Monday, February 28, 2011

Touring The Boken

(That's totally what the kids are calling it these days.)

Despite how busy Eric has been at work for the past week, he was able to take the weekend to relax and we spent some time over the last two days exploring our new hometown. The weather was great, especially on Sunday, when it was beautifully sunny and in the high 40s. Nice! That's great exploring weather.

Saturday we set out to the south down Washington Street. Our first stop was for some pommes frites at a little local shop, and they were DELISH.

Washington Street

Pommes Frites! I haven't had them since we stopped for some in the Village back in our very early NYC days.

We tried three different dipping sauces: cheesy ranch, pesto parmesan, and rosemary garlic. Mmmm.

We continued on south, cutting through Hoboken Terminal to get to Newport. We paused for a few photos in the recently restored waiting room. This weekend I did lots of Googling and research about sights to see in Hoboken, and my sources tell me that Hoboken Terminal was a place of firsts: Thomas Edison controlled the first departure of a regular-service electric train from Hoboken Terminal; Hoboken Terminal was the first public space to have central air-conditioning installed; and the first non-experimental use of mobile phones took place there. Riveting stuff! Hoboken Terminal has apparently also been used for film shoots for movies including Funny Girl and Julie & Julia, and Eric Clapton's "Change the World" video. It's famous!

Inside the waiting room at Hoboken Terminal

I loved the stained glass ticket windows

We then continued on along the waterfront to Target, where we naturally did some shopping before heading back towards home, again along the water.

South Manhattan behind me

Sea gulls! It's just like being back in Florida. Except not really.

An interesting view as we came out of Target - the Hoboken Terminal clock tower, looking like it's about as tall as the Empire State Building!

 I had to include this one because Eric likes it. We picked up Hostess cupcakes as a snack at Target, and he laughed at how I eat them (I eat all the cake and leave the frosting squiggle for last). Here I am, busted!

Once we got back into Hoboken, we wandered through Pier A Park then back north along the River Waterfront Walkway. We couldn't help but stop for more photos of that irresistible skyline across the Hudson.

Statue of Sam Sloan, president of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company for 32 years. Also pictured: the aforementioned Terminal clock tower, and a sea gull.

Walking along the paths of Pier A Park

Beautiful Manhattan

I will never tire of looking at this building.

Quick tangent - isn't perspective a funny thing? From our old view at our last apartment, the Empire State Building looked so small, or about the same size as the rest of the buildings. But when you take a step back (to Hoboken!) and look at the skyline, you can really see how it towers over the other buildings. To give you a little clearer idea of the difference, check out these photos:

This is what we see now from Hoboken. We lived at W. 54th Street, and the Empire State Building is 20 blocks south of there at 34th Street.
Other notable landmarks you have seen from our view pictures include the Time Warner Center (SW corner of Central Park), which we could see to the left from our former living room, and One Worldwide Plaza, which was a prominent feature in our former view.

And this was our view for the past two years. You can see that One Worldwide Plaza looks like the tallest building, while the Empire State Building looks rather short.
(You can't see the Time Warner Center in this picture; it would be further off to the left.)

It's kind of neat to get to see the view in such a different way now.

Anyway, after our riverfront walk we stopped off at our grocery store for a big ol' shopping trip that left us thrilled with lower New Jersey prices! We spent the night relaxing at home, catching up on TV. We ordered in Italian food from a local place that was quite good (and brought to us by another very friendly delivery man), and enjoyed the nighttime Manhattan view when we took the dog out that night.

Our new nighttime view, taken from just across the street from our apartment

More of that beautiful building I love so much.
I usually post pictures of the ESB lit up in fun colors, but did you know this is it's standard lighting? Whenever there isn't a fun event to light up for, it is lit in classic white. I think it's gorgeous.

Sunday was that beautiful day I mentioned, so Eric got right up and went out for a run (he has another half marathon coming up in a few weeks!), and when we got back we made a delicious french toast breakfast then hit the town. This time we took Achilles with us and headed more west and north to explore more of Hoboken.

Our first stop was Church Square Park, which was just teeming with parents and their young kids out to enjoy the nice day. The park was very nice, with lots of play space for kids, a dog park, a gazebo featuring the names of renowned composers (my sources tell me there are concerts here in the summer), and a couple monuments (including a beautiful Firefighter's Monument that I particularly liked). Adjacent to the park were some lovely churches and the Free Public Library.

