Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Survival

Photo by Robert Harding (C)
As I prepare myself to face my fourth winter in the City while seemingly dishing out advice on how to survive it to a number of friends for whom it will be the first, I thought I would share my own little survival guide to New York's coldest and most challenging season.

1- Forsake fashion and style. Completely. I remember being puzzled by seeing the normally fashion-conscious New York women donning these awful and unflattering padded down coats that make you look like you are wearing a duvet. But I barely made it past a month into my first winter before reluctantly buying one myself and I haven't looked back since. I still hate it of course but, more than a necessity, it is a life saver - keeping you toasty warm and insulated when you have to brave the elements. The same goes for rain boots (indispensable when crossing the streets through the huge puddles of melted snow) and ear-muffs (although I have yet to cross the line on the latter).
2 - Prepare a long list of movies you've always wanted to see but never had time to - you will be literally hibernating, whether you like it or not. The arctic temperatures will compromise your social life quite dramatically.
3 - Having said that, unlike most European cities, a snow storm doesn’t stop the subway from running like clockwork here and taxis will still be fairly abundant even in the worst of blizzards, so you can still go out. At this time of the year, only the coziest of restaurants and bars appeal to me and I shun anywhere that is minimalist looking - my perennial favourites (Marc Forgione, Boqueria, Tolani, Hi Life and Landmark in the Time Warner Center) will get even more visits than usual. I'm on the hunt for a place with an open fireplace and comfy sofas (probably pining for a British pub) and will let you know if I find one.
4 - While this is not the most practical advice, you should in general avoid finding yourself on large avenues, especially near the river - the bitterly cold winds get channeled into them and make walking, let alone standing, intolerable for more than a few minutes.
5 - Make the most of snow days. Ahead of a storm, companies here will usually send out an email to their staff advising them to work from home. Not that commuting to work will be impossible (see point 3), but more because the possibility of an employee slipping on pavements is a lawsuit reality. I love it because it very much feels like an unexpected day off school - I usually stay in my pajamas all day and occasionally look out of my living room windows to see Broadway covered in white powder.
6 - Go to Central Park. It’s not only hauntingly beautiful under a white blanket of fresh and fluffy snow but it’s also very entertaining to see entire families sledging down the hills and a few brave souls actually cross-country skiing around it. The sight of the latter never ceases to amuse me as it is the antithesis of what one would expect to see in a city setting.
7 - When all the above fails - escape! My yearly January jaunts to Miami are no coincidence. South Beach is really only $250 and 3 hours away from this frigid cold hell so you can lie on the beach for just a weekend to get your much needed vitamin D injection, while getting ready to face yet another month or so of New York winter with some sense of perspective that summer (and getting your life back) is only around the corner!


Teresa said...

Ugly but warm coat - check. Rain boots now on the list. Thank you for all the great advice!

Laura said...

I'll keep this in mind for the next time! Especially the travel advice, it was much needed this winter...