similar to the New Yorker in Manhattan but also different. It was a nice and cool feel, and after a week of that I flew to ATL via JFK (Crazy airport) and enjoyed my couple of hours flight to the south.

 

I arrived in Manhattan and had to stay with a friend in the suburbs of Atlanta, a good half hour drive from the centre of ATL give or take. I was picked up in a really nice BMW 750  as such a good ride, everyone drives in ATL that is the first significant difference you will notice about ATL and

NYC, you do not need a car in NYC but you definitely need one in ATL. I enjoyed my weekend in the suburb, lovely large gardens, going out to eat and spending time with friends. The highlight of the weekend was going to a Latin American Joint where they serve beer in buckets never saw that before and on this particular Sunday you could see a crop of Southern America descendants who live in ATL come out and have fun, music was theirs, environment was theirs, and we actually stuck out (Though we are Nigerians), and it didn’t matter as we enjoyed the evening and the music. ATL has always had some versatility about it and it’s entertainment regardless of the pace and can offer varied types of entertainment and we were not disappointed on this Sunday, different from the Friday night Ghanian/Nigerian place we went to where champagne seemed to be the choice drink at the table.

Eating out is also different in ATL not quite like NYC but has it’s own appeal and we did a bit of that. We went to a roof top club with friends though I cannot remember what it was called, but generally had a great time in ATL. One of the significant difference I noticed between NYC and ATL was actually the people not only in attitude but also in shape and sizes. I will have to admit that NYC is more cosmopolitan and varied not just in nature but attitude behaviour and outlook. ATL on the other hand as much as it is the Black capital of America had a different feel to its diversity as a City, people in ATL generally seem to stick to their own kind, hang out with their own kind, although there are exceptions to this rule and when it comes to eating even though you have everyone eating in the same restaurant you are still unlikely to see a mixture of culture at the tables, again there are exceptions I am saying generally, and as you will have it at our table it is usually an exception to this rule. Everyone seems to get along with each other without necessarily mixing with one another except for when necessary (work).

People were much larger in size in ATL and that also cut across all races and gender, though more so in some than others when compared to NYC. New Yorkers are very conscious always jogging, ride a bike everywhere, or walking miles to go to their destinations. ATL people drive everywhere as such do not have the need to walk anywhere,  I found it really amusing that in the same country you can find such visible difference between the people. I expect that in places like Nigeria but you generally don’t expect it in America or maybe that was just my perception as the reality says otherwise some subtle differences, and some not so subtle. The truth is America is a vast place and traveling around the country will give you different experience hopefully mostly pleasant rather that not. Strangely enough it is ATL people that are rather braising and friendly, New Yorkers tend to believe in minding their own business and living in their own cocoon as such do not feel the need to be friendly or approachable their is the air of you are on you own in a dog eat dog world if you are not familiar with NYC. I love NYC as I am a city rat and cities tend to my needs. I do country as a weekend trip and anything more than that will be torture for me.

ATL is easier on the pocket when you eat out, not necessarily so if you go to a night club . Went to a club called loft which is owned by a friend of mine and they only sell bottles and each bottle is $250 (dollars) each . In New York you can go out and not be obliged to buy a drink talk less of not having much of a choice but to pay $250 (dollars) for a bottle though I am sure if I enquire in NYC and

wanted to buy a bottle I am sure it will probably cost the same or more.

In total I spent 7-8 weeks in the United States of America between Atlanta and New York City and had a great time in both Cities, if I had to choose where to live between the 2 cities I will probably go with NYC as it is more suited to me, I guess at the end of the day it is a personal thing for any individual concerned. My reason for sharing my experiences is to tell people more about other cities and cultures when I  experience them and try and put a perspective from my view. I also want to be able to give some knowledge I might have picked up on what these places have to offer or just a political view from me. I hope you enjoy it and I am definitely looking forward to the next one and I hope you are too.

 

Akin Kongi

Filmmaker/Photographer/Entrepreneur

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