 Thanks to the warmer weather, Achilles is sporting his lighter-weight pea coat with hood.

This is a monument to Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of wireless

The top of the Firefighter's Monument that I liked so much

Gazebo in the center of the park

Our Lady of Grace Church, across the street from the park (we can see the steeple of this church from our apartment now)

Free Public Library, built in 1897, the third library in New Jersey

From there, we went back over to Washington Street to continue north. We did make a quick stop outside a pet store to get Achilles a quick treat from the gumball machine!

 They had a machine for dog treats, and for dog walk bags! How handy.

On our travels we also saw a few other things I read about in my "Hoboken walking tour" research: All Saints Episcopal Church (the oldest continuing congregation in Hoboken), Hoboken High School and Columbus Park (which contains a memorial for a late teacher with a misspelling engraved in the marble), the Columbia Club (formerly a gentleman's society, now condos), and Maxwell's (a restaurant that has hosted up-and-coming musical greats including Nirvana, My Chemical Romance and R.E.M.).

All Saints Episcopal Church

Memorial for a Hoboken High School teacher, with an unfortunate misspelling ("remembrance")

The Columbia Club


We then went over to the water for our walk back south towards home. We passed Sybil's Cave, which contains a water spring. Apparently, a real crime that occurred at this cave in 1841 (the murder of Mary Rogers) inspired Edgar Allan Poe's detective story "They Mystery of Marie Roget."

Sybil's Cave

And of course, we paused along the river for more scenery shots, because that's just what we do.

Look in the foreground - it's a beach! Again, just like Florida! Except again, not really.

Hanging out with Achilles along the waterfront

My boys admiring the Manhattan skyline

I just can't get enough.

Before finally going home, we went back over to Washington Street to pick up some cupcakes from Crumbs, because I love me some Crumbs cupcakes. Achilles and I waited outside while Eric ran in. While we waited, we caught sight of the Hoboken Batman, who apparently is famous for showing up all over Hoboken all the time in a wide variety of Batman outfits. Unfortunately, Eric had the camera with him, so I didn't get a picture. But, I did find this picture online of Hoboken Batman taken this past Saturday:

I love that his bike says, "Wow! Batbike." Also, I can tell you that it is fully equipped with a siren for maximum attention-getting.
(Photo from here)


Cupcakes in hand, we finally made it home to spend the rest of the evening relaxing. We cooked ourselves a delicious dinner, watched the Oscars and enjoyed our cupcakes. Great end to a great weekend!

Friday, February 25, 2011

First Impressions

We have now lived in Hoboken for over 48 hours, and I have noticed a couple things right off the bat.

1.) It is very, very quiet here. Living in midtown Manhattan for the last 2.5 years, we became accustomed to the noise. Our TV volume was always on rather high (and during the summer with the windows open, if an ambulance drove past, we just paused the TV because there was no way to hear it). When talking to my family on the phone, they often could hear the street noise (again, usually sirens), even through the closed windows. We got used to falling asleep to the sounds of traffic, city buses, horns honking, wailing sirens, and even people yelling in the street. Not only that, we could see the lights of Times Square flashing in our bedroom at night.

But here, it is silent. Eric and I have both been amazed that when we lay down at night to sleep, it is quiet. There is an occasional passing car, sure. But for the most part, no noise. No yelling, no sirens, no honking, not even any flashing lights. It's somewhat unnerving, to be honest. Do they make those sleep sound machines with traffic noise?

2.) One sound that we do get is bells/hourly chimes from a nearby church. I love that.

3.) People in Hoboken are really friendly. I know New Yorkers have a reputation of being rude and unfriendly, but I never really noticed that or was bothered by it. But just in our two days here, we have encountered more friendly people than ever. Everyone says hello, asks how you're doing, etc. We ordered pizza Wednesday night and our delivery guy was so, so friendly. I would bet money that he said more words to me than all of our 2.5 years-worth of Manhattan delivery guys combined.

4.) Hoboken girls wear an awful lot of cute boots. Eric got home late from work last night and Achilles and I walked with him to pick up dinner, and as I stood outside with the dog while Eric got his food, it was like I was watching a boot fashion show walk by. Now I want to buy a million more pairs of boots. Yay, boots!

5.) Our McDonald's has a dollar menu! No such thing in NYC. They did have a "value menu," but it was thoroughly unimpressive. Now we can get double cheeseburgers for $1 again! Not that we will, because we're in Five-Boro Bike Ride Training Mode starting Monday, but at least we have the option.

