Sunday with an Expater in New York

Meet Rafa. An Expater in New York since 2006, Rafa hails from Barcelona and is a brand designer / art director by trade. A day spent with Rafa is a race through art, culture and technology, and the end destination is often surprising, generally innovative, and always very, very fun. In fact, my husband and I adore hanging out with this guy so much we even named a son after him.

Here is Rafa’s perfect Sunday in New York:

“My working week is so full on I often like to start my weekend with a movie, especially in the winter. My friends back in Spain can’t get the hang of going to a movie in the morning but I love it. My mum knitted me loads of scarves as she was worried I’d catch frostbite if I left my apartment!

I love the Lincoln Center, the Angelika, the Film Forum or the IFC Center, all of which show some great independent films that just don’t get screened elsewhere. If I’m feeling particularly lazy I’ll head for a blockbuster at the Regal Battery Park theater though, as the seats turn into beds there.

lincoln center photoThe Lincoln Center. Photo by Listen Missy!
Afterwards I’ll meet up with a small group of friends for a dim sum brunch. It’s become quite a tradition and usually we go to Oriental Garden because the seafood is the best in Chinatown. They serve some really interesting shellfish that you don’t find in other restaurants, like the giant crab for example, and you can see it all swimming in the tanks when you walk in, so you know it’s fresh.
If the queue isn’t too horrendous I’m also a fan of Tim Ho Wan. In particular I love their steamed dumplings with chives which are so delicate.
chinatown new york photoChinatown. Photo by Martin Solli
To walk it off, I’ll stroll through Lower East Side, taking in its galleries, quirky boutiques and vintage stores. Otherwise, I’ll gladly spend my whole afternoon wandering from gallery to gallery in Chelsea. I always find something there which inspires me in some shape or form.
Lower East Side photoLower East Side. Photo by Enrique Gonzalez-ibarra
Perhaps the single thing I love most about NYC is the culture. It’s so vibrant, so innovative, so exciting and I relish all the art, tech and games talks on offer across the city’s museums, galleries and creative centers. I love the presentations held at A-D-OPioneer WorksNew IncThe Met and the Japan Society. You also meet an interesting crowd there, people from all walks of life.

chelsea new york photoPhoto by KGSImaging

I rarely get time to go clothes shopping so I get my essentials from Uniqlo, but if I’m need of something a little special I’ll head to Soho or Williamsburg, to places like Gentry. Fashion is obviously a big thing in the city so there are also a lot of good sample sales and I’ll use LazarShopping  or to navigate my way. The Strategist has a ton of gift tips too.

For dinner, l go out early by my Spanish standards, around 8pm, and go for Greek food in Astoria, Queens. My life can be pretty hectic here in New York, and it’s good to have the opportunity to catch up properly with close friends.

astoria queens photoAstoria, Queens. Photo by GabrielShore

We’ll take it in turns to book a different restaurant each time, and while I don’t have a favourite as such, I’d definitely recommend Bahari Estiatorio – the octopus is really tasty. Restaurants in this city open and close all the time, so I stay updated through blogs like FreeWilliamsburg and Grubstreet.
I don’t really go out that much on Sundays, but the blonde at 11 Howard Hotel, Paul’s Casablanca, The Black Lodge and Parlor are all really fun. If I want to dance, I’ll head to Brooklyn, to Good Room in Greenpoint or to House of Yes in Bushwick.

brooklyn new york photo

While I do miss my family and friends from Europe, New York sucks you into its creative vibe and it’s hard to find anywhere that can match it. Perhaps one day I’ll get tired of the freezing winters though and my mum will be glad to hang up the knitting needles.

soho new york photoSoho, New York. Photo by David Paul Ohmer

What not to say to a New Yorker: Radical self reliance prevails here in the US, so don’t ask for too much help!

Wish I’d known before I arrived: NY is extremely fast-paced and competitive. But it’s very important not to get caught out. Take time out, stop, enjoy, breathe… make space for doing nothing. American culture is obsessed with productivity and success, but a lot of times the pace of life has the opposite effect.

Top tip for a newbie expat: New York is a perfect city for meeting new people. Be adventurous, make eye contact and try to speak with as many people as you can.”

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