I thought I would write a little post to let you know what I’m reading. I want you to get an idea of where in NYC I’ll be touring next! With help from Twitter, I decided to read The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen by Katherine Howe. I’m excited about this one!
There’s a film student, a mysterious and beautiful girl, a seance, maybe a ghost? Sounds cool to me! Should make for an interesting tour in the city.
If you haven’t read one of my tours, check out my last one to get a better idea. Read it here. I read the book Modern Lovers, which inspired me to take a tour of the beautiful neighborhood Ditmas Park located in Brooklyn. It was a rainy day, but a cool skateboarder girl made me realize I was being a bit whiny about the rain. So I quit the bulls%it and enjoyed the day!
I only just started reading Annie van and already I’m pretty intrigued!
So I have an idea…why don’t you start reading it too so you’ll be even more fired up for my tour!? Riiiiigghht!? Sounds like a good idea to me if I do say so myself. 😉
Until then, here are some photos you didn’t see on my last tour:
This time I’m bringing you to sleepy Ditmas Park, as it’s often referred to as. I read “Modern Lovers” by Emma Straub, which got me ready to go to this great neighborhood. If you didn’t already, read my book review and sneak peek into my tour here.
Before going on this tour, I must admit, I was aggravated. If you read my Breakfast at Tiffany’s tour, you already know that I sometimes have trouble shaking off my aggravation. I usually do my tour on Saturday’s but since my weather app told me there would be thunderstorms, I postponed it. Sunday would have showers, but it didn’t sound as bad. Part of me thought I should cancel it altogether to wait for better weather, but a bigger part of me thought that the point of my tours is to get out of my comfort zone and see what happens. I had pretty perfect weather for my other tours, but things can’t be perfect all the time. That’s not reality. I know how gorgeous Ditmas Park looks on a lovely Spring day, so it wasn’t an easy pill for me to swallow, but I choked it down.
I’ve been to Ditmas Park before. I was amazed the first time I came here. I’m used to massive skyscrapers, hordes of people rushing by, honking cars…even living in Brooklyn, Ditmas Park was this heavenly little oasis of chirping birds, scampering squirrels, and cute, fluffy scaredy cats. I loved it! And oh yeah, BEAUTIFUL Victorian homes with romantic trees and perfect lawns. It’s unbelievable that this place exists in NYC.
In the book, the character Andrew gets involved with a place called EVOLVEment. It has yoga, meditation, essential oils, and illegal Kombucha. It was a coop so everyone worked there. Andrew came from family money and didn’t have a job, so it seemed like he was in some midlife crisis when he stumbled upon this place. He was ripe for the plucking by the sketchy owner, Dave.
Since that place is fictional, I decided that instead of getting involved in something sketchy, I would use the book to inspire me to move my body around in some sort of exercise-type way. Yoga!
I went to the Family of Light Holistic Center. It’s been a million years since I’ve done any physical activity besides walking around the city. However, I thought since it’s an open level yoga I should have no problem.
The class started off strangely since there was a weird smell coming from the facilities. The instructor opened the door and gave us essential oils to put on our wrists to help mask the odor.
She starts the class, “Now inhale deeply…”
Um…I’m gonna pass on that.
In her defense, the smell didn’t last long. The essential oils smelled great & relaxing and soon I could inhale deeply without concern. It was nice because it was a small class so we got a lot of individualized attention. Although, I feel like I got the most attention because she had to keep correcting my form. Yoga isn’t easy! I was sore for a couple days afterward, but my neck which is usually sore felt good for a couple of days. I need to go back!
After that class, I was hopeful that my aggravation about the rain would easily float away. We’ll see.
Since I’m a Brooklyner, I don’t live too, too far from this spot, so I went home to freshen up.
Please enjoy this brief intermission with a snack and/or beverage of your choice.
Okay, we’re back!
