It’s my first visit to the United States of America and Living in New York has caused me to develop a love hate relationship. One minute I am crazy in love, the next I am crying a river. I have been living here for one month and no matter whether I’m loving or I’m hating, residing in the East Village on the edge of Alphabet City can never leave you bored – even on the rainiest of days.
If you enjoy people watching, East Village is the perfect place to go for a stroll and let time pass you by while you see the funny, interesting and definitely bizarre sights. East Village is like a packet of Allen’s mixed party bags – it has it all. You’ll see friends beat boxing in the street, a man pulling his dog along in a cart, dressed up transvestites looking fabulous and a woman dressed from head to toe in all the colours of the rainbow. In the time it took me to walk 14 blocks north to my boyfriend’s work, I wandered through a film set, an entire NYPD squad looking very serious (me secretly excited thinking something must be going down) and an array of eccentric individuals. Walking through the grungy streets of East Village will provide you with new things to discover each day – another quirky bar you have to check out, a thrift store to lose yourself in and sift through all the weird and wacky items, a record store that brings with it a new sense of hope at finding that record you’ve been trying to hunt down for weeks … all the while your bank suffers as you continue to drain its already non-existent funds.
On the 22nd of October each year, East Village puts on a Halloween parade at Tompkins Square Park. Sitting in Tompkins Square Park is the perfect way to escape the concrete jungle that is New York City. It’s a nice spot to sit on the grass, reading a book in the afternoon summer sun, and beautiful to walk through during autumn amongst the colourfully changing leaves. It’s home to a large number of squirrels, a few homeless locals, and a handful of people who’ve taken far too many drugs. Walking through the park at any time of day you are sure to notice the smell of weed wafting through. On Sunday mornings it’s full of people exercising, kids playing basketball and dogs running around crazily in the dog park while the tame ones trot around on leads with their owners. Like the rest of New York City, East Village is full of dogs. Small dogs, large dogs, tiny dogs, designer dogs, cute dogs, scary dogs. East Village has them all. Which is why on the 22nd of October each year, the Halloween parade is not for us humans, no, no. It’s an annual Halloween dog parade.
My boyfriend and I rugged up and made our way to the park. Although it was a cold, rainy Saturday morning, this didn’t deter the residents of East Village to come together and join the fun. Not the fun of dressing up themselves … dressing up their dogs, in costumes to celebrate this much loved holiday. While the owners paraded their dogs around, the crowd of people ran around madly to take photos of the cute (some outright bizarre) dressed up dogs (myself included). All the while the dogs looked unimpressed, shivering in the autumn air. One small dog was looking particularly cute and cuddly in his koala costume when we overhead a lady say, (in a typical American-movie-girl accent) “oh my gosh, I love when animals dress up as other animals.” Due to the crazy amount of people, we weren’t able to see the actual parade itself, but walking around looking on at the action was entertaining enough and I’m so happy I had my camera ready to capture this weird and wonderful sight.
As it gets closer and closer to Halloween, pumpkins can be seen everywhere in store windows, on apartment doorsteps, and sit in abundance at farmers markets waiting to be bought and carved into faces. Every Sunday stores line the perimeters of Tompkins Square Park – the weekly Sunday farmer’s markets. Each week as the weather gets colder I’m surprised to see the markets still there, the storeholders huddling under their covers, their hands held tightly around their coffee cups to keep warm. There’s stores laden with fruit and vegetables including apples of all kinds, a woman selling milk and yoghurt fresh from the dairy farm, a man selling fresh bread and all kinds of bakery delights and a man selling expensive (but totally worth it) cheese. Each Sunday I stroll through the markets nibbling on apple and cheese tasters and enjoy being able to do my grocery shopping outside. For those of you who are gluten free (like myself) there is also a store selling gluten free bread and all the other American bakery goodness – bagels, muffins, brownies and black and white cookies which I am yet to try.
Living in East Village will provide you with an abundance of restaurants and hipster style bars that you’ll want to try each week (or maybe more if your bank account can handle it). In my first week I made the mistake of going to Two Boots, and somehow ended up ordering an entire pizza of the largest size (which came to $30) for myself while everyone else had the sense to just order a slice or two. The struggle was real, however I somehow ate my way through most of it and it’s safe to say I won’t be back anytime soon. Our first experience trying Indian cuisine in East Village left my boyfriend and I blinded by the light after spending an hour or so inside an Indian restaurant that looked more like Christmas on crack. The entire restaurant was lit up by different colours of flashing lights. The walls and ceiling were covered in the kind of lights you see on Christmas trees or outside suburban houses that have been adorned in the festive spirit. The strangest part – the Indian restaurant next door looked exactly the same. It could have been the same restaurant, except that it has a different name and is owned by completely different people.
It’s a cold, windy morning here in East Village but it’s nice to see the sun peeking through the clouds after it failed to appear yesterday. I think it’s the perfect kind of weather to rug up and stroll through the streets. The perfect day to discover a cozy café, warm your back with the sun, and see what weird and wonderful sights the day will bring living here on the edge of Alphabet City, in this quirky place that is East Village.