An Optimist’s Guide to New York City

The timing of my darker post was completely abysmal. I wrote a two-part series about what I love and hate about New York City. The “hate” post went live the day Hurricane Sandy hit. I was trapped at Lenox Hill Hospital worrying about my appendicitis, not that post. Luckily, no one seemed offended by my rants about a place I call home. As promise, there are things I like about New York City; enough to compile a ten point list.

1. Food, Food Delivery & Food Trucks

Food truck row

Food truck row

I don’t know how the skinny people do it. Everyday is a mental challenge for me to avoid trying every new food spot a friend tells me about. The food in New York City is so good that some people don’t even use their kitchens. (That makes me sad actually, I love to cook.)

I’m not one of those people, but I do love eating out in the city. Some of my favorite places include

This list could go on and on. Especially with the food truck craze that has taken over the city streets, literally. It’s fun to follow the food trucks and plan out your weekly menu before you even plan out your posts for the week.

I’m getting carried away again.
My last point will be how much I enjoy delivery services in NYC. Order from your iPhone or online? Not a problem. Got home late and craving a quick order of Chino’s at 10:30pm, you’ve got it. And of course, for those crazy late nights, there’s always a halal truck or something delicious around to OMNOMNOM.
PS- How could I forget: New York City pizza. Often imitated, never duplicated. I have a super secret spot that I only bring people I love because I’m a pizza maniac.

2. Happy Hour

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$3 Red Headed Sluts

I’m always joking around that my middle name should be “Happy Hour.” (Or, Open Bar) I’m always on the search for cheap drinks, since you can easily pay $20 for a drink in a Manhattan bar. New York City is the International Happy Hour capital of the world; there is something for everybody, whether you are in the after work crowd, gay & lesbian crowd, or single and ready to mingle.

Happy Hours in New York City can bring drink prices down to $1 a drink.

My favorite being at Continental, the perfect spot to start the night before exploring The Village.

3. The New York Spirit

I have a love-hate relationship with New York City and the people in it. I ranted in my previous article that New Yorkers can be snarky and vicious. They can also be the kindest people you meet. After all, I’m included in these general stereotypes, right?

In times of defeat is when the New York Spirit I am proud to know, truly comes out. People unite together to move forward, because we’re New Yorkers and that’s what we do. One fine example is one New York City cop’s good deed by purchasing warm boots for a homeless man. That’s just one example of random acts of kindness.

One personal story:  I was on the bus on my way to work and I had simply forgotten to bring my wallet with me. I was having an awful day and the bus drive let me get on the bus for free. (This was a bus from NJ going into NYC, so that saved me about $6 already.)

I called my mom and asked her to meet me at the train station at 42nd Street, because I wouldn’t be able to get to my job on 96th Street from there. (We worked at the same place at the time)  A lady sitting next to me overheard my phone conversation and told me to call my mom back and tell her not to worry. She gave me $10 & said  have a good lunch and don’t worry about paying her back. 

I’m sure many visitors or locals have kind stories about people doing wonderful things like that.

4. The 24 Hour Lifestyle

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24/7 Clean Clothes

New York City is nicknamed the city that never sleeps for a reason, because there is something going on all day and night. I’m spoiled with Duane Reade pharmacies open 24 hours so I can get my Antibiotics at 2am, because I can. There is a copious amount of places that are open ’round the clock. Did you know you can get a mani-pedi any time at Hair Party? You can buy groceries, workout, play pool, dance and even get around at all hours of the night.

You know, you can also sleep too.

5. The Architecture & Skyline Views

Photographs speak louder than words. Every time I leave for the airport, or return from my travels, I find myself enamored by the views. Perhaps it looks beautiful from above, or I don’t take the time to appreciate the skyline so familiar in movies and television shows. Take a look for yourself.

NYC Skyline

NYC Skyline

Central Park from above

Central Park from above

Flat Iron Building NYC

Flat Iron Building NYC

6. The Subway

NYC subway train

Just missed it!

Wait a minute, I thought I hated the NYC Subway? Yes, I do, but I also love it. I wouldn’t be able to get around the city if it wasn’t for our subway system. Many New Yorkers like myself rely on this system to get around, simply because it is the easiest way to get where you need to go.

Sure, the system is flawed, there are always delays and the fares are always increasing, but locals would be paralyzed without it.

I’m also excited for the 2nd Avenue line that has taken decades to construct, simply because it will be the T line 😉

7. Vibrant Neighborhoods

our trip to target via 116th st

Cuchifritos in Spanish Harlem

I could not tell you how many neighborhoods are in New York City, but you could probably Google the answer. Eclectic neighborhoods in New York City are the fabric weaves that make up such a multi-cultural place to live. Wikipedia will even tell you the concentrations of particular ethnicity located in certain neighborhoods.

For instance, my neighborhood is Spanish Harlem, obvious connotation there. But, who lives in Jackson Heights? New Yorkers know lots of Columbians, Asians and Indians live there. Every neighborhood has its own flavor worth exploring; it really makes you feel like you’re in a different city every day. (Especially if you visit Chinatown!)

8. Being a Tour Guide

On the subway

On the subway being a tour guide for my friend Ingrid.

Just because I hate a lot of things about New York City doesn’t mean I’ll be vocal about it all the time. I tell my friends that New York City is a wonderful place to visit, but a bit difficult to live in. (Unless $$ is on your side.) I love showing my friends the places I”ve grown to live, especially beyond the touristy parts.

This is probably the time when I enjoy the city the most, when I can take it easy like a tourist and simply enjoy the sites I pass by and usually are too busy to enjoy.

9. Entertainment Overload

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Fun NYC Holiday displays

Let’s be frank- you’ll never be bored in New York City. When I was a kid growing up here and my mom would hear me complain that I Was bored (Pre-Internet World) she’d always have something to recommend. Whether it was the Easter Egg hunt in Central Park, some free giveaway and music at the Seaport, or just shopping at a new store in Midtown, there was always something to do.

Some of my favorite things to do include

10. Living Here: This is my Home

Love it or hate it, this is my hometown. I grew up riding the subway before I was allowed to wear jeans with holes. I had to know my entire subway line to pass a test in 2nd grade. On Saturdays, my family ate some kind of take out delivery service. I can take the subway from the tip of the Bronx to the border of Long Island for $2.25.

But most of all, my entire family lives here. My immediate family is rooted in New York City and I cannot deny that this is where my heart is. This is where my parents individually left poverty in Puerto Rico to make a new life for themselves and rooted themselves here.

Kind of like how I can picking up and moving to The Netherlands to make a life for myself.

4 Comments to “ An Optimist’s Guide to New York City”

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