No one’s going to be friendly if you keep insulting them, you know.

When I was on vacation, I started noticing a lot of angry mentions of Condé Nast Traveler from locals on Facebook and from local blogs. I was, however, on vacation, so I just said “hey, Amy, remember to look into this at some point” and saved one of the links as a reminder to myself. (I really try to stay away from angrification while on vacation. Why would you WANT to purposely upset yourself when you’re on a vacation which is geared to lower your stress-levels and blood pressure?)

I then promptly forgot all about it, because I’m Amy and I forget things ALL. THE. TIME. Seriously.  I’ll remember something that slipped my mind weeks ago and feel TERRIBLE but how do you fix it, other than telling the person “I’m a huge dork with too much going on, I’m so sorry. Please don’t hate me. Or, if you do, please don’t tell me you do. Because I don’t deal well with all the hatred, it makes my stomach hurt.”

But NOW, well. NOW, here I am. I’m just not very TIMELY.

Condé Nast (a very fancy publisher in charge of such things like The New Yorker, GQ, Vanity Fair, Bon Appétit – these are all, interestingly-enough, known as “magazines that are way too effing fancy for Amy to even touch because she would most likely leave smeary fingerprints on the shiny, shiny covers”) has a magazine called Condé Nast Traveler. I don’t know much about this magazine. I assume it’s all travelly and shit. For rich people. Like, “14 Greek villas you MUST stay in before you die” or “How to travel Europe on $100,000 a day.” Mostly, I’m trying to buy a ticket to see Andreas for less than $1,000, yo, I don’t care about Greek villas.

Yep, "The Islands Issue" sounds about what I'd expect from this magazine.

Yep, “The Islands Issue” sounds about what I’d expect from this magazine.

So Condé Nast Traveler did a feature last month called “The Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the U.S.”

I find things like this ridiculous to begin with, but we’ll go more into that in a bit.

According to the site, the results of this feature came from their annual Readers’ Choice Survey:

For more than 25 years, Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards have been a coveted seal of approval for hotels, cruise ships, and airlines from the world’s most discriminating travelers. Tell us where you’ve traveled and what you’ve loved (or not)—47,000 of you participated last year to make this list what it is. 

So a bunch of fancypants fancy people went and voted on what’s best and worst and from those votes, this high-falutin’ magazine made a list of the “friendliest” cities in the U.S.

I’m not going to draw this out. Here’s the listing:

Friendliest (from #1-#10)

Charleston, South Carolina
Galena, Illinois
Savannah, Georgia
Asheville, North Carolina
Austin, Texas
Jackson, Mississippi
Natchez, Mississippi
Telluride, Colorado
Sonoma, California
Branson, Missouri

Unfriendliest (from #1-#10)

Newark, New Jersey
Oakland, California
New Haven, Connecticut
Detroit, Michigan
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Los Angeles, California
Albany, New York
Wilmington, Delaware
Anaheim, California
Sacramento, California

I take a little offense at the whole situation, but a LOT of offense at #7 on the Unfriendliest list.

AS I LIVE THERE.

According to snooty old Condé Nast Traveler, or at least the READERS of said magazine (or internet trolls, as I suppose you don’t have to subscribe to vote):

To be fair, Albany is probably better known as a through-station than a tourist destination. That may be why it scored low on our survey. Still, some readers had strong opinions: The “not-so-nice” northern New York city was described as “dull” by one reader, and others said it was best to avoid, “especially in the winter.”

We’re the CAPITAL of the STATE. We are the SIXTH-BIGGEST city in the state. (And I mean, come on. Like we can compete with New York City. None of us even TRY to compete with New York City. We’d just lose, so why bother?) We are a city of theater and arts and government and architecture and history; we have both urban sprawl and beautiful green spaces you can get lost in; we have sidewalks and lawns, concerts and plays, museums with mummies and a gigantic river running right through the middle of us.

And I’ve been to a lot of cities over the years, and you know what?

We’re friendly as hell.

