Hi all and yes, it’s time to pick the second city, the second destination to make it through to the inaugural and most likely only ever City Rumble GRAND FINAL. Last week we saw London edge out Seville in a tight semi-final that had Seville up early with the new points system that I am using to decide the fate of the semis. Today though, we have two of the world’s most EPIC cities dualling it out setting up a mouth-watering contest from which one MUST emerge victorious.
Six categories, and a possible 60 points up for grabs for both New York City and Tokyo. So as a reminder from last week, these are the criteria upon which I will choose the city to go up against London in the Grand Final.
So now we are down to the semi-finals, we need to judge carefully and I think, with clear criteria which in all fairness to me, we really haven’t had previously. Let’s take into consideration – Visitability – how easy is it to get there (by various methods) and how easy is it to get around? Climate – How much of the year sees decent weather? Not too cold or hot, not too wet either, too humid or too dry. Accommodation Options – how well is the city served in budget, mid-range and high end accommodation options and do they represent value for money? Food Options – again, what is available? How representative of the cuisine of said country AND how many choices to eat out are there? And is it reasonably priced? Sight-Seeing – How much is there to see? In general are things not as good as they are made out to be, the same or better? And do you pay a fair and reasonable price to see/visit them? Finally, Entertainment – I’m not a huge fan of going out every night and discovering bars and the like, but what options are available, do they represent value for money, and is it a lively scene overall?
So let’s not waste any time, let’s dive right in there and see who will hold their hands up high in victory, let’s… GET READY TO RUMBLE!
Setting the Stage
Before I jump right into the nitty gritty, let’s look at the two cities we have. Different continents, Asia and North America, a capital city and an ex-capital city, and the most famous city there is in the States. Both cities are HUGE, with many boroughs and places to explore. New York principally on an island, or more than one, and the mainland too. Tokyo is just in from the coast, with Yokohama being the port city only a short distance from it. The population of Greater NYC – a tick over 20 million. Greater Tokyo – 36 million. Woah, I can’t believe that’s right! Cities such as, well both of these expand and take over smaller towns and parts of the country. Tokyo has 10 million people MORE than Australia!
Yes, it’s that word I made up which would have me consider how easy, convenient, enjoyable and practical it is to visit a city. Let’s start with New York City. It’s a city with plenty of options when you fly in. JFK, La Guardia, Newark and I feel like there’s at least one more airport servicing New York. And they all have carriers from all around the world flying there.
Once you get to NYC, well, the Metro system there is, like the one in London, iconic. The Subway takes you everywhere from Long Island to the Bronx and beyond. It’s not the cleanest or safest in the world (in all fairness, it is not Unsafe), but I certainly got a kick out of taking it. The way the whole city is laid out, it’s not so hard to find an address as it’s a grid and streets are numbered one way. So getting on the Subway, where lines often run parallel to the streets, you can kinda work out where you as you travel underground.
Walking, well it’s actually not that bad a place to walk and I walked a lot the couple of times I visited. You know if you need to go somewhere roughly how many blocks you’ll need to walk and in which direction because of the numbered streets. And it changes every 15 minutes in scenery and atmosphere. And you get to walk through Central Park too which is great. Taxis are your other go, obviously not the cheapest way to get around, however they are iconic. Be aware though that the traffic can be such that the Subway works out to be a lot faster at times!
Score – 8/10
Tokyo is another very well connected city, it’s main airport being Narita, the secondary one being Haneda. I must say though, Haneda is a lot closer to town and much more convenient, even if Narita is a much bigger and nicer airport. Getting through customs though is a real breeze, it’s run so efficiently. More so than US customs. You will get through and get your bag in good time in Tokyo, I reckon you can bank on that. The commute into town from Narita is a pain though because it is so far away from the city. Over an hour on the metro, there is an express train (which costs) which is more like 30 minutes.
The metro in Tokyo I would have to say IS the cleanest and the most efficient I have ever seen. It’s incredibly comprehensive. It can be a little tricky to navigate, but once you get it, you’re set. People are quiet and respectful too on the metro, it’s almost strange! But I wish all metros were like Tokyo’s. Buses back up the metro too, and run on time. Tokyo’s taxis are kinda cool as well, they weren’t quite as expensive as I expected when I used them, and they are black and the drivers take great pride in their car and the job.
Score – 9/10
Tokyo has a LOT of hotels. Hostels. Capsule Inns. From the high end market to hostels, it’s not cheap but you wouldn’t expect it to be. Even Capsule Inns will cost more than you might expect ($60USD plus). Hostels will get you a bed for $20 IF YOU’RE lucky. But the thing is with hostels in Japan, they are impeccably clean and usually have great self catering facilities. Japan’s business hotels are clean and efficient, even if rooms are small, and there are always noodle options in the lobby and other cheap meals (usually from a machine).
Score – 7.5/10
New York on the other hand, look I may be wrong but I think the accommodation situation in New York City isn’t great. It costs. You’d probably expect that, but still. I stayed in hostels when I was there. The last time $25 for a bed in Brooklyn the place was rather basic. Nice atmosphere though. If you want to head to the centre of the action well, $40 or more is not uncommon for a dorm bed. The hostels I have stayed in (only 2) were not the cleanest.
If you want to head more upmarket, well the sky’s the limit, if your budget basically is limit free!
