This is a little (maybe not so little) catch up, so there’s not too much detail. I’ll hopefully be able to write more frequently once we’re settled, but for now I’m skimming over some of the detail – forgive me.
L and I arrived very early Thursday morning last week & the week has flown by. I thought I would have the chance to update you all before now, but this seems like a good time.
We wouldn’t be here right now without our families doing what they’ve done to help. My parents have pulled out the stops to makes sure our things and our house are ready and safe and for that I’ll be eternally grateful. I have no idea what we would be doing right now without them. Thank you.
So, what have we been up to??
Thursday AM: We manage to get through the front doors of our Airbnb but realise that we’d not been given a door number by our host. It turns out that this wouldn’t have helped anyway because there are no numbers on any of the doors. After trying the various keys (three) in some of the other apartment doors (very carefully as it was around 1am), we find our apartment. We collapse into bed and wake up at a sensible time for Thursday to properly begin.
Thursday later AM: we take a look around Williamsburg & grab a latte in Cafe Beit. We were aiming for a sit-in latte with a pastry for breakfast but I bottle it at the seemingly complicated transaction, grab the lattes to go and flee without something to eat. I am I bit flustered by the whole thing;I just don’t feel cool enough for Williamsbur g at this point, even if I had just ordered an almond milk latte (Cafe Beit make their own!) and managed to give an appropriate tip.
We needed to get a few things before going to collect Bo from customs at JFK, such as cat litter and cat food. You’d think that would be easy. You’d be wrong. The first place we find is Whole Foods. Whole Foods is like Waitrose on steroids. It’s glorious. And also very stressful. You won’t find any of your ‘regular’ groceries there; everything is organic or dairy free or gluten free (which is absolutely fine for us) but it makes everything a little more stressful when you don’t recognise a single brand. We found some wonderful things, which I’ll show you later. We decided to find a dedicated pet store to get the things for Bo and in the meantime just got some essentials for us.
We then found a juice bar because we needed a bit of a pick-me-up and had a green juice – they made me my favourite, which is green apple, mint, lime, and celery. It was a little heavy on the celery, I must admit. Then on to the pet store for cat essentials. It was really warm out (for doing errands) so we headed back to the apartment for a 5 minute freshen up before hearing back to JFK to pick up Bo (the cat). Luckily we did because the next part ended up taking 5 hours…
But Bo is now here and is quite settled; she’s very interested in the birds out in the yard, so we’re having to keep a very close eye on her when we open the back door.
Friday: I spent some of Thursday night looking at open houses in Williamsburg for today and found that there is an apartment block just a few blocks away from where we’re currently staying, so we go along to see if they have someone to show us around. The letting agent, Jay, shows us an apartment that is almost available but it’s a little on the small side. We mention that we’re looking for a home office if possible and he has one vacating on Saturday morning, so we arrange to come back and have a look on Saturday afternoon. The building is nice and has some of the shared amenities we’re looking for; roof terrace, gym, rooftop bbq, garden, party room, chill room for groceries, etc.
L is called into work unexpectedly so I spend the afternoon doing some journalling in the apartment (I got a new notebook, but I’ll show you in more detail another day).
For dinner we decide to go somewhere local, so I choose Mable’s Smokehouse for some BBQ. It’s a grab-your-own-table kind of place and you go up to a counter to order the food. I order us the shared platter so that we get to try a few things and we have some beers.
We end the night on a wander around Williamsburg, checking out more of the beautiful street art and just generally taking in the atmosphere.
Saturday: L saw an apartment on the waterfront when he came here a month ago so he wanted to show me the same place. In short – the apartments are tiny and expensive, but the views are amazing. We walked past the famous Smorgasburg food festival on the way and planned to go back, but we decided to take a walk to the East River bank instead and take a look at the view of Manhattan. We found a lovely little grocery store called Harvest Market and got some lunch to take back to the apartment.
We had arranged to go back to see Jay to have a look at the other apartment that had become available today. It was a little bigger and had the home office and we decided to apply – you have to move fast in New York if you find something you like, so that was it, we’ve decided to stay in Williamsburg for the next 13 months. What actually happens at this point is that you apply to take the apartment and you have to wait to see if you are accepted, so there is some paperwork to do, which we take back to the apartment to take a look at. The bank is now closed, however, so we arrange to go back on Sunday with the paperwork and cheques.
