The Dream of New York

It was in the airport in Houston, during a quick layover on our way back from Honduras to Canada, when I shared a random thought with Pete over lunch. We were sitting in a 50s style restaurant and the wait staff were all dressed in candy-striper-type uniforms. There were shiny swivel stools at the bar and the most prominent items on the menu were homestyle burgers. I believe I was even sipping on a chocolate shake at the time.

For some reason, the whole scene reminded me of my favorite Christmas movie – Elf. Instead of seeing passengers racing by, dragging rolling suitcases behind them, I envisioned a busy sidewalk of holiday shoppers carrying bags of goodies with lights twinkling in the background. I thought of Will Farrell’s character fumbling around the Big Apple, getting hit by cabs and hopping from one white stripe to the next in a crosswalk. And especially his excitement at finding a crappy diner that claimed to have the “world’s best coffee.”

A bit of a stretch to connect those two scenes, I realize now (I blame the sugar content in the milkshake). Importantly though, it caused me to proclaim:

“I want to live in New York for awhile.”

 

This might just be the most obvious statement ever (who doesn’t want to spend time in New York?) but I knew I didn’t want to do a tourist fly-by, running around the massive city and taking snapshots of all the big sights. Not that there is anything wrong with that (believe me, I want to do that too), but if there was any place in the world I wanted to explore in depth for awhile, New York was it.

At the time, we were flying home for a quick stay in Canada and then jetting off to begin a housesit in Ireland. I expected the dream of New York to be shelved for quite awhile.

Fast forward four months. An email received from Trusted Housesitters with new available listings immediately caught my eye.

6 weeks in Manhattan.

 

Hello Opportunity, my good friend. Thanks for knocking! Come on in, have a martini.

Harlem Brownstones

Our street in Harlem.

I think I waited about ten seconds before logging on to submit my application. In fact, I don’t even think I checked with Pete on it. I just did it. And the home owner just responded.

Within a couple of days, all details were ironed out and we shared a virtual handshake on Skype. We bought our plane tickets and suddenly, Pete and I were over the moon to be NYC-bound.

And now, we’re here!

It’s not the most convenient place for us to be, seeing as we departed Morocco to get here and then when it’s finished we’ll be bound for Turkey, but we don’t care.

We’re in the reported “Greatest City In The World”.

For 6 weeks.

Rent free.

Bonus: We’re taking care of several cute kitties who need cuddles.

Color us excited. And priveleged. And looking for your suggestions on what to do while we are here (I want to see a lot of comments on this one, people!)

 

72 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • February 6 2012

    That’s awesome! I might have to try this house sitting thing myself.

    I’m going to New York for the first time in summer for three weeks, but I’m not quite as free with it as you are! A study abroad program from my university is funding this. Make sure you do the Ellis Island tour while you’re there – a ton of history and genealogical information there.
    Patrick Hearn recently posted..Everything Freelancers Need to Know About How to Write Query Letters

    • February 7 2012

      Sounds like a cool reason to get to NY, regardless! One of the the first things we wanted to do is head to Ellis Island. We were at the port in Cobh, Ireland this summer and saw the “other side” of part of the immigration story, so it will be nice to put it all together. πŸ™‚

  • February 6 2012

    Wow…I’d kill for 6 weeks in the city! Going to be a great adventure. If it were me, I would find a favorite bench in Central Park and find time to sit there almost every day!
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Tag…I’m It – The ABCs of Travel

    • February 7 2012

      Very, very good suggestion. Love Central Park (on my first glimpse), must go back!

  • February 6 2012

    I can’t believe you guys are in New York for 6 weeks! That is a dream location for me when I get to my travelling time. You have turned me onto the housesitting thing and even though I don’t leave to travel extensively for several years, I am starting the housesitting thing this summer – that should get me a lot of references by the time I actually leave! I wish I could give you a list of places to see, but I can’t πŸ™
    However, thank you for inspiring me!

    • February 7 2012

      That is AWESOME Diane – good idea to get into housesitting as early as you can and build references! Good luck! πŸ™‚

  • February 6 2012

    Oh, and by the way, I am making MY list of places to see from YOUR places to see! Thanks πŸ™‚
    Diane recently posted..Who knew putting on pants would turn out to be such a good decision?

  • Vicki Lee
    February 6 2012

    Sooooooo lucky I’ve gone Shrek green with envy. That’s like my dream, 6 weeks in NYC rent free. Anyway, just did 1week there recently and did everything on my list at leisurely pace, main sightseeing wise. Highlight for me was Brooklyn Bridge walk new year’s eve. I’d do it again and again. It’s beauuuudiful. I’d do bridges and buildings if I was there a while. And don’t forget Brooklyn itself – so much to see there and I didn’t. This time anyway, but I’ll be back. House sitting this time maybe… Will enjoy hearing all about your stay. Thanks.