(No, I don’t mean that in an ironic way, even though it sounds like that. We’re really very friendly.)

People look you in the eye when you walk past them on the street. People smile randomly; there are a lot of small kindnesses. We pull together as a community when things go bad. We pull together as a community when things go well, too. We don’t discriminate against small towns around us; we’re all the Capital District. We’re all good enough.

I got here in the summer of 2002 without ever having been here. I knew nothing about the area. I’d never even been close. I thought it’d be – well, you know what? Like the survey says. A through-station. I thought maybe I’d live here a couple of years, get my head together, move on elsewhere.

Until friend C. took me on my first tour of Albany and I felt that click. That chest-slammingly right feeling. That feeling that I’d lost something, and I’d never known it was missing, and here it was. I’d found it. And how had I ever gone without it?

That feeling, it’s a feeling you only feel when you’ve come home.

Call my home unfriendly, if you must, you fancy magazine. Call it “dull” and say people should avoid it in the winter. (Listen, that’s most New Yorkers with money, to be honest. We call ’em snowbirds, because they fly on outta here the minute the flakes start falling.) Say it’s “not-so-nice.”

But you’re wrong.

And, furthermore, you’re wrong about ALL those “unfriendly” cities.

A city is as friendly as what you put into it. This is true for a lot of things. You need to give in order to get. You’re not going to get very far in a romantic relationship if all you do is yell at your partner and tell him or her they’re not good enough; you’re not going to get very far at work if all you do is complain about the workload; you’re not going to get very far at learning a new skill if all you do is read one sentence and then walk away frustrated.

All of those “unfriendly” cities (and all of the “friendly” ones) are filled with – shh, I’m telling you a huge secret – people. Yes! People! With good days and bad days, hearts and lungs and brains and memories and feelings.

Walk around in any of these cities with a good attitude, as if you’re there to have an adventure, with a smile on your face – well. I’m pretty much guaranteeing the city’s going to be friendlier toward you.

Walk around all “grumble grumble grump DAMMIT THIS PLACE IS SURE SLUSHY AND DULL!” and probably people aren’t going to go out of their way to be kind. Because you’re being scary. And, let’s be honest, a little weird.

Maybe you like where you currently live. Maybe you hate it. Maybe you’ve found your home; maybe you’re still looking. But anywhere, anywhere at all, can be friendly.

Albany is the friendliest, most welcoming city I know. It’s the city that gave me a home when I didn’t know what home was; it’s the city that gave me a community when I needed one. It’s got my whole heart.

I don’t need some magazine I’m too daunted to purchase to tell me it isn’t.

Because I know they’re wrong.

(Come drop on by and visit us, fine people of Condé Nast Traveler. You can’t look at The Egg without breaking out into a smile; you can’t see Nipper or watch one of our foolish local commercials without grinning; you can’t read the local arts listings without thinking “wow, there’s a lot of heart in this town,” you can’t walk through Washington Park and see the kids playing without thinking how vibrant and full of life the city is. I dare you to try. You’ll lose the bet, though, and you’ll owe me a cone from Kurver Kreme. Until that time, however, I’ll just be here, enjoying the best city I’ve ever had the opportunity to know. I’m perfectly content with where I’ve chosen to wait.)

You have to love a city that has a huge statue of Nipper in the skyline. You just have to.

You have to love a city that has a huge statue of Nipper in the skyline. You just have to.

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About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

53 responses to “No one’s going to be friendly if you keep insulting them, you know.

  • becomingcliche

    If they think Albany is dull and unfriendly, clearly they have never met you. You should be the face of Albany.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I would totally be the face of Albany. I would do local commercials and those half-hour specials on Sunday mornings no one watches about the local history and I would be ZOMG SO EXCITED! that everyone would want to come here!

