Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Restaurant Week

In January I wrote about 'Restaurant Week' which takes place twice a year in New York.  Summer restaurant week (it is actually 2 weeks) is coming up and takes place from 11-24 July.  Many restaurants across the city offer special 3-course set menus at $24 for lunch and $35 for dinner.  It is a great opportunity to try some high end restaurants without breaking the bank.  These special menus are available Monday-Friday and Sundays in certain restaurants.  Some place only offer the restaurant week menu for lunch or dinner, but you can check online before making reservations.

During the last restaurant week I ate in some fantastic places and am looking forward to doing the same again this summer.  I would start making reservations now as places do get booked up quite quickly, especially the more expensive restaurants. 

To find out which restaurants are participating and to make reservations visit http://www.nycgo.com/restaurantweek or http://www.opentable.com/.

I'll be writing reviews of the restaurants I visit and would love to know how you get on.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Stage NYC & Shakespeare in the Park

Every year Summer Stage, sponsored by the City Parks Foundation, hosts a variety of free performances that take place in the parks of New York.  During the season you can see live music, dance, jazz, comedy, opera and much more.  Although the 'Main Stage' is located in Central Park, there are many other events taking place in parks across the 5 boroughs, Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx.

To find out what's on, when and where visit the Summer Stage website at http://www.summerstage.org/index.html.

Another New York summer tradition is 'Shakespeare in the Park', which takes place in Central Park at the Delacorte Theatre.  The season runs from the beginning of June to the end of July and all performances are free to the public.  You can get tickets from the free line at the theatre on the day of the performance.  The box office opens at 1pm and the performances start at 8pm.  You can also get tickets from a few other places across the 5 boroughs or by using the virtual ticketing service online, which is a bit like entering a lottery.

Shakespeare in the Park is extremely popular and demand for tickets is high, especially at the weekends.  If you can go during the week you may have more luck getting tickets or get to the free line early to avoid disappointment.

For more information about performances and getting tickets visit http://shakespeareinthepark.org/about/.

I hope you get to enjoy some of the great free events on in New York throughout the Summer and I would love to hear how you get on!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The GreenFlea Market

The GreenFlea Market runs every Sunday on the Upper West Side between 77th and 80th street on Columbus Avenue. There are two sections of the market, the flea market and the farmers market.

The farmers market is set up on Columbus Avenue behind the Natural History Museum and sells an array of foods. You can buy fresh fruit and vegetables, meats and cheeses, wine and ciders, baked goods and other local produce.

I have bought fresh fruit and vegetables from the stalls here and have been impressed with the quality of the products.  They are well priced and you can feel good in the knowledge that you are supporting your local New York farmers.

The flea market is located across the street at the school and there are a variety of stalls selling clothing, jewellery, antiques, furniture and many other interesting items.  The market is set up both inside the school and outside in the playground.  There can be some good bargains to be had and it's a great way to spend an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon.  I like looking at the vintage handbags and shoes!

The Greenflea market is worth a visit if you are in the area and is a good place to buy your fresh fruit and veggies for the week.  For more information on vendors and market hours visit http://www.greenfleamarkets.com/.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ZClubNY-New UWS Location & Dirty Dancing!

I love ZClubNY and often go to their classes.  I have written about them before on my blog, but just wanted to update you on their new location on the Upper West Side.  The studio is located on 68th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.  They have the same instructors as the other two locations and the classes are a great workout.

Also, this Sunday (June 26th) they are holding a 'Dirty Dancing' masterclass from 11.30am to 1pm.  It is at another studio on West 60th Street and is being taught by two of my favourite instructors Xavier Marzan and Edmee Cherdieu d'Alexis.  Unfortunately I can't go but I am sure it will be loads of fun and a great workout.  Let me know how you get on if you go!

For more information and to book classes visit http://zclubny.com/.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Location, Location Location!

Finding an apartment in New York can be a daunting task, especially if you have never been here before or don't know the city that well.

The first thing to do is decide which area you would like to live in.  There are many different factors that will influence this decision as there are lots of things to consider when choosing a neighborhood.

Firstly, you want to feel comfortable in your neighbourhood.  There are so many choose from and each has it's own vibe and atmosphere.  Your personal situation may affect where you decide to live, for example, if you are young, free and single you will probably want different things from a family with children.

Another consideration is proximity to your work place. However you decide to travel you will want to make sure that you can get to work easily.  For example, if you are planning to use the subway you will want to be near a station,or if you want to drive you will need access to parking at home and work. 

Local amenities may also influence your location decision, you may need to be near a school, want outdoor space (a luxury in this city!), be near a park or close to shops and supermarkets.

The cost of living will also be an important factor. The cost of renting/buying varies greatly depending on the neighbourhood and the type of property. 

