New York, NY – March/April 2016
First of all, we’d like to send a shout-out to Aunt Joan who was kind enough to let us use her east-village apartment for our month in NYC. The location of the apartment was perfect and it would have been a very hard destination to manage without her place. Elisa lived in the apartment for a short time after college so we already had a jumpstart to getting the lay of the land.
First impressions – NYC needs a facelift! Almost all the buildings are brown or grey, the streets are grimy and the thousands of anonymous faces passing by on a given day make for a cold impression of the city. If only the buildings had painted exteriors, then it would be so much more attractive and welcoming! We saw only one brightly painted building in a whole month of walking around. I realize it is probably impractical to paint and maintain, but when a 500 sq. ft. apartment can sell for a million or more, it seems like a small price to pay for a little uplifting beauty to life.
Another downside is the lack of green space in the city. The small amounts of grass and garden are inevitably fenced off for viewing only. The exceptions are central park and prospect park in Brooklyn, both of which are fantastic. I guess this is all just part of NYC being a metropolis, but it seems like other large cities like London, Paris, San Fran and LA all have done a better job with greenspace. We all would have loved to have had a little more greenery around us (including Nick and Nora).
We learned a lot about New Yorkers during our stay. Once again, having the dogs in tow was a great tool for meeting locals, since most of the conversations we had were as a result of people stopping to pet Nick and Nora, or in one of numerous dog parks in our area. Contrary to the stereotype, my impression is that the New Yorkers are not any more rude or impolite than residents of other US cities. In fact, most of the people we met were polite, if a bit standoffish. My theory is that when you have limited personal space, one tends to avoid interacting with strangers in an effort to be polite and not infringe any more on their space. The stereotype of being impatient definitely held true though! I haven’t seen people jaywalk through busy traffic (like a game of Frogger) since being in Vietnam 5 years ago.
We visited all parts of Manhattan, as well as a couple of the outer boroughs. The west village and east village (where our apartment was) were definitely our favorite spots in Manhattan, since they seemed to contain the cheapest and most diverse eats, eclectic people and a good mix of architecture and history. We could have spent an entire month eating only at the restaurants within 3 blocks of us and would not have exhausted the options, most of which are delicious. We made 3-4 trips out to Brooklyn and enjoyed that as well – it would be awesome to stay sometime near Prospect Park and to go for long walks in nice weather.
There were too many good options to count in terms of food and NYC definitely wins for the best food in the world in terms of quality and variety. We doubled our food budget for the month and only cooked in a handful of times since the food out was too good to turn down and really wasn’t much more expensive than eating in. If we lived in Manhattan, I can see how not cooking at all would be a reasonable plan. Our favorite restaurants of those we tried were Love Mamak for Indonesian food (and the most amazing roti bread), X’ian famous foods for spicy Chinese noodles, Raku for ramen noodles, Han Dynasty for traditional Chinese, C&C Prosperity dumplings for deliciously cheap eats and Gaia Italian Café for outrageously tasty pasta dishes. We also visited the Pickle Guys on Essex street about 4 times for more and more pickles (our last purchase was about $50 worth of pickles!).
Brandon and Valerie came and stayed for several days and Elisa and we had a blast hanging out with them. We got to hang out with Brandon’s aunt and uncle for St Patrick’s day, toured central park, hit up the Highline and Chelsea Market, visited a number of local restaurants, and sampled the various bubble tea shops in the area. It was wonderful to catch up with friends and hopefully we get more chances to do so in our continued travels.
Unfortunately, we had really crappy weather almost the entire stay. The two nicest days were the last two days before we left. I think if we return it would be much better weather from the middle of May to middle of June.
Since the weather was crappy we spent a fair amount of time on Netflix, gaining weight as couch-potatoes and catching up on Orphan Black and Madmen (among other favorite shows). We did manage to do some work and got an inventory shipment out to Amazon. Doing business in the big city was surprisingly easier than we had anticipated. The only extra effort came from bringing our inventory purchases back into the apartment bag by bag, and often carrying them home from the store via the subway. This was made a little easier in some cases since most stores would do delivery for a $15 charge, and we could schedule pickups with UPS for $10. The little extra work was worth it though since there was a lot of high end luxury shopping which had good profit margins for us!
Of course, Nick and Nora were along for the ride. They got many walks and jogs in, daily visits to the small dog park at Thompkins Park, and generally seemed to enjoy their stay as much as we did. They haven’t learned to talk yet so I am just guessing here though. Within a 15 min walk from the apartment were 4 dog parks in larger parks of about a block each.
Our next post will be from New Orleans! Thanks for visiting and we hope to see you soon!