Nov 132010

As we began a three-month stay in New York a few years ago, I looked forward to all the time I’d have to enjoy the city. I had been there on many short trips before and a number of times after, but this was a chance to feel like a Midtown New Yorker!

Our temporary home was a one bedroom apartment on East 47th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in the Turtle Bay area of Midtown East. Standing on our 19th floor balcony, we could see the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel to the northwest, while listening to the sounds of the city all around us. Our building’s rooftop garden provided expansive city and river views. Less than a block away at 2nd Avenue, Dag Hammarskjold Plaza was a busy site with frequent organized protests and speeches. Many of the residents in our building were people who had come from all over the world to work at the nearby United Nations headquarters. In the halls, lobby, neighborhood restaurants, and just walking down the street, I heard many different languages spoken.

Living Like a Local During Our Stay in New York

We love to take road trips, but during our stay in New York it was nice to be car-free in our daily life. Anywhere we wanted to go could be reached by walking or public transportation, even outside of the city. To attend a meeting in Boston, we took Amtrak’s Acela Express, a comfortable and convenient trip of under four hours from Penn Station.

Our daily activities became New York experiences. To get to our health club on E. 59th Street, we crossed Park Avenue and never tired of seeing the beautiful boulevard with miles of exclusive office and apartment buildings to the north and the imposing MetLife building to the south. Routine errands or shopping trips took us by landmarks like Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building. There were many opportunities for serendipitous moments, such as coming across movie sets and becoming spectators at events like the Greek Independence Day Parade after going for a run at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park.

On weekdays while my husband was working, I enjoyed exploring neighborhoods ― Greenwich Village, Soho, Chelsea, and Tribeca. In Gramercy Park, I stopped for lunch at Pete’s Tavern, where O. Henry wrote Gift of The Magi at his favorite booth. On the Upper East Side, I went to exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Frick Collection. On a walk north on 1st Avenue, I discovered the Roosevelt Island tram at 59th Street, which is a quick aerial ride over the East River to Roosevelt Island, an unexpectedly quiet residential community with a lighthouse, park and terrific views of Manhattan across the river.

In mid-February the biggest snowstorm in New York City history dropped a record 27 inches of snow during the night. The next morning, we happily made our way through the nearly deserted snow-buried streets toward Central Park which had been turned into a winter wonderland. In the park, many people had come out to experience the beauty and fun, some of them on cross-country skis. The next day, with a bright sun glistening on the snow, I came back and took more photos of the scenery, ice skaters and tourists in carriages.

St. Patrick’s Day was a great time to be in New York. We were right up front at the parade on 5th Avenue and had a lovely talk with a tourist from County Clare who was thoroughly enjoying it. Living close to several Irish pubs on 2nd Avenue was also a lot of fun. We made our way through the crowd at Clancy’s where we had a few pints of Guinness and friendly conversations.

Our last full day in New York was Easter, a day that started at St. Agnes, a church with an interesting and diverse international congregation, then breakfast at our regular diner, Morningstar on 2nd Avenue, the Easter Parade and a subway ride to The Cloisters (at 190th Street), a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s located in a quiet setting overlooking the Hudson River and seemed a perfect spot to be on this sunny Easter with blossoms all around. Reconstructed in the 1930s from the architectural elements of medieval abbeys, it contains a fantastic collection of medieval European art and religious artifacts.

The three wonderful months of our stay in New York City were sadly over in a New York minute.

  34 Responses to “Three Months in a New York Minute”

  1. How was the Acela Express then Cathy? Worth a go for a visitor or just a convenient transport link? I’d love t see NYC in the snow, but shocked that it’s there for St Patrick’s day, in what, mid March?? Yikes and I thought we had it bad here in Scotland!

    • Hey Jools, although snowfall is not uncommon in March, the skies and streets were clear of snow by St. Patrick’s Day that year.

      I don’t think that the Acela Express is a must-do train experience in itself, but I highly recommend visiting Boston if you’re in the northeast U.S. and the Acela is a great transportation option. I’ve also flown from NY to Boston. Although the flight is much shorter than the train ride, I think that the overall train experience is much more enjoyable. For a scenic route, a trip by car is really the best way to see the scenery between the two cities.

  2. I love New York City! And I used to live on 50th st between 2nd and 3rd =) Wonder how many of my old haunts are still in existence…

    • Then we would have been neighbors in a great neighborhood! I hope that you get back there to visit sometimes. I never get tired of NYC.

  3. Great post Cathy. I know this is a bit off topic, but do you think anyone could actually sit in a booth at a restaurant and write an entire book anymore? Can you imagine the staff!? “Sir, we are going to have to ask that you leave, you have been writing in this booth for HOURS!”

    • Thanks, guys! I’ll take your thoughts just a step further. Imagine that the restaurant does let you take over a booth to write your book for however long it takes. Then they actually consider you a restaurant icon and celebrate your memory and works for years to come! I don’t think that would happen to me….