Cortelyou Road is the main drag of Ditmas Park. It’s often mentioned in the book and lots of restaurants, bars, & stores run along this road. I headed to a popular place along this street for a quick brunch.
This place is soooo busy! It’s crowded at the counter and a bit nerve-racking for an introvert like myself. I ordered at the counter, waited for my coffee at the end of the counter…and waited…and waited. Finally, I get my coffee that was filled to the top of my mug and make my precarious walk among the throngs of people to search for a table without spilling it. I had to wait some more until, hallelujah, praise baby Elvis! I hear my name and they bring me my meal.
It was cold. Ugh. I ate it anyway because I don’t want to dare fight through the massive amount of people at the counter. It’s a bummer because I can tell how good the ingredients are and how well made it is. It was still decent despite the chill.
When I leave, it’s still raining and I’m not in the best mood. The hectic vibe of Cafe Madeline is not really my scene and it’s Mother’s Day, I forgot to mention. I didn’t really think about that when I had to delay my tour. It was a bit awkward sitting alone in a cafe on a rainy day on Mother’s Day. I did call my mom though who lives out of state and I bought her something nice. Enough about my mom…
Time to get moving!
I’m walking up Argyle Road which is the street Elizabeth and Andrew live on and it’s also the street Ruby and Harry walk up to get to Prospect Park. I follow the directions straight out of the book.
Trying to shake off my aggravation about the rain when I see…
Only the coolest teen girl ever! I’m over here annoyed at the rain from underneath my umbrella when this girl goes skating past me without a care in the world. The character Ruby is kind of a badass teen girl so it was so appropriate that this girl showed up as I’m literally walking Ruby’s path to the park.
I was never a badass kid. I was awkward, shy, and so self-conscious. I look at a girl like this skateboarder and think, “She’s gonna turn out alright.” Not that I didn’t, but I’m still searching for my inner badass.
“They walked three blocks straight up Argyle, until they hit the soccer fields and the back of the tennis center…Ruby nudged Harry toward the bridle path, a soft dirt road…they were completely alone, staring out at the lake…There were ducks in the lake…”
Ducks!? I need to see these ducks!!!
I found the lake! I was told there would be ducks here.
That guy is fishing!
AND SWANS!!! How did I not know about this? I vaguely recall hearing something about this, but I guess I was too busy sitting on my comfy couch to learn how to find this in real life. Thank you, Emma Straub, for leading me to the ducks and swans of Brooklyn!
So cool! I enjoyed them for a little bit. I was alone in this spot minus some rowdy men I heard nearby. I think that the only park goers on a rainy day are the ones running the loop. Runners are a dedicated bunch, rain or shine. The loop was close but not close enough that I felt that protective feeling you have when you’re around others. So when one of the rowdy men started walking in my direction, call me paranoid or call me street smart, I said a quick goodbye to the ducks & swans and briskly walked toward the more populated loop. That guy kept walking in my direction but since I made that decision quickly, there was no way he could catch up to me. He was probably harmless but on this Mother’s Day, I had my mom’s voice in my ear, “Better safe than sorry.”
But MOM…maybe I ran away from my soulmate?
Mom: “Mmmn…I don’t think so. Did you hear about that girl who went to the park to look at the swans and…”
Did she get murdered?
Mom: “Yes…brutally. I think I might know your future soulmate. He lives in Georgia. You can talk to him on the computer!”
Now that I escaped near death thanks to my mom…time to get back on track!
Did you enjoy these lovely homes? The next home I’m going to take you is the well-publicized mansion of actress Michelle Williams.
Whoa! I was not expecting that. Trying to enjoy a peaceful walk here!
The next homes I learned about from reading an article on Bklyner.com called “Brooklyn Staycation: A Day In Ditmas Park.”
Street Art in Ditmas Park
Artist: Juan Carlos Pinto
This is the last house on my tour. Did you have a favorite?
For dinner, I picked a restaurant that I think could be the inspiration for Jane and Zoe’s fictional restaurant Hyacinth, which is located on Cortelyou Road.
