If you don't like coffee shops, tattoos, sarcasm and incredibly independent people... then don't bother reading this blog. If this is what you find fits your vibe, then I suggest saving the following recommendations in your back pocket for the next time you venture to one of my favorite places in the world - New York City.
Below, in the order in which I visited them, are the places I inhabited in the week I had on these streets. My biggest suggestion to you while traveling anywhere, is to not have too much of a plan. The only reason I stumbled upon these grand places is because I wasn't hesitant to wander. Life's best turns are made when you don't know what's around the corner. Don't let this concept scare you because all you need to do if it's the wrong turn... is turn right around. What a concept!
The biggest reason why this trip was so amazing for me was that I did it alone. Traveling by oneself is not necessarily a lonely endeavor. It actually presents the best opportunity for new friendship! Strangers are only strangers until you give them a chance to speak; then judge if they're a safe place or not. A of couple things that make the journey by yourself a little safer are these simple tips. If you are ever walking by yourself, get your phone out and call a friend. This brings comfort to your heart and safety to your persona. Also, try to never walk a street alone. Find a cluster of people and walk where more life is happening. Keep your belongings close by. Don't show people your goodies. Maybe let the pistol show a little, but just enough to scare them away. I'M JUST KIDDING! hehe
St. Balmain - Coffee
178 N 8th St Williamsburg Brooklyn
The front of the shop seems to blend in with the surrounding neighborhood homes, so don't miss it, walk on in and the sense of creativity and productivity will fill your lungs. This shop was founded by some good people who I sense have a desire to create relationships over a good Australian flat white with great service from friendly people. Their location is in the thick of the Williamsburg area and attracts hard working musicians, entrepreneurs and doodling artists. It's quarters are small on the interior but has a delightful backyard area with welcoming picnic tables for a lengthy stay (with many outlets I might add). I am currently sitting in the back left corner, listening to "Hammock" and enjoying the breeze while I await one of my new friends, the delightful and inspiring, Faith Prest, who is soon joining me.
People of 2morrow - Shopping + Vintage Shops
65 Franklin Street Brooklyn, New York 11222
This store took my breath away.... Around every corner I found a place of knick knacks. Explore and find some that fit you! This place had an assortment of old and new items that told a story on their own.
Culture Espresso - Coffee
72 W 38th St, New York, NY
This is one of the few places I went to in the city that I actually found a bit of solitude. The effort it takes to find a moment to yourself in the city is as hard as it is to find a Starbucks driving across Wisconsin. Hard. Culture Espresso is a great little nook located in the heart of New Yorker life on 38th street. Its beautiful logo and colorful surroundings makes for a perfect stop-in. Though the workers are genuine.... they are in a hurry and are full-on New Yorkers, so don't be offended by their short looks and quick answers. I have heard that their cookies are to die for! Sadly, I have not tasted of their goodness, but my source is a reliable one. Grab your Joe and go!
Yoga to the People
38th Street – 4th (Manhattan)
211 N. 11th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
After flying into NY at 7:30 am, I ventured into the city to see what the day would bring. With no plan except to sit in the study room at the NYC Public Library and take in the geniuses that surrounded me, I was open to anything. I sat in Culture Espresso for a good while before looking at my phone to see what was around. I pulled up my map and looked at the surrounding locations. I read, "Yoga to the People". Hmmm. Well I don't do yoga, but for some crazy reason.... everything inside of me wanted to give it a go. So I did. After finding it on the map, I looked it up on their website and found out that it was hot yoga. 105 degree fahrenheit yoga and it was only $5! After the first class I was hooked... even though I was surrounded by LITERAL NYC Ballet dancers. I loved it! When I was doing the slow movements while looking over a busy intersection in the middle of Manhattan I felt so alive. I am almost positive it's a mind over matter thing with hot yoga. Go in knowing you aren't going to give up and it's a blast. I have a hard time relaxing and so this is the perfect combination for me. While being in NYC for a week, I did it 3 times. You walk out as wet as you would if you had just gone swimming, but it's a rejuvenating experience.
