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As a native New Yorker, there are many things that I totally miss about my sweet hometown of New York City when abroad. As a full-time travel writer, I travel all of the time and, sometimes, I tend to stay months in a country so I can slowly immerse myself in the culture and experience as much as I can. I must say that, regardless of where I go, and even when I end up leaving pieces of my heart in so many countries around the world, there are things that I truly miss about my New York City every day! Here is why I miss New York City when living and traveling abroad; it’s my list of things that I believe any true New Yorker misses about NYC.

New Yorker Olga Maria of Dreams in Heels - streets of New York City

I love NYC: Things any true New Yorker misses about New York City when overseas

1. Diversity and multiculturalism

New York is one of those places where you can walk down one street and listen to several languages being spoken, not to mention the diversity of restaurants of all different cuisines. Oftentimes, this is a reflection of the diverse representation of the people living in neighborhoods. For example, there’s a neighborhood full of Indian restaurants and shops called Little India that I love to frequent.  Or in my neighborhood of Astoria, Queens, you’ll find many people of Mediterranean descent and also the best Greek food ever. And a real Little Italy in the Bronx, where many Italians originally settled, so you can get the most amazing pizza and Canolis. I can talk about this all day long since I have lived in almost every NYC borough, except for Staten Island. I’ve lived in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn and, for the most part, in Astoria, Queens. At some point, I also lived in Weekhakwen, New Jersey, which is like right across the Lincoln Tunnel, only a few minutes drive from Times Square, NYC. Even in NJ, there is an amazing Latino food scene (especially Cuban), in Union City, with tons of fantastic restaurants. 

I would say that New York State and its surroundings is just simply a reflection of the melting pot of cultures and there’s always so much to discover, any day of the week, that you can never be bored.

Recommended: A one day in NYC Itinerary written by a New Yorker

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2. Variety of food, some of the best restaurants in the world

You knew this was coming. I mean New York City has some of the best food in the world, just a heaven for foodies! You will find any cuisine you can imagine, including amazing fusions and even supermarkets geared towards specific cultures. For example, in Astoria there’s Indian, Greek, Brazilian and Spanish supermarkets, to mention a few. I always look forward to going to Woodside for some amazing Filipino and Thai food, and love it so much so that I always end up eventually shopping in the Thai supermarkets buying ingredients for home.  Having traveled extensively, I can attest that there are few places in the world where you can find such a variety of food options.  Even when abroad, many people ask me, “How do you know our cuisine so well?” And I usually explain that it’s because, in NYC, you can find the best Vietnamese food, or Indian (one of my favorite cuisines), or Sri Lankan dishes, etc.  You can really find it all if you know where to look.

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3. Convenience

New York is truly the “city that never sleeps” and that’s because we are catered to 24 hrs/7 days a week. You can order pizza at 2:00am. Maybe it’s not the healthiest option (don’t judge!), but you have that choice. I can cross the street to a 24 hour deli or pharmacy. I have all kinds of delivery options for groceries, goods and more. I can easily even rent clothes and get them delivered to my home.

We also have an app for everything, including the endless options for car sharing: Uber, Lyft, Juno, Via, etc. You can definitely get what you need at almost any time. And, when you are there, oftentimes you take it for granted. It’s only when you go away for a while that you realize how different it is from any other place on Earth. That’s when I truly miss New York City.

You might also like: 10 best things to do in Central Park NYC

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4. Authentic New York Cheesecake (AKA Junior’s Cheesecake)

As a New Yorker, I live for authentic New York Cheesecake and for me that’s Junior’s Cheesecake, an iconic New York institution and the best cheesecake in New York and, I think, maybe even in the world. In all of my travels, I’ve never tasted it done better. My partner even found a recipe online and developed the recipe further to make it for me in hopes of making me happy (since we are abroad for so many months every year). Last year, I spent many months in New York City and, let me tell you, eating Junior’s Cheesecake was on my to do list for almost every week.

Suggested Reading: The best cheesecake in NYC

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5. New York Bagels

New York Bagels, what I can say? There is just nothing like an authentic NYC bagel. When I am tucked into New York City for a while, I eat them a lot. And when I leave I try to take as many with me to give away but I always end up eating most along the way. Maybe sharing is caring, but not MY bagels.