    • February 7 2012

      Thanks Vicki! We walked the Brooklyn Bridge – LOVED IT – do you have any other suggestions for Brooklyn itself? We did a little cruise of the Dumbo area, but would love to know more!

      • Vicki Lee
        February 7 2012

        Good work! Just go check out Brooklyn, use metro card and spend a day there. Be sure to have some Junior’s world famous cheesecake in original diner Flatbush ave I think. Not too far a walk from terminal, window shop and look at those fantastic buildings. I read how Brooklyn was meant to be bigger than Manhattan back in the day, so it’s got some history. It’s interesting but can divide people; my travel mate didn’t think much of the place. I liked its differences but still so very New York. ‘Old skool!’ Use a map as we got disorientated at times. Go out to Prospect Heights for a nosey and sit on a brownstone stoop and see that old New York plus Prospect Park is a beauuuudiful smaller version of Central. And would’ve loved to have gone into that magnificent library! We took metro to Coney island but it was a little ‘sad’ being out of season. Still, had to see it and we ate our Juniors’s cheesecake on strand and watched sunset so it was cool. Nathan’s hotdogs there if that’s your thing, then I enjoyed seeing Bayridge and different views of Verrazano bridge fom train. But I’m a Saturday Night Fever fan so it’s like my Mecca! I only wish we could’ve stopped off in Bayridge for me to walk the movie locations but another day. It was a cheap day out with metro card and I’d do it again and see more. I’d do this with all the boroughs, with time. And I’m a movie freak so New York is insane for that. I’m still sooooo jealous!!! Have a wonderful 6 weeks.

        • February 8 2012

          You had me at cheesecake. I’m there. πŸ™‚

  • February 6 2012

    You’re in luck! We’re having the mildest winter in memory so you can walk around or ride a bike without freezing. Be sure to sample the food trucks rolling round town. And if you’re into art and style exhibitions, check out the smaller places, like the cool hat show on view at Bard College Graduate Center on the Upper West Side.
    Terry T recently posted..The Nolitan: Warming Up Ellabess

    • February 7 2012

      COOL HATS?! That sounds awesome. And we’ve recently downloaded the Street Eats app to find some good food trucks!

  • February 6 2012

    So great to have met Pete in NYC, so sorry I missed you Dalene! Some ideas including a few i shared with Pete:
    Chelsea Market
    Museum of Moving Image Queens
    Walk Brooklyn Bridge
    Brooklyn Heights
    Highline (I think you just went!)
    Bike west side park
    Roosevelt Island Tram
    City Island
    Ellis Island
    Wander Meat Packing to quaint blocks of West Village
    Path Train to Hoboken for Lunch
    Day trip to Hudson River Valley
    B&H Photo
    EAT!! Pastrami at Katz’s Deli, Bagel and Lox at Zabars, Bialys at Kossar’s, Pizza at Grimaldis (DUMBO), Burger at Little Owl, Union Square Cafe Farmer’s Market, Splurge at Union Sq Cafe or Craft or…
    Have fun!
    Lisa | LLWorldTour recently posted..The Sport of Boxing in Chicago

    • February 7 2012

      WOW! Thanks for this awesome list Lisa! I’m so bummed I missed out on meeting you too. Another time! πŸ™‚

  • Steph
    February 6 2012

    That’s so exciting! New York is a lot of fun but also a lot of money, so living rent free would be fantastic.
    My Suggestions:
    – Highline Park (on a nice sunny day)
    – The Strand bookstore, aka the most amazing place in the entire world if you are a book nerd like me
    – Indian curry in Murray Hills

    BTW, are you guys planning on coming to TBEX?

    • February 7 2012

      Thanks for the suggestions Steph! We’ve walked Highline Park (awesome), but will definitely check out that bookstore and we’re ALWAYS up for a good curry!

      As for TBEX, I’m not sure where we’ll be at that point, but I kinda doubt we’ll be in that area. I’m heading to TBU though! πŸ™‚

  • February 6 2012

    So based on what Lisa said, I am going to be selfish:

    1. Come up and see the Hudson valley where I live
    2. Dinner/drinks at any of those places one night
    3. NY Rangers game (oh yes, I am coming for this one too)

    so… yeah πŸ™‚
    Justin Hamlin recently posted..How I Saw the Boston Freedom Trail for Free

    • February 7 2012

      Drinks! Must do drinks! Need to relook at Rangers schedule….

  • Emily in Chile
    February 6 2012

    Have a wonderful time!

  • Jeff Cruz
    February 7 2012

    Wow! So jealous! I love NY! Was there 9 years ago and it won’t be my last. I loved the Guggenheim, the Met and you HAVE to go to B&H πŸ™‚

    • February 7 2012

      We have yet to do any of the big museums and so will definitely be doing that. And Pete’s already checked out B&H. I have to steal his credit card before I will let him go back. πŸ™‚

  • Deidre
    February 7 2012

    We wandered the Meat Packing District and tried to go to Hell’s Kitchen (closed that day) but it was great!
    Subway to Yankee Stadium!
    Iridium Jazz Club!

