Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our New life in New York


Well we have now moved into our apartment and probably to Australian standards it’s tiny. However here in Manhattan is quite good and bigger than we thought we would get.
It’s an old building that has all that old New York style architecture.  It’s maintained by our resident Super who keeps everything immaculate. I have met some of the residents as I have passed them in either the elevator or foyer and they all seem lovely. Most ask me what part of Britain I am from but I quickly and proudly correct them and tell them where I am from. They all are very welcoming and seem quite happy to have another foreigner with kids live amongst them. Our street is also lovely with building like ours and brownstones so I am very happy that I am living in such a character full neighbourhood.
We don’t have a laundry which is a common thing here in Manhattan so I have to do our washing at our Laundromat. It’s hilarious just watching everyone walk in with their washing bags because it’s such a novelty to me. At the moment my girls think its fun but let’s see how long that lasts. I could choose to have them do it for me ( a wash and fold service charged by the pound) but I prefer to do my own, it’s the control freak in me.
The shopping for food is also very different here. Unlike what I used to do back home where I would do a huge weekly shop here you basically do it on a daily basis. They tend to buy most of their food already prepared and why would you not. The food is just amazing and all you need to do is re heat at home. I am sure this is because New Yorkers are just so busy that this just makes life that little bit easier. I am NOT complaining at all. I don’t meal plan anymore which feels so liberating!! As much as I like to cook I love trying all these different foods and every dinner is an adventure to me. New York has the best from every corner of the world and you can get anything you just need to know where to get it from.
I am still trying to get used to this weather inside and out. Outside it’s getting quite cold for example today was 7 degrees and I have even bought a beanie and mittens to wear! Inside well everything is centrally heated including our apartment. The heat is determined by the temperature outside and we cannot adjust it as it’s not controlled by individual apartments but rather a central location. I think it’s about 32 degrees in our apartment so we are all wearing shorts and thongs which is just so funny! Every time we go out we have to change our outfits as there is no way you could wear a jumper in here. But it’s the same in restaurants, shops, food markets etc. So I have had to learn   the New York way to dress and that is to layer. Also invest in a really good coat which I have thanks Zara and for the kids Gap.

Friday, November 26, 2010

When I die I want to come back as a dog in Manhattan.

Now I was aware of the love that Manhattan has for dogs. In fact it was apparent when we decided to re home our beagles in Australia. I remember discussing it with a few friends I have online that are New Yorkers and them saying to me that I should just bring them along. I remember thinking what an absurd thing to say! Two beagles and a toddler am I a total sucker for punishment? But here in Manhattan it’s not absurd in fact it’s very normal. I read this book by a woman call Caroline Irvington called “Only in New York” and she also commented on how dogs are a major part of life here in Manhattan. In fact I found this book to me mesmerising. I think I read it in two days which is amazing for me. She also made the big move here with her two eighteen month old twins and a husband who gave up his career to be a stay at home Dad. I really recommend this book as she is actually a journalist and a very good writer.
Anyway back to the topic of dogs. From the moment I walked out of the Milburn hotel after my arrival I noticed that all the dogs here in The Upper West Side are immaculate. I mean they are perfect and I mean really perfect. Their coats are shiny, most have co-ordinating accessories and all are very well behaved. Then as I continued to observe them and their owners I realised how many pet shops there are here too. Not just your regular Pet-barn or anything like that I mean designer type shops with outfits and anything a pampered pooch could ever want. Also the other most amazing fact is they are allowed to enter everywhere!! They come into food markets (supermarkets), boutiques, caf├ęs (including Starbucks) and I suppose anywhere that a human goes into. I laughed the other day as I had to go to get a chopping board at Bed Bath and beyond and I had Annika in the shopping trolley when all of a sudden Isabel points to this woman. I had a look at her then I looked at her trolley and yes there was her dog sitting in the same child section that Annika was sitting in.
The streets here in The Upper West Side are just beautiful. There are lots of trees and they have these boxes around them with beautiful flowers planted around the bottom of the tree. There are signs everywhere that say “Please curb your dog”. I still have not figured out what that means? Either has Hugo but I think it means to get your dog to do its business away from these flowers? Also EVERONE picks up their doggy poo ( which as a dog lover think is fantastic) You don’t see any doggy poo anywhere. It’s very funny but as I have seen women absolutely dressed to the nines in Chanel and Yves Saint Lauren bending over with dainty little bags collecting their dogs crap......it’s just too funny to me not that they are collecting it but that they are so dressed up walking them in the first place. I know when I walked my dogs I would be breaking a huge sweat so it was trackies and a t-shirt, but not here in Manhattan.
Also I know we have them in Sydney but there are lots of doggy daycares here and plenty of dog walkers in Central Park and don’t think it’s just Chihuahuas or those fluffy little Maltese either. I have seen every single breed including great danes and I just saw a husky as I was walking home from buying Annika Diapers (Nappies). It’s very normal to have them living in apartments even if they are small. I suppose the wealthier you are the bigger your apartment will be but these dogs seem very happy to me. The girls and I will continue to enjoy admiring them as they are truly just as the beautiful as the people of Manhattan are.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Everything is done online.

