Actually… a whirlwind of a month! March has flown by and I’m finding it difficult to keep up.
But back to this weekend. To sum it up in a word: amazing.
When I learned that Fiona Sutherland of The Mindful Dietitian was returning to North America to do another workshop I signed up… Without knowledge of what the workshop was even on. (It ended up being “Bringing Presence to Tough Conversations” and I learned so. darn. much.)
You see, Fi is one of those people who if you just sit in the same room with you’re bound to learn something. She also brings together some of the best people who bring their knowledge to the table too. (I swear half of my notes are from my amazing colleagues who were sitting with me… did I mention I have amazing colleagues? I have amazing colleagues. I am so excited I get to claim more of them as friends after this workshop and meeting them in person.)
NYC was an opportunity to ‘vacation’ with a purpose. A learncation, I like to call it. Since Matt was unable to go with me, it was also officially my first solo trip. And I will just tell you-it won’t be my last. Now don't get me wrong, I love my husband and love experiencing the world with him… but there’s a lot of freedom in traveling by yourself. And there is nothing wrong with wanting alone time. (especially if you’re an introvert and you thrive on alone time.)
Now you’re probably thinking “You don’t go to NYC for alone time.” And I will tell you… You’re right. Kind of. But I was on a mission to find peace and love for this beautiful and busy city. And I did. And here’s how I did it:
First things first, I stayed away from Times Square.
This was more difficult than I had hoped. I stayed only a block from Times Square so I accidentally stumbled that way once. But for the most part, it was fairly easy to avoid. And that was tremendous to my mental health. I’ve seen Time’s Square once and for me that was enough. Unless I was going to a show, I find Time’s Square overstimulating and busy and draining.
Secondly, I gave myself a lot of permission.
Permission to not check off everything on my list. Permission to go back to the hotel and relax. Permission to add things to the list. Permission to love things I thought I’d not and dislike things that most people do. Permission to have food delivered. Permission to sleep in the city that never does.
Third and lastly, I only planned and tried things that I knew I personally would enjoy.
There are some very popular things in this city that I know do not meet my likes, needs and personality. I chose not to do, eat or see them because I knew they would not jive well with me. (going to the top of buildings and riding a ferry anywhere were two of the bigger ones that came recommended, but I know personally aren’t my thing. Good for you? Not for me. Thank you for your suggestion though.)
Instead I did the things I knew I would enjoy:
Created my own bookstore tour and here are my rankings of the five I had the opportunity to visit:
Bluestockings - a bookstore with a social justice and intersectional feminist theme… it was amazing, small, and quiet but not too quiet. Also, doubled as a coffee shop. Must visit destination in my opinion.
The Center for Fiction - I stumbled upon this accidentally while walking through Brooklyn and loved it. Definitely a newer look, but a large selection of fiction books. Also, has a coffee shop and wine bar as well as plenty of room to sit down surrounded by beautiful, beautiful books.
Alabaster Bookstore - another accidental find. This used bookstore is tucked behind The Strand and was packed with books floor to ceiling. Small but uncrowded and smelled of old books. Yum.
Strand Bookstore - I know, I know this place is iconic. But it’s also a tourist destination. Was it cool? Absolutely. Did I visit every single level (there’s four)? Sure did. Would I go back? Probably. But I needed a nap after this store. It was crowded and hard to navigate. I had no idea where to find books I was looking for and never was offered assistance. No thank you.
Rizzoli’s Bookstore - This bookstore felt very run of the mill. It was pretty and well organized. Quiet and uncrowded. But I felt I could run into this store anywhere.
Visited the Brooklyn Museum for the Frida Kahlo Exhibit: Appearances can be Deceiving.
I have no words. It was amazing and if you’re in Brooklyn while this exhibit is up please go visit it. It brings to light something that is often overlooked - that Frida Kahlo, an amazing and admired artist, was disabled and had numerous struggles and a life that has often been written out.
Found Parks with quiet spots and streets that were not busy.
On my last day, I had every intention of sleeping in. But my body had other plans. So I was out the door and walking by 7 am… with this extra unintended time, I decided to walk to the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge park and sought out quiet spaces along the way… and surprisingly, I found them! Mostly it was among residential areas and streets with sleepy shops that hours didn’t open until 11 am. But it was peaceful and quiet and such a nice start to a Monday morning.
On the food front, I took note of a lot of interesting restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops, but when it came down to it I listened to my hunger and cravings. I had bagels with scallion and lox cream cheese both mornings because when in NYC, I ate burgers and fries from Ruby’s Cafe (literally one of the best I’ve ever had), I tried a poke bowl, I had street food from The Halal Guys, I had Tacos in Brooklyn, and I ate Auntie Anne’s pretzels at the airport because honestly there was a lack of options in LaGuardia.
This trip was one for the books and checked all the boxes for me. What are some of your favorite things to do when on vacation?