So those are the things I have learned about Hoboken so far, and really, I've spent the vast majority of my time in our apartment getting things set up. I'm looking forward to taking some time this weekend to get out and about around town, maybe hit up the Target, eat some Grimaldi's pizza, do some exploring and check things out. Time to get to know this place!

Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Coming to You LIVE From Hoboken, NJ

Well, we're in! As I type this I am sitting at my desk in our new living room, looking west out our window at lovely (read: boring, flat, not exciting, I miss my skyline view) New Jersey. We are officially no longer residents of Manhattan. Sad face!

The move really went very smoothly. My injured toes manned up and helped us get everything done, we got everything done in time, the movers were absolute machines, and here we are. We've had a few hiccups since then, but nothing unmanageable so we really can't complain.

 The night before the move, Achilles realized I packed all his comfy spots in his crate and made himself right at home.

 The state of our apartment on moving day

Eric and I got up early on Tuesday morning, a couple hours before the movers arrived, to take care of that last minute stuff that has to be last minute: stripping the bed and packing the bedding, packing bathroom stuff, sealing up last minute boxes, etc. The movers arrived right on time, although it took a few minutes to find parking in front of our building. As soon as they showed up at our door, I leashed up the dog and took him out for an hour-long walk. I figured getting him out of the house was the best way to minimize his psychosis and save our sanity, rather than sitting and holding him and telling him to SHUT UP ALREADY the entire time the movers were there. So, he and I went for a very nice walk in Central Park. He loved running through the snow (boring video of it here), and I loved the quiet, nearly deserted park. It made me kick myself - why have I not been taking Achilles for walks in Central Park every morning? Missed opportunity!

Snow-loving dog

We got back to the apartment around 10:15, where I was shocked to see that nearly all of our stuff was already out of our apartment and waiting to be loaded on the truck. Those guys moved fast! I relieved Eric of "stay with the movers" duty then, so he could run over to Hoboken to get into the new place and meet the movers there. Thankfully, the movers finished up soon after, because sitting in the kitchen (to stay out of the way) as Achilles growled nonstop was not super fun.

VIDEO: Achilles growling at the movers

The movers arrived in Hoboken in good time, and although they had to wait to move in for a few minutes because of an earlier move-in still in progress, they got everything unloaded super fast once again. Eric stayed in Hoboken for a bit to take care of some things (setting up our amazing Sleep Number bed, dealing with maintenance issues, etc.), then came back to NYC with Daisy May's BBQ in hand for us to enjoy for lunch. Oh, I shall miss you, Daisy May's!

While Eric was in Hoboken, Achilles and I stuck around the old apartment to clean and paint our accent walls back to white. Well, I cleaned and painted. Achilles discovered the great sun on the windowsills and settled in for a nap (lucky dog), and when the sun ran out, he found the one "soft" spot in the house to sleep on - his doggy carry-bag.


Our very empty living room. Boo!

Painting colored walls back to white is not nearly as fun as vice versa.

Sleeping on his doggy bag with his tongue out, because that's how he rolls.

When Eric did rejoin me, he dove right in and was a kitchen-cleaning all star. We ended up staying at the apartment until about 10:00, just finishing up. The apartment sure did look awesome when we were done, though! At that point, we realized we had grossly misjudged how much stuff we needed to keep with us for our cleaning day - we should have sent a lot more of it with the movers. We were able to carry almost everything, but we were really loaded down with four bags each. We gathered our things, bid a sad farewell to our fabulous apartment, and made our way to the subway/PATH train for the ride over to Hoboken, Achilles' first on the subway. He was not a fan of the waiting around (or the being in a bag), but he didn't mind the ride so much once we were in motion.

Waiting for the subway at 57th Street

On the PATH train to New Jersey

At last, we made it to the new place. We grabbed a quick (VERY late) fast food dinner, then set up the shower curtain and put linens on the bed before we crashed.

The state of our new apartment upon our arrival Tuesday night (living room, bedroom, kitchen, and my beloved washer/dryer!)

