West Village Ways
Finally unwinding after my New York City trip and getting to edit alllll the photos!
Last time I went to New York, I was too embarrassed I guess to be THAT girl with the big DSLR camera around her neck so I only had it a few times my last visit and it is a huge regret. I am a photo lover. If you’ve followed along on my blogging adventures, since 2007- gasp, then you know how picture-heavy my posts are. And I’m not sorry. For myself, I love to linger, and step back on a street corner, soak it all in, from the shiny, recently rained on sidewalks, up the sticker wrapped street sign posts, on up to the bricks, window frames and tree tops. So this time, I said F*&#@ it, I am taking my big ass, obnoxious camera, and I am taking all the photos I want. All the videos. I am pausing, I am asking (shop owners for permission) I am submerging myself in my scenery and I am doing the selfies to document my time in a place I LOVE. In fact, I ordered a wonderful little portable tripod last minute that I could secure onto posts and such to take photos of my outfits and myself in New York. It was fun! Of course the first time i used it was at a gas station where you see this mural and the entire time a guy was pumping gas for his shuttle van and watched me go back and forth taking photos. I told him as he watched me untwist this thing before leaving, “By the way I am on vacation that’s why I have time to do this!” Haha! He just chuckled to himself.
This was my first time to New York in summer- August, and it was fabulous. I had incredible walking weather. I had heard there was daily downpours a week or so before I left, so I had actually found a Samsonite, mini travel umbrella for $2 thrifting one day and it was compact enough for my canvas carry bag for the day. And I definitely used it day one of my trip!
Day one of my New York City adventures didn’t take me far from my hotel base in the West Village! I never plan too much on an arrival day in a city- not that I travel all that much, but after an all-night flight and a train ride into the city, lugging a suitcase, by the time I am checked into my hotel and settled and refreshed I am starving and still pretty tired. I wanted to stay on a tighter budget for meals this time, but I will say a couple dinners did run me up in the $70 range- because WINE. SO, this time the first purchase I made was a donut and coffee from Dunkin- inside the airport, before getting on my train to the city. Had to. Again, this is another thing I think I didn’t do last trip, and by the time, an hour or so later, I got into the city I was definitely hurting for some joe.
I got out of the subway and immediately refueled with GOOD coffee at one of my favorite coffee shops, Think Coffee. The space itself is just so full of history and so many buildings and architecture seem to be torn down these days, I seem to be naturally drawn to the past by way of structures and this shop has a special place in my heart. The ceilings, the light fixtures, the darkness, the wood floors….and GREAT coffee! PLUS- incredible people watching to boot! Being in New York in summer was incredible for so many things but one being, I didn’t feel like I had to hunker down in places too long and muster up courage to brave elements before getting to my next place, I literally could go in and out of anywhere as long or short as I wanted, and weave my way through the West Village as leisurely and lazily as I pleased, so I did just that.
After freshening up in the bathroom at the hotel, I usually arrive in the morning before my room is ready for check in so I change in the bathrooms and leave my bags and head right back out to the streets for adventuring- not a minute to waste! That is something I RELISH in traveling alone- MY OWN TIME. I can take as much or as little time as I want in getting ready- no need to wait on anyone else to shower, shit, eat, make a phone call, finish up a soccer game, eh em husband, or anything. I am a FRE BIRD and I LOVE IT! My husband said I was Carrie Bradshaw the other night when he caught me watching an episode as he came out of the shower and Big and her were in the back of a cab and she said Aiden might be proposing and he told her she wasn’t the marrying type. Of course, I am, to some degree because my HUSBAND laughed at this, but to another degree I am very much a loner. I love being alone and getting to travel to New York solo is something we (husband and I) discovered fills my soul and spirit so evidently much that we decided I should get to experience this at LEAST once a year… hoping for twice if I am so blessed, and wanting to contribute more financially in the coming year to do just that.
But back to West Village. I never left it that entire first day in new York! haha! I started off with an omelette and potatoes and MORE coffee (I can drink it ALL day) from a wonderfully, again historic, diner, La Bonbonniere. I had an incredible waitress who has been there a very long time and gave me a little scratch paper of some history about the spot with my check. I sat on the sidewalk and soaked in the city. In fact, I tried to dine al fresco as much as possible in New York- hello summer. Apparently The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel had some filing done there recently too. This would be a cozy spot in winter too.
Then I just wandered the West Village! NO plans! I stopped in Grove Drugs next door mainly because they had some soft bodied mermaid dolls in the window that caught my attention, always thinking about gifts for my girls. Once inside, I had great help in showing me some face creams- looking for a great one with SPF, but for my oily, acne prone skin…And then i found some great little gifties for the girls. I was off again!
I passed Magnolia Bakery, and as much as I LOVE their banana pudding, I just could NOT do it after breakfast. But after some more exploring and walking I sat myself at the bar at Sant Ambroeus and had a latte and GIANDUIA dessert that was phenomenal- it tasted like a Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolate. That wasn’t a cheap latte by any means- so I called that LUNCH.
After more walking, I ended up near the famous Stonewall Inn bar. Having just been Pride Month some of the decor was still up and there was still some energy in the air about it along that street so i just kept making my way down. Next up, I literally stumbled on one of my FAVE treat places, Milk Bar, so I HAD to. Thanks to my friend Renee Mudd for introducing me to the cereal milk soft serve with corn flake krispie topping on one of my trips. I popped in a luxurious eyeglass store and tried on some pretty amazing sunnies. Completely and utterly unobtainable with my budget constraints, but I STILL enjoy a GREAT story behind a brand and LIVE for craftsmanship, authenticity and QUALITY. I also meandered into a mens clothing shop that did custom suits, shirt, you name it and I felt the sleeves of jackets and admired the stitching and smelled the leather loafers, spoke to the manager a bit and I was off into the light drops of August along Christopher Street again.