      Like

  • sj

    I love when you talk about your city. <3

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I want to bring you all here and show you around and watch you all fall in love with it like I did. I would be the BEST tour guide. “Here’s The Egg! IT IS SO WACKY! Here’s the dead-end street I always get lost on! Here’s the restaurant where one time the service was terrible! Here’s the road where that guy lived that one time! OMG THERE IS A BILLBOARD WITH BAD GRAMMAR!”

      I’m really irresistable when I tour-guide.

      Like

  • cynthiaw

    You know, I’ve been to some cities that were considered “unfriendly” to outsiders (not on this list, although I’ve been to several of them, too) and never had any problems. But I’m not a condescending dickhead.

    I traveled with a group of teachers (who were mostly terrified of going) to Boston and never had a hard time getting help or directions – sometimes, when we didn’t even ask, like the fine gentleman who saw us looking confusedly at the subway map and told us what train to get on to get where we’re going.

    We didn’t even have anyone tell us that we talked funny – most people seemed to be charmed by our Southern accents and wanted to be super helpful when we asked for recommendations about what to do, where to eat, and how to get there.

    Is anyone going to be nice to you if you act like a toerag? Hell, no, not even in super-friendly Charleston, SC – difference is, they’ll tell you to go to Hell so sweetly that you won’t even realize what just happened.

    And I’m not saying that Austin isn’t friendly, because it is, but having some overgrown hippie offer me a “free hug” isn’t my idea of friendly, it’s super creepy.

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    • lucysfootball

      People always think NYC is unfriendly, too, and I’ve had people totally smile, be friendly, give me directions, etc., there – and not even mug or kill me afterwards HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? *eyeroll*

      (I totally want to visit Boston someday. I’ve always wanted to!)

      OMG NO FREE HUGS. If anyone free-hugged me I would be the unfriendly one screaming “BAD TOUCH! BAD TOUCH!” and running away. *shudder*

      Like

      • cynthiaw

        Exactly – and then the free hug weirdos try to make you feel like you’re some kind of freak because you don’t want some random, slightly unkempt person hugging you. No, it’s not that I’m not “in tune with the universe”, freakazoid, it’s that I don’t want to get groped by random strangers.

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        • lucysfootball

          I’ve noticed that about the touchy-feely hippie types. They might be all about peace and love but heaven help you if you’re not, because they’re all about judging you for it.

          I don’t like being touched by people I even LIKE, let alone strangers that reek of feet and patchouli. Back off, Hippie Frank.

          Like

          • cynthiaw

            lol – I hear you. I can barely tolerate all the hugging from my colleagues when we all get back to work after the summer. Random strangers – ummm… no. The only other time I ever had someone try to make me feel bad about it was when I got invited to a Christmas party by a guy and it turned out to be a CHURCH Christmas party with a bunch of Evangelicals. Apparently, hugs substitute for handshakes when you meet someone in that Church.

            I ended up with a screaming headache and NO ONE HAD ANY ASPIRIN because you were supposed to trust God to heal your headache, just like Mary trusted God. I ran so far away….

            Like

    • poetlandia

      This is exactly what I mean. I don’t think these people knew when people in the South were telling them to take a nice long, lazy walk off a short, tiny pier.

      Like

  • Charleen

    I live 20 minutes from the second friendliest city in the nation?

    (Also… Galena is a city?)

    And I’m sorry some snooty travel magazine doesn’t think you’re friendly. From everything I’ve seen (through my little computer screen anyway), Albany seems lovely.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Is Galena super-friendly? You’re going to need to report back to us, now. It’s super-important!

      Albany is fantastic. That magazine can suck it. We rock.

      Like

      • Charleen

        Galena is a lovely town to drive through. (Well, actually it sucks in the way that slowing down through any town along a two-lane highway sucks, but that’s just because I’m impatient.) It’s very quaint and historic, the kind of place you could spend a nice fall morning browsing the shops. But as I’ve never actually done that… I can’t really say if they’re friendly or not. It’s the kind of place that SEEMS friendly, though, as you’re passing through. Which is maybe all that magazine was going on.