I sat at the bar with a glass of wine & a good meal.
Looks a little weird but it was quite tasty.
I was thinking about my last tour, how I was hoping I’d meet a nice guy. A guy was near me for a bit but when I got back from the bathroom, he was gone. Two guys took his place. Hmm? I’ll have my choice…actually I think they might be gay.
I’m not really feeling the drive to meet a guy like I was during my last tour. I wasn’t jealous of any of the characters this time. Instead, I look at those guys and think, “Good for them!” What’s wrong with me? I’m almost 39 & still single. I need to keep my eyes peeled. Change locations if there are no viable single guys around.
Bartender: “Would you like dessert?”
No! What is this? The bartender recommended this. I feel conned. They were out of one dessert and I bet they were low on the chocolate one, so she steered me toward this one.
Um, bartender, I’m the single female here, I think you should have pointed me in the direction of chocolate instead of this swamp! I don’t even know what I’m eating. Are those onions? In her defense, she did say it was weird, but she used weird as a selling point and I fell for it! No, I don’t want croutons in my dessert, thank you though.
That left me wanting actual dessert so I stopped at the store on my way home and picked up chocolate peanut butter gelato. Yum!
I saved the best for last. 😊
You know I love dogs, but I have a special place in my heart for three-legged dogs. The owner lets me take a picture and told me that Pogo inspires him every day. I love that three-legged dogs go about their life the same as if they had all four. They run around & play and enjoy their life.
I’ll keep Pogo and the cool skateboarder girl on my mind whenever I need to remind myself to just let go and enjoy.
Thank you so much for coming along with me on my tour! I hope you enjoyed it.
Since the last book I read was set in Manhattan, I thought it would be nice to head back to Brooklyn. I am a Bk girl after all, which I admit, makes me a little biased. This book is set in Ditmas Park, a little oasis in Brooklyn that’s hard to believe exists until you step foot over there. Do you need a breather from the hectic, rushed vibes of Manhattan? Ditmas Park is your answer! It is a breath of fresh air!
Needless to say, I was excited to read Modern Lovers. In fact, I’ve been planning on reading it for a while but I needed to wait until the trees would be in full, spectacular bloom for you. In case, you’re wondering, yes, I have been to this part of Brooklyn before. I was amazed the first time I walked around this neighborhood, so I really wanted you all to see it too. Sadly, I had a bit of a weather delay and the day I went was not the perfect day I was hoping for either. It was a bit rainy, but not so terrible that I couldn’t enjoy the day.
Okay, down to business! Modern Lovers is about a close group of friends, Elizabeth, Andrew, Zoe, and Lydia who knew each other during their college days and were in a band together. Elizabeth and Andrew were college sweethearts and now are married living in Ditmas Park with their teenage son, Harry.
Zoe is married to Jane and they also live in Ditmas Park and coincidentally have a teenage daughter named Ruby. Do you see where this is going? Yup, Harry, and Zoe might become more than friends…
So that leaves Lydia…Lydia became quite the rockstar but as stars go- they rise and then they fall. Unfortunately, Lydia’s fell. A film surrounding her life is a major focal point of the story.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Prior to reading, I had glanced at some negative reviews. Well, I, for one was completely invested in each of the characters’ stories, especially Elizabeth’s.
The characters seemed real and honest. I enjoyed Ruby’s badass personality and Harry’s innocence. The relationship troubles the characters faced seemed very relatable. I rooted for them and hoped for the best when things seemed to get a little hairy. I definitely recommend this book.
In case this is the first time you’re reading my blog, I read books set in NYC and take a tour of the city using the book as inspiration. Check out the last tour I went on based on the book I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk. You can read it here.
