New York City Guide

21 February 2018

New York has always been a polarizing place — for both myself and others. I go through waves of pining after the city. SometimesI I’m not able to imagine myself living anywhere else and I romanticizing the vast urban landscape. But in between the frequent waves, an ambivalent feeling takes over. “But everyone lives there. There are little redeeming qualities. If you’re going to live in a city with debilitating rent, why not live in San Francisco with the ocean and better weather? Ugh, it’s such a bubble” my perpetual internal monologue rumbles on (and on...and on…).

Truth is, my relationship with NYC has been very limited up until this point. The first affair lasted less than a week and happened during my senior year of high school and induced: my parents; a tiny UES apartment; few concept, shops, cafes, and other attractions that entice a 2018 Abby. The last of which spanned over half a day back in summer 2015 during a road trip from Boston to Philadelphia. (It was hooooooot. I wore a weird hat. I forced my friends around Soho + Chelsea. You get the picture.)  

This most recent trip was spontaneous yet calculated. A cheap plane ticket found back in January solidified my plans, and I didn’t make housing plans until 10 days before my departure. My daily yoga and meditation appears to have made me a lot less type-a, or maybe the word I’m looking for is “irresponsible.” Because I was spoiled with frequent jet-setting in Europe, I’ve found it hard to go a handful of weeks without something planned. January ended with a wonderful trip to see my best friend in California, and I will be going to Montana at the end of March. Although my initial intentions for this trip to NYC shifted along the way, I was still so excited for this visit.

Piggybacking off my time in Europe, early wake-up calls for weekend trips are a breeze. By the time I made it from LaGuardia to Manhattan, I still had the whole day to drag my sleepy body around to explore. The first night I stayed in The Freehand, and w o w, did I LOOOOOVE it. Newly opened, this hotel is a great creative hub with beautiful + thoughtful design as well as custom artwork by 10 different artists throughout all 395 rooms. Important to note that no one is making me say this, I just really, really, really like The Freehand.

I stayed relatively in the area surrounding of The Freehand, walking down to Nolita and Soho where the majority of my pre-mapped places were stationed. I must admit that there was something really freeing about being a stranger in this city and walking around with no real agenda. All I really did was spend way too much money, drink a lot of coffee, and enjoy a new book. It really was lovely, but also, my insides were juxtaposed with liberation and loneliness — cognitive dissonance if you will. Two opposite emotions of feeling embodied but also feeling a strong grief for things I haven’t yet experienced. I thought back to my last solo-trip to Aix-en-Provence right after my grandfather’s death and right before my move to Paris. I remember feeling so sad and confused and anxious and fearful during those three days. I listened to the same three John Mulaney podcasts, woke up at noon each day, and barely ate anything. I thought about myself in that moment and how much I’ve grown and learnt since then, and I gave late-August Abby a lot of love.

In my opinion, the best way to shake off an emotional hangover is by dancing until 3 a.m. at a gay bar in Astoria, which is exactly what I did the following night. The reason I keep beating this metaphorical stick over the head’s of all you readers is because I NEVER DO THIS. My friends tried to get me to go out whilst in Paris frequently. Typically, by the time the end of their question left one of their mouths, I had already crawled into my bed, never to be seen until the sunrise of the following morning. What changed this time? Couldn’t tell ya. Even though it was 10 p.m. and I had work to do, my friend’s friend, Jason, got me to go dancing.

The best thing about gay bars are, however: 1. Drag Queens 2. A lot of Lady Gaga music 3. No unwarranted sexual harassment 4. Gay men fawning over my other gay friend’s shimmery jumpsuit that I gladly wore. I even had glitter on my face! It was great and now I understand why people go out as much as they do, even though it will be an estimated 3 months before I venture out to do anything similar again.

Even though my body very much regretted my late night dancing tryst, the rest of the weekend was filled with beaucoup de bons amis. I got to meet a long time internet friend, Rosie, and we spilled our hearts out over many meals and miles as I outlined in a recent instagram post. The validation of talking to someone who also holds the same burdens as you immense. I’m very appreciative of our open conversation and shared infatuation with Ewan McGregor (two very important qualities I value in all friendships) I got to grab lunch with another long time internet friend and discuss graphic design and yoga. And I got to explore art museums and galleries with a sweet friend from Paris. It was a lot of extroversion, but so worth it.

Before this trip, I had never been to Brooklyn. I remember during the aforementioned first trip, Brooklyn was still up-and-coming and I asked my parents if we could go. My father — who grew up on Long Island, whose parents lived in Brooklyn, and whose father grew up on the streets of the borough — couldn’t understand why I would want to go to there. That’s all to say we didn’t go.

My Brooklyn day was rainy. Rainy rainy rainy. Good ol’ me couldn’t be bothered with an umbrella. I can tell you now with absolute certainty that outside of the context of showering and water sports, I have never been more wet in my entire life (that’s what she said). So did that ruin it? A lil’. Did I take that opportunity to listen to moody Olafur Arnalds music and stare pensively across the East River? Of course. Did I still make it to every concept and coffee shop? You bet your ass I did.

All in all, it was a great and emotional trip. However, if I learnt anything from all my weekend adventures in Paris, any and every trip is both great and emotional. I think I’ve now settled my internal devisiveness surrounding this city, and I will be back very, very soon. In the meantime, enjoy this map! Easily the highest number of places out of all my maps/city guides. It includes all 9 of the shops I featured on my NYC Coffe Shops poster, as well as 56 other places. Jesusssssss so many. But all so so good.

1. The Met
2. MoMa
3. Ace Hotel/Project 8
4. The Freehand
5. Chalait
6. The Whitney
7. The Butcher’s Daughter
8. Tartine
9. A.P.C. Surplus
10. Monocle Shop
11. The ELK
12. Buvette
13. Claudette
15. Still House
16. Ninth Street Espresso
17. La Garconne
18. Maman
19. CW Pencil Enterprise
20. Edith Machinist
21. Supermoon Bakehouse
22. Maryam Nassir Zadeh
23. Brooklyn Roasting Company
24. Pink Olive
25. Sword Smith
26. Sprout Home
27. Sweatshop
28. Mociun Home
29. Catbird
30. Le Labo
31. Egg Shop
32. Reynard
33. IGWT - Bedford
34. Concrete + Water
35. Beacon’s Closet
36. Five Leaves
37. Peter Pan Donut Shop
38. pas mal
39. Bellocq
40. Homecoming
41.Home of the Brave
42. Wolves Within
43. Bakeri
44. Milk & Roses
45. Sey Coffee
46. AP Cafe
47. Glossier Showroom
48. Nickel & Diner
49. Saturday’s
50. Apiece Apart Pop Up
51. Happy Bones
52. Ritual Vintage
53. warm
54. The Sosta
55. Egg Shop
56. Cafe Integral
57. De Maria
58. The Apartment by The Line
59. Jack’s Wife Freda
60. Rachel Comey
61. Everlane
62. Cafe Gitane
63. Milk Bar Nolita
64. Green Fingers Markey
65. Gasolie Alley Coffee