Well my first week involved basically getting all the essentials bought and done whilst having the kids to look after. I really wanted to just go out and do absolutely everything I had ever dreamt about doing in New York. However reality was that I was going to have to do all the organising as Hugo had a new job.
The first couple of days were about exploring the endless possibilities of culinary delights this city has to offer. Manhattan people don’t seem to cook much and why would they? You can get everything already made up and ready to heat at home. These markets like Fairways and Zabars are just amazing!! They are like our David Jones Food glorious food but on mega steroids. It’s every man for himself also in these establishments as New Yorkers are always in a rush and have no patience. So I have learnt to steer Annika in the stroller very defensively whilst trying to keep Isabel to my side so that she keeps out of the way. Isabel hates fairways and complains every time we go as she cannot believe how busy it is .Also as space is an issue in this city everything is small including the aisle space. When you see something you want on the shelf you have to grab it quickly as you have people behind you huffing and puffing as they want to get through. Funny thing is these markets have these long queues to pay but amazingly in true American organisation they move quite quickly.
Once thing Hugo and I have started doing is to ORDER ONLINE. The logistics of carting things around Manhattan is a bit of a nightmare. Most people don’t have cars as there is nowhere to park them. And unless you’re “Mr Big” in Sex and the City who has a driver you need to get things from point A to B.
We have so far bought our furniture, HDTV and a lot of our Bed, Bath and beyond stuff online and delivered thanks to Fedex and UPS. I did however go to a place called “sleepy’s” to choose our beds but that also was delivered and installed.
We got our internet and cable installed a few days ago and that has also been an amazing experience. The broadband is so fast and the cable is just overwhelming. We have all the channels in HD so we are just glued to this TV and the picture and the endless possibilities.
I am like a kid in a candy shop with all my reality shows  (The true Housewives of NYC etc)way ahead than they are back home. The other day I watched my beloved “Bold and the Beautiful” and that was months ahead of Australia............I am truly in heaven.

Waking up to Manhattan

Woke up super early as I was just too excited to sleep. The girls got up and we all got showered and dressed. The weather was quite mild which was a pleasant surprise. We headed out to Broadway which was just on the corner of the hotel. First stop to Starbucks!! And this is now a must do everyday as every New Yorker walks with a huge cup of starbucks. There is literally one every two blocks! And like I say when in Rome do as the Romans so I now have a double non-fat tall latte every day. It’s funny as Miss Isabel has also adapted to this daily ritual too and for her its a “kids hot chocolate” daily also.

My first impressions are of this amazing city is the architecture. There is truly a European feel about this Upper West Side. I instantly fell in love with it and just breathed in all the hustle and bustle. Hugo having been in NYC gave me the hot tips and one was the New York way of crossing roads which is a skill I have now successfully mastered whilst pushing a stroller. There are strollers everywhere but they are all of nannies pushing kids around. How do I know this? Well basically its either a Latino or African American ladies with Caucasian babies or kids. I am sure they may think I am a nanny with my two girls however when they hear me speak they then realise they are actually my girls.

