So one day my husband comes home and says - 'I need to go to the USA to work for at least a month - maybe two. What do you think?' I screamed from upstairs as I was digging out my suitcase that as long as he was planning to stay in NYC I was in!!
Well maybe I wasn't already finding my suitcase but I was certainly 'in' and spent the 4 weeks after we booked out flights planning exhibitions I wanted to see, making restaurant bookings and compiling shopping lists.
We have been to NYC many times as tourists when we were living in London and also as day trippers when we lived upstate for a short while. We've done the open top bus tour, taken photos on the Brooklyn Bridge, had a horse and carriage ride in Central Park and we've pretty much exhausted all the touristy things to do. So this was a great opportunity to really 'live' in NYC and enjoy just being there.
My first week started off with the necessary shopping. For most of my travels I only pack travel sizes of necessary toiletries and I never pack shower gel, mouthwash or toothpaste. I just make a stop off at a local pharmacy and pick up everything to need when I arrive. This time I didn't even bother with cleansers, or moisturizers. I brought a few sample sizes to get me through the first 2 days and they just headed to the Clarins counter at Macys and stocked up - this also has the added bonus that I also got a gift and several samples sizes that will come in very useful for further trips. We also left out vitamins at home and bought those here too as not only are they cumbersome to pack but they are so much cheaper in NYC than Switzerland - it's a no-brainier!!
I googled a lot before we left and I found a great Pilates studio Reforming New York that is only 5 blocks away from where I am staying. They gave my my first lesson as a trial and then the next 7 lessons for under $200. I signed up for the best class for my time schedule, 8.30 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This class happens to be their quietest and so far I've had a lesson with one other person and one alone !
I also started to do a 'couch to 5K' using an app on my iPhone. The hotel has a gym so I'm going down 3 times a week in an attempt to counter-act the fabulous food I plan to eat whilst I am here.
Things on the dining out front have been pretty fabulous so far. I had already booked tabled at Marea and Gordon Ramsay at The London before we left home.... The food was fabulous at both! (You can read my reviews here) We discovered another excellent small restaurant by our hotel and we also met up with a couple of friends who were in town visiting from Hong Kong.
Shopping will also feature on the trip but for this week it was really the essentials I bought. New running shoes which were essential for my C25K routine and I didn't pack a handbag for the trip so a little trip to Michael Kors was needed... I couldn't turn up at a Michelin stared restaurant with my rucksack - even though it is Prada!
There are of course lots of exhibitions I want to see but the beauty of being here for so long is that I can do everything at a much more leisurely pace, whilst housekeeping takes care of the bathroom cleaning and sheet changing duties.
Having moved house 5 times in the last 8 years I think I’ve gotten quite good at the whole packing malarky. My friends are usually blown away by my level of organisation and even the professional packers that come and do the actual wrapping and boxing are impressed. And I really have to say the key for me is in the run up to the actual date.… I don’t work well in chaos and to the annoyance of all those around me I am just very well organised.
Everything has its place and I can probably find most things in my house with my eyes closed…… scary but true.
We have used different companies to do the actual packing and shipping every time. Not through choice, simply some companies have a better representation in certain countries and have local offices etc. Sterling Relocation took us from London to Hong Kong, Crown Relocations took us from SIN to USA and then from USA to CH and Asian Tigers took us from HK to SIN and also a move within SIN. We have had excellent service from all the companies we have used.
Unfortunately all relocation companies are only as good as the person who actually physically wraps the items and often this job is sub-contracted out anyway. I would highly suggest getting professionals in to do this job. Its expensive if you have to pay yourself, and make sure you tell them this when you get a quote - but what price can you put on sanity ??
When it comes to packing and moving I am usually one step ahead of lots of people, simply because I am quite organised to start with, that aside here is my bullet point list of how to cope with the minimum amount of stress when the actual packing and loading the lorry day arrives…
When putting together the boxes list it is also helpful to write descriptions on the actual paper shipping list of what is inside each box. When we moved to Switzerland I had the floor plan of the flat and I enlarged it and printed it out. I was able to write on the plan the numbers of the boxes that needed to go in every room. (see photo) Once you get boxes up flights of stairs you don’t want to have to take them back down again. Get it right the first time. As I had good thorough lists I was able to take my time and do this properly in advance of the unpacking day and everything went very smoothly. The people who arrived to unpack had a bit of a giggle at my instructions but it saved LOADS of time and dramas in the long run and when they left they admitted I had a great system. They thought I was bossy and controlling but I was the one laughing because after 4 days I had completely unpacked a 3 bed house, everything had a home and I was able to have friends over for dinner that weekend.
Last but not least... Have a bottle of bubbles and a few champagne glasses 'borrowed' from a local bar or restaurant to say good bye when everything has been packed and the day is over. I would also book a last night (or even 2) in a local hotel. Just in case there are any last minute hitches. Its easier than being on a plane and realising you didn't do a final meter reading or you forgot to disconnect the internet service !!
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