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6. NYC Pizza

Any New Yorker will tell you that there is nothing like a slice of New York Pizza, or maybe a whole pie, to feel like you’re finally home. I honestly crave pizza all of the time but more especially when I’ve stayed out late. Normally, if I was home, I’d just get a huge slice of New York Pizza in a greasy brown bag. And why not!? It is the best way to unwind and most definitely how many of my nights out in New York would end. I love New York Pizza!

Recommended: 10 of the best Pizza Spots in Manhattan

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7. 24 hours Diners

I truly miss NYC Diners. I remember many nights, when I needed a break from pizza, sitting in different diners in NYC. Oftentimes, after hanging out in the Meatpack district, one of my faves was The Good Stuff Diner, since they serve good food and big portions. Or if I returned to my neighborhood, Astoria, Queens, I’d go to our iconic neighborhood diner, Neptune’s Diner on Astoria Blvd. It has been around forever. It is an old-school Greek diner. Of course, there are other iconic diners that I love, that are not open 24 hours, such as Ellen’s Stardust Diner, which is a must-do NYC experience since it’s more than an old classic American diner, but a show in and of itself.

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8. NYC randomness

Something I constantly miss about New York City is how random life is. There is not another place in the world, where I’ve ever experienced this level of randomness. I could literally be in the deli buying milk, and I bump into someone who has access to a celebrity event, and boom, my day has now just totally changed! True Story: I ended up running out to get a dress, then jumping in an Uber, using the ride to do my hair and makeup, arriving in time for this private red carpet event and then ended up that night hanging out with the Baldwin brothers, and even with Fashion designer Betsey Johnson.

In NYC, you just never know what will happen. I used to go out and end up in a limousine lounge, bar hopping or, while attending an event, get invited to a fancy after party or some sort of unique dining experience. Ah, I really miss the randomness of New York City. I love you New York!

Fashion photographer – American Next Stop Model, Nigel Barkel

9. Free entertainment on the subway and elsewhere

NYC is one those places where you can find free entertainment almost anywhere. You will be walking along the street and see people playing an instrument or singing, you can hop on the train and in 10 minutes you have seen it all: from guys breakdancing, to a mariachi band, to an old lady wearing a pink ballgown singing opera for you, to a juggling clown. I mean, what have I not seen while riding the NYC subway? NYC is truly a daily entertainment. That’s why you must take the time to just people watch and you will might see a lot more than you bargained for. P.S. But do it discretely; some people might take offense.

free entertainment on the NYC subway

10. Shopping in New York City

Shopping! I can speak about shopping all day long. NYC is one of the best places in the world for shopping! You can usually find anything you want, from luxury, to mid, to budget shopping – we have it all in NYC. I personally love that, in comparison with Europe, when there is an 80% deal, it is truly a deal. You can even sometimes get free gifts with purchase of fragances, cosmetics and more. Or you are looking forward to your birthday to collect all of your freebies: from discounts, to free things (like in Sephora, Junior’s Cheesecake and even a free coffee from Starbucks), you name it, they probably have a birthday benefit! All you need to do is sign up on their apps.

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I am also obsessed with all of the things that you can get from the NYC sample sales and the designer showrooms. As a former NYC fashion editor, I always visited the best ones and still, as a Travel editor of a print magazine and travel blogger, I get invited to many since I’ve combined my love for Travel and Style in my brand.

Recommended: Best Budget Shopping Spots in NYC

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And that’s another topic: there’s tons of vintage and thrift shopping available. I prefer to be fashionable on a budget. I will proudly wear my $10 dress and I will make it look like it cost thousands, with whatever I pair it with…like I always say, accessorizing is the key!

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11. The Manhattan Skyline Views

I have traveled extensively and, even though I fall in love with so many views around the world, there is just something especially about my NYC skyline. It does not matter how many times I see it, or from how many places, I always fall in love over and over again with it. I have many favorite places to see the NYC skyline for free, and other experiences I’ve had that were quite special, like seeing it from above while on a helicopter ride or cruising around Manhattan on all kinds of different themed boats, etc. Consistently, it never stops taking my breath away.

