One of my favorite quotes comes from a young adult literature novel which states, "We were always poor, but we were never too poor to travel. My parents believed travel made your spirit rich." As I ventured through the boroughs of New York, I truly felt the richness of my spirit come to life. New York is a mecca for writers, it is the land of the Harlem Renaissance and so many greats began and maintained their stories here. From Langston Huges to Zora Neal Hurston to Claude McKay you can feel the spirit of greatness calling you. Even modernized greats such as Jacqueline Woodson and books clubs such as Well Read Black Girl were created in these bustling boroughs.
Setting foot in the boroughs of New York allowed me to authentically connect with myself and the communities. I traveled by subway, walked everywhere else and saw most of the staple places to travel in New York City. I ate well, met new people, saw old friends and really gained the opportunity of seeing what true diversity and inclusion looks like. Coming from Chicago, and spending much of my life in this location, I immediately noticed the difference between our city and the city of New York. Everyone was so connected despite language, culture, economics, etc. There were different languages being spoken, different types of food, and in all different types of people every where we turned. My overall experience was gratifying to say the least and it left me wanting to stay and explore more. It also left me with these thoughts and as I continue to travel more and use my experience to enhance my ability to write.
Travel on foot more often. Uber is everywhere and travel by car just seems to be at an all time high. I use Uber a lot when I am in Chicago, but I also use Uber a lot when I travel in the states. This is not only an expensive feat, but it doesn't allow me to get out an get a true depiction of the world around me. In New York, I did a lot of traveling by subway, which obviously is the New York way, but after I would get off of the subway, I did not use that as an opportunity to call an Uber. Instead, I joined other New Yorkers and set by foot to get to my next location. This allowed me to really see the boroughs, notice artwork, observe people... to wander. I found myself feeling more free and open to opportunities that presented themselves. Of course, I created a day by day itinerary BUT I also accepted when new opportunities caught my eye and allowed me to deviate away from the plan. Speaking of being on foot, I was averaging close to 20k steps a day, so yeah there was A LOT of walking happening here.
Try New Types of Food. I'm a vegan. I think we already established this several blogs ago, but if you have more curiosity please feel free to venture into some of my older blogs to learn more about this fact. I digress. As a vegan, aside from mapping out the important touristy and not so touristy spots, is also Yelping all of the "vegan friendly" venues in the area. This was not a difficult mission at all in New York. There was so many different types of food EVERYWHERE. Again, comparing it to Chicago, which has a multitude of different cultures, I didn't think New York was going to offer many different options from what Chicago already had, being that they are both major cities BUT BOY WAS I WRONG, especially when it came to Queens. Queens is truly what I think of when I think of a diverse city. Within a 5 mile radius, you have the opportunity to eat a variety of authentic cuisines. One of my favorite dishes was Trinidadian Chinese food. I never knew this existed. But, I have to tell you, the combination of these two cultures being merged into one dish IS MIND BLOWING. As soon as I finished eating this meal, I quickly yelped to see if there were any places like it in Chicago and to my disappointment the closest option I had was Jamaican food. How disappointing. Don't get me wrong, I love Jamaican food, but this being our only major Caribbean cuisine (as depicted by Yelp) is truly disappointing. Nevertheless, I am grateful for New York's diversity of authentic cuisine and it's ability to meet my vegan needs.
Talk to the locals. We have tons of apps and that will help you find all of the "new and hot" spots as well as the tourist places. Technology is great, but there's a lot of benefit to actually connecting with locals. They really live here so they don't have to give you a high life reel which is reflective of a one time visit. They are able to give you a good depiction of their favorite, frequently visited spaces. Locals can help you to find food and attractions that might go unnoticed by Yelpers or other highly reviewed apps. Remember that dish I was raving about earlier? That recommendation came from the mouth of a local. Also, besides just being recommended to good spaces, you can also receive recommendations on the easiest and cheapest ways to get around. Road maps, times to visit certain places, types of transportation to use and ways to get a true feel of the city are all wins that come from these conversations. Locals are filled with information. Don't worry about how to connect with them either. It can be as simple as starting a conversation while you're commuting or sitting at a restaurant. The world is a lot friendlier than we give it credence. In my experience, I have found people who are happy and willing to help and give tons of advice.
I hope this helps and most importantly I hope you find all of the fun, peace and enjoyment you need in your next vacation!