I had a great send-off by good friends in CT, and a warm welcome from family and friends in NYC. I received MetroCards, guidebooks for non-tourists, flowers and invitations for upcoming events.

But this morning, I received the most creative and welcome gift I could have imagined. A colleague who has lived on the Upper West Side for many years offered to meet me at the Amsterdam Avenue Branch of the NY Public Library (I’m sure I would have overlooked this resource for months if not years) for a walking tour of her favorite places.

With each shop visited I became more and more excited about my new environs. I’d peeked into places, even made some judgments about them, but this woman’s detailed tour opened vistas for me I may never have discovered including the organic department and cafe (2nd floor) at the Fairway Market, the housewares section of Zabar’s, her vetted favorite dry cleaners (for price and service), where to get the best color copies, as well as who had the best deals on generic cotton balls. I want to know this stuff, but would never have thought to ask.

Although I’ve taken the 79th Street Boat Basin exit off the West Side Highway hundreds of times, I had never before entered this riverside eatery. I now have the menu and got to experience a tantalizing glimpse of what watching a sunset from there will be like.

In addition to garnering all this delectable information with a hands-on, feet-on-the-ground tour, I got to enjoy this woman’s company and receive an inspiring view of her lifestyle choices (we share similar taste in movies–she was returning a copy of Take This Waltz which I’ve been dying to see) for nearly two months.

I have so much gratitude for all the gifts I’ve received. This morning’s treasure hunt was no exception. And all within walking distance of my new apartment!

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