Read on: Where to enjoy the best views of the Manhattan skyline for free

Best views of the Manhattan skyline for free - NYC - New Yorker - Dreamsinheels

12. Cruising home while seeing the views of the skyline

Speaking of cruising around NYC, I have cruised NYC for the price of a metrocard ride while going home to Astoria or for free on the Staten Island Ferry, and I’ve also been on Luxury yachts, themed party boats, special dinners, and even runway shows, all the while cruising around Manhattan. Each experience is unique and I cannot pick one over the other. I always find something special to see in the Manhattan skyline views from every angle, including New Jersey.

Cruising around Manhattan on a budget - Long Island City - Dreamsinheels

13. Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

I feel another thing I miss about NYC is crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and exploring another borough. I really love Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights. But crossing the bridge itself is so amazing! I even did several photoshoots at the Brooklyn Bridge which was just something very special for me.

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC - Olga Maria Dreams in Heels New Yorker

Recommended: Best things to do in Dumbo, NYC

Olga Maria of Dreams in Heels Brooklyn Bridge NYC

14. Explore countries through different NYC neighborhoods

This one is still related to diversity and multiculturalism, but it goes beyond this. I’m always finding so many things to do in different neighborhoods and, honestly, I never get to explore it all. NYC is so diverse that eventually you will hear almost every language spoke, try all different types of cuisines, view photos or artwork from around the globe, listen to music from around the world, etc….all can be done in NYC. And, another thing, everything changes at a rapid pace in this City, and you can see one thing here today, and then a new thing there tomorrow, or a new experience added on top of the last. This is one of the reasons that NYC is so special. If you like discovering something new every day, then NYC is for you.

Another favorite: Best dessert shops in Chinatown NYC

Alternative things to do in New York - Best of Dumbo Neighborhood Guide
Photo by: Helmut Didio / Copyright Dreamsinheels

15. Networking and making connections

New York City is the capital for opportunities, networking and making connections. I could never have dreamed of becoming the woman I am without NYC as my university in life and business. Literally, you can meet almost anyone, find out about a new product or idea, make a new business partner at an event, start a company and get support. NYC may look like it’s all hustle and bustle but, if you are a true hustler like me, then you can be a True New Yorker and be ready to seize your moments when they come. 

Olga Maria Dreams in Heels speaking at Google NYC
Me speaking at Google NYC

The Sinatra song lyrics, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” is definitely true but it does not come easy. You need to put in the effort, work hard, be determined, define your niche, have an elevator pitch ready at all times, and work on your personal branding. Nothing happens overnight but, if you want it, go and get it.

NYC Travel Networking event

16. Events

NYC is the places where there are always events happening. I used to sometimes attend 4 or 5 events in just one day. I was always moving, networking and invited to so many media events, my calendar was forever full. I still go to as many as I can, but I am not always home since I travel full-time. But when I am, I add the most events I can to my calendar. You should always find the time to network; you never know who you might meet or where your next big idea might come from! Btw, it’s easy to suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) but sometimes you can’t go to every event so try to make informed choices possible.

Ontario in New York City Event

17. Free things to do in NYC

Talking about events, I must mention that many events and activities in NYC are free. So many free things to do in NYC. You can definitely find everything from conferences, meet-ups, free food events, you named it. Don’t be afraid to search online and take advantage of all that the City has to offer.

cruising around Manhattan - Statue of Liberty in New York City - Dreamsinheels

18. The United Nations is located in NYC, but it can also be found on any City street

The opportunity of meeting people from all over the world and learning about other cultures is pretty much impossible to avoid in this City. You can say the same thing about traveling. I do meet people from all over the world on a regular basis and interact/learn from so many cultures, but I love how, in New York City, you can do it all in one place. Everywhere you go, stop and listen to all of the different languages, learn new words, new ways of living, cultural traditions, learn about cuisines… it’s all here at your fingertips, so don’t miss out!

You might also like: Why you should go to the funnest parade in NYC, The Mermaid Parade

19. The ability to be yourself

New York City has some of the most creative and sometimes strange people ever. I love how it gives you the opportunity to be you but even more than that, different doesn’t cause anyone to stare and judge you. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m me, but I remember the last time I was in New York with my Austrian partner, he was surprised how people did a photoshoot in the subway and nobody was giving them a second look. I told him, “Oh well, that’s just typical of New York; I think nothing surprises us any more.” I think that’s why so many celebrities make NYC their home. We New Yorker’s give them the ability to just be themselves.  And remember the saying, “Don’t judge others, lest you be judged.” Must’ve been a New Yorker, ha!