Score – 6/10
Both cities have plenty of restaurants. Tokyo certainly has amazing Japanese food, as you would expect. If you are looking for variety, you can find foreign cuisines, but not in total abundance. And often I found that there is a Japanese ‘take’ on the food, like an Italian restaurant popping a raw egg on top of my Bolognese which I have to say was a first. And didn’t work for me. But if you want amazing Japanese food, and they have amazing cuisine in Japan, well you can’t go past Tokyo although you will pay for it. If you can’t go there and need to save pennies, well there are plenty of little fast food style Japanese places where $10 will see you right, or lovely Ramen shops where a filling bowl of delicious ramen noodles won’t put you back again any more than $10USD. Or head to a convenience store where you can get fried chicken for a buck and a noodles bowl for around the same. Usually they have hot water to fill up said bowl. There are plenty of ways in Tokyo to get by without forking out a lot of money on food.
Score – 8.5/10
New York City on the other hand, well it’s got loads of international cuisine and tonnes of fast food options too. Interestingly the state taxes levied seem to make it more expensive to have a McDonalds meal in New York compared to say, Nevada. New York, like London, has Michelin Star restaurants (as does Tokyo) and so quality food is not that hard to find. Or find yourself a hot dog on the side of the road, or pizza sold from a hole in the wall for a couple of bucks for a (big) slice.
Score – 8.5/10
New York can be quite a balmy place. I visited the first time in September, and it was hot and humid which made sleep difficult. But of course, it can snow there in the winter. I also visited later in the year second time around, and in October it was suddenly much colder than in September a few years earlier. I think the middle of the summer would be a bit much. I think winter would be cold but yet charming, especially around Christmas.
Score – 7/10
Tokyo’s summer heat is blistering and humid. It’s very sticky from late June through to mid-September, and I didn’t enjoy visiting in these months. I much preferred April, where it was warming up. The winter isn’t too bad, it can snow but it’s not very common I think. After the summer comes October and the typhoon season. It’s not as bad as you’d think really, I was there during a couple and to me it was windy and rained a lot, but it didn’t feel like we were in any danger.
Score – 6.5/10
New York City is always buzzing from buskers to 42nd street. I went to an all night club back in 1999 I think in a warehouse although to be honest I can’t really remember much other than taking the subway back to the hotel at 7am. You can see a show such as ‘The Late Show’ being taped (if you’re lucky and can get tickets) and then you have Broadway and a bunch of shows. Not as many as London, but you’re pretty well served. And of course pubs and bars aplenty. You might head to Madison Square Gardens for a basketball game or concert, or to the Bronx to see the New York Yankees play baseball.
Score – 9/10
Tokyo though is also a great city for a night out. You can check out the different kinds of traditional theatre if you like – Noh Theatre for example, or Kabuki, or perhaps a Sumo match? Baseball is HUGE in Japan and I think there are a couple of major league sides that play in Tokyo. I went to a game in Hiroshima, ok not Tokyo, but a lot of fun.
Roppongi is the nightclub district and there are all sorts of clubs from those catering to the alternative crowd to karaoke bars. One of my best ever nights out whilst travelling was at this karaoke bar in Roppongi. Plenty of bars there too. And the thing about going out in Tokyo is, because this is Japan you feel much safer than in other cities around the world so I think that’s a big plus. Oh and also, there is a ‘Robot’ Restaurant. Enough said!
Score – 8.5/10
Tokyo has Tokyo Disneyland. Oh and Tokyo DisneySea (not as amazing). It has two high vantage points, the Tokyo Tower and the Tokyo Skytree if your like your views of a tall city, and Tokyo is a hell of a tall city. Go to Ueno for the beautiful lake and a lot of brilliant museums from the small Shitamachi Museum inside an old house, to the Science Museum and the National Museum. If you prefer a slice of the future, take the monorail around to Miraikan, a brilliant museum with live robots and loads of interactional fun for kids and adults alike. Then there’s the fish market, the Tsukiji Market which is great for a visit. Come to Shibuya just to see the busiest pedestrian crossing in the WORLD if you don’t mind. And then you have amazing temples such as Senso-ji and the Meiji Shingu, in the middle of a brilliant park. And then there are the Maid Cafes in Akihabara, a fascinating and bright (and quite pink at times) part of the city. And this is the tip of the iceberg. Tokyo can keep you busy for weeks and weeks of serious sight-seeing!
Score – 9.5/10
New York City itself obviously has plenty to occupy the visitor. Those three sailors from ‘On the Town’ certainly thought so and sang a great song about it!
You have Central Park of course, and it is really big and when I visited I always found myself in Central Park for some reason or another. For your high views well, the Empire State Building is the obvious one. The New World trade Centre Buildings I think have observation decks too. Just looking across the New York Skyline with all its skyscrapers from the top of the Empire State Building is without a doubt an awe-inspiring sight.
New York has a lot of things to see that are free too, surprisingly. If you like buildings, aside from the two I have already mentioned, well there are other famous ones to see such as the Chrysler Building which is possibly my favourite design in all of New York. Take a ferry past the Statue of Liberty, or you can go out there on a tour I think and visit the statue in person. You can visit Wall St, but I’m not sure you can get in, and you can do studio tours of places like NBC or get into see one of the shows being taped if you’re lucky. Then the museums are of course, world class with your Guggenheims and whatnot. New York has plenty!
Score – 9/10
And so we tally the scores for the result!!
Tokyo – 49.5/60
New York City – 44.5/60
And that’s IT! Our two finalists are Tokyo and London, set for the BIG DANCE. The date for that has been set by the way – Thursday the 2nd of DECEMBER. FYI – the Grand Final will not be assessed in the same manner as the Semis (got to keep it fresh!)
Thanks for reading. Did you agree or are you ROPEABLE right now? Please do comment! Thanks for visiting of course, and May the Journey Never End!