Wednesday, September 1, 2010

About me - Part 3

With my baby brother
Here is the third (and final) installment of my interview with Amelie from The Heimweh Safari.

As before, you can read it below here or on her blog.


Here’s the third and last part of my conversation with Stephanie (read part 1 and 2 and go to her fabulous blog) where she talks about what she likes about NYC in general and— attention, all uptown expats!—in particular. On top of that, she lets us know where she finds good bread and cheese and gives some good advice for the NYC-newbie.

What do you love most about NYC? Name three reasons why living in NYC is better than living in Europe.
  • Convenience – I can’t think of any city in Europe that is truly as “open 24/7” as New York is. From supermarkets, to restaurants and bars. This is truly the city that never sleeps. 
  • Weather – perhaps this is more in comparison to London/Paris than other more southern European cities, but you can’t beat New York’s weather. The winters may be bitterly cold but they are short – temperatures don’t usually become bone-chilling until early January and by March, a light coat/jacket can be worn again. Summers are hot and long, the heat normally lasting well into October, to leave in its place the most glorious autumn I have ever experienced with its mild temperatures and constant bright sunshine. 
  • Energy – I have often tried (and failed) to describe the energy of New York both in my blog and also to people who haven’t been here before. In the end, it can only be understood when experienced firsthand. But what I know for sure is that I have never felt quite this level of raw, almost frantic, restless energy in any other cities I have visited in the world.

Name your three top favorite places in NYC.
It’s so hard to choose just three but if I have to be ruthless, I would go with:

  • Grand Central station – my long-standing favourite building in the City, which still sends shivers down my spine whenever I enter the main concourse. 
  • Central Park – not very imaginative but I am pretty sure it would make every New Yorker’s top 3 list. It’s just so diverse - from the densely populated southern part with the zoo and Sheep Meadows in particular attracting the largest crowds, to the quieter areas around the Harlem Meer and the botanical gardens, I love it all. My favorite way to explore it is by bicycle and I am lucky enough to live just a few minutes away from the reservoir so I can get my nature fix easily by just walking around.
  • The area around the National History Museum – not only do I love the museum itself, but at the weekends there are some cool artisan market stalls lining Columbus, as well as an antique fair on the corner of 77th. The block is also packed with boutiques stocking small designers, my favorite sushi restaurant (Sushi of Gari) is on 78th and there is also a Pinkberry. What’s not to love!?

How do you deal with the city's crazy price level? Where do you find your best bargains?

 Compared to London, I don’t find New York expensive at all to be honest and I am a terribly bad bargain hunter, so not the best person to provide insights on this.

Where do you find decent bread in this city? And affordable cheese?
Great question to ask a French person! Whenever my family visits, we embark on an endless and by now ritual quest to find an authentic baguette. We have deemed the ones from Balthazar bakery, Dean & Deluca and Whole Foods to be poor imitations, and found the ones we picked up in the delis in my Upper West Side neighborhood to be either too soggy or too hard. In the end, we found a decent version at the Food Emporium, so I would recommend that.

Good cheese however is much easier to find and Fairway, Zabars and Dean & Deluca have pretty good selections of French and Italian cheeses although I am not sure they would necessarily count as affordable. I have been told that Murray’s Cheese Shop in the West Village is amazing but have yet to check it out for myself.

Do you have important advice for the NYC-newbie?

Enjoy it! Learn to take the rough with the smooth as there will be plenty of both. New York is not the easiest place to live in at first and making friends as soon as possible is crucial. The first couple of years can feel like a roller-coaster ride, but it is always exhilarating and remember: when you make it here, you really can make it anywhere. ;-)


A.H. Dance Company said...

I stumbled upon your blog via Expat Explorer. I'm also based in NYC and an "expat". I've been living here for 5 years now and thrive on the craziness that is NYC.
I love Citarella for cheeses and cured meats as well as the most fragrant vegetables.
You should check out Yelp - it has reviews for businesses around town from retail stores, spas & salons, to grocery stores, restaurants, and gourmet food stores. Its a site that has helped me find what I need.
On a random note, my friend is hostess at Sushi Gari.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for recommending I use Yelp - I've used it before but only occasionally but it sounds like I should use it more!

Very jealous of your friend being a hostess at Gari's - I hope this means you get to go often!