An Australian Expat’s Guide to the New York Life: Part the First.
The following are random musings on New York life and a couple of suggestions that would have come in handy had I known them when I first arrived!
Location, Location, Location.
Pick a Side.
It sounds silly but most people spend most of their time on either the West side or the East side and a lot of that comes down to where you live. Getting across town is difficult unless you walk. Often, that’s a great idea because it means a gorgeous stroll through one of my favourite parts of the city: Central Park. It does add time to the journey, however, and if it is raining or snowing then you will be reluctant to do it. Most people tend to shop, eat, hang out etc within a few blocks of where they work and or live, you will find yourself sticking to one side or the other. Embrace it.
Waterfront locations or even access are not at a premium in New York. It may be an island but no one seems to really want that seaside view. This is a bit of a culture shock for a girl who has spent most of her life within a twenty minute trip to the seaside. The Hudson is always an option and I vaguely recall a Lonely Planet guide that mentioned New York area surfing but the reality is you don’t come to New York for the coastal ambience.
(If it’s coastal ambiance you are after, may I recommend Newport, Rhode Island. It’s gorgeous, remote and seriously worth checking out. I went in the winter so it was freezing cold but stunning. Locals informed me that, come summer, the place is a tourist trap but a beautiful one. Plus, the Kennedy’s got married there. What more can I say?)
Nevertheless, New York has many other charms to make up for the absence of beaches: beautiful parks (Van Cortland, Prospect, Central), gorgeous architecture, boundless art galleries, bars, restaurants.. And on the subject of food:
Whole Foods is where it is at:
If you want to find food not laden with the obligatory ten tonnes of corn syrup, this is the place to go. It can be on the pricier side but the vegetables are relatively (relative New York prices – I’ve given up comparing it to Sydney. It only makes me sad.) inexpensive and there is the added bonus of the Whole Foods ethos. They source organic foods from farmers that treat their crops in an eco-friendly manner and their animals in a humane way. What’s more, Whole Foods is the one place that I have been consistently able to buy eco-friendly cleaning products and toilet paper made from recycled goods.
Coffee. Is. Different.
If you come here expecting the kind of coffee that you get in Australia you will probably be disappointed. If you embrace the fact that you will, instead, be trying a very different drink, then you may well be surprised. Back home, I am a cappuccino lover. Cappuccinos are very different beasts here (imagine mounds and mounds of froth) so I tend to avoid them. Lattes, I have discovered, are the closest approximation of an Australian flat white that I have yet to find.
But Different Is Not A Bad Thing. I have become rather fond of brewed coffee. Americans do it well. It’s their original version of the drink and they have it down. I still can’t quite get over the fact that they often take it with some powdered ‘creamer’ or with ‘half and half’ which is not, contrary to my first thought, half skim milk, half full cream milk’. It is, instead, half cream, half full cream milk. It’s also sort of delicious.
Ugg Boots. Are. A. Thing.
Americans wear them as outdoor shoes and they come in all shapes and sizes. I saw them with glitter the other day. They were kind of fabulous. This has no direct bearing on my day to day experiences but I find it sweet that Australians are so influential in the realm of the slipper..