    • February 7 2012

      Thanks Dee! Been looking for Jazz Club recommendations! πŸ™‚

  • Luis Reyes
    February 7 2012

    So glad you are having a good time in the city. I live in NJ. You’re invited to visit. Please email or dm on twitter @lreyes. since I follow you

    • February 7 2012

      Thanks so much Luis! Will get in touch if we are heading out to Jersey! πŸ™‚

  • February 7 2012

    Well you know you’re going to have to go see a show or two. πŸ™‚
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Shysters, Shams, and Bangkok Scams

    • February 7 2012

      Yes! Now if you could read all the reviews and narrow down the choices for us, much appreciated. πŸ™‚

      • February 7 2012

        I saw Spamalot a few years ago and it was hilarious! And you folks look like Monty Python fans. (Just a hunch.) Plus it was super-easy to get tickets — I went to that last-minute booth on Broadway about 30 mins before the show and I think I paid 30 bucks.
        Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Shysters, Shams, and Bangkok Scams

        • February 8 2012

          I saw Spamalot in Vegas – it was pretty awesome! The problem is, there are too many that I want to see. I am paralyzed by choice.

  • February 7 2012

    Kali and I were just talking about NYC – we tend to like big cities, but for some reason haven’t felt a huge attraction to New York. But we’d love to give it a try, though, and rent-free would be ideal. πŸ˜› I figure we’ll just hold out for a housesit that fits our schedule… but that might be awhile, since they don’t appear often!

    • February 7 2012

      Haha – that’s funny! We tend to NOT like big cities (I’m looking at you, London), but are falling in love with this city. It’s true, I haven’t seen many housesits here, so I think we really lucked out this time.

  • February 7 2012

    This is SO awesome! You have convinced me to use this service when I go to travel again. Enjoy your time in the Big Apple!!

    • February 8 2012

      Thanks Diana! We are having a great time!

  • February 7 2012

    Ummmm I like to eat at the Olive Garden at Times Square…..
    so sue me but we don’t have Olive Gardens at home and those bread sticks are to die for!! hahaha πŸ™‚
    cailin recently posted..Seattle is delicious!

  • February 8 2012

    This is awesome and totally a dream of mine. We’ve tried to housesit here in Sydney but my bf is allergic to cats, and that seems to be the basis for so many of them! Congrats!

    • February 8 2012

      Ah yes, there are many with pets (we have four cats here now), but we have had some with no pets or just a dog. Hope it works out for you guys someday!

  • February 8 2012

    OMG, 6 weeks living in NYC – how kewl is THAT? Good for you! I deliberately made a “Bye-bye America” visit to NYC last March before I moved here to Vietnam. And I must say, for more than a moment, I considered changing my plans and moving to NYC for awhile instead. Can’t wait to read of your adventures there. And yes, yes, as MOTLam says: you surely MUST see some shows (esp. “Jersey Boys”.)

    • February 8 2012

      I KNOW!! We are damn lucky on this one I think. I already know I won’t want to leave when the 6 weeks are up.

  • February 8 2012

    Wow this housesitting lark seems quite the thing! I only had 4 days in NYC but recommend brunch on the rooftop at 230 Fifth. Here’s what I did in NYC:
    http://www.worldwanderingkiwi.com/2011/09/new-york-city-travel-blog-usa/
    Natasha @ Wandering Kiwi recently posted..Destination Thailand: Ang Thong Marine Park

    • February 8 2012

      Looks like you packed a lot into your 4 days! I have to ask…who had the best cupcake? πŸ™‚

      • February 8 2012

        Ha ha, Magnolia Bakery has the best cupcakes – hands down! The cake and the icing, er frosting, light and fluffy and mmmmm!
        Natasha @ Wandering Kiwi recently posted..Destination Thailand: Ang Thong Marine Park

        • February 9 2012

          Yes, we’ve wandered by a few times and have yet to go in. Unfortunately, everyone’s food suggestions are far from healthy! πŸ™‚

  • February 8 2012

    WOW! We’ve never been to New York and were hoping to make it out there by the end of the year. I get… my “Autumn in New York” moment.
    Erica recently posted..How to Backpack Brilliantly in Europe

    • February 8 2012

      DAMN but I wish we were here in autumn. Although, we’ve been so lucky with the weather and have only had to shovel snow once!

  • February 8 2012

    Wow! 6 weeks in NYC! You are living my dream! Have tons of fun you guys!
    Laura recently posted..Is the World Truly Flat?

