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Queens, New York: What is it?

Queens is a place that one does not exactly think one should visit when planning a trip to The Big Apple, but one should.
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Af Maria-Leena Kerr

USA New York

The Manhattan / Brooklyn snob

I have traveled back and forth to New York many times. My first trip was in 2006, when I, as an “innocent” 21-year-old, turned my nose up to experience the metropolis, as seen in various films and TV shows.

I quickly realized that it was really enough that you could just lift your arm high up against the driving traffic and a yellow taxi would stop and take you. I also found that it is true enough that the average New Yorker consumes his 'bacon egg cheese' with a cup of black coffee on his way down the subway to work.

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And after only one day in the city, I sanded to the point that New York City was just the thing for me. So over the next four years and ten months, I traveled back and forth thirteen times.

I was probably a bit 'Manhattan / Brooklyn snobbish' like most other tourists and did not get to experience what the other districts - or 'boroughs' - had to offer.

But it was only until, I had to admit, that as a student I could not afford to settle in a one-bedroom in Manhattan and did not feel like sharing housing with four other students.

I looked at the famous website 'Craigslist' - and 1-2-3 I got an offer on a basement apartment. I was quite skeptical; not because it was Craigslist, but because the residence was in something they called 'Forest Hills' located in the Queens neighborhood.

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Is Queens a ghetto?

To be honest I had never heard of it before and also had to google it a few times before I took courage to myself and went out there. The subway ride took about 25 minutes from Times Square. There are four train lines running out there, so I'm not lost after all! 

When I came up from the subway with a map in hand and a detailed explanation of the route, I was immediately amazed at how clean and tidy the street was. I do not know what I had imagined.

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Because it's called Forest Hills and is located in Queens, it does not have to be 'ghetto' or uncivilized… In fact, I had also read something about this neighborhood being: "middle to upper class", "low crime", and a “rich neighborhood”.

On the way down Main Street Austin Street I was amazed at how many shops, restaurants and cafes there were. And upon arriving at the house, I was further surprised.

How could it be possible to get this type of studio apartment all alone for only $ 700 a month when I had to pay $ 900 a month to share a 2-bedroom apartment with three Frenchmen in Park Slope? Wow! I lived here for three fantastic months in 2010.

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Do not waste time

The fact that I fell in love with the Forest Hills area was not the only reason why I moved from Denmark to New York in 2011 with my three suitcases - but it was the reason why I consciously chose to settle in Queens.

The diverse neighborhoods of Queens made me feel at home, never bored and safe, and today I recommend all tourists to put Queens on the itinerary - with or without a tour guide!

Most tourists think that it is important not to waste a moment of their precious days in NYC. So they consciously or unconsciously cut off some of the parts of the city from where one can feel and see the 'real' and more authentic New York. The parts of the city where New Yorkers live and relax; where their culture is alive and well.

When I am not working and showing Danish tourists around the city, I like to take my son in his stroller for a walk in 'Flushing Meadows Corona Park'. It is a large park that has housed the world exhibition of two rounds and where there are still many relics from that time.

Among other things, the huge globe is a landmark that you get a quick look at when you drive past on the highway from the airport 'JFK' into Manhattan, and which takes your breath away when you stand under it.

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Insider tips for Queens

Nearby is the Queens Museum, you have the opportunity to see a miniature version of the whole of New York City with every single building that had been built until 1991. After a walk in the park, do well with an Italian ice cream that is not cream-based, but instead based on water.

Among other things, Lemon Ice King is known from the intro in the series 'The King of Queens'. They have a licorice ice cream that tastes of the licorice coating from the ice Kong-fu in Denmark.

If I'm really hungry, I slip down Roosevelt Avenue and order a giant sandwich from Tortas Neza; a food truck that has become known for making 'tortas' - sandwiches - as big as your head.

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Should it turn into a romantic evening getaway, then the waterfront at Long Island City with views of the East River and Midtown is definitely recommended. There are plenty of benches, chairs and fixed 'solar cars' so you can sit and enjoy the good company, the big Pepsi neon sign and the playful light show that is Midtown Manhattan.

I'm not saying you should definitely take a trip across the East River and visit Queens or Brooklyn or up north and visit The Bronx. But if you want a unique behind-the-scenes experience of New York City, you really will not regret it!

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About the travel writer

Maria-Leena Kerr

Maria-Leena Kerr loves New York and the United States. She does this so much that today she lives in the country and even runs the online concierge and sightseeing company, Turist i New York - The Danish Tour Guide. She is an authorized tour guide in New York, Washington DC and Las Vegas. In addition, she writes about the city on her blog. The desire that drives the work is a great passion for tourism, and to give tourists an insight into the local history, culture and not least their everyday life.

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