Heather Barrett is Terra Nova Rover's first guest blogger! Welcome. Heather is a Producer at CBC Radio in St. John's, Newfoundland. With wit and helpful details, Heather explores the idea of living in a city instead of just being a tourist. So, come along, walk the walk and talk the talk of Greenwich Village, NYC. Take it away, Heather.
In a parallel universe, I imagine myself to be a big city girl – living in a small apartment, travelling by foot and by subway, taking on the world in an all-black wardrobe.
So with that in mind, when my husband and I booked a trip to New York City this past fall, we didn’t look for a hotel deal. We booked a flat in Greenwich Village through the website Vacation Rentals By Owner (www.vrbo.com).
Our apartment (http://www.vrbo.com/247738) was a long, skinny room on the fourth floor of a walkup, divided into a tiny kitchen, sitting room and bedroom, and painted in a riot of funky colours. We were on Christopher Street, just a block east of the famous Stonewall Inn, and next door to a small church which ran outreach programs for gay youth. It was perfect.
We quickly settled into a mini-routine. I’d get up in the morning, go out to get coffee and a copy of the New York Times from a news-stand, just like a local (or so I imagined).
We’d do a morning excursion, such as a visit uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Easy to get anywhere, since we had a subway station just half a block away. Then we’d twack around The Village (as we got to calling it) in the afternoon, checking out second-hand clothing shops, Italian bakeries, and record stores.
I had a sloppy, delicious, tuna and cheddar melt sandwich at Murray's Cheese. http://www.murrayscheese.com/ (The shop's slogan: 'We know cheese.')
Chris would sample what was on tap at whatever pub we were passing, while I read through a free Village Voice newspaper.
We’d find a great restaurant with an outdoor patio and a reasonably priced wine list for supper, and then let nighttime in the Village bring its own adventures.
We even found what we figured, if we were livyers, would be our “local”. The patrons of the Greenwich Village Bistro (http://www.greenwichvillagebistro.us/) had just the right amount of schlubbiness, and the house band was a trio of the least hip-looking jazz musicians I have ever seen. Our kind of people.
It’s not that we stayed in Greenwich Village the whole time. We took long walks to Chinatown, Little Italy, and the High Line, the new elevated park overlooking the Hudson River.
And we used that super-convenient subway stop to go uptown to Carnegie Hall, where we took in a fantastic concert by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his world music group, the Silk Road Ensemble. By the way, Carnegie Hall tickets are way cheaper than Broadway musical tickets!
The NBC tour at Rockefeller Center, where we saw the famous “Saturday Night Live” studio, was also loads of fun. Before we took the subway back to the Village, I sat on a bench with a coffee outside the gorgeous 30 Rock building, admiring the architecture and pretending I was Liz Lemon.
We skirted around Times Square. Too many tourists.
What struck me about Greenwich Village was that it really did seem like a proper neighbourhood. Sure, there were some young and beautiful, model-actor looking types. But we also saw parents walking children to school, university students, people who looked like they might be rich, others who looked like they might be poor.
Yet, it’s still a mystery to me how people can actually afford to live in Greenwich Village, or anywhere in Manhattan. Based in what I read in the New York Times real estate section, and what I saw posted in the windows of a couple of neighbourhood property sales offices, our teensy apartment would cost probably $800,000.
But hey, mortgages belong in the real world, not in holiday-land.
On our last day there, as we were doing our morning coffee walk, an older couple stopped us, map in hand.
“Excuse me, do you live here?”
I really wanted to say “Yes.”
A big thank you to Heather Barrett for contributing to the Terra Nova Rover blog. If you'd like to unpack a story or two from a trip you've had, please get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org