  • Great house sitting assignment! And all you have to do is take care of cute kitties … what a deal!
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Tragedy in Torres del Paine: Stories from the Park

    • February 9 2012

      Yes, this is a rough assignment, for sure. πŸ™‚ I already told the home owner I’m changing her locks so that she can’t come home. πŸ™‚

  • February 8 2012

    You’ve already received my recommendations … but can I just say again HOW GREAT IT IS TO HAVE YOU HERE IN MY CITY!!!!!!!! xoxo

    • February 9 2012

      And soon…as a NEIGHBOR! YAY!

  • Gary
    February 8 2012

    hi Dalene…. spent Xmas in NY with my two sons about 5 yrs ago …take the time to simply wander from top to bottom of manhatten and dont look for anything!! Look up….see the lines of the glass and reflections in it. Coffee and bagel then keep walking…watch the people. Feel the different areas and the feel to those areas…compare them to the places you have just left behind!!! Sure I dont have to tell you this but just reflecting and being self indulgent!!! Enjoy

    • February 9 2012

      Best advice we’ve gotten Gary. Now, if only the weather would cooperate to let us excessively wander! πŸ™‚

      • Gary
        February 9 2012

        Dalene….you know that is simply a weak excuse!!! it was 6 inches of snow when we done it!!! If its raining trace the path of the rain right into your eye…blink and wonder at how it got there and if it had just a fractional piece os sand in it from Marakesh!! Best experience was probably the street performers and dancers doing somersaults in the subway!!! The initial reaction was dare I say…fear… but then it was repalced by excitement and wonder!! Ride the tube…its interesting.

        • February 9 2012

          Hey, I know I advertise as being Canadian, but we’ve been gone so long that I am a total wimp when it comes to the weather! (P.S. read our next post, it’s all about the subway!)

          • Gary
            February 9 2012

            taking the next train there now!!!!:)

  • Aafke
    February 9 2012

    Yes like others said get yourselves a bicycle, I loved it when I was there and also I think you should do it because you have to stay in shape for your next visit to Amsterdam ;). Please note however that in NY not everything is 10 min. Besos from Bali!

    • February 9 2012

      They aren’t as bicycle friendly here, I’m scared! We do have some at the house so might take them out to bike along the Hudson if the weather is nice enough. πŸ™‚

  • February 9 2012

    Wow, that is totally awesome πŸ™‚ Have fun!
    Laurence recently posted..A tale of many cakes

  • February 9 2012

    Fabulous! You like history, don’t you? Be sure and go to the far south end of Manhattan where the streets are Cobblestone, and visit the tavern where George Washington delivered his farewell address to his troops. And I second Ellis Island and its museum. Also–cheap way to eat with a fantastic view? Go to the top floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There’s an outdoor space that serves sandwiches and pastries and on a nice day it is a heavenly view of Central Park and the city beyond. Also, if the Boathouse in Central Park looks romantic–but too expensive for dinner–go for breakfast. It’s cheap.
    Vera Marie Badertscher recently posted..Sweet Book Treat for Valentine’s Day

    • Pete
      February 10 2012

      Excellent suggestions, thanks!! I never knew that about Washington, will definitely be checking that out. You had me at tavern πŸ˜‰

  • Alouise
    February 11 2012

    I’m little late commenting but I love New York. I’ve been twice and I’d go back again. 6 weeks of housesitting sounds perfect. I hope you’re enjoy your time there.

    One recommendation I got before my last trip was to check out The Bronx Museum for the Arts. It’s a small art museum, easy enough to wander through in an hour or two. It turned out to be one of my favourite sites in New York, because they had this amazing photography exhibit going on at the time (which I’m sure is over by now). Admission is by donation. I think they suggest about $5. I also recommend a show on Broadway. I love musicals, so I’m totally biased. I know there’s a TKTS booth on Times Square where you can get cheap tickets, but I think they have a couple other locations that aren’t as busy.

    • Alouise
      February 11 2012

      Oops it’s The Bronx Museum of the Arts. Also heard Wave Hill in the Bronx is nice, but I never got a chance to check it out.

    • Pete
      February 11 2012

      Thanks Alouise, both are on our lists. That museum sounds really cool and off the tourist radar.

  • February 15 2012

    Love it!! Enjoy NYC and please post pics of the cats. πŸ™‚
    cheryl recently posted..An Insiders Look At The Lloyd Hotel.

    • Pete
      February 15 2012

      Haha, I will make sure to have more kitty photos πŸ™‚

  • March 2 2012

    Hello,

    We are 2 Calgarians travelling the world for a year. We’ve previously travelled for one month at a time and have covered all 7 continents. We will be ending out year in NYC for about 2 months. Thanks for the tip about trusted house sitters as we want a sublet/house sit for this time period. I am going to look into it. We have a small travel blog as well. It also covers travelling as vegans πŸ™‚

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