Now you're in New York!!! Concrete Jungle where...

Trip Start Sep 09, 2015
Trip End Jul 01, 2016

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Flag of United States  , New York
Friday, April 1, 2016

So we were pretty excited to be going somewhere non-Asian for a change of scene. As you know myself Jeremy and our other business partner D decided to invest in a property in Manhattan to remove some risk of investing in things all in the London market, so we decided upon New York and in particular the West Village in Manhattan. I may have had something to do with the location….Anyway……We decided that post our stint in Laos we would fly to Bangkok and then do a return trip to NYC via London. Not great for the old carbon footprint, but it did mean a stop over at home.

So this was our 26th flight in 6 months, many of which have gone without any incident at all (luckily!). On our departure from Bangkok the pilot told us to expect some bad turbulence in London, we had no idea about storm Katie! Luckily we missed it by only a few hours. When we landed the ground staff told us we were really lucky as our NYC flight was only delayed by two hours, the majority of flights had been cancelled that day out of Heathrow! Wow! Another buns was that for the NYC leg we got upgraded which was awesome. Sadly only on premium economy not business but still it meant bigger seats, loads more leg room and an actually nice dinner of beef casserole oh and free bubbles!! Perfect way to start the next leg of the trip!

Before leaving in September we stupidly assumed our worldwide travel insurance with AMEX would cover us for the whole trip. Sadly this ran out after four months so we took out some expensive insurance remotely for the time we were away. We planned to cancelled it on the day we were due to arrive back into London en route to NYC as once we were back in the UK the AMEX policy would kick in again. So we land in London, I cancel the insurance by phone, we then board our flight to NYC safe in the knowledge that the AMEX travel insurance is back in the game as we touched down on UK soil. We land in NYC and surprise, surprise my bag goes missing and I am left without a thing. Luckily that meant I got £300 to spend on the AMEX card and a further £300 if not returned within 48 hours plus BA would cover any incidental expenses incurred as a result of this. Back in London Storm Katie had passed through on the same day which led to loads of cancellations due to high wind, this of course meant Heathrow was basically in melt down (O how we missed the UK) when we arrived so the flight was delayed meaning we rocked into NYC at 2am rather than 11pm…without luggage. 

Uber saved our lives and we jolted off to Manhattan to stay in our hotel, the Chelsea Pines Inn which was a few doors down from the apartment. It was a really lovely place, owned and occupied by a very lovely gay guy who had turned a building built for dockers in need of an overnight stay, into a lovely little boutique hotel. Now I mention his sexuality because the place had a very gay feeling, and that part of New York is a famous gay area - just like Bermondsey Street - we felt right at home! All the rooms were built and designed after 1950’s actors who won Oscars. We of course knew about 2 of them, and not the room we were staying in. We settled in and let the jet lag commence! 

We had some ruffles on arrival as there had been loads of email exchanges with our attorney and the seller saying we now did not even have access to the property to see it. We were originally supposed to have closed (hence our visit) on the 30th March but the City had not issued their certificate of occupancy confirming the place was safe etc. So the closing would take place 10 days after so all good. Our attorney managed to get this sorted out and we were on for the 30th at 10am to check the place out. The next morning after arrival we had a leisurely morning followed by a few hours shopping in the West Village for replacement clothes etc for me. Coming back to New York from Bangkok had a real feeling of coming home, and not just for me who as everyone knows is mildly obsessed with the place, but also for Lizzie. It’s become our place over the years, we love all the little places for food and of course The High Line. 

So we shopped, ate some cool food and then headed back home to absolutely crash. We had arranged to meet Erini, my partners daughter, that evening for some dinner at The Spotted Pig. The food was awesome last time, but this time it really wasn’t all that. We also had a mammoth wait before finally finishing up quite late. Erini is at college over in Philipdephia, she’s only 21 but super confident and accomplished - a ‘schooled’ person of course. We had arranged for her to come and see the flat the next morning also in absence of her father. Both of us were feeling hammered by the end of the evening. We also wanted to get an earlyish night as the next day was due to be a big one. Still no sign of my bag we headed off home to bed saying goodbye to Erini. 

