A recent trip to New York for the wedding of my lovely friends Kelly and Jens was also a great chance to play the tourist with Ste, whose first visit it was to the city. We did all the usual things and some less usual (more on those later), but the poor boy also had to put up with me dragging him round to places that, for me, are the real NYC.
Like the obligatory stock up on some quality basics at Century 21, or a browse around Wholefoods (yes, I know we have them in London too, but in America they just have different cool stuff okay?! Foreign grocery stores have always fascinated me, especially the size of the pasta aisles in Italy!), or some window furniture shopping at Pottery Barn or West Elm.
Given my lifelong obsession with pens and papers and everything stationery and craft-related, Paper Presentation on W 18th between 5th and 6th Avenues was top of my list.
I spent a good 45 minutes browsing the colourful racks of paper and card stock, all with matching envelopes, and the pens and the ribbons and the wrapping papers and the inks!
I was like a kid in a sweet shop and too excited to even remember how to work my camera, so sorry for the quality of my photos!
Even more exciting were all the Christmas baubles on display, and it was all I could do not to take one of every kind, but I didn’t much fancy their delicate glass chances with Heathrow airport’s baggage handlers. In the end I was very restrained and came away only with one set of paper and envelopes with a contrasting envelope liner in a pretty pastel colour. I’m desperate to write lots of letters on it now, so please do give me a shout if you’d like me to write to you!
After Ste had been enormously patient with me for nearly an hour and then paid for my stationery (lovely boyfriend!), I treated him to something yummy at the City Bakery, which had been recommended by my AirBnB host and I was happy to notice was next door.
I loved the double-height ceilings with period features like the innately carved pillars contrasting nicely with the more modern industrial look of the fittings. There was plenty of space to sit, despite half of the city tapping away furiously at laptops while slurping on giant bowls of coffee.
If I lived here, this would be the sort of place I’d come to write. Big enough to be anonymous, with a delicious selection of freshly made savoury food for a welcome periodic distraction (including some huge pizzas). Ste and I were both tempted by the decadent-looking hot chocolate, as well as an Apple streusel muffin and a cookie to share. It was cold out and thus the extravagance was justified. Almost!
When we had fully thawed out and sated by baked goods, we ventured out once more to another of my favourite shops in the city, The Strand Bookstore.
They advertise having 18 miles of books, which seems a pretty big claim until you visit, and then you think “only 18?!”.
It is a mecca for book lovers. Not only do they sell practically every new release you could want, they also have aisles and aisles of cheap secondhand books which can be picked up for a dollar or sometimes less.
My favourite section is the old books – I just love the smell of their pages. I know to some it is musty and horrible, but to me it evokes the generations of people that have read it, and the hidden history of each volume. I love the tactile leather bindings too.
I could have spent hours in there too, but I felt that patience with my geeky obsessions might be on the verge of running out, so we had a quick browse and I managed to leave empty-handed (having stocked up on their pretty canvas bookbags last time I was here!).
These are my two favourite places for books and paper products, but do you know of any more in New York? Or what about in your own city? (In case I am visiting!) I could write several posts on my favourite London locations….perhaps I’ll save that for another day!