NEW YORK (AP) -- New Yorker Seth Kugel is getting a lot of attention in Brazil as the star of a new YouTube series educating Brazilian tourists about New York City.
The "Amigo Gringo" videos offer a humorous mirror back on New York culture, showcasing everything from how to ride the subway to how to order a bagel.
As Kugel offers advice, he tumbles over a subway turnstile after swiping his MetroCard incorrectly; gets dirty looks for talking too loudly; sneaks into a Times Square hotel bathroom; and rejects unusual bagel flavors: "Pina colada, no!"
The videos are basically travel guides, but they're also "about cultural differences between Brazilians and Americans and how to deal with them," said Kugel, who is fluent in Portuguese, lived in Brazil for two years and is a contributor to The New York Times Travel section.
Kugel said reaction to the series has been "astounding. It's been crazy. Everybody wants to talk to me." The first installment got 25,000 hits in the first 36 hours -- not bad for a non-celebrity in a series by an unknown startup company, Rede Snack. It's gotten attention from all of Brazil's major media, from the three biggest newspapers to Globo, the country's biggest TV network. Adriana Setti, who blogs on the site of Viagem e Turismo, a major travel magazine, called the shorts hilarious.
The series launched Oct. 15 and will post new installments every Tuesday and Friday for a year. Clicking a button brings up English subtitles.
Brazil is New York City's No. 2 overseas market behind the United Kingdom, with 895,000 Brazilians visiting New York in 2013, according to NYC & Company, the city's tourism agency, which gives Kugel's videos a thumbs-up. "We think it's a fun way to create some great buzz while providing visitors with some helpful tips on getting around New York City," said NYC & Company spokesman Chris Heywood.
Among Kugel's pearls of wisdom: Bagels "are truly complicated," so start with a plain bagel with cream cheese. "Advanced bagel eaters," however, should add smoked salmon -- "expensive but worth it."
As for the subway, he says, "there are always rats. If you see one, no big deal." And if you're lost, just "ask for help. It's the big secret of the subway. It seems like everyone's in a bad mood. The truth is, we love helping tourists."
He adds: "We were all once tourists just like you" -- which is true even for Kugel. He moved to New York in 1992 from the Boston area, though so far, his videos don't address another New York obsession: the great rivalry with Boston over baseball teams.
Amigo Gringo: http://www.youtube.com/CanalAmigoGringo . For English subtitles, click bottom right.