Planning a trip to NYC

NY trip planning

New York trip planning

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the world whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again – to slow time down and be taken in, and fall in love once more. ~ Pico Iyer

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an enthusiastic itineriser and joyful organiser. As I alluded to in a previous post, for me anticipating a journey through planning is all part of the experience. Travel lasts longer if you plan in anticipation and reflect upon return.

Packing is made easier by the packing list I made for myself back in my living-in-London pre-children days when I travelled internationally all the time. When crafting my list, I started with this online list and then fine-tuned mine over a number of years of regular travel. It includes lists for my laptop bag, carry-on and checked case. I never travel without my eye mask, ear plugs, camera & mobile phone charger. This time around I’m adding some creative, flânerial things to my case, as I outlined here.

On this, my third visit to New York, I’ll be staying at an airbnb apartment. The wonderful thing about that, in addition to having my own home in the West Village for a week, is the generosity of airbnb hosts in making your stay in their city as good as possible. For instance, thanks to my host I will arrive to a SIM card and a subway MetroCard already purchased for me, along with a list of local hangouts.

While I will be in New York for work (which encompasses amazing professional learning opportunities for me as outlined in my first post), the city that never sleeps is the perfect destination for planning some culture and fun around my meetings. As with my first two visits to Manhattan, I am planning my days around its gridded neighbourhoods and subway lines. My double-sided colour-coded itinerary includes my ideas for where to eat, drink, see or shop in and around particular areas. I won’t necessarily get to all of them, but I’ve researched my options so I have a sense of where I’d like to go and what I’d like to try. I also have printed copies of my Google maps, exploding with stellar constellations of starred places I hope to visit.

The nice thing about this being my third visit is that, around my work, I can squeeze in the NYC things I have loved before and those things I haven’t yet experienced.

In my last visits I’ve strolled the Brooklyn Bridge, meandered Central Park, ridden the Staten Island Ferry past Lady Liberty, stood silently at Ground Zero, ascended the Empire State Building, peered from the Top of the Rock, been spontaneously invited to a bar opening and been wowed by the sermon and gospel choir of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. I’ve admired art at the Met and MOMA, seen Madonna at Madison Square Garden, danced in the aisles on Broadway, enjoyed live music at the Knitting Factory, watched a Yankees-Mets game at Yankee Stadium and wondered at the NY Public Library. I’ve eaten steaks at Knickerbocker, cupcakes at Magnolia, fried chicken at Sylvia’s, sushi at Sushi Samba, streetside hot dogs in the Bronx, dim sum in China Town, caviared blinis at Pravda, deli sandwiches at Katz’s Delicatessen, brunch at Pastis and dinner at Stanton Social. I’ve shopped up and down Manhattan, from flea markets to Century 21 to Fifth Avenue, and have tasted more than my fair share of creative cocktails.

I’ll no doubt make my way back to the New York Public Library; as a bibliophile it always draws me like a magnet as a beautiful space with great literary and architectural energy. I’m also looking forward to fall colours in Central Park (maybe even checking out the Central Park Pumpkin Sail), to revisiting the Met for this season’s rooftop installation and to seeing the 9/11 Memorial. I’m planning to make it into the Guggenheim; I’ve enjoyed the Guggenheims in Bilbao (Spain) and Venice (Italy) so am looking forward to seeing New York’s. The High Line’s final section recently opened so I’m delighted to be able to see Manhattan’s West Side from this historic freight rail line elevated above the streets. I’m also intending to investigate PDT as I can’t resist a speakeasy with a phone booth entrance. And I have a thing for carousels so I’ll see if I can visit the one in Central Park and Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

What are your tips for planning and packing? What are your NYC absolute must-dos?

New York Public Library in the fall

New York Public Library in the fall

The flâneuse’s packing list: a toolkit for observation & exploration

A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is the desire to hold onto it, to possess it and give it weight in our lives. There is an urge to say, ‘I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.’ ~ Alain de Botton

some of my favourite flânerial things

some of my favourite flânerial things

Flânerie has been described as “gastronomy of the eye” (Honoré de Balzac) and a moving and passionate photograph (Victor Fournel). It is an active and deliberate way of understanding the world. Baudelaire described the flâneur as the passionate observer, responsive spectator, reflective mirror and lover of life. Flânerie is all about acute, intentional and subtle observation. Baudelaire’s flâneur exists “incognito”, surreptitiously rejoicing in the magic all around him, at home among the unfamiliar, finding joy in urban exploration.

As I plan for my week in New York and my packing list, I’m asking myself: What does the keen observer need to assist them with attentiveness to their environment and experiences? How does an édu flâneuse attempt to capture the kaleidoscopic phantasmagoria of experience and learning?

Here are some of the things on my flânerial packing list.

art journaling supplies

art journaling supplies

A journal. Journaling is thinking and therapy. Cavallini & Co’s Roma Lussa is my canvas of choice, a beautiful soft-Florentine-leather-bound journal with marble page-edges. For taking flânerie old school. With pen. Paper. Even the trusty Conté à Paris crayons I still have from art school. As my Typo watercolour pencils declare: the world is better in watercolour … and charcoal, and crayon, and paint!

camera gear

camera gear

Cameras & accoutrements. The flâneuse needs a variety of lenses through which to frame and record experiences. I am taking my Canon DSLR and lenses, as well as my iPhone and olloclip lenses to allow for snapping on the go.

A laptop. For writing, blogging and editing photos. Of course this can be done on an iPad (which is much more portable) but I prefer typing to tapping and the extra control and diversity my laptop provides.

flânerial fashion

flânerial fashion

Flânerial fashion. Exploring shoes. Eco sunglasses. Leather satchel big enough to carry laptop and/or camera and/or journal. The 19th century flâneur was always bedecked in attire appropriate for urban exploration. With style.

(Pictured above are my handmade Portugese Felmini ankle boots, Scaramanga leather satchel and Shwood wooden sunglasses.)

So there you have it: my flâneuse’s toolkit, ready for taking artiness on the road to observe, explore, jot, snap, scribble and sketch.

art journal page: New York is always a good idea