The more I travel, the less focused I become on visiting mainstream tourist attractions. For me, the best part of travelling is getting out there amongst the people, the culture, the food, the skies, the green, the day-to-day life and rhythm of an unknown place. I like to wake up in new surroundings and simply walk out the door, then keep walking. Sure, I’ll usually have a few general ideas in my head about what I might want to do, see, or eat that day, but more often than not these plans will shift according to where the invisible pixies of joy and adventure push or pull me.
For example, if I find myself faced with “calorie free” caramel dip whilst wandering through a midtown deli on my first morning in New York, the pixies will order me to flee. Flee and never look back.
If, on the other hand, a wall of kombucha greets my eyes in a grocery store near my hotel, then I know the pixies have led me to a slice of New York that fits my soul just right.
After a restless first night in New York, I woke up on Friday morning with a vague map in my head and the knowledge that I needed to sort out a few errands as soon as possible. First, though, in order to prove that I really am in New York, I created for you a fancy Self-Portrait-of-a-Starbucks-Reflected-Girl-Amidst-Yellow-Cabs:
As you know by now, I am unfailingly and irresistibly drawn to anything that sparkles. Thus on my quest to find summer-appropriate shoes with which to walk around Americaland, I found myself lured into a Steve Madden store by the promise of glitter.
Alas, I knew full well that such glorious heels would not be suitable to hours of walking around city streets, and so I put them back on the shelf. (Now that I think about it, those shoes probably are perfect for “walking the streets”.)
To reward myself for procuring sensible black shoes as well as an American cellphone, I bought myself a Soy Mocha Frappuccino. Frappuccinos may taste nothing like real coffee but, dear heavens, I delighted in every sweetly caffeinated sip.
My plan had been to walk to Union Square’s farmers market as well as its Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Garden of Eden, but en route I discovered each of these stores in the Chelsea area. Over an hour later, I emerged from their shining embraces with bags full of goodies to partake in for dinner.
Oh Karen & Sisters vegan creations, I have loved you since I first met you in 2007, and it gives me great delight that you still exist.
I love your lemony-zingy “turkey” mimicry, your lemongrass-chilli-tamari-sesame-marinated carrots and kale, and the fact that you are ridiculously high in protein and calcium. Seriously, where does all the calcium come from? Why is the sky blue? Will I wake up every night at 4am due to jet lag? Is the moon really a dolphin in disguise?
While in Trader Joe’s, I resisted buying an entire tub of mini chocolate peanut butter cups, but was powerless before this Dark Chocolate Bar filled with Speculoos Cookie Spread.
The dark chocolate melted into sweet richness, giving way to the rich, butterscotch- and ANZAC biscuit-like flavours of the Speculoos filling. I must say I didn’t detect many spice notes but, for the Australians reading this, I thought it tasted like Butternut Biscuits. Very easy to eat very quickly.
After nibbling at two Apple Cranberry Bran Muffins (also from Trader Joe’s), I plotted out a few goals for the following day, sent several of my American friends my new cell number, set my alarm, and snuggled under the covers of my hotel bed.
It may not have been the most whizz-bang of travel days, but it was mine and it was perfect.
I do so like this New York place.