I’ve lived in NYC for almost 13 years and if I’m being honest, I was in a bit of a rut doing the same things day in and day out. Wake up-Work-Home-TV-Bed. Rinse & repeat. Many times I thought, “What am I doing living in such an expensive city?” Am I taking advantage of living in one of the coolest cities on the planet? The answer was no. I needed to change that. When I got this idea, I felt excited. I love reading and who knows where these books and characters will take me? I wanted to see!
Part of me was nervous because if I don’t make plans with friends, I usually just stay home unless I have errands or something. Could I spend a whole day in the city doing solo activities? Brunch, dinner on a Saturday night, or a concert? Well, now I have done those things and it makes me eager to do more! Now I know that I don’t need to wait for anyone to get out and explore. I don’t need to wait for permission to go out and live an adventurous life.
But of course I know friendships and even dating (ugh) are important. So don’t worry, I will still keep up with my social life. I do have some pretty great people who I’m lucky to call friends.
What a wonderful sunny day this was! We’ve had a rough winter in NYC with cold, slushy snow storms, up & down weather, and lots of coughing and sneezing all around. This day, however, was beautiful and the people were out to enjoy it. I’m so glad my tour happened to fall on such a lovely day. In case you don’t know, I take myself out on “dates” based on books I’ve read set in this crazy city called New York City. I hate to say it, but so far it has been a lot more fun than any dates with the male population I’ve been on lately. I’ve got some blog posts on those kind of dates too. Read at your own risk.
Like Scott Rogowsky, let’s get down to the nitty gritty! I read “Reconstructing Amelia,” by Kimberly McCreight, which took me to an awesome neighborhood in Brooklyn called Park Slope. If you didn’t read my book review and sneak peak into my tour, go here.
The first time I did a tour based on a book, I had trouble getting out the door because of no hot water in my apartment. What a pain that was. If you’d like, you can read about that fun here. What I learned on that day is that I have to do a better job at shaking off my aggravations. I kept that in mind on this day.
Before setting out I was feeling a little anxious. My last tour, I picked up food at spots and mostly could just enjoy the solitude. For this “date” with myself I planned to up the anti. In the book, the character Kate meets up with someone at Dizzy’s Diner, which means that on a Saturday in NYC, I would be having brunch with myself.
Dun dun duuuun! For those who don’t know, the brunch culture in NYC is serious and it most definitely is a social activity. I planned to go inside and eat brunch alone. Why? Why did I feel the need to do this to myself? How come I couldn’t just take a picture of the exterior and be done with it? God I’m a masochist, that’s why.
“Take deep breaths and steal a picture before anyone notices how weird you are,” I tell myself.
It looks inviting, right? “Can I ride that horse? I probably shouldn’t.” Time to go in. Just move forward, that’s what Don Draper would do. You’ve never watched Mad Men? Never mind.
The gentleman at the door who helped me to my table put me at ease right away. I struggled to move the table a little so I wouldn’t crowd the person behind me and he swooped in right away to help. I appreciated this so much because in NYC, you never know what you’re going to get in restaurants. Many are filled with nice staff, but lots of places have a pretentious staff. This was not one of those places! Phew!
I mean, look at this pig I sat under:
Cute guy, right? Don’t worry piggy, I won’t be partaking in any of your friends for my meal.
The nice waitress came and took my order. I noticed later that she told everyone around me the “specials” but never told me. I wasn’t too bothered by it though. She probably sensed my nerves and knew I was trying to morph inside myself and pretend I wasn’t alone in a restaurant. She was probably uncomfortable about it too and wanted to leave me in peace. I had thoughts on telling her about my plan for the day so she realized how very cool I was, but I suppressed that urge. Waiters are busy so if she only half-heartedly listened and gave me a polite smile, it would have crushed my spirit. Instead, I focused on my coffee. I heart coffee!
And look at this mouth-watering meal!
Oh my! No lie, this was the best brunch I’ve had in a long time! It was seriously tasty. Who needs the specials?
Dizzy’s was such a cool place and had a nice vibe. I highly recommend it.
