By Seth Fera-Schanes
The burden of friendship hits nearly every recent New York City transplant. People from all over the world want to visit the city because it is a capital of culture, finance and food. It is the most populated city in the United States. It is the land of 10,000 skyscrapers – ok, I made this last one up but it sounds good. And most appropriately, it is the land of really, really expensive hotel rooms.
Once your friends know you have punched your ticket for life in the city, it won’t be long before the calls and texts start rolling in. You will get inquiries about your work schedule and if you can show people around town. Inevitably they will want to ask you a favor if they can stay on your couch for a few days; if it isn’t too much trouble of course. As with long lost cousins coming out of the woodwork when you hit the lottery, once you move to New York you suddenly have a lot more close friends from back home than you realized.
Ask a new New Yorker about these visits and responses will be very similar. At first it is fun to show off your knowledge of the city. You look cool effortlessly grabbing a cab or navigating the subway system. But the visits add up and eventually there are grumbles during a call and then you just don’t respond at all. Trust me, it happens.
However, you are a good friend and do welcome people with open arms. And when you do, I have a few suggestions for you that will provide a balanced tour for a newbie in New York.
1. Zabars – An Upper West Side institution, this long standing grocery store has a great olive bar, incredible cheese selection and all the styles of lox one could hope for. There is also a small cafe with a breakfast special that includes a bagel with lox, orange juice and coffee all for $6.95.
2. Times Square – Because you have to. After your third guided tour of the crossroads of the world, you have had enough. But it is something first timers want to see and you are obligated to show them. Any early morning visit after Zabars works nicely because there will be less crowds. Also, you can recommend your friends go back another day to see a show and purchase tickets at the TKTS booth for around 40%-60% savings on a play or musical.
3. Union Square Farmers Market – Local produce coming in from New York’s Hudson Valley, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Located at 14th Street and Broadway Avenue. This is a great place to pick up a fresh midmorning snack.
4. ABC Carpet and Home – A personal favorite and something most tourists wouldn’t visit on their own. Located on 19th Street and Broadway Avenue, it is about a three minute walk from Union Square. There are 6 floors, each with a different decorating style. Tip: Head to the 6th floor and play a game called “Who can find the most expensive rug” – trust me on this one. My record is $90,000.