Beyond Burlington: Wandering through Chelsea in NYC
I’ve always found that “close by” is an incredibly subjective term in the Northeast because everything tends to be a little farther away from each other in the Northeast than so much of the rest of the country, and so us Northeasterners are used to having to go quite a bit farther to get from point A to point B. “Near by” in the Northeast is more like “a bit of hike” or “quite the trip” to most other people, which is why, when I tell you that New York City is “actually not too far” from our lovely little Burlington, some of you will nod in agreement while others might be incredibly skeptical. Nonetheless, I will stubbornly conclude that the six driving hours (give or take a few) between the Big Apple and us should be no bother at all for you hardy Northeasterners or anyone else who’s transplanted in Burlington. If you set your mind to it in the morning, you can make it to the big city by the late afternoon—and I guarantee that it’ll be totally worth it if you’re in the mood for a little adventure!
After my little Montreal excursion a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but love the idea of continuing this “Beyond Burlington” exploration, and so off to New York City I took. Although there is no shortage of things to do in New York, I figured I’d focus in on a more specific spot, since there’s no hope of doing justice to all of the possible escapades in this enormous city. It was a cloudy, humid day when I wandered around the neighborhood of Chelsea and the Flatiron District last Tuesday. The rain hung over the city all day, but lucky for me, didn’t break until late afternoon, giving me some serious wandering time.
Since it was only ten in the morning, my first goal was a delicious cup of (iced, of course—it was SO humid) coffee, and the knowledgeable reviewers of Yelp led me straight to Gregory’s Coffee, a hip, bustling little closet of a coffee joint near the Flatiron building. Although there are quite a few locations across the city, this particularly one was small and noisy, which sounds uncomfortable but was actually surprisingly cozy. The coffee was their house blend; nutty, not too dark and not too light, a little acidic and a little sweet. Pretty scrumptious. Huge windows looked out onto hustle and bustle of the cross streets, and despite all the action, I cozied up to a corner and pulled out a book.
Next, it was time to get a little lost. I wandered up towards Madison Square Park, and the Flatiron building. There was food and people galore, despite a very faint drizzle. I meandered through boutiques and grocery stores, took a stroll through the little park that was filled with kids and parents thanks to a small children’s concert that was going on. Rows of strollers lined the sidewalk, waiting for the now-dancing kids to fill them for the walk home.
I was drawn into a huge foodie place on the corner opposite of the Flatiron building called Eataly, which turned out to a be a gourmet Italian marketplace, filled with tons of tiny shops selling prepared foods, fresh pastas, smoked meats, magnificent cheeses, fancy chocolates, and all manner of other yummy-smelling things. There were a few little restaurants, food demonstrations, and best of all, sampling! Despite not being a tiny bit hungry, it was still wonderful to wander through the rows upon rows of squid ink pastas, spiced salamis, and oil-drenched olives. An absolutely tantalizing escape from the drizzle.
The day eked on and I kept walking, back down towards the river and the piers. When I finally got hungry I turned once again to my failsafe Yelp, which led me towards the funky-looking Meatball Shop on 9th Avenue. A vintage-inspired red and yellow striped awning and sign echoing back to old-school butcher shops lured me in. When I saw the vintage photographs of anonymous families in 1800s dress on the walls and heard the sweet sound of Frank Sinatra coming through the loudspeakers, I instantly knew that I picked the right spot. I sat at the bar, and the bartender walked me through their menu, which was simple and straightforward, and most certainly held true to their name; there was not a single menu item that didn’t have meatballs on it. I went for the Kitchen Sink Salad—couscous, dressed lettuce, carrot slaw, meatballs, and spicy meat sauce all on one delicious messy plate. Yum!
My next stop was the famed Chelsea Market, which is a lovely industrial-style indoor marketplace, with tons of food stands, a bookshop, a flea market, a grocery store, and so much more. It’s filled with people, and a great spot for wandering through, especially on a drizzly day because it’s entirely inside. Although the food all looked amazing, I was most fascinated by the flea market, where tons of different vendors from all over the city set up tiny shops to sell vintage clothes, handmade jewelry, and funky crafts. There was something for everyone! Definitely worth the walk.
Last but certainly not least, I stepped outside of the hallways of the Chelsea Market and took the outdoor stairs up to the famed Highline Park, which is conveniently directly above the market. The park was created on a now-defunct train line, and winds a few miles or so through along the river, filled with benches, greenery, and little sidewalk vendors. There are some gorgeous views along the walk of the city on one side and the river on the other. The park itself is also gorgeously designed, since it utilizes the remnants of the train track that was once in use and builds around it, creating a gorgeous industrial-chic setting. It’s a wonderful way to sight-see the area from above, or else just relax on one of the many benches or tables for a picnic lunch or some light reading.
Let us know what you’re suggestions for wandering the lovely NYC are! Or check out the carpool situation, the bus schedules, or the trains and get yourself a little summer in the city time. Happy adventuring!