Can I just pause for one second to say something about moving? I have moved quite a bit, and in a variety of different ways. I have packed myself and rented U-Hauls/vans and moved myself (with help from family, of course!). I have packed myself and rented space in a truck, which I loaded and then the company drove to my destination, then I unloaded it. I have had movers pack for us and move everything for us. And, now, I have packed myself and then had movers do the moving. Personally, I think this way is definitely the best. Of course, when I was driving myself crazy with packing last week, I was fantasizing back to our move to NYC from DC and how the wonderful men came and put all my stuff in boxes for me and took it away. During the packing stage, that sounds glorious. However, the downside of that arrangement is the unpacking. By not packing your own boxes, you have two obstacles to face when you go to unpack: 1) you didn't get the chance to purge, so everything you own shows up in the new place, whether you want it to or not (seriously, those movers even packed the trash in the trash cans); and 2) when you want to unpack, you have only very, very vague ideas where anything is. This time around, not only did we lighten our load by throwing away/donating/selling TONS of crap, but when we got to our new place and I wanted to put up the shower curtain so I could shower and put fresh linens on the bed, I knew exactly which box the shower curtain and linens were in, because I put them there. It was really nice to not have to go fishing through a million boxes with vague labels to find what I needed. So, I think this is the best system. Note to future self!

So, yesterday morning we woke up to our first day as New Jersey residents. It was quite a day, and this is where those "hiccups" I mentioned come in. For one, Eric got a late start leaving for work, since he forgot his keys and had to come back. He needed his keys because he planned to go back to the old place for a move-out inspection and would hand in our keys then. Of course, when he got to the PATH station, the train he needed wasn't running due to track problems, so he had that to deal with.

Then, when he did get to work and called the old place to schedule a time to come by for inspection, they informed him it had already been inspected and was about to be painted. He decided to run over there real quick, only to find that yes, they had already changed our locks and were in there painting, despite a few things we had left in there to come back for the next day. This made us pretty irritated, considering that they would not at all work with us on when we could end our lease. We had asked to move out and end our lease a couple days early, but they said no way, you are paying through midnight on February 23rd. Well then, although we moved out on Tuesday the 22nd, that apartment was ours until midnight yesterday. Yet they had already changed the locks and taken over! Eric brought that to their attention and they gave him a $50 Visa gift card as an apology, and we know they didn't do it intentionally or maliciously (it was just some confusion with one of the doormen that wasn't double-checked), but it was frustrating.

Meanwhile I was back in Hoboken waiting for Verizon FIOS to come install our cable and internet. We had booked them for a morning install but apparently they double-booked their technician and he asked if I would mind if he did the other guy's place first, so fine. I waited. Then he finally came, and at the same time maintenance came to take care of some stuff, so I kept Achilles in his crate in the kitchen with me while I unpacked. Achilles was surprisingly good, maintenance was very nice, and our apartment is now connected to the TV and internet world, so my day was considerably less stressful than Eric's. And I got the kitchen entirely unpacked, hooray!

And then I sat myself down on the couch and checked out our new evening view. I still prefer our old one, but I do think we'll see some nice sunsets out here. Eric got home from work around 9:00, after a quick stop at our new grocery store on the ground floor, where things (milk especially) are wicked cheap. Hooray for saving money on groceries AND taxes AND rent!

Sunset view from our living room

Two boys who are happy the move is behind us and now there is time to relax on the couch

So, that's my very long-winded story about our move. In true post-moving fashion, I'm pretty sure every muscle in my body is sore, I'm bruised and scratched up, and I'm exhausted. I'm certainly going to be taking my time with unpacking this time around, which is something new and different for me. The last time we moved I had my mom coming to visit just days later, and the time before that I was going out of town on business and Eric's brother came to visit as soon as I returned. So, both times I rushed around to get the whole apartment set up before our guests arrived. Not this time, my friends. And for the most part I know where everything is in these boxes, so we just might live like this forever!

Oh, and can I just say that the closet space here is way worse than I remembered? I mean, it makes me want to cry. I miss our closet space! And, I have no idea how all our stuff will fit. We do have a lot more cabinet space in the kitchen, though. So it's entirely possible I will end up storing Christmas decorations or some such thing in the kitchen. Is that weird?

Other than that, so far, I'm really sad to be out of Manhattan. I keep joking that everything is backwards here - we switched sides of the bed, switched sides of the couch, and are facing west instead of east. I have my back to my city right now! But, I'm focusing on settling in here, and hopefully this weekend we can spend some time exploring and getting acclimated. I know it will end up just fine!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Moving Day Eve

Tomorrow is Moving Day! We have had a very long, tiring weekend getting everything ready, but I think I can officially say we're (pretty much) ready for the movers' arrival at 9:00 tomorrow.

In less positive news, I may have broken up to three toes. Maybe I just bruised them, but who can say for sure? So that's fun.

