It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. Because of my hometown’s ideal California clime (always between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit), booths like these are always outdoors, even in the winter, and because I grew up in a small town, we rarely had anything organized on this scale (although Union Square in San Francisco has a pretty fantastic fake winter ice rink surrounded by the most expensive shops you’ve ever been to in your life–obviously perfect for the broke college student). The booths in Bryant Park are like little glass huts, heated inside. Hordes of New Yorkers and tourists and college-students-who-aren’t-quite-New-Yorkers-yet, like me, try to squeeze into each shop to admire the odds and ends they have packed inside and try desperately not to knock over something fragile in our thick fall coats.
Every shop is something new and quirky, just like the city itself. Several shops sell earmuffs with animals on the part that covers your ears and many charge exorbitant prices for hot chocolate and other sweet things that I had to restrain myself from buying. The Strand, an infamous, giant bookstore in Lower Manhattan that supposedly stocks 18 miles of books, had a rather large glass tent thing, filled to the brim with books and Ruth Bader Ginsburg pins. Numerous artists sold their art and one shop was completely devoted to tote bags emblazoned with sarcastic quips. There’s a giant fake ice-skating rink (not unlike the one in San Francisco) since it doesn’t start snowing here until December, and if you look up, you’re surrounded by beautiful New York skyscrapers.
All in all, I got cold and bought a lot of winter things that I didn’t know I needed and ran away from pigeons that were after my food.In the few months since I’ve moved to New York, I’ve become a huge subway fan (if that’s even a thing, because the subway is simultaneously gross and glorious). I’ve never liked Uber (when I’m home, I prefer to drive), and New York is super easy to navigate. Anyway, I highly encourage all of you to take the subway next time you’re in NYC (taxis are not the real thing).
Bryant Park, filled with trees and slightly-vicious pigeons, is just a few blocks from Times Square. To get to Bryant Park, take the N, Q, R, S, W, 1, 2, 3, or 7 lines to Times Square-42 St. and walk or take the B, D, F, or M lines to 42 St.-Bryant Park.Still, I’m slowly learning that New York is not defined by touristy Times Square or even Bryant Park. While those places are definitely cool, it’s the smaller-but-more-local places that define your community and where you fit into this enormous city. Recently, when I was taking the subway to the airport (yes, I take the subway to the airport), I randomly saw a friend of mine in the same subway car. And while I love the rest of the city, the neighborhood I live in is definitely my favorite one so far. There’s just something very different about living in New York that makes the city all the more special, vibrant, and unique.