Sunday: L needs to go to his bank to arrange some cheques (they need to be certified, so you can’t use a chequebook); we each have to pay an application fee (which you don’t get back if you’re rejected) and another $1,000 to take the apartment off the market. We take our forms and the cheques along to Jay on Sunday morning. We get told that there is a chance that we won’t get the apartment because we don’t have an American credit history. Your magnificent credit history in the UK is worth cheese here, for anyone else looking to go through this process.
We celebrate our first apartment application by going to brunch. I’ll write again about brunch at some point because it’s a big thing here in New York. I don’t think it’s the same as in the UK, at this point I think it might be an excuse to drink alcohol earlier in the day, but we’ll see…
Our brunch place of choice is Fushimi, a Japanese place. L has the wagyu beef mini burgers and I have some chicken and potatoes. Both were delicious, the burgers more so than the chicken. More wandering around Brooklyn follows and we find a cute little vintage furniture store inside a garage that is only open at weekends.
We also go on a hunt for a clothes iron. I’ve still no idea where you get these from in The City. We happened to find a hardware store that had one type that we definitely overpaid for.
Shop guy: Can I help you?
Us: We’re just browsing at the moment, thank you.
Shop guy: Well, it’s not a museum.
This exchange prompted me to ask on Quora if there is an American alternative to the phrase “just browsing” (which in England usually means that you’re looking for something specific but you don’t need any help looking for it because you’re not in a rush) to which most people replied that the guy was just being a jerk and that the phrase is perfectly acceptable. Phew!
Later in the day we go out looking for Blue Bottle Coffee, a trendy-looking coffee place that has been on my radar. We find it, we have coffee, life is good. Not so good is the pizza that we decide to have for dinner. I won’t tell you the name because it’s a very popular place here and maybe they were having an off day? Either way, we spent over $20 on a couple of slices of cold, tasteless pizza.
Monday: L starts work properly today and off he goes first thing. His commute amazes me, he leaves here and pops up in Manhattan 20 minutes later and the train isn’t even overcrowded. I use the day to do some more journalling and I go out for a walk around Williamsburg. It’s a bank holiday Monday in the UK, I believe we get one on the 29th of May. I think they’re just called public holidays here? I’ll look into that.
I went back to Harvest Market and got some groceries today (I’ll write about groceries at a later time – I need to work them out first) so I made us our first proper homemade dinner – a chicken curry. I will never get bored of the view on the way home from the grocery store…
We also find out around this time that we have been accepted for our apartment! We’re very excited because this part could have taken up to 4 days and I already spent most of Monday checking my emails. Hooray!
Tuesday: I take a walk to find Midoriya, a Japanese grocery store, and also pop into the pet store (PS9) to see if they have a harness I can get for Bo so that I can take her out in the yard. I get some Japanese treats and a harness, I also pick up a birthday present for Bo (it’s her birthday on Monday). On the way back I find McCarren Park, the weather is beautiful and I find a bench and take in my surroundings.
In PS9 I had a good 30 minute chat with the cashier (I believe her name is Adriana) and she was very welcoming. She has moved from Manhattan to Williamsburg and confirmed that we had made the right decision to live here instead of in The City. She also offered to give me a tour of Brooklyn – people here are so nice! It turns out that I can also take Bo along so that she can try out the beds and choose her own, which is nice. I learn that it’s quite common for cats to be taken out in carry bags so that they get some outside time and that harnesses and taking cats to the park is taking off. Maybe Bo will like that…
It’s actually not a struggle to get Bo into her harness (small miracles) and we spend the afternoon in the back yard.
Today is the day that I perfect the grilled cheese sandwich.
Wednesday: Another walk to the East River bank and Harvest Market. I finally try the pizza from Harvest Market ($4 per slice!) and it’s delicious. I get brave and ask about loyalty cards and delivery. Get me!
Thursday: I have one plan for today – to find Mister Dips. Did I find Mister Dips? No. But it turns out I was close (I told them on Instagram where I’d ended up and asked if I was close, and I was). So that’s a job for another day. I did, however, find Du’s Donuts and coffee, where I had a creamsicle flavoured donut and a latte (thanks).
We finished the day with a meal from Sweet Chick, which I’ll write about in a separate post.
Friday: Today was a washout. The rain came down. Not just a little bit. Enough for me to get an official flood warning on my iPhone. During this time the radiators in the (temporary) apartment started leaking. It was a day and a half and I’m glad that L is now home and it’s the weekend!
Apologies for the loooong catch up there. I hope you enjoyed parts of it. I’ll keep snapping away and I’ll update you as often as possible.