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A four day itinerary in the Cotswolds, England.

The Cotswolds, or the “The Wolds” is a southwestern region of rolling hills and quaint English villages. It was designated an “area of outstanding natural beauty,” the British equivalent of National Parks in the U.S.

The rolling green hills are decorated with honey-colored limestone houses with stone shingled roofs. Each village seems quintessentially British with a local pub and tea shops downtown.

Many of the towns in the Cotswold sprung from the wool industry, with historical mansions built for the wool merchants and smaller homes for the workers. 

With the industrial revolution and the development of cotton this region saw a major economic decline and many people left the countryside for the city. Now it’s a favorite seasonal get-away for Londoners and tourists in the mood for manor house nostalgia.

The Cotswold’s attracts many walkers for the long hiking trails known as Cotswold’s Way, St. Kenelm’s Way and Monarch’s Way. Many of which pass through English farmhouses and property.

Getting in: We rented a car from Robinson Gross (Tredington Park, Tredington, Shipston-on-Stour CV36 4RN, United Kingdom) just outside of Moreton-on-Marsh.  If you plan ahead and give them ample notice, they offer reasonably priced-rides to the train station. We took the train from  Gatwick Airport (directly to the right when you exit arrivals) to Reading and transferred to a second train heading to Moreton-on Marsh. You can also take the train to Oxford and transfer from there. 

The Lion Inn, in Winchombe was one of the coziest locations!

Accommodations: We wanted to stay in a charming older inn, and we had a car and could stay in a town that wasn’t a transportation hub. We chose The Lion Inn, (37 North Street, Winchcombe, Cheltenham) which proved to be a good home base after a day of trekking and exploring nearby villages.

Day 1: Enjoy a meal at your Inn or local gastropub. After a few hours of navigating the train system or driving in from London, get settled into your lodging. We stayed at the Lions Inn in Winchcombe and enjoyed our first meal at their delightful gastropub. We enjoyed a nightcap in front of their roaring fire. To celebrate your arrival and initiate your adventure, I recommend getting dinner at your local Inn, or a local village favorite that is within walking distance. This way you can still get up early the next morning and start exploring.

Day 2: Hike, Explore Broadway Hike, Explore Hailes Abbey, Broadway and Chipping Campden:

I like to get some exercise in before each adventure. Start your morning off by hiking either Cleeve Hill or Broadway Tower. If you choose Broadway Tower don’t bother paying the 5 pounds to go the three flights up, you have an equally beautiful cascading view from the hilltop.  After getting your hike in, feel free to go about your day in your hiking clothing, the area is very sporty. Check out Hailes Abbey, Chipping Campden and Broadway. Hailes Abbey (Hailes, Cheltenham GL54 5PB, United Kingdom) embodies the reminiscent ruins of a 13th century abbey. The heritage site includes a free audio guide and an intact church showcasing medieval paintings.  It also offers a great place to picnic or take a leisurely stroll. Next up on the itinerary is Broadway. I loved Broadway, with its expansive center and many shops and tea parlours.

We had high tea and snacks at Tisanes Tea Room (Cotswold House, 21 The Green, Broadway WR12 7AA, United Kingdom), which was affordable and low key. Tisanes attracts tourists as well as locals, and we noticed a local knitting group meeting for tea and conversation while we were there.

We had high tea and snacks at Tisanes Tea Room (Cotswold House, 21 The Green, Broadway WR12 7AA, United Kingdom), which was affordable and low key. Two of the grand hotels: The Lygon Arms and The Horse and the Hound, offer great options for a more upscale high tea experience. Spend an hour or so strolling through the town’s various shops. Don’t forget to snap a photo in front of the iconic red telephone booth. Next stop on the village itinerary is Chipping Campden, which is a fifteen minute car ride. For those on foot, it is a five mile walk.

Don’t miss an opportunity to walk down Chipping Campden’s High Street and experience the old Market Square, which was a sheep marketplace in an earlier era.

You can also saunter down to Broad Campden and back up, which provides a quaint respite. The walk is decorated with some iconic thatched roof houses. Once back in Chipping Campden, I recommend getting dinner at The Huxley (High St., Chipping Campden, United Kingdom) in the middle of the village center. Check out if they have a live music event, and in good weather,eat outdoors and get a feel for the village and its people. If you are in the mood for a nightcap at the end of your day, I recommend a visit to Hollow Bottom Beer Garden (Guiting Power, Cheltenham GL54 5UX) for a refreshing local brew from among the many beers on tap.

