friday in harlem

Since Matt and I had off on Friday we decided it’d be a perfect time to visit NYC! We visited Harlem since we typically visit the same sites every time we go to NY and have never been there. If you’re not familiar with NY, Harlem is north of Central Park. We bought Bolt Bus tickets from Philly to NY and headed off! ($32 for both of us altogether. Score!)

From the bus stop we split up. Matt needed to use the bathroom and I wanted bagels ASAP so I decided to just meet him at Bryant Park. (NY travel tip: Bryant Park has pretty decent public bathrooms. If you’re a woman it’s likely there’ll be a line, but being that it’s difficult to find a public bathroom, it may be worth the time!) I went to Best Bagels (225 W35th Street) and there was a line out the door. I decided to wait anyway and it took about 25 minutes from standing in the line extending to the sidewalk to walking out with our food. (I ordered two bagels with cream cheese and an iced coffee, so nothing required cooking. Not sure of how long the wait is if you order a hot sandwich.) If you’ve never been to Best Bagels, it’s probably worth the wait. However, when I turned the corner onto 7th, I had passed 2 separate places that also offer bagels and breakfast sandwiches. In my experience, bagels are good in most places in Manhattan so if you want to cut the wait down, you can probably find somewhere else. But then again 25 minutes isn’t terribly long and you walk out with excellent food every time.

We ate our bagels in the park and headed to the subway. We normally spend the day walking but the walk from Bryant Park to Harlem was an estimated almost 2-hour walk. We decided we’d save our walking energy for the northern part of Central Park and just took the subway.

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We didn’t get off IN Harlem, but about 3/4 of the way up Central Park. We’d heard that there are gardens in that area, and we found a couple of beautiful ones!

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 A butterfly garden!
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Conservatory Garden

I’ve been to Central Park several times, and I feel like I see something new every time. We didn’t get to see the castle during this trip, but it’s definitely another place worth visiting:

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Took this last time I was in the park. So beautiful. (This is the back of the castle but there’s a beautiful lawn surrounding this side for relaxing and picturesque views.)

Alice’s Tea Shop (102 W 73rd Street) is close by too if you like tea and scones.

From Central Park we walked north (below is another area of Central Park!)…

…and arrived in Harlem! It’s beautiful there. We started off with a smoothie at Little Bean Coffee (111 Central Park N) (maybe this isn’t yet Harlem…?)…IMG_7190

and went walking…IMG_7191

…to

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If you don’t know who he is, Google Marcus Garvey! His work did much to inspire the Civil Rights movement in our country, and he’s been proclaimed Jamaica’s first national hero.

Marcus Garvey Park!

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The park has a ton of steps as it’s very hilly. But once you make the climb there are beautiful views!

We enjoyed the view and ended up going back down to the bottom to rest on a park bench. (I actually took a cat nap on the bench and woke up feeling amazing. Something in the Harlem air…)

Then we went to one of our favorite places of the day: Sylvia’s!

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I kind of regret not taking photos of the food but it was AMAZING. We each ordered a lunch special so we ended up sharing fried chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and okra & tomato gumbo. All was delicious.

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When Matt went to the bathroom I took this photo. We ate outside at Sylvia’s and this was the view. This area is pristine. We’d definitely want to eat outside at this very restaurant again (possibly ordering the same exact meal) because everything from the view to the food was that good.

From Sylvia’s we went to Revolution Books (437 Malcolm X Blvd.) and bought a couple of things for the Social Justice library at my school. The bookstore had an awesome selection and the staff were incredibly knowledgeable. I’d definitely go back there for some more reads and if I lived closer I would attend their movie events. Their website is here: http://www.revolutionbooksnyc.org

From Revolution Books we went for some drinks. We sat at a large table by the window, again enjoying the beautiful (hot!) weather on the first day of fall. I cannot find the bar that we went to on yelp or google maps… which shows just how many awesome places there are in Harlem!

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Matt’s beer glass had the Angry Orchard tree, which was pretty exciting. I wish I had the guts to steal glasses in bars…

Next we walked around a bit more and went to Bier International (2099 Frederick Douglas Blvd.). (See a pattern in the names of streets!? I love that about Harlem.)IMG_7209

Bier International was great. It’s a German place, very low-key with picnic-like tables and blue-and-white checkered tablecloths. It’s family friendly, which could either deter or detract customers. We liked it though. (When we were there kids and dogs all sat outside with their families. Might’ve felt differently if everyone was inside, as the space is a bit tight.) *If you plan on going, it’s cash only (and there’s an ATM on the premises)!*

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The wall had ‘beer’ painted on it in different languages. 

At this point we drank slowly until it was the time we were hoping to eat. We left and walked to the restaurant Matt has been looking forward to: Safari (209 W 116th Street). We read a review for it in The New Yorker and had never eaten Somali food before. It was delicious! It’s BYOB, for which we were unprepared so Matt walked down the street after we were seated to pick up a bottle of wine. We ordered exactly what was in the review and overall we were pleased. (My chicken was a bit dry but definitely edible and flavorful.)

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The Wall

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From here we took the subway back south close to our bus and went home. Though it was midnight-ish when we got back, it was totally worth the long day. NY is always a fun time.

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Next stop? (Hopefully) Brooklyn!

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