Saturday, October 19, 2013

Summer and Fall

Summer activities: summer by the lake is amazing!  The sun was pretty shy this past summer but usually the sun is shining for part of the day and there are midday showers and thunder.  The weather in the summer is erratic and changes every 15-30 minutes at times.  It reminds me of a tropical place like Costa Rica.  I would HIGHLY suggest renting a boat on Cayuga Lake and exploring.  It will make you have pride in where you live- at least it did for me.  Suggested activities: tubing, boating, jet skiing, swimming in the many gorges, visiting the many vineyards, farmer's market, various state parks, etc.  Summer by the lake (with bug repellent and sunscreen) is like no other! Cool story- the lakes were formed during the last ice age!

Stewart Park on Cayuga Lake
Robert Treman State Park
Fall in Ithaca is absolutely "gorges!"  <-- I'm sure you noticed this on every shirt and mug in town.  This is a reference to the many gorges in town.  As a Californian, I thought summer was my favorite season until I saw the vibrant tree leaves in Ithaca in autumn.  I would suggest venturing out to Watkins Glenn in mid October.  It is an unforgettable sight!  A drive or bus ride to NYC from Ithaca will also show you the true beauty of central NY.  Various festivals and activities in town in the fall including: the Apple Festival, Ithaca Chili Cook-off with over 30 restaurants participating, Oktoberfest, Ithaca Film Festival, Restaurant Week, etc.

Stewart Park

Cornell Campus in the fall

Winter prep: invest in snow tires if you have a car, a very warm winter coat and snow boots.  I would suggest purchasing vitamin D as it is a problem here in the winter since the sun pretty much hides all winter.  Winter is long but magical at times and filled with snow activities nearby.

When in doubt, visit this page.  And this one.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Choosing Housing- Location, Location, Location!

Ithaca is pretty spread out for a small town.  If you dont have a car, you want to choose your location wisely.  I repeat- no car?  Choose carefully!  I did not have a car the first 9 months and grocery shopping was a workout and a half!  Not to mention it sucked up a ton of time since you have to plan according to the bus schedule.  You either run around the store like a mad woman to make the bus in time or take a taxi (<--may be costly over time and there is no guarantee they will arrive within the time frame they give(I have waited an hour!)).  Yes, double parenthesis :).  Another thing to keep in mind is the weather since it snows here in the winter.  Some winters are better than others but living at the bottom of a hill and choosing to walk in the winter could be a challenge.

Here are some of the areas in town:

Like to party? This is your spot!  College students walking, yelling, partying at all hours of the night.  Expensive for what you get and apts/houses are broken down unless you live in one of the box sized units in the newer buildings (I kid you not!).  The area has quite a few restaurants and there are convenient stores to help you get by in between grocery trips. Quite a few bars. Mainly undergrads. Walking distance from the Cornell campus.  Buses to Cornell come frequently.  Like sleep?  This is not your ideal location in town.

It's a mixed bag but the good outweigh the bad.  Most of the "best places" in town are still sub-par compared to what they advertise but this is the case in older towns so you MUST VIEW THE PLACE before signing contracts.  However, what it lacks in housing, downtown makes up in a myriad of activities and food options.  Th area has a lot of restaurants (vegetarian, vegan options!), lots of events on The Commons, bars, stores, workout locations/gyms, spas and now murals.  The Commons are under construction currently so it's hard to see the beauty in the midst of the dust and construction cacophony but I assure you it is quite a cute place normally. Downtown is loud at all times!  I made the mistake of living across a bar the first time around and had to use ear plugs every night.  Downtown attracts the eccentric people in town (the good kind and the WTF kind).  Lots of bus options so you will not wait more than 10-15 minutes on weekdays (I once waited 45 minutes on a Fri night).

Lots of gorges, hiking, beautiful views, walking distance to Cornell courses and libraries.  No shopping options besides the Cornell Store and the weekly mini farmer's market on campus. On weekdays you have a number of dining options when the cafes are open.

Ithaca College area looks like it has recently been built.  In an old town, the newer buildings REALLY stand out.  If you have a car or go to Ithaca College, this looks like a great place to live. Not near shopping areas or main activities going on in town.

Anything with the word "heights" at the end of the name tells you it's going to be pricey and you will get what you pay for!  If you happen to find a place here, you will love these beautiful mini mansions.  You see deer on every other block, lots of greenery, and you hear the silence as you walk or drive by...  (you will find that most Ithacans don't find deer to be cute; I've heard they tend to do more harm than good in the area).  Most places are not on a bus line and you will have to drive 10+ minutes to get groceries. It's far from both colleges in town if you don't have a car.

Mainly residential, near gorges, very green when the weather is nice.  You will have to walk to the nearest bus line and if you're walking to the Cornell campus during snowy winters, you may find yourself doing few unwanted face-plants :). Do not know much about this area but it seems like a family friendly area.  Note to self- explore this area.  An Ithacan friend told me it is the best place to live in town.

You don't have to live in Ithaca.  In fact, most people who are not students live in nearby cities. From what I have been told, you can rent a 1 bedroom apartments for $500 if you venture out by 10-20 miles.  I have also heard of mortgages of older residents (20+ year natives) being $650! (<--- this is unheard of in California!).  You will most likely be living in more isolated and quiet places filled with nature.

Did you click on the links?  You're welcome! :D

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Welcome to Ithaca! Here's the Real Deal...

Hello, fellow Ithacan newbie! I've decided to start a blog about my experiences in Ithaca as a Californian to possibly help others coming here for the first time.  I noticed last year when I moved here that the town is definitely eccentric and has some amazing things to see but it took way too long for me to figure this out on my own.  The archaic charm of the town was not evident at the time to my Cali mind and body that was accustomed to long and warm showers, newer and updated apartments, online accessible stores and restaurants, etc. I began to see the beauty of this town once I started embracing the positives rather than bashing it for all that it lacked.  You will read my complaints in here as well as my findings.  Enjoy!

Disclaimer: this blog is purely based on my opinion and experiences!