Day 3: Sudeley Castle, Lower Slaughter, Borton-on-the-water, and Stow-on-the-Wold:

Start your morning by exploring Sudeley Castle (Website,10:00AM-4:00PM, ~17pounds). Get your fill of centuries worth of English history! Next head over to Lower Slaughter. En route to Lower Slaughter, drive through small and underwhelming Upper Slaughter, which is not worth the stop. Once parked in Lower Slaughter, walk around the town and enjoy the beautiful running mill and attached cafe. We had the luxury of arriving just as they were putting some scones into the oven! After walking around Lower Slaughter, follow the 1.5 miles path to the left of the river to walk to the neighboring town of Bourton-on-the-water.

Bourton-on-the-water is absolutely beautiful, but does cater more to tourism. The village is known as “the Venice of the Cotswolds”. Enjoy a leisurely lunch and window shopping in Bourton-on-the-water, like the name entails a river runs through it. I loved just walking over the various bridges downtown. Take the leisurely walk back to your car and end your day in Stow-on-Wold.

The charming village of Bourton-on-the-water with it’s idyllic river through the center of town.

In Stow on the Wold, walk around the center of town, which is more “bustling” than the others. The multipurpose St Edward’s Hall is a library, tourist office and museum. If it peaks your interest, check out the English Civil War artwork on the second floor. The building was built in 1878 from unclaimed funds at the local bank. Don’t miss the medieval St. Edward’s Church.

Stow-on-Wold is home to St. Edward’s Church, which back door seems to have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien with the door to Moria.

End your day with dinner at Porch House (1 Digbeth St, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cheltenham GL54 1BN, United Kingdom), publicizing itself as the oldest Inn in England. On their hearth, they have witches’ blessings engraved in the 1700s fireplace. Most of the area has fresh local produce and a seasonal menu. When I was there they had butternut squash risotto, it was amazing!

The Porch House, known as the oldest Inn in England.

Day 4: Daylesford, Woodstock and Blenheim Palace, and local favorite Falkland Arms:

Blenheim Palace

Start your morning off with brunch at Daylesford Organic Farm (Daylesford, Kingham, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 0YG, United Kingdom) in Gloucestershire. In the United States we have John Deere farm equipment, in England they have JCB, started by Joseph Cyril Bamford in 1945. Anthony Bamford, succeeding his father as the current owner of JCB, was appointed a Lord in 2013. He is also a collector of antique Ferraris and other luxury cars. The Daylesford Organic Farm was started by his wife, Carole. This upscale farmstand is a must see, as it represents a positive outcome of a recent tourism movement in the Cotswolds: sleek, clean, and new. Focusing on organic farming and clothing, this farmstand is the definition of country chic. Spend some time walking around the farmhouse and shops.  Those who prefer to be pampered can get a massage at the spa.
 

 Spend the rest of the day at Blenheim Palace. It has a quirky place in history in that on November 30, 1874, Jennie Churchill was attending a party here when she began to go into labor and gave birth to Winston (what a surprise to the guests and the Churchills alike).

Blenheim Palace is the only English palace that is not in royal rule at this time; those “nonroyals” include Winston Churchill, Consuelo Vanderbilt, and Princess Diana before she married Prince Charles.

 In 1702, Queen Anne gave John Churchill the title of Duke of Marlborough and the Blenheim Palace after a successful victory over the French in the eponym, Battle of Blenheim.

I highly recommend the audio guide to enhance your Blenheim Palace visit. Grab a snack and a coffee from the cafe to sustain you through this expansive tour.

After spending the day at the luxurious Blenheim Palace and garden, enjoy a meal in the Village of Woodstock. I recommend the Black Prince (2 Manor Rd, Woodstock OX20 1XJ, United Kingdom), which has elevated pub food and a beautiful riverside dining area.

If you are looking for a long weekend out of Boston or New York, you may enjoy a weekend itinerary in Mexico City, Mexico; St. Augustine, Florida; or Barcelona, Spain.

Biking the East Coast Greenway

Over 2 months I will be biking from the entire eastern seaboard on the East Coast Greenway from the Canadian Border of Maine to Key West Florida. I will bike 15 states, ~450 cities, and ~3,000 miles! The terrain is paved bike paths, back roads, and some unpaved path sections.

Day 1: Calais, ME—> Addison, ME

Day 1: Addison, ME—> Belmont, ME

Day 3: Belmont, ME—> Harpswell, ME

3 books to read before going on a roadtrip or hike

Since COVID-19, we have been (safely) going on long adventurous roadtrips and hikes.

