Visiting NYC Series #3: My Six Week Hiatus Living In The Big Apple


“Si te quieres divertir con encanto y con primor sólo tienes que vivir un verano en Nueva York” — El Gran Combo

The song “Un Verano en Nueva York,” which translates “A Summer in New York,” performed by the popular Puerto Rican salsa band “El Gran Combo “captures people’s fascination with the city’s vibrancy and scale. It is a timeless homage to the Big Apple from the Latino community. A community whose history and cultural roots have left its imprint on the city’s landscape. Its lyrics evoke memories and dreams of living in the city, longing to return or be there. In my case, it was about being there as I have never lived in the city. Spending six amazing weeks in Midtown was a bucket list dream I won’t forget. Hopefully inspiring others to make a similar leap. So how much was I able to cram in those 6 weeks? Enough to want to come back again and again. Here’s what happened….

But First, a Bit About Choosing NYC

Clearly, there are many choices for a bucket list … Spain, Greece, etc., maybe even cheaper, but there is only one city like New York. For some of us, it is both familiar yet unexplored (that gut feeling of wanting to explore more, yet dreading having to catch the train back). I once worked in the city for a short stint and hated the commute (and the job). Since that time, I have been fortunate to have service clients from practically all the boroughs witnessing the economic changes and resiliency of many of these communities.

Having sold my house and stored my belongings, I officially became homeless as of July 14 when the house was sold. My preference was to stay in the Chelsea district, which has become the art and cultural center for Midtown near the High Line park. For a six-week stretch, a hotel room was not an option for me. Finding an Airbnb was not as easy as there was not a large pool to choose that met my expectations (be aware with the new Local Law 18 effective September 5th there will be even fewer short-term rentals in the city). Cost of lodging in New York is expensive (actually everything in NYC is super expensive). Depending on how long you stay, renting an apartment is the better choice. I was able to find a very small apartment (standard size for New York) that allowed for guests to stay over. The location was perfect. Bringing the car was not at all a consideration as it was not needed.

This stay in NYC serve as a pilot for helping me determine what I need to pack for a year-long stay in Mexico and Italy beginning October. Between clothes, shoes, photography equipment, gadgets and cosmetics, etc., I am feeling the pinch of what to leave behind. It also made me realize what kind of space and amenities I need to feel at home. For instance, a balcony or outdoor space is a must, regardless of how big or small the unit is.

Cramming So Much in Six Weeks ……

There was so much I wanted to cover during my stay besides the fact that I was still finalizing some last-minute work for two of my remaining clients. There were mornings or evenings that I primarily focused on addressing loose ends both professionally and personally, including planning my next trip. During these 6 weeks, 20 of my friends and family visited me.

My weekly schedule consisted of a combination of any of the following :

1. Morning walks on the High Line or Hudson River Park, sometimes in the evenings.

2. Brunch, lunch and dinner meetings with friends all over NYC’s restaurants and cafes (best favorite restaurant “The Ironflat Room Nomad“).

3. Wednesday and Thursday attendance at free concerts and programing at the High Line, Pier 57, the Little Island, and Hudson Yards Backyard series.

4. Classes at the Apple Store to master the use of all of my apple gadgets!

5. Coffee Martini Cocktails with friends at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery (One of six in the world).

6. At the iconic Chelsea Marketplace for both retail items and foodies.

7. Attendance at 10 museums of the 30+ that are housed in the city (more on this at a later story).

8. The local art galleries both at Chelsea and SOHO.

9. Visit and tour local neighborhoods — Besides Chelsea, the Lower East Side, Chinatown, SOHO, Tribeca, Little Italy, East Harlem, Flatiron Nomad, Hudson Yards, East Village, Times Square. (During these 6 weeks, I averaged between 5 to 10 miles a day, with few exceptions. I also ate and drank the equivalent).

10. Picnic at Central Park with new found traveler friends from the Latino Traveler Network (another amazing park).

11. Local flea markets and bazaars to include Union Square Greenmarket, Grand Bazaar NYC, Chelsea Flea market, Showplace, Artists and Fleas Chelsea (missed out on the Night markets)

12. Visit the Edge Observation Deck at the Hudson Yards ; 100 stories up, 360-degree views

13. Visit Google Pier 57 — City Winery, food incubator hall and roof top garden

14. Attendance at two Broadway Musicals: “Some Like it Hot” and “Here Lies Love ” (both outstanding).

15. Oh and the Barbie movie at AMC in Times Square and the film Fremont at the IFC Center (International Foreign Cinema) in the East Village (neither as good as the musicals).

Best Parts and Would I do Anything Differently?

First, the Best Parts …..

1. Besides waking up every morning and being in the city with a no-commitment schedule, the visiting of friends and family to explore all that this city offers was the best part of this trip.

2. The Chelsea neighborhood, accessible to so many venues, including subway stations, was a perfect location. Click here for an earlier story about the Chelsea neighborhood.

3. The High Line, the only one in the US and most likely in the world, deserving of a visit. Click here for my story on this oasis in the sky.

4. The massive amount of people walking through the city, their peculiarities… clothes, hairstyles, tattoos, facial piercing and accompanying dogs. (People watching is so underrated).

5. The city’s diverse and unique architecture, its commanding presence that speaks to both its historic past and shining future; massive and timeless.

6. Enjoy drinking Matcha Green Tea Lattes, both hot and cold, either at Cha Cha Matcha or Matchaful. (popular new foodie healthy trend). I take my matcha latte very hot, steamed with almond milk, no sweetener.

7. The fact that the LGBTG community can be who they are without any fears or repercussions. You see same-sex couples holding hands and trans dressed as who they believe they are.

8. Kudos to the city’s solo-entrepreneurs. They are everywhere, selling just about everything, from street vendors to delivery guys, performers, photo-takers, musicians, chess-players…you name it. Many even have Venmo accounts for tips.

Would I do Anything Differently? …. Not by Much

The Airbnb unit came with its fair share of calamity. After all, part of the plan is to be immersed in the cities and countries that I visit. How can you not live in NYC and not come in contact with the city’s longtime rodents? I complain to the host who had someone exterminate the place. I also lost a night of sleep because of an expired battery in the smoke alarm. Going forward, I will insist on talking to the host about my preferences before signing up.

I plan to come back next year again to the city, most likely in October, but only for one week (or maybe two). Next time, I would like to stay in the SOHO neighborhood. With a shorter time period, I will need to plan how best to maximize the week. It would be nice to be in the city during the fall season, as summer was a bit too hot and crowded.

Final Note: I have a couple more stories as part of my Visiting NYC Series that will show up in this and next month’s newsletter. The photos for this story are about the complexity and vibrancy of the city, trying my best to reflect all that makes this city so amazing from its skyscrapers, vendors, landmarks, people, street art to iconic symbols unique to city life. I ended the photo series with many of my friends and myself just having a grand time. Can’t say I miss living in the suburbs. Click here to access the photos. Remember to click the center of the photos for a full view.

Big shout out to all who visited me: Sharnita, Zoraya, Kim, Nilda from Philadelpha, Victor and Maritza, Carmen (my sister), Lisa, Simone and her daughter, Bob and Alice from Richmond Va, Willie from Miami, Jack, Sara, Karen, Griselle, Seana, Robin and Susan (Yup, I feel loved).

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Grizel Ubarry,

My blog seeks to inspire its readers through travel, art, and personal growth by reinventing oneself and becoming a global citizen.