      • Actually if you were in Paris, and you started writing your book in a cafe/bar there, I think they would pay for your coffees (or stronger!!). What a fun time you had Cathy!

        • Yes, the time in NYC was fun and a great experience. I’d love to have that same kind of opportunity in Paris someday. I might even find a welcoming cafe/bar and start on that book!

  4. How wonderful to read the enthusiastic tale of another New York fan. I just love that city. I will go and saty next February and can’t wait, snowstorms and all. If three months pass in a NY minute, then 1 month will, sadly, pass in 10 NY seconds? Could you please give me a pointer where to rent an apartment without breaking the bank?

    • Thanks for your comment, Inka. Yes, I am enthusiastic about NYC! How great that you’ll be going there in February. I don’t have the next trip planned yet — getting anxious to go again!

      I’ll give some thought to apartment rental ideas. The place I stayed has been converted to condos recently — don’t know if anyone’s doing short-term rentals there. I’ll let you know if I get a good lead for you. Anyone reading this have a suggestion?

  5. You are so lucky, I’d ;love the opportunity to live in NY for 3 months but I fear I may just decide to stay longer!

  6. Nice read – I have been to New York precisely once and that was brief and even I claim to love the place. Just one of those places…

  7. You make New York sound so romantic. I have only spent four days there and I am sad to say did not enjoy it at all. Maybe I need to spend more time there – I know my husband found that every time he visited NY for work he enjoyed it more and more.

    • Hi Kerry-ann, thanks for reading the article and your comment. Not every place is for everybody! But my suggestion would be to give NYC another chance. There are so many different aspects of the city — you might still find the part of New York that’s just right for you!

      By the way, I took a look at your blog — looks great. I’ll be going back to read further!

      • Hi Cathy, thanks for stopping by my blog. Maybe you are right about NYC – I did enjoy the interviews with designers I had set up and they treated me well – so did enjoy that aspect. However, I think that next time I get the opportunity, I will get in touch with you for a guided tour…

  8. i wish i had the chance to Visit New york for that long, especially in December through to January

    • Thanks for your comment. I agree! I love NYC around the holidays, but haven’t been there very often or for very long during that time. Of course, NY is special any time of year.

  9. Don’t you love public transportation?! I could definitely get used to not having a car. I don’t think I could get used to the bitter cold of the winters there, though. The couple times I have visited have been in the winter, and every time I went outside I had to wear 5 layers. It amazed me when I saw women wearing skirts! Sounds like a fun experience, though! Nice post!

    • Thanks, Christy. Yes, public transportation is a wonderful thing and being able to walk to so many places is even better!

  10. Hi Cathy,
    Enjoyed your NYC article. We are travelling to NYC for a short visit in early December. Do you have other restaurant recommendations near where you lived simillar to your “Pete’s Tavern” gem? We’ll be staying near the Daily News Building not far from the UN. Interested in modertely priced / affordable but good spots for Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner. Thanks! Robyn

    • Robyn, thanks for you comment. Another gem that comes to mind right away is Pure Food and Wine at 17th and Irving in Gramercy Park — don’t know how close that will be to you, but it”s an experience. It’s very delicious, but unusual raw vegan food in a very cool setting. I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I loved it! A friend of ours liked it so much he went there 3 times in one week. Docks Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill is at 3rd and 40th – enjoyed that too. I really like going to bistros like La Mediterranée French Bistro on 2nd and 50th when I’m in NY. But Pure Food and Wine is a very different kind of place. Let me know if you go there.

  11. I’m so jealous and sounds like your apartment was in a perfect location! I’ve never been to NYC, but I think the way to experience it would be the way you experienced it opposed to a jam packed few days of trying to see everything.

  12. Sounds like you got the most out of your stay in NYC! Isn’t it fun traipsing around NYC after a snowstorm? At least until the snow turns yellow and the streets turn to mush 😉

    • Thanks for the comment, Leslie. Yeah, the slush isn’t quite so fun. But that’s the price paid for a beautiful snowfall, I guess!

  13. These are beautiful stories about your time in New York. I think you’ve inspired me to take another trip there (and I have no excuses because I’m just an hour’s train ride away from the city). Plus, I’ve been wanting to see the new off-Broadway show “Play Dead.” Let the planning begin!

  14. i am so jealous, i wish i could shoot photos in nyc

  15. […] Related Article: Three Months in a New York Minute […]

  16. Greenwich village is probably one of my favorite spots in New York.

    The NYU area is a great place to hang around, such a great environment!

  17. Cathy, I stumbled upon your blog as I am In the early stages of planning – 3 months in New York. I intend to go from January 3rd 2013 until the end of march. I visited New York for 6days in August this year for the first time and it was truly special.
    During my 3 months, I won’t be working, and I just wondered if you could give me any pointers on what sort of things I could do in those 3 months to fill out my time there?

  18. […] haunts for breakfast (it was one of our favorite breakfast spots just blocks from where we had an extended stay in Midtown East several years ago. After a hearty breakfast that was just like those we remembered, we met two […]

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