Let me start this off by saying, I’m a very social person. I love meeting new people throughout my travels, hosting dinners and such, and I get excited about a trough of white wine at girls night as much as the next basic girl.
Travel is different. More specifically, travel to New York City is different. It’s just somewhere I go to get away. Yes, I realize how crazy that sounds given that it’s one of the biggest cities in the world with a reputation of never sleeping. But what it comes down to is the value of anonymity in the midst of familiarity. The ability to be a wallflower in a place where I don’t have the mundane responsibilities of work and daily life. It’s a chance to watch a city go about its day, to part-take in its energy and have the opportunity to make observations that people living in this routine are unable to make – the same things that I am oblivious to in my own routine life.
So why NYC?
It’s a 12 hour bus ride. Yes, bus ride. Before you jump to judgement (or astonishment) you must consider that in order to maintain the frequency of my NYC excursions, serious budgeting skills are required. Mind you, this doesn’t mean I never fly. I do. Just not as often to be able to vary my culinary decisions from a hot dog stand lunch to a Buvette brunch, and not be confined to the former.
But Also Far Enough
Far enough to make it seem like a world away. But let’s be real, NYC is its own world. It has an energy that can’t be replicated and a spirit fueled by the passion and diversity of its residents.
And Big Enough
You can spend a whole day in one neighborhood exploring the limitless culinary options (literally, given that a new restaurant springs up every few weeks) spanning from breakfast through evening drinks and participate in events you would never believe existed.
I find that in traveling alone, I have the most interesting encounters with strangers. I’ve had a bartender ask me if I believe in the Illuminati, an interview in Washington Square Park for a documentary, frosé on the Highline with someone I actually became friends with, etc. The best ones, however, are the inspirations you get when you least expect them:
Cafe Habana – Sunday Morning
Having grown up around Cuban culture in Florida, I jump at any opportunity for Hispanic cultural immersion, especially when it comes with a side of chorizo. I casually took a seat at the bar of Cafe Habana’s tiny corner SoHo location and began flipping through the menu mostly written in Spanish. The music sounded like something you’d hear playing from a boombox on Malecón and the staff embraced the culture as though this was more like a way of life than a restaurant job. Just as I started my breakfast, a mismatched meal was placed at the empty spot next to me and within a minute I made the connection as a waitress sat down to take her break. A little while later, a coffee cup was passed to her which I can neither confirm nor deny contained a mimosa. Not long after that we started talking. Not entirely sure how it began, but I do know that it turned into a pep talk really quickly. She reminded me of the importance of (and dire need for) respect in our society, that the role I play in the workplace is significant regardless of the task, and that it is up to me to choose my direction in life, never forgetting the power of spiritual guidance and the importance of gratitude. It just goes to show that you never know when you’ll meet quality people who will add value to your life. Set aside your expectations and keep an open mind. At that point, filled with spiritual motivation, feminine empowerment and a Cuba Libre, I walked blocks and blocks unable to stop smiling to myself, once again reaffirming my obsession with solo travel.
I don’t think any city has a rooftop scene quite like NYC. In the same way that New Yorkers venture through the city on weekend mornings in search of the hottest new brunch, evenings are filled with the search for the best skyline views while sipping on artisan cocktails and craft beers, several stories above the reality of traffic and daily life. Up here in the oasis of sunsets and overpriced drinks, this massive, over-crowded city seems to stand still. The buildings look majestic rather than intimidating, the sky radiates serenity and you have this amazing backyard in the middle of Manhattan that’s just for you (and about 100 geographically closest strangers.)
It’s Simply Become Home
I know I throw the word “home” around a lot but the more I travel, the smaller this world becomes and NYC is one of those cities that stole my heart from day one. Love at first sight. I may not know every corner (ok but seriously who does?) or the hottest brunch place but what I do know, I’m sure about. I know that every building has a history, every moment is an adventure and every individual has an intricate perspective if you’re brave enough to start a conversation and generous enough to take the time to listen.