First stop was to buy the girls winter clothes as we knew this mild weather was only for a few days. I hit Zara and Gap with a vengeance and picked myself a winter coat too! Hugo took the girls back to the hotel and I just kept walking on my own. Gee it felt so good especially to finally have some “me” time and of all places MANHATTAN.
After having dinner the girls had an early night as it had been a full day. I got straight onto the NYTIMES as getting an apartment now was going to be a first priority. As soon as we get sorted there I knew our new life would begin. Also after weeks of no routine I was anxious to get some normality in our lives. I emailed probably 6 Brokers (Real Estate Agents) and to my absolute shock one responded in 30 minutes on a Saturday night? What is that all about? Well welcome to the USA and to the country were customer service is something they out do us Aussies in. This was the beginning of my realisation that here in New York getting things done was going to be a lot easier than back home.
We organised to meet Nicole at starbucks on the corner of Broadway and 88st at 11.00am. She was lovely and took us to see about 5 apartments. In the meantime I had about 4 voicemails from other brokers. I was in shock as my cell (mobile) was now ringing more than it did in Australia and I had only been in New York for less than 24 hours. In the end we actually ended up taking the apartment that Hugo had seen the week before I had arrived, however we did get to see what was out there. We are happy with the apartment we have. We are on 71st and exactly one block up from Central Park. We have everything in walking distance. The subway is also very close so getting around Manhattan is going to be a dream.
We moved in the following Sunday and now its home sweet home.

Dreading the Flight from hell!!!

Well finally the day arrived that the girls and I were going to fly out to be with Hugo. I was very excited but also sad as leaving my family was something that was going to be very hard. After a very sad farewell to them I boarded the flight and bid goodbye to my Sydney.
The flight from Sydney to Los Angeles was hell! Annika slept for 1 hour in the whole 14 hours and I was just exhausted. All that kept me going was that there was a light at the end of the tunnel and that once I got so New York I could finally get a break. We arrived in Los Angeles and I felt a sense of familiarity but that was because a few months ago I had been in the same customs terminal when I had come over to visit my good friend Linda in Orange County. Much to my despair there was no one to help me with my 3 huge bags, stroller and two very tired children. I managed to pick it all up with a trolley and having Isabel wheel the stroller, I checked the bags to JFK. The next flight was easier as Annika finally slept for a few hours. The minute I felt the plane start a descent I felt this absolute gush of excitement. Finally after all the months of preparation it was finally happening and even better, I was going to see Hugo again.
We got off the plane and collected our bags and headed outside and I was just anticipating the look on the girls faces when they saw their father. We walked through the doors that would lead us out and as I looked at the people waiting I saw that there was no Hugo??   We had come out of another exit.
After we were reunited we headed to our car and off to the Milburn Hotel. During the drive there I bombarded the poor Indian driver with questions. I wanted to know everything and I wanted to know it now. I wanted to just breath in everything I could about this new city that was going to be my home.
We got to the hotel and it was small but comfortable. Hugo had everything set up for us and went out to get us all some food. We had not eaten much during the trip over which was close to 24 hours of travelling. He came back with the biggest pieces of pizza I had ever seen. Welcome to New York and to New York pizza which is a new love I have developed. We put the kids to sleep and then I went to bed and I slept like there was no tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Well how the hell did this whole mid-life adventure start??

Hugo and I had always talked about living abroad. We had talked about it a lot when we were dating. Funny how you have kids and your life plans just take a turn in a totally different direction. Throw in a few really bad events in our lives and those talks soon turned into nothing. I do remember Hugo mentioning it to me soon after Isabel had been born, but suffering with post natal depression, moving to the UK or something was not anything I would even consider.

The years went by and we then had Annika and our lives had fallen into a “perfect” little family living the Aussie dream. I have to say it was not that I was not happy as I was, however I did feel that being a 40 plus woman that this was going to be as good as it gets.

Then one day Hugo forwards an email to me about the work opportunities in NYC and what my thoughts were on it. Without even taking a breath I knew it was what would just be a dream come true for all of us. I had always wanted to live in NYC and I knew that if we did not do it now we would not ever do it. I felt a sense of rejuvenation. I again felt like the “old” Tanya that was spontaneous and adventurous and it felt amazing. I was so surprised to hear that Hugo was keen as I know Hugo is the “sensible” one in the relationship. He analyses then evaluates and then will maybe draw up an excel spreadsheet to work out the pros and cons. So when he responded with excitement (Hugo's style is somewhat much more subdued than me) I knew there and then that he would do everything possible to get us there. This was the point that our lives where going to change BIG TIME!!
After months of phone calls, interviews etc the day came that Hugo was going to fly out. I had started selling our furniture on eBay and we had tried to sell the house but were unsuccessful. I secretly was happy as I really wanted to rent the house out. It gave me a sense of security to know that I had my home to come home to after this adventure.
Then the adventure really began. Hugo was in NYC trying to get a job while I was at home getting the house packed up and eventually about to head out with Isabel and Annika to meet Hugo in New York.