Eric and I did take a brief packing break today to go out and relax and enjoy our neighborhood a bit, which was very nice. I'll share more about that later. And of course, as you know, we've been enjoying the view. The Empire State Building is lit up red, white and blue this weekend for Presidents' Day, which is my second favorite ESB color scheme (second to orange and blue, naturally). And of course, I showed you the moon. Put the two together, and it's been a great last weekend for our view.

 Moon on the far left and Empire State Building on the far right

Empire State Building last night

Last night we even slept with the blinds in our bedroom open all night, so we could fall asleep while admiring the view. Of course, we woke up this morning to a snowy view again, so that killed that good feeling, but it sure was nice at night. (I mean, it was 67 degrees on Friday, and then today we got three inches of snow. What kind of mind game is that???)

The plan now is to spend the rest of the night finishing up some clean-up, packing last minute items, etc. The movers will arrive at 9:00 tomorrow morning, so we will be up before then to really finish everything up (pack linens and towels, break down our Sleep Number bed, etc.). It should take the movers about three hours to get all our stuff out, then Eric (or I, that's still being debated) will go over to meet them at the new place in Hoboken and oversee the move-in while I (or Eric) stay behind to start the cleaning and painting that needs to be done in the old place before we officially hand in our keys. Then the Hoboken person will come back over to Manhattan for a while to help finish things up, but we will officially be spending tomorrow night in Hoboken. Our lease here doesn't actually run out until midnight on Wednesday, so if we need to finish anything else up on Wednesday we can, but we're not planning to. And then we will officially be New Jersey residents. I'm still very sad to go but am looking forward to Hoboken more and more.

So, wish us luck! My next post will be coming to you from Hoboken!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Moon Over Manhattan

After a loooong day of purging and packing, we are exhausted. But now, we are able to collapse onto the couch and relax and take in our evening view for one of the last times. And I must say, the moon has been putting on an absolutely spectacular show for us the past few nights. What a nice farewell!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Achilles Hates Moving

Moving has been a little bit rough on Achilles so far. Of course, this is nothing new to him, considering that since bringing him into our lives we have lived in five different apartments (soon to be six!) and three states (soon to be four!). So, he knows the drill.

But there are a couple of things he really hates about moving. One is that I spend my days running all around the house trying to get us packed. He would much rather I sit with him on the couch and cuddle and nap all day (wouldn't we all, pup). The other annoyance is that as more and more of our apartment is put into boxes, he loses more and more of his usual comfy nap space.

This time around, it all started when I had to move our Rock Band drums over in front of his little burrow bed he has behind the recliner in the living room. He would just stand over there by the offending drums and stare at me as if to say, "you're kidding with this, right?"

Then I had to move his pillow in the corner of the dining room to a new location so make room for box piles. Where is he supposed to sit while we eat dinner now???

So, the poor thing was forced to just lay on the couch. The horror! He seemed okay with that until I started using the couch as my book-packing space.

He does not appreciate this invasion of his personal space.

In protest, he found a pile of pajamas in the bathroom and claimed that as his own.

"Take THAT, Mom."

The next morning his irritation returned when he realized that a box behind the living room recliner was preventing the back of the chair from going down flat when he walked up it. Usually he likes to recline the chair all the way back and sleep on the headrest in the sun. No such luck today!

"What is the deal with this chair?"

I took pity on him and moved the box (temporarily).


Later that day, however, Achilles thought he hit the jackpot. I noticed he was really focused on me as I was packing up our linen closet. I figured it was just because he was trying to use his little puppy dog eyes to will me to sit on the couch and cuddle with him, but as soon as I laid the very last towel in that linen box, this happened:

Oh, brother.

Apparently, he was so focused on me because he thought I was creating a new wonderful place for him to sleep at last. He was not very pleased when I pushed him right out to seal up that box. Sorry about your luck, Achilles!

Such a rough life.

Such a put-upon little dog. Don't worry, Achilles! It will all be over soon! Next week at this time, we'll be in our new apartment, he should have some of his comfy spots back, and I will be able to relax on the couch and drink a bottle of wine. I'm definitely counting down the days, and I'm sure Achilles is, too.

In the meantime, he'll just have to make do with the couch.

Update, 8:50 p.m.: After another long day of packing and moving things around, Achilles has decided to just roll with it and has taken to sleeping ON the boxes. Way to embrace change, Achilles!

It will be over soon, puppy!