Classes …………………………………………….. $5
Mat Rental ……………………………………….. $2
Towel Rental …………………………………….. $2
Water ………………………………………………. $1
New York Public Library - Landmark
Stephan A. Schwarzman Building
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, Manhattan, NY
If you are feeling studious or in the mood to be around amazing architecture… head here. This place is heavily occupied by tourists so putting headphones on and bringing in a laptop or book can make you feel like a local student. Here is what I was extremely wrong about. If you are looking to pull a book off a shelf and read it while being here, you're wrong. What I didn't know is that this is a museum, not a library even though it is called a library. Lesson learned. THOUGH if you head up to the second level, there is a room where studying is welcomed. It was amazing to think of all the thoughts that must have been in the air. Maybe a future politician's election plans, an artist's messy depiction of humanity with charcoal in hand… maybe a scientist studying the human body contemplating how cancer can be healed… and then me...taking it all in with every turn of my head. You bet I listened to classical music while being in here… I highly suggest it.
Freehold - Coffee
3rd & Wythe, Brooklyn NY
While my heart for adventure brought me to many places, this place was my hands-down favorite. After an afternoon of walking South along Kent Road in Brooklyn, looking to my right and seeing the beautiful skyline of NYC, I came across this little coffee shop called "Freehold". What looked to be a garage door held the most spacious, well-lit space. Though there was no sign to be seen, it invited me in without reservation. The people were friendly, the decor was modern but still warm and the art was well thought out. Even the menu signage impressed me. After speaking to the owner the second time I visited the shop, I found out that they are adding on a restaurant next door. The owner started telling me how Manhattan's kids had recently began to congregate in the lower Williamsburg area. While being here, I felt like I could breathe. I was the most productive here, seeing as there were many outlets, comfy seats and a beautiful view of the Williamsburg Bridge from across the table and through the large, illuminated window. Their coffee was great and the popular Salted Dark Chocolate Bars (Brothers Brand or something like that) was delectable paired with my latte.
Bryant Park - View
Fifth and Sixth Avenues and between 40th and 42nd Streets in Midtown Manhattan.
Bryant Park, or what I like to refer to as "the watering hole" offered some of the best people watching I have ever experienced. I have never seen so many humans congregate in one area with one agenda - to sit. People on chairs, blankets, grass, concrete, under umbrellas, inside hula hoops… yes people were hula hooping. Let's just say when people refer to NYC as a concrete jungle they are not exaggerating. People were drawn by the color green that grew from the ground to find a moment of refreshing inside the city that never sleeps. For me, relaxation was not what I found there, but for them this was an oasis. It sure is a sight to see.
Williamsburg Pier / Kent Road - View
I do not have an address for these places because I literally do not know where I was. All I know is that if you walk along Kent Street, North of the Williamsburg bridge, you'll find some of the best hidden sitting spots. Some legal to occupy and some not so much. (wink wink) My favorite moments in life are when I make a spot my own. Sitting on a rock next to the water watching the sun set over the skyline. Or finding a ledge overlooking crashing waves beneath my feet while singing aloud hoping no one hears. In these moments, time does not exist and the only thing that does are my thoughts, dreams and the beautiful view in front of me. These are the moments that build me. It's as if I can feel validation rise within my bones, making me more aware of who God has created me to be. If you listen hard enough, you can hear yourself resounding through the air, thick enough that you can reach your hand up, grab it and write it down. These spots know the deepest parts of my soul, for the uttered words I have never spoken have been left there. I left them there because they are now the Lords. God knows where I am. He doesn't need a GPS to locate my position. Nor does he need a stethoscope to hear the BMP of my heart. These spots I hold dear, for He was there.
In a nutshell, this trip has been a huge mile stone in my life. I never knew there was so much to learn about myself. I also didn't know how much I like spending time with myself. Please, don't hear me the wrong way on this, but I think it's crucial to like yourself. I have learned what I want in my heart of hearts; in life, in my belly (lol), in my ears and most importantly - my heart. While being away from my current home, I've learned who I miss, who I don't, what I like about home and what I don't. It all has been the greatest learning experience! And I have fallen more in love with Jesus throughout it all.
Urban Rustic - 236 N 12th St Brooklyn, NY 11211