Dreams in Heels cruising around Manhattan New York City

20. Rooftop bars

I truly miss all of the amazing rooftop bars of NYC. Everyone who knows me, knows that rooftop bars in NYC, for me, are everything! I am always hanging out in different ones, especially the ones with the best views. I love that about NYC. The vibe of each rooftop bar is different, but with so many choices, and so many amazing views, who can ever get enough? I know that I can’t.

21. Speakeasies and Secret New York

New York has so many hidden gems, new places to discover, especially those fun “secret bars” like the days of Prohibition and speakeasies. I totally love how they can be hidden behind a coffee shop, or a phone booth, there are so many cool speakeasies in New York City. I love exploring them and drinking their craft cocktails, many not allowed during the prohibition era. It totally transports me back in time. Shhh… can’t say anything else. It’s a secret!

22. 4th of July in New York

The Fourth of July is when we Americans celebrate our country’s Independence. I have spent so many 4th of Julys in NYC, the last one in 2018, and OMG, it was tons of fun! I’ve celebrated on private yachts with the best views of the NY/NJ harbor fireworks, to having picnics, to watching the fireworks last year from a friend’s apartment building by the FDR drive. We all sat outside on the grass, drank the night away while watching the spectacular Macys fireworks show. I love the 4th of July celebration in NYC. The fireworks are just like NYC itself: Colorful, lots of drama, noisy and beautiful all at the same time!

23. Halloween in New York

One of my favorite holidays, just because it is so much fun in NYC, is Halloween. I love to get dressed up and to go to see the City’s Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village, then go bar hopping afterwards with friends. It is tons of fun and there are many cool and unique costumes to see. Also, there are so many private ticketed events to choose from! I have attended so many events during Halloween and they are totally my favorites.

Halloween NYC - New Yorker

24. Thanksgiving in NYC

For me, Thanksgiving is super special and I get homesick when I’m abroad during this holiday. Since it’s all about sharing time with my family, or adoptive NYC family, it’s harder being away. It is always a great day to laugh, share memories, eat a lot, drink traditional things, and more. I also love to spend it there since it is my best friend’s birthday and she is a big sister to me. I got to spend it with her family and we shared many special memories that we still talk about. Also, for visitors and locals, it’s nice to go to experience the Macys Thanksgiving Parade. I have gone several times; it is a fun experience and a quintessential New York thing to do.

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25. Christmas in New York City

Another of my favorite holidays in NYC is Christmas time. There are so many fun activities, and so many things to see! You can visit some of the best Christmas markets in New York City and shop til you drop. So many priceless experiences from going to Christmas lighting shows, to seeing the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, to perusing the Christmas window displays down 5th Avenue in midtown and Macy’s, to going ice skating in Central Park or catching the special Christmas Rockets show. I mean Christmas in NYC is truly special. A must-do experience for any fans and visitors at least once in their lifetime. You won’t regret it!

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Living with the heartache…

As you can probably tell, after reading this long post, I am not only a native New Yorker, but a true New Yorker, and a total fan. I can keep talking about my dear New York City all day because it doesn’t matter where I go in this world, or if live abroad, I will always miss New York City, love New York City and carry it with me in a special place in my heart. I’m always a forever New Yorker. And I wouldn’t want it any other way!

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5 thoughts on “Why I miss New York: What a true New Yorker misses about NYC when abroad”

  1. Avatar

    I’m not even a New Yorker and I already miss the 24 hour food spots. I spent 2 weeks there and I’ve never had everything I wanted so close to me before.

  2. Avatar

    I lived in New York for 3 months and it is the best city. Even though I am not a New Yorker I can relate to all of the things you miss about New York when you are not there.

    1. Dreams in Heels
      Dreams in Heels

      Hi Nicola! Yeah NYC is a truly special city. It is very different from many other places around the world.I am glad that you had the opportunity to live there. 🙂

      Xoxo,

      Olga Maria

  3. Pingback: Missing home? Best tips for saying Goodbye to homesickness - Dreams in Heels - Travel and Lifestyle Blog by a Latina Abroad

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