        I HAVE spent many a wonderful evening at Galena Brewing Company, with some of my more beer-savvy friends. But that hardly qualifies me on the whole town, ya know?

        Like

        • lucysfootball

          I noticed in the comments people complaining that a lot of the “friendliest” places weren’t even cities, but towns, and it’s unfair to judge a city against a town. I think the whole list is BS, but I kind of agree with that – you get a different vibe from a city than a town, overall.

          Like

          • Charleen

            I looked on Wikipedia (since they are the definitive resource for all things, obviously) and apparently the definition of city changes from state to state. In Illinois, you only have to have 2500 to count as a city. Galena has 3400. So… it technically counts, but… yeah…

            Like

  • longviewhill

    Lists like these don’t help anyone. Detroit is my neck of the woods, more or less. I’m not going to lie, there are some mighty unfriendly parts of Detroit. But there are also some amazing parts – the food, the art, the music… there are some wonderful qualities. The poor old girl is having a bit of a rough time presently, but the people that live there are great folks with a generous and joyous spirit.

    Like

    • Corvidae in the Fields

      Of the five cities I’ve visited on that list, I can agree with Austin being demonstrably pleasant. I even got into an argument with a random stranger while I was there and we sorted it out. Many, many, many other cities it would have been a stalemate and insults.

      As for Detroit and Atlantic City being unfriendly… yeah, I could see that I guess. 275 can be a bit cutthroat at times.

      Like

      • longviewhill

        Detroit is Motor City after all, so yeah – the expressways can be rather… exciting.

        Like

      • lucysfootball

        I’ve visited…well, not a ton of cities across the US, but my fair share. And I’ve left with a variety of impressions – hot, dusty, cool architecture, so close to the ocean, people were really nice, etc., etc.

        Never once have I said, “Man, these people were SO UNFRIENDLY.”

        I might think, in small towns, they’re a little…standoffish, but that’s a function of a small town, sometimes – until they get to know you, they can be that way. (Or sometimes overly friendly. Depends on the town.)

        This whole list is suspect. And I think depends on the people who visited the town, and their attitude going into it.

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        • Corvidae in the Fields

          Same here, as in visited my fair share of cities. I definitely pick up a vibe of a town. Philadelphia is, by far, my least favorite due to attitude. Ever watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Yeah, they nailed the miserable nature of the residents.

          I had a pretty positive attitude going in, but many times it was a “what the Hell do you want?” attitude.

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          • lucysfootball

            I’ve heard that from a lot of people, actually, that Philadelphia is far from the City of Brotherly Love it is supposed to be. I kind of want to go there now and be relentlessly cheery and see what happens.

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    • lucysfootball

      See, I’d love to visit anywhere, honestly. I can only think of a few cities/towns I wouldn’t want to visit, and it’s only because I’ve been/lived there and have bad memories. I love visiting new places, seeing new things…it’s all an adventure. And what’s life for if not adventuring?

      If you don’t see life as an adventure, I’m prepared to say you’re doing it wrong.

      Like

  • elaine4queen

    DAMMIT I just made a huge comment, and the interweb ate it.

    Tired now.

    Like

  • franhunne4u

    You are very protective of Albany, aren’t you? But you know what? You are right! I spent a few days in your town, in July 2004, and I loved the friendly people there!

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I am very protective of the people/places/things that have earned my love and trust. Yes. I am.

      It’s really a wonderful place. I’m confused by people who find it so dull, unfriendly, unattractive…it’s like they drove through with their eyes closed in the dark.

      Like

      • franhunne4u

        when I drove through in 2004 the place itself seemed rather run down, I have to admit that, but I would never call the people there unfriendly! They were rather hospitable.

        Like

  • aliceatwonderland

    I kind of doubt those snooty people have been to any of those cities. They are in their Greek villas having their grapes peeled by slaves as they lie back on their fancy smancy couches.

    Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    Don’t look people in the eyes or you might get shivved.

    *ponders*

    Oh. That might only be in gaol. My bad.