So, how do you decide which neighbourhood is best for you?  Lot's of research!  I would recommend looking at these websites as they give a great overview of each neighbourhood in NYC.  You can look at property prices, crime rates, local amenities and get an overall impression of the area. 

http://nymag.com/realestate/articles/03/realestate2003/neighborhood_map.htm
http://gonyc.about.com/od/neighborhoodguides/New_York_City_Neighborhood_Guides.htm
http://www.notfortourists.com/MetaHoods.aspx#NewYork

Based on personal experience, I can give you further information about what it's like to live in Murray Hill, Midtown West and the Upper West Side.  However, please feel free to contact me about other neighbourhoods and I will do my best to find out for you.

Once you have decided on your new neighbourhood you can then start searching for your New York pad!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Moving Apartments

I am currently in the process of moving apartments.  It is a complicated process as not only do we have to move our stuff from our current apartment to our new one, but we had a lot of our belongings shipped over from the UK.  Add on to that a delivery of a new bedroom set and you have chaos!  We also have to organise phone, cable and internet, which brings its own set of problems.

However, the good thing about this process is that I am discovering some great tips that I can put on my blog.  Once I am settled I will have lots of information to share about finding an apartment, broker fees, locations, buying things for your new home, how to get cable, TV and internet and much more.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Girl in New York is Published!

A few months ago I was approached by 'Cacao' magazine to write about my experience of being an expat in New York.  I was extremely excited to be given such a fantastic opportunity and couldn't wait to get started on my article.  I felt just like Carrie from 'Sex and the City' sitting in front of my laptop writing about 'The New York Look'! 

Cacao magazine is quite a new publication and the June edition includes a section on New York.  There are some really interesting articles about people's experiences of the city and some great photographs.  The magazine is only available to buy in Sweden, Berlin, Hong Kong and Taiwan at the moment, but they are hoping to sell it in New York in the future. 

Check out their website at http://www.facebook.com/cacao.mag and if you do get a copy of the magazine I would love to know what you think of my article!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Statue of Liberty

My parents recently came to New York for a visit from the UK and I thought it would be great to take them to see the Statue of Liberty.  As it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the U.S. I thought I should be organised and book tickets in advance.  I looked online and there are a lot of companies that sell tickets, but I purchased mine from the official 'Statue Cruises' website where the tickets are cheapest.

There are different types of tickets available online and I would highly recommend booking in advance rather than just turning up on the day.  By booking reserve tickets you can avoid long queues to buy tickets and to get through security.  I wanted to book 'Crown' tickets, which allow you to go up to the top of the statue, but you need to book them months in advance.  I was lucky enough to get 'Pedestal' tickets which allow you to go inside the structure and stand just below the lady herself. 

It is almost impossible to avoid the queues completely as there is still a wait to get though security (twice if you are going in to the statue) and you can wait quite a while for the ferry.  There are two departure points available, one in Battery Park Manhattan and one in New Jersey.  It isn't as busy from NJ, so it could be worth going from that location during peak times.

However, it was well worth the wait and we had an amazing day. The views from Liberty Island looking back towards the Manhattan skyline are just fantastic and it was great to get so close to such a famous landmark.  We ran out of time to visit Ellis Island, which is included in your ticket, but I hear it is very interesting and worth stopping off to look around. 

It is a great place to take visitors to the city and a good excuse to be a tourist for the day!  For more information and to book tickets visit http://www.statuecruises.com/.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Getting a Mobile Phone

When moving to New York one of the first things that most people want to get organised is a mobile phone.  There are many different service providers and plans to choose from and it can become quite overwhelming. 

In England we have the 'Carphone Warehouse' which offers all of the current phones and plans from the majority of service providers.  However, in New York it is slightly different, there isn't a 'one stop mobile shop' here.  Each provider has it's own store and in order to view their plans and phones you either have to go into each shop separately or look online.  Certain phones are only available with certain providers and most contracts are a minimum of two years.  Also, in most cases the phone itself isn't included in the package and you will have to pay for it in addition to your monthly charges.

As the majority of new comers to the U.S.A won't have a credit history you may have to pay an additional fee in order to set up a contract.  This can be any amount up to about $500. 

However, there are a couple of stores, 'Best Buy' and 'Radio Shack', that do stock a selection of some of the service providers and phones available.  They don't have everything, but they are a good place to start if you have no idea what you are looking for.  I went into 'Radio Shack' and they were extremely helpful.  They helped me choose a phone, a plan and set everything up for me so that when I left the store I had a working mobile. 

So, after a long search I decided that I didn't want to part with a fortune just to have a mobile phone, so I opted for a 'Virgin Mobile' pay as you deal.  I got a pretty good phone for $100, nothing fancy but I can get email, facebook, etc, and I pay $25 a month for unlimited text, internet and 300 minutes of calls.  For $60 a month you can get unlimited calls, texts and internet.  Also, as there is no contract there are no extra fees to pay.

Virgin offer pretty good international rates, it costs 20cents to send a text to the UK and 20cents per minute to make a call.  Beware that when you receive international calls and texts you will also be charged these rates.  You can get cheaper international rates (more information to follow), but it's handy to have if you need it.  For more information you can visit http://www.virginmobileusa.com/.

Good luck when shopping for your New York mobile phone and please feel free to contact me if you need more information on the subject!