Prospect Park West often gets a mention in the book. Amelia has to walk up this street to get to school among many other spots in Park Slope. Speaking of the fictitious private school she went to, Grace Hall…I think I might have found the inspiration for that school.
Wait for it…
Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s called Litchfield Villa, but I think Grace Hall was modeled after it. I wonder if the author, Kimberly McCreight would tell me if I’m right?
Speaking of the author, she responded to one of my tweets while I was tweeting about my tour.
This absolutely made my day! Thank you Kimberly! We’re on a first name basis now, right?
After being well fed by the great people at Dizzy’s it was time to head to the park and get dizzy from all the runners, bikers, and rollerbladers. See what I did there?
So many motivated people at the park! I could have used the book to inspire me to go for a jog in the park, but I went with another direction…sitting in the park.
A sign! I found my way to the spot I want to go! What a relief because whenever venturing into a big park, I have fears of getting so lost that I have to send out distress signals. My distress signals would involve clapping loudly, banging rocks together, and then breaking my foot from dropping the rock on it. Luckily, that did not happen.
I made it to the Picnic House! Thank you Mr. Truck for blocking my view. It’s okay though, I’m letting go of my aggravations. See? I can learn!
The Picnic House is where Amelia goes to a secret meeting. It sets the stage for the rest of the story.
Perhaps she met up with the other attendees in one of those picnic tables? Or maybe not. According to the book, they were hanging out under the “crooked trees.” I head to a spot under one of the beautifully crooked trees.
I alluded to a missed connection in my last post. For awhile, I relaxed on my tree stump enjoying the scenery and then actually answering the phone when a friend called. I’m not a big fan of using my phone app. See Gary Gulman’s stand-up, “Telephone 1.0,” and you’ll understand more of how I feel about it. I digressed but you should totally YouTube that.
So I’m on my stump and a young looking guy who’s also alone sits down. He was at an appropriate distance in my vicinity, although, not close enough to strike up a conversation. I couldn’t tell from my vantage point if he was cute, but I was curious. I thought I should stay a little longer in case he wanted to come closer. I thought I waited long enough to see if anything interesting with him would happen, but since he seemed engrossed in his phone and I had a tour to continue, I decided to go on my way. I get up and start walking.
I soon realize that he also got up and was walking in the same direction as me. I was nervous. Was that on purpose? No, probably not. I didn’t know what to do. Turn around and walk towards him? No, what would be my reason for turning around? I decided to walk slower. I did try to give him a couple of glances, but I’m so bad at this stuff. The last time I looked back, he was stretching. I have no game, so I kept walking away.
Let’s take one last look of the Picnic House and forget about that guy. It wasn’t meant to be!
I made a couple of other stops in the park which are shown in pictures in my original post and also my half-tour post, here.
Next stop on my tour is the street, Montgomery Place because the book reads: “That little block is like the nicest in the whole hood.”
As I’m making my way there, I realize that my battery power on my phone is at 20%! Oh no! I don’t understand how it got drained so fast. I never talk on the phone. Is that what did it? See, talking on the phone is the worst. Never. Do. It. I apologize to my friend. We actually had a great conversation and it was a highlight of my Park visit.
Before I get too panicky about my phone, I take a picture of myself.
Okay, enough self indulgence. My phone dying is actually a serious problem. For one, all my tour stops are typed out on my phone and I need google to find them. Secondly, I have the worst sense of direction. Without google maps, I could get lost forever in Park Slope or God forbid, South Park Slope. I’m sorry, I have nothing against South Park Slope. I’d be lucky if I could afford to live there. Actually, I almost got a tiny studio with very low ceilings in South South Park Slope. I wasn’t a fan of crouching in my living space, so last-minute, I backed out. It was a good decision.
With my phone dying, I don’t know what to do, but I head to Montgomery Place anyway.
