Category Archives: travel

5 misconceptions I’m glad I no longer have about New York

Times Square - the grungy city of lights that is only some of New York

Times Square - the grungy city of lights that is only some of New York

New York is a city that I have been in love with since the first time I got off a bus from Montreal to visit waaaay back in my early 20’s. Something about the energy, hustle and bustle, bright lights and the people. Years later in a very different stage of my life I have been given the opportunity to live in the Big Apple. When my husband came home from work and told me he’d been offered a transfer  to New York, my first reaction was “Hell Yeah, we’re in!”. But I have to admit, their were a few things at the back of my mind that I was worried about. I’m happy to say that less than 2 months after living here these “worries” are not worries at all – they are misconceptions that thankfully are not at all true.

  1. Everyone in New York is rude: Not true. Alot of people I have come across are straight forward and don’t beat around the bush, but for the most part I have found people courteous. I can understand how for some people being so to the point can be daunting and mistaken for rudeness. I admit the average New Yorker’s way of being is a little different to what I am used to, such as service people don’t really ever smile. I like to kill them with kindness with a bright smile and a big thank you, you’d be surprised how many of these same people end up being alot more friendlier once they see that I am friendly (you give what you get). I guess the average New Yorker smiles alot less than the average Kiwi, but it doesn’t mean they’re rude.
  2. I’ll never understand how to get around on the subway: I’m not one of those people with a built-in GPS and prior visits to NYC have found me lost on the subway heading to Queens as opposed to Brooklyn. This time around I’ve got the hang of it pretty quickly. The signs in the  subway themselves can be confusing, but you just have to pay attention and soon enough they are not confusing at all. Google Maps and iPhone apps have been a big help in planning out my subway trips before hand – and in turn lowering my anxiety.
  3. Crime is rampant in New York: Like everywhere, their are pockets of crime in New York but it’s not like it’s anymore widespread than other cities. Big Monkey had read an article just before we left New Zealand showing how crime in New York was on the steady decline as opposed to it being on a steady incline in much smaller American cities and towns. I’ve read that sociologist and other experts had actually expected a trend of more crime in New York in these times of recession, but that they have been proven wrong. Their are people doing shifty things, specifically in the more shifty neighborhoods. Keep your wits about you, keep your head down and your more likely to stay out of trouble.
  4. Can I raise children in a city that never sleeps: Well, the city does sleep, especially in neighborhoods that are particularly family friendly. That’s the great thing about New York, their are so many different neighborhoods that will “fit” different people’s stage in life and interests. In some neighborhoods there is even a nice mix of people from very different walks of life – professional artists living amongst the stroller set in Park Slope for example. Basically, if you want to sleep you can just find the right nabe to do it in – and their are plenty.
  5. That I would be trading ants for cockroaches and that the rats are bigger than cats: In Auckland ants are a normal part of everyday life in most houses. You have your savory loving ants and your sweet loving ants. You figure out pretty quickly which ones you have invading your kitchen and learn tricks to keep them to a minimum. I think we used to have savory ants. If you left one morcel of bread on a plate on the counter you would have a full-on swarm of ants marching across the counter by the end of the day, what a pain! They bothered me to no end but I was even less looking forward to cockroaches, Yuck! Back when I used to visit New York semi-regularly , I would stay with this dude whose kitchen I would never go into at night. I did once and I swear I saw at least 5 crawling around in the sink and across the floor. Blech! That image is etched in my mind. The rats thing is just something that everyone says about New York. So far, I’ve been lucky to have neither where we live. Ok, so I think at times I may hear some sort of vermin outside by the rubbish bins, but at least they are not in my house. I think it’s safe to say some apartments and brownstones will be infested, but again, I don’t think it’s a given.
What do you think of New York? Could you ever live here?

The one about the pregnant lady and chickenpox

Poxy Preston

Poxy Preston

Over the past 8 years, every time we arrive at my parents’ house we are incredibly jet lagged. It’s a pity for all of us because anything from a year to 3 years has passed between seeing each other. But unfortunately the 20+ hours of travel from New Zealand plus landing in the complete opposite weather pattern has never agreed with Chris or I. In 2004, when we flew in from Christchurch for a 2 week stay before our wedding in Barbados, we spent the first week either in bed or on the toilet. It wasn’t pretty, but we chalk it up to the change from bitter cold Christchurch winter in July to humid hot summer in Montreal. Two years ago when we visited with a nearly 2 year old Preston, Chris spent a good 3 days straight sleeping and emerged with a chesty cough that lasted the entire trip.

the amazing race: urban style

photo from Marionzetta

After only 2 days in the Big Apple and only one of those at our new apartment, we headed up to Montreal to visit my friends and family. We decided to embrace the maze of the New York public transport system. We needed to get to Penn Station for 7:30 for a train heading North. Through the nifty iPhone app, we figured out that our nearest subway stop was only 4 blocks away and the local train that stopped there would get us to Penn Station within 15 minutes.

So off we trekked after a jet lagged night of sleep – this means intermittent waking at all hours and Preston asking at about 4 AM weather it was morning or not. Preston had his little backpack, Chris and I had our carry-ons and rolled a suitcase each. On top of that, Chris was laden down with a car seat that we had decided we’d bring up to Montreal, we figured we were more likely to drive their than in New York.

Chris was pumping up the road at a pretty brisk pace, forgetting that his walking mates are a nearly  30 week pregnant oompaloompa and a dawdling nearly 4 year old. We all made it to the subway in one sweaty heap – thankfully the subway was only 2 blocks away (Many New York subways have multiple entry points, sometimes confusing as they do not always correspond to the name of the subway). For this time of year, New York is remarkably hot and humid. I’m happy about this as we just left winter in New Zealand and I am not particularly looking forward to my first North American winter in over 8 years.

Down the stairs we travelled – thump, thump, thump our bags go behind us. Though I think this is a 24 hour station, this entrance is unmanned. Hmmm….how do we get our bags through the turnstiles, and not to mention P as he just fits under the height limit as a free rider on the subway.

I buzz the help button, assured that this should be easy enough to do. I tell the voice on the other end our predicament and a garbled message comes back – something about swiping the metrocard, pushing a button and opening the gate. I pretend I didn’t hear him and hope when he repeats himself it’ll make more sense…but it doesn’t. After he turnstile munches up one entry and doesn’t let us through, we maneuver or bags and Preston through somehow.

Still not sure how we are meant to get prams/strollers, free kiddies or other big tickets items through the gate when there is nobody to buzz you through. Any ideas? If you are a New York mama that can give me insight on how to do this, I would love to hear the answer! I figure their will be lots of trips with prams in the future so I really do need to get this sorted.

The good news is we made Penn Station with plenty of time to spare. I think on the return trip we will hail a cab though.

hello and goodbye

spring blossoms in New Zealand

spring blossoms in New Zealand

On the eve of flying to New York, I can’t believe how much we’ve accomplished to get to this point. I finished work less than a week ago and Chris has worked up til the last minute. Thank goodness for friends, family, understanding co-workers and a moving company that came in and packed for us.
I have a strange mixture of excitement and angst bubbling in my tummy (along with a 6 month baby girl). I’m looking forward to the change of pace, being a full-time mama to Preston and exploring the Big Apple. I think it will be a time of self-exploration as well I guess that in itself is scary, the idea of finding out more about myself. I hope I like what I find.
Of course my greatest fear comes from moving Preston again. It was only a year ago that we moved from Christchurch to Auckland. He adjusted so well, deep down I have every confidence he will this time as well – still I can’t help but worry.