We awoke of course stupidly early after a bad jet lag night sleep and popped on our trainers to head out for a jog on The High Line. We had talked about this for ages, a bit of a moment for us as we are strongly considering moving to New York in 2017 assuming all is OK back at home. I want to expand The Watch House, and New York is absolutely primed for high end speciality coffee - many of the big boys have moved in already but there is still loads of capacity as the market there matures away from big horrible cups of Starbucks etc. We headed back, had our awesome breakfast and then made our way to the property to see it. It was a beautiful spring morning, around 18 degrees and blistering sunshine. The property itself was in good nick to our surprise, most things completed although quite a lot of snagging to be done, however you could have easily moved in that day. 

The rest of the day we filled with a lunch with my New York based aquarium friend Martin Schapira going to our favourite kosher restaurant on the upper west side, Noi Due. After lunch we headed back down town to meet a very friendly HSBC bank manager to open up our company bank account for the apartment, then on to see my foul mouthed (but lovely) attorney up town before heading back towards the West Village to eat some wicked Mexican food. After such a long day that wrapped up day 2 of our visit. 

The next day with the formal business out of the way, we (of course I mean I) decided to chance our arm and try and get into the flat again for one final view without the escort from the day before. We got caught but it was still worth seeing it in the amazing sunshine once again. We are going to rent the place out initially but I would like to live there when we expand to NYC, and I think Lizzie is keen also. Our tail between our legs we jumped on the subway and headed up town to MoMa to the Jackson Pollock exhibition. MoMa is a really cool place and it’s one of the places we love going to each time we visit NYC. Post MoMa we then headed for coffee stops, some lunch on the upper east side and finally for our usual walk in Central Park. It’s lovely to see it at that time of year, spring had sprung and there were loads of people jogging in the park and just enjoying the sunshine. Jet lag was still killing us but the coffee kept us going. Lizzie loved the daffodils of course - You can take the girl out of wales but not…… That evening we went to our all time favourite Village restaurant Pō. It's the best Italian food ever and we were hoping to see the barman who had been so entertaining at our last visit in the blistering cold of Feb 2014. On that night the restaurant was deserted because of the weather and in his loud, brash New York accent he spent the night giving us a musical education! Anyway he was there and the restaurant was full but the bonus meant we got to sit at the bar and eat while hearing more of his stories. This time he explained he was an actor and proceeded to give us an education on the best Arthur Miller plays!!

Our final day in New York was shopping for yoga stuff for Liz, a visit to our new local Chelsea Market (lovely Borough Market style place), visiting 5 more coffee shops and then a trip to the awesome Whitney Museum which is also now very local to us. We just loved hanging around our new neighbourhood and taking it all in. We really look forward to having our families out there whenever we do make the jump, it’s just a super place where you can be as creative and bold as you want. Americans are annoying (especially abroad), but they are also annoyingly brilliant when it comes to positivity…particularly compared to the British of course! New York has the ability to make you feel supremely confident in whatever you are doing, I’ve not had that feeling anywhere else before. 

Next we head on to London for some proper family time. Lizzie is super happy about it, I have mixed feelings because of course I am delighted to be seeing my friends and family, but it’s also a timely reminder of things going on back in London. Overall I would say things have been been a steady 7/10 whilst away, but AA has certainly been negatively affected so I am a little apprehensive with how Jeremy is going. But that’s life, and I think heading back home will give us another push to continue until the end of June. We have training in Phuket lined up followed by Borneo with Steph/Kris before seeing Claire and Kevin in KL. From there, we only have 4 weeks left before the 16th June which signifies home time for us. We are going to move back into the flat until we decide to take the plunge and head to NYC. 

Exciting times ahead and we are really looking forward to seeing you all when we get back. 

The Hovis’ from New York

PS we'll be quiet on this front for a few weeks now while Lizzie does her yoga retreat and I do my fitness training. Don't miss us too much ;)
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