I couldn’t fully appreciate it since I was still in a state of panic, but here are the couple of shots I took:
I wish I could have taken my time on this block, however, with direction from some passerby, I headed to Seventh Avenue to look for a coffee shop that had an outlet. As soon as I got there, I sensed that a Verizon store would be on that street. It must be my super power being able to sniff out a Verizon store.
It would’ve been better to spend my time in a coffee shop, but there would be no guarantee of an outlet. Since I’m a Verizon customer, I felt this was more of a sure shot. My super power ability proved true, I only had to walk a few steps before I stumbled into Verizon. They let me use their portable charger. Nothing to do but sit and wait. I will not get aggravated. I will take this opportunity to reread parts of the book that would be interesting to reread since now I know how the story ends.
After only an hour (see that optimism?), I’m back to my tour! I’m hungry again! Yay, I love to eat! I have two places to choose from in the book- a bagel place or a pizza place? Tough decision! Yes, I can eat two breakfasts in one day! Darn it, I’m getting a bagel!
But can’t I get a slice of pizza too? Is that allowed? YES!
It’s cash only. I have no cash…I can’t get a pizza. I’m stuffed, so like that guy, it’s not meant to be. Not too worry. There will be other slices of pizza in my future!
Time to go to Amelia’s best friend Sylvia’s street! According to the book, “Sylvia lived on Berkeley between Seventh and Eighth, around the corner from Mr. Wonton…”
The most delicious hot chocolate I’ve ever had was at Cocoa Bar, which is now called Chocolateria. It was beyond amazing. Besides heavenly, chocolatey stuff, do you know what else they had? Outlets. I don’t get aggravated. The hot chocolate is too good.
Time to get back on foot! Now I want to go to another character’s home. Dylan’s place is described in the book as white stone, “and there was a kind-of-cool, kind-of-creepy sculpture out in front of a small tree with hands at the end of the branches instead of leaves.” Again, I of course don’t have an address to this fictitious home, but I’m hopeful I will find a spot I think is her place. Yes, Dylan is a she and lives on 2nd street near the park, so that’s where I head.
After passing many white stone brownstones, I arrive here:
The last stop on my tour is Green-Wood Cemetery, since that is where Amelia is buried. It’s 6:30pm at this point and as I head there, I have a thought, “Will it be open?”
Oh well, Green-Wood Cemetery is a National Historic Landmark and is beautiful. I need at least a full day to explore its “478 spectacular acres.” I’ve seen it from various, gorgeous vantage points, but I’ve still never gone inside. I plan on remedying that soon. Check out their website to learn more about it!
This is where my tour ends! Thank you so much if you made it this far. Let me know what you thought about it in the comments.
Special thanks goes to author Kimberly McCreight. I loved your book so much, fell in love with your characters. My solo date based on your book was so much fun. You took me to so many great places. Thank you! Everyone, read her book. It truly was a wonderfully, suspenseful book and an eye-opening read.
According to my Fitbit, I walked 16,227 steps on this tour. That might be a lot of steps but what I learned within those steps is that I can relax in this city after a stressful work week. I had that vacation feel on this day. My focus was on where I would go next, what I would eat, about the book, and the characters. The stresses of my everyday life were nonexistent on this day. Instead of hurrying past people, I noticed their smiles and laughter. I saw families out enjoying the sun, kids posing by the park with their arms outstretched, and it all made me happy. I want to try to take this feeling into my everyday life.
Hello again! This past Sunday I posted my book review of Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, but I also told you about the tour of Park Slope I went on based on the book. It was a “date” with myself in the very setting the story takes place. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, then click here. My full tour with sites specific to that lovely book will be coming on Sunday, I promise. Can I make that promise? It’s my first blogging promise, I’m nervous. I can do it…I promise.
Until then, I want to share some more photos from that day I think you might like.
Here they are!
That’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed my half-tour! Come check back on Sunday to see if I treated myself the way I deserve on my date. Also, I think I had a missed connection. Story of my life. I’ll let you be the judge.