Another FAVORITE shop, which I did spend a lot of time in, looking in all the nooks and crouching down not to miss any low shelves was Greenwich Village Letterpress- INCREDIBLE. I could have spent more time in here but I think the owner was a little skeptical of my enthusiasm for the shop- sometimes these NYC shop owners get very protective of their stores and goods, as they should, and sometimes, it has happened where, they think you are a spy from another shop or magazine or something. I try to be conscious of this and always ask if it is okay if I take any photographs or Instagram stories now for that fact, and it might be who of you to do the same when traveling in New York, or anywhere for that matter. And always, ALWAYS, tag the shop and credit them. The cards in there guys… so unique, and they even print some of their own line. I LOVED several things in there- including these little vintage Sesame Street pencil sharpeners but they were like a party favor pack and I only wanted two. There were also very cool luggage tags with different NYC neighborhoods and phrases… some great gifts to bring back from the big apple. The stationary, cards….ugh… I love stationary stores. I did get the girls each a plastic bubble from the coin machine that had a little eraser in it. $0.75 cents each and small enough to pack…
What else did I see along Christopher Street…. hmmm…
Well… by the end of the day, the clouds started rolling in around the time I saw Stonewall In and it was drizzling then, see the photo of the dew on that huge leaf down below, and by the time I hit the end at Hudson… I found my way to a restaurant that was on my list actually- KISMET! I LOVE when you just fall right into something unintentionally! That corner cutie was Malatesta Trattoria. The gusts of wind picked up a tremendous amount by the time I got to this happy and quaint corner. It was just around 5 pm and they were open for dinner. My feet were tired and I hadn’t had a proper meal since the omelette, so dinner was here! I wanted to dine al fresco, but Mother Nature wasn’t having that- too perfect of a day I guess. So I started with a glass of wine, I got a tiny table facing Christopher street looking out the large windows, and I sat in peace for a long time before the dinner crowd came. I had the spinach gnocchi. Truth be, it was so so, but I loved the fact that they served bread and olive oil and vinegar and the wine was fantastic- but pricey per glass. I would go back again, but would probably have opted for the roasted chicken or classic marinara. All noodles are prepared on premises though! It was good, just not fabulous!
After dinner, I wandered back up and wanted to listen to some jazz at Smalls, my place. My favorite. But I was late for a set so I bought a ticket for the next set and I got into their sister club Mezzo a block away for the one ticket. I had a drink at Fedora first, also extremely pricey and the guy put me in the corner. Apparently you need a resi for this cute, date night-ish spot. It was about this time I definitely missed my husband. It is sometimes nice to have a travel partner too. Drinking a glass of wine alone in a corner of an absolutely adorable and romantic spot can be awkward but after my three glasses of wine at dinner I just had no inhibitions about it haha. It was on to jazz! I did NOT have wine there- haha- I am a lady after all. And a traveling solo lady at that- always good to be sober and alert.
So that concluded the evening, a listening to brassy horns and thumby bass….in the basement of a tiny little jazz spot in the West Village. I could not have planned a more perfect day in the West Village if I had intentionally tried. This post by no means is intended to replicate or duplicate either, but inspire the ability and freedom to travel alone. To see a place for yourself, with your own eyes, and time and abilities, the way your body takes you in natural directions and gets lodges in new spaces. The streets of the West Village are long, some windy and narrow, some confusing, some tree lined and quiet, some bustling with arguments over territories taken over between the dwellers that reside on those sidewalks after dark. West Village is special, something to see, but she is not something to just check off your list. To get to really KNOW the West Village, I think you have to live her. Walk with her more, explore her more, really SPEND quality time with her. I am so fortunate and blessed I got to do just that- if even for a few hours in one day.
(Off to get my girls out of the bath where they have spent a solid thirty minutes PLAYING quietly in bubbles together while I sat on the stairs and sipped coffee and finishes this post on a Saturday night. Home is pretty awesome too. I definitely MISSED my girls.)
Wearing: The first outfit was a white A.L.C. tee I thrifted somewhere a couple years ago, but how awesome is this twist front cropped version by the brand? On the bottom, wearing some funky wide black cotton pants from a brand called Xiao I just scored, brand new with tags from the Dress for Success sale a couple weeks ago, only for like $30 compared to their original value. I had all my Dress for Success sale scores on Insta Stories a couple weeks ago, they are still on a highlight reel. My shoes are Adidas that I found at TJ Maxx a couple years ago and my hat is from Delta, Colorado from a hat shop. My second outfit that I wore the remainder of the day into evening - a thrifted leopard swing, cropped tank from Target label Wild Fable, that I had found thrifting before my trip and it still had new tags on it. I found it on a ten minute shopping spree at Goodwill along with this incredible Hong Kong scarf like skirt from Tibi that I found in the lingerie section when I was looking for a basic slip. An entire NYC look in ten minutes and cost me $10 I think. TRUE STORY. SCORE! This Tibi skirt is pretty incredible if you want something unique. My bucket hat was thrifted earlier this summer as well, no tags though, but this one is VERY similar! My crossbody purse is from 2011 that I purchased for our honeymoon, by Rebecca Minkoff (whom I LOVE for handbags), but this bitty orange Mab (Morning After Bag which Rebecca Minkoff is famous for) is adorable and would be great to make a statement on travels. My sandals that got me through an NYC summer were Teva crazy enough- which has made an incredible comeback with the fashion set over the last few years. I love this pair from DSW for $50 too.