    Like

  • poetlandia

    Okay, two things:

    First, LA is the most unfriendly city in the world and I lived there for years. Unless you are famous (rich doesn’t matter – Angelenos don’t care if you’re rich) or connected in The Business, it’s unfriendly. Seriously.

    Second: I think these people don’t understand the cultures where they are going. People in the Northeast are direct. We don’t blow smoke up your tail. If you want smoke blown, you should go somewhere else. We, generally, will tell you the truth. Mostly, rich travelers hate that. In my experience.

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    • lucysfootball

      I do want to visit LA someday, if only to see it. It just seems like somewhere I’d like to visit.

      I have also noticed, since I deal with a lot of people from the south on the phone, they’re not in a hurry. Things are slooooow when I’m talking to them. And things were not rushed in the West, either. I like it here. I am ALWAYS in a hurry. Slowness makes me feel like I’ve been trapped in my own particular hell.

      Like

      • cynthiaw

        It depends on where you are in the South – I live in Houston and EVERYONE is in a hurry here. It’s like every person is seriously Type A, except for the people from Louisiana and they just spend all their time being annoyed with other people for being too demanding.

        When I go home to NM, it seems like everyone moves in slow motion, but it doesn’t bother me because I’m on vacation. Same as when I go to the coast of Oregon on vacation – it’s super slow there, but I find it relaxing. Maybe if I stayed long enough, I’d get deprogrammed.

        But, basically, if you live in any of the big urban centers, like Houston, Dallas, or Atlanta, everyone moves at warp speed – especially since we’re often dealing with multinational companies and everyone is on a different time.

        Like

      • poetlandia

        Funny, because I love that about the South. And once you know the difference between “Oh honey” and “Oh, honey” you’re good. One of the things I love about the South is their absolute insistence on remaining polite. I wish they had better queer laws because I would go to North Carolina and just stay forever.

        Like

        • lucysfootball

          I guess I’m just really, really impatient. I know that about myself. I have trouble slowing down. And when others are forcing me to slow down, it makes me FURIOUS. (It’s a personal failing. I know that. I’ll die of a stress-induced heart attack before I’m 60.)

          Like

  • Jeff

    Way to stick up for your home. I don’t like popularity contests, anyway. I’m actually surprised DFW wasn’t on the unfriendly list, the way people drive around here.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Ooh, I LOVE things like this. I do like that New York was voted on in almost EVERYTHING. We’re both the best AND the worst. (I think maybe we’re one of the only states that people seem to think about a lot. I so love my state.)

      Like

      • cynthiaw

        lol – Texas is like that, too – it was in some shade for almost everything. I’m shocked that Texas didn’t get most arrogant.

        Like

        • lucysfootball

          I love that Texas, California, Florida, and New York seemed to be the only four states people CONSISTENTLY had opinions about. WE WIN!

          Like

          • cynthiaw

            I have to admit that I can see why a lot of people hate Texas – they haven’t been here and the only thing that they know about the state comes from the LOUDMOUTH DOUCHCANOES in this state who are always blathering on about Texas being its own country and how we could secede and be one again.

            Ummm… hate to burst your bubble, but Texas didn’t WANT to be its own country, it wanted to be a state, but the Senate didn’t want to upset the slave-state/free-state balance and wouldn’t take them. So, Texas HAD to be their own country for 9 debt-ridden years – all of which they spent trying to get the U.S. to take them as a state, even though EVERYONE knew that it was going to lead to the Mexican-American War. AND seceding didn’t work out so well for you last time, did it? Ugh…

            I do think that it’s hilarious that, when some douchenozzle petitioned the White House for Texas to secede after the last election, someone other guy from Austin petitioned to secede from Texas if it was successful at seceding. Except that almost no one is actually interested in seceding anyway. Because… DUH.

            So… while Texas is awesome, there are a few, LOUD, Texans who are complete douchenozzles and ruin things for everyone. Although it probably keeps even more people from moving here, so that’s okay.

            Like

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