Monday, November 16, 2015

NYC | The Village

Whenever possible, I like to go away for my birthday, even if it's just to a neighboring state. (Were I trying to sell someone on living in Connecticut, I'd say one of its perks is its proximity to so many places worth traveling to.) Last year I went to Rockport, MA and Portsmouth, NH. This year, I went to New York to see Courtney, my best friend since childhood. (I guess you know you're getting pretty darn old when you can say you've been friends with someone for well over 30 years.)

While there, one thing I ended up doing was wandering around and taking pictures in one of my old New York neighborhoods. I lived in Greenwich Village first as a baby, then again as a college student. Every time I return, the area looks the same, which is comforting, and also different, which is also comforting. New York wouldn't be New York if it stayed static.

I lived in this city for so long (and assumed for so much of that time that I'd stay forever) that I came very close to becoming one of those New Yorkers who have nothing but scorn for any place that isn't New York. Now, I'm thankful I live elsewhere, both because I've gotten to experience life in a variety of cities and because, though I no longer know which restaurant has closed or which block is about to suddenly become cool, as a semi-outsider I now appreciate the city in a way I never really did when I walked its streets every day.

There are a million (probably two or three million) guides for what to do in Manhattan. But if you're curious, here are some highlights from my quick weekend trip:

Neighborhoods to wander:

Financial District
Greenwich Village (and the East Village)
Upper East Side

Places to eat and drink:

Aroma Espresso Bar
Lucky Strike

Parks to explore: 

Washington Square Park
The Battery and Castle Clinton 

A classic museum:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (and the Met Store)

What I might do next time: 

The High Bridge (because maybe it's the new High Line?)
Trinity Church (because like everyone else, I've been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack non-stop.)
The Museum of Jewish Heritage (because I've been to the Jewish Museum uptown many times, but never to this museum, which has a different focus.)
Flying Tiger Copenhagen (because I walked past and it looked adorable.)
& Other Stories and Aritzia (because for some reason I'm always intrigued when foreign stores I've heard of come to the US.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Cloudy Day In SoNo

Food people will tell you to go to South Norwalk for its variety of acclaimed restaurants. Bar and club people will tell you to go for the bustling nightlife. People who always need to be doing something will tell you to go for the museums, the galleries, or the shopping. I say, go to this historic, walkable waterfront district to get a glimpse of an almost-lost Connecticut, a tough little seaport town that refuses to be plastered over by what happens to be hip in 2015. You don't need a sunny day, and you don't have to have a plan - just walk down Washington Street and the surrounding area. And remember to look up.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fleeting Autumn | West Hartford Reservoirs

Remember when the leaves just changed every year, as leaves are wont to do, and no one went to any great lengths to do anything about it? People appreciated their usual drives or walks a little more for a few weeks, but that was mostly it. There were no limited edition takeout coffee cups with leaves printed on them. There was certainly no "leaf peeping." (Such a strange phrase, isn't it? "Peeping" implies a special effort to catch a momentary glimpse, while viewing fall foliage is the opposite of that; changing leaves are everywhere, you couldn't avoid seeing them if you tried.)

But now, fall is a thing. With foliage comes pressure. After all, you have just a short window to capture the autumnal trees in all their fragile spectacle - one untimely storm or strange stretch of weather could doom them. Afraid that I would soon wake up and look out my window to find bare branches and a street full of withered brown leaves, I hurried to the walking trails at the West Hartford Reservoirs. Luckily, I was not too late. There the leaves were, yellow and red and orange and green, still, but also pale peach and rose and colors I couldn't name. So don't panic. There's still time.

In related news, yesterday I (along with fellow Connecticut writer Jan Mann) was a guest on the WESU Middletown radio show "For Women Over 40," talking about fall travel. Though I'm not yet 40, I hope I gave some tips - including about where to see foliage - that will work for travelers of all ages. The show is available on the WESU website for the next two weeks, as well as on host Cyma Shapiro's For Women Over 40 website, where you can also listen to an earlier show we recorded about traveling in Connecticut.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Walk at Harkness Memorial State Park

I'm not usually one for picking favorites. Few things send me into a blank-minded panic faster than asking me for my favorite song or book or movie. I don't know how people manage to have a favorite in any of those categories; it's just so hard to choose. That said, I do have something that comes very close to being a favorite Connecticut state park: Harkness Memorial in Waterford.

I could have sworn that Harkness had made multiple appearances on this blog, but when I went back and checked, the only substantial mention of it was this brief post on Harkness in winter. That, I thought, was an oversight that had to be corrected.

The ostensible focal point of Harkness Memorial State Park is Eolia, the 1906 summer home of the Harkness family. (Scroll down to "A Summer House in Winter" for the history of the estate.) But to me, the main house is the least interesting thing to see here. I prefer the smaller buildings dotting the grounds, the trees and walking paths, the little amphitheater facing the water, and the 230 acres of manicured lawns, gardens, and Waterford coastline.

Harkness is not Connecticut's largest state park or its wildest, but it is one of the few I am drawn to again and again. If you haven't been to Harkness, I think you'll want to add it to your list.


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