Favorites: NYC edition

Sometimes I like spontaneity when I travel. But not usually. Usually I prefer to know exactly what I'm getting into. In my ideal situation, I'll research before I go anywhere. Like, I look at menus before I go to restaurants. I"ll map how far of a bike ride it is. I'll google things like "best coffee shop to work from with wifi" and then read blog posts and reviews about it. And I appreciate those posts because they help me make an informed decision about how I'm spending my time. In the end, it comes down to efficiency.  

I've been asked a few times lately where I like to do "x" in NYC. X being get coffee, do yoga, eat, shop, etc. I don't actually live in New York. But I visit frequently (I'm in NYC as I write this) and I research things each time so I have a little cache of information to share with you about this fine and vibrant city. Here are a few of my fave things in the city (and Brooklyn!)

COFFEE

This one is first since it's my life blood. If I could get an IV drip of coffee attached to my alarm clock, I would. These two are a close second.

1. Toby's Estate Coffee, Williamsburg. I love this place. The vibe is awesome, huge windows and lots of tables. Super hipster. It's basically a commercial for Apple products and beards. The coffee is INCREDIBLE. It's an Australian import so the baristas have accents and are generally hot and surfer-ish. Great place to do work (if you can get a seat) and hang in Brooklyn.

2. La Colombe, Soho. This gem is small but wow, yum. They don't do almond milk but they do hemp milk (weird?) and it's probably the best latte I have ever had. I didn't get the hemp milk though, just FYI. Perfect spot for a quick takeaway coffee if you're in the Soho area. There isn't much room to sit and do work but the vibe is great and coffee is divine. 

BIKE ROUTES

I enjoy riding bikes on major roads in major cities. It's a total rush. That being said, it is not for the faint of heart. It is a rush because your life is always slightly on the line. The routes below are relatively tame, but it's good to recognize your comfort level and stay true to it. Both of them can take a couple hours so it's a great way to spend a sunny afternoon in NYC.

1. Bike the Hudson River Greenway. It's a dedicated bike/pedestrian street up the west side of Manhattan. Get a bike in the West Village at Waterfront Bicycle Shop and head north. You can go all the way to the George Washington Bridge. It's so scenic - you really never feel like you're in Manhattan. Alternatively, you can get a Citi Bike for cheaper but you have to dock it every 30 minutes, so you end up getting off the Greenway and back on - which can be annoying. Stop at crazy Fairway Grocery store if you need a snack and go in the cold foods section if you want to cool off. It's basically a giant walk in freezer room.

2. Bike from Park Slope to Coney Island. Or from Brooklyn Bridge, like this guy did. You get to ride through Prospect Park (gorgeous!) and there is a path most of the way after that, so you're not in the street as much. You're also riding to a destination that has go-karts and a beach, which is fun. We got bikes from Ride Brooklyn on Bergen Street - they were nice guys and good bikes. We started at the bike shop, rode through Park Slope, through the park and then down. It does get a little sketchy as you get closer to Coney Island but it goes pretty quickly. 

Whee, riding through Prospect Park!

Whee, riding through Prospect Park!

SHOP

1. I love the Williamsburg Brooklyn Flea. I love Williamsburg in general. A sunny Sunday at the Flea with some Toby's Coffee in hand is just so fun. The vendors are amazing. The food is all local and incredible. It's full of inspiration. It's also not that big, so you can do it all in an hour or less and then head over to Artists and Fleas - another winner, with great jewelry.

cute plants at the Flea

cute plants at the Flea

2. 21 Mercer. Ahh. This store. I come in here almost every time I go to NYC just to see what they have. The kicks are so dope and they have an in house Nike ID studio. Love, love, love. 

COOKIES

Yes, this is a category. I have researched cookies in NYC heavily. There's no time to waste calories on sub-par cookies! The cookies at both places are huge so split with a friend or two.

1. Levain Bakery. The one on the Upper Westside. Dark chocolate peanut butter chip. OMG. Walk over to Central Park and enjoy it on a bench there since there is no seating at Levain. 

2. Birdbath. The one in Soho. I mean, they have giant piles of cookies in the window. Yum!

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NYogaC

I love New York City. And, don't judge me... I actually really like doing yoga there. The hustle to make it to class on time, the sweaty bodies squished mat to mat, the way people are fully present in class (like London), the thoughtful sequencing and intelligent cues, the weird music or lack there-of. I dig it.

Sure, there is the crappy stuff - third floor walk up studios, surly check-in people, smelly feet in front of you that have been walking the streets all day. But I’ll take it. I like the vibe. I like the seriousness. I like a whole class flowing like a river of vinyasa, getting me out of my fucking head.  I like how many people are yog'ing every single day.

yogatothepeople

People have asked me lately where I like to practice in the big apple. I am a fan of Kula Yoga in Tribeca. The studio, the flow, the vibe. I went there Monday and wasn't let down by the Kula Flow class. I enjoy it every time. But this trip, for the first time, I went to Yoga to the People with Mike. Packed house. Tuesday. 7:30pm. They filled up four rooms of about 50 people each. That’s 200 people – probably more – moving their asana in just one studio at one time. Who knows how many people are practicing daily in NYC. That is absolutely beautiful. Our mats were centimeters apart. I got anxious when they called superman because my limbs were about to get tangled up with the limbs of ten other people… and it’s all good. Because we are breathing and feeling and being in our bodies and not our heads for a little while. I mean, the music wasn't amazing and the class wasn't anything to write home about but it was all good. We were practicing yoga and that is the part that I care about nowadays.

yoganyc

The part I don’t see as much in NYC is community building. People meeting new people after class. The crowded stairwells at Yoga to the People didn’t lend themselves to creating connection. Hell, there’s barely a place to put your shoes on.

Yoga means union, coming together. An esoteric coming together of body, mind and spirit and I’ve always also interpreted it as a physical coming together. Communing with like minded people. Growing and sharing your journey with people who can intimately relate. That part can improve in NYC (or maybe I just haven't found it yet) but overall it was a pretty rad experience. Watching the rooms fill up again for the 9pm class as we were leaving, knowing that bodies and minds are being opened on a scale that can influence the world. And that's pretty awesome.

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Explore the world. Discover yourself.

I knew I had packed too much. Two rain jackets? Really, Amy? Mike kept telling me I packed too much. I kept saying that I would need all of it. I didn’t. And maybe it was due to my excitement about heading to Miami for a few days, but coming down the front steps from our 6th floor walk-up in NYC this morning with my 50 pound suitcase, I fell. Off the last step. Fuck.

“If I broke my ankle…” I said to myself, not really knowing what I would do if I broke my ankle. “Holy shit! Are you ok?” yelled the guy walking by. “Yeah. I’m fine.” I paused to collect myself. “Thanks for asking.”

Soho Ganesha

Soho Ganesha

These are the lessons when I learn the most. The moments when I beat myself up. For not planning better. For not taking my time. For packing five pairs of yoga pants when I would have been fine with two. When did I start needing so much stuff? I was never a crazy packer. This is my personal shit playing out in my life – looking good, wanting to have the right clothes so I can fit in, thinking I ‘got it’ all the time, me not asking for help. Mike was going to be at work when I left for my flight and had asked me if I would need help navigating the heavy suitcase down the six floors of narrow winding stairs of the cute NYC rental apartment. No, no. I was good. “I got it!” Ugh. Now all I’ve got is a hurt ankle and a bruised ego. I keep learning.

 

 

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