Here are a few books to get you excited about a ROADTRIP:

  1. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

2. The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara

3. Blue Highways: A Journey into America

Three books to read before a long trek or hike:

  1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

2. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

3. I’m Off Then by Hape Kerkeling

5 Lowcountry Coastal Towns to Visit

“Low country”, refers to a distinctive geographic area, culture, and cuisine that is unique to the South Carolina Coastal region, but sometimes extends to Sea Islands and coastal regions of Georgia and Northern Florida. Known for its shrimp boats, intricate estuaries, sweet tea and sweeping verandas. The region is originally known for rice, indigo and cotton fields, as depicted in the blue indigo state flag with the Palmetto tree and crescent. Most of the region became rich through the slave trade and as a result roughly 40% African-Americans can trace their heritage back to ports around Charleston. Many blacks in the area consider themselves Gullah (known as Geechee in Georgia), both a culture and an English-based Creole language spoken by the people formerly enslaved from West African. A historical highlight for me was the Penn Center on St. Helena’s Island outside of Beaufort, SC.

The region is known for its beautiful Antebellum architecture. What is Antebellum? Ante is the Latin word for “before” and bellum is “war”, and in this case it’s pre-Civil War, much of which was fought along these Low Country cities.

My list includes mostly idyllic towns with the southern charm that South Carolina is known for. Spanish-moss draped oak trees are in abundance along the shores, providing refuge for animals and humans alike. 

  1. Beaufort, SC and the Sea Islands

Beaufort is the second oldest city in South Carolina and frequently on the list of best/quaintest small cities in the US. Situated on the curve of the Beaufort River,and on the Port Royal Island. Due to the location, you can see ethereal sunsets AND sunrises. The historic district, plush with large inviting front porches on antebellum mansions, dates back to 1711 when the British chartered the town. Many of the homes were built with wealth from the cotton, indigo or rice industry. This is an absolute must see for southern charm. 

The lighthouse on Hunter Island State Park.

Start your morning off in St. Helena’s island with a coffee at Lowcountry Cider Co. (507 Sea Island Pkwy, St Helena Island, SC 29920), lighthouse at sunrise, walking through Hunter Island State Park ( $8 entry fee), which has pristine and uninterrupted shores of the Atlantic and ten miles of hiking trails. Then Penn Center (16 Penn Center Cir E, St Helena Island, SC 29920), Ruins of Chapel of Ease Ruins (St Helena Island, SC 29920), and Gullah Grub (877 Sea Island Pkwy, St Helena Island, SC 29920) for lunch.

Head back to the adorable and history laden downtown Beaufort. I love walking around the town, and Janet’s Walking History Tours offers a great historical background for anyone interested in learning more while they walk. I enjoyed a little window shopping at NeverMore Books and the many quaint stores on Bay Street. I personally love a sunset drink with a view to unwind from the day. I recommend waterfront sunset views from either Lady’s Island Dockside or Fishcamp on 11th street. After, consider dinner at Old Bull Tavern

  1. Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island

I adore Shem Creek. I recommend getting a coffee from Vintage Coffee (219 Simmons St, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464-4347) or Brown Fox Coffee (307 Simmons St, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464). From there you can either rent kayaks or paddle boards from Coastal Expeditions on Shem Creek (514 Mill St, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464) or walk around the boardwalk. Make sure to get reservations beforehand. The Mount Pleasant Historic District gives many vistas of the Charleston Harbor and historic Antebellum homes. I adore the walk or run down Pitt Street through the Historic District to the Pitt Street Bridge from Shem Creek. After all this working out, head. For those who have worked up an appetite, Page’s Okra Grill (302 Coleman Blvd) and Post Inn (101 Pitt St) are both local favorites for brunch. 

After all your walking, head south to Sullivan’s Island to enjoy some much needed beach time.Some friends recommended parking at Beach 25. They have a beautiful long boardwalk to get to the sandy beaches. For those who may need a beverage, The COOP (2019 Middle St, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482) offers fun frosé and delicious sandwiches. The Obstinate Daughter (2063 Middle St) and Home Team BBQ (2209 Middle St) offer great food. Those looking for a little more upscale, and amazing fresh fish can head back up to NICO Oysters and Seafood (201 Coleman Blvd) which is closer to Shem Creek. 

  1. Hilton Head, SC

Hilton Head, SC was the only area that I had heard of before actually venturing to the South. Located 40 minutes north of Savannah and 2 hours south of Charleston, SC. Hilton Head is a beach and golfing paradise for locals and travelers alike. I would call this the Cape Cod of the South. The original area was just the location of a few plantations, and as such does not have a geographic historic center like many of the other towns on this list. Often catering to family vacations, at first I did not like this destination. Developed and charged a price to drive into certain sections of the island. Once I switched my means of transportation from a car to a bike, I was in paradise. I loved all the outdoor activities that you can do on Hilton Head Island. Yet, the whole island has been built up more than the other locations on this list. It feels like they have nearly endless miles of beach, which are all worth exploring.

I started my time at Hilton Head Social Bakery (Harbourside Ln Building 1) for a delicious harborside breakfast. It is worth it to take a brief walk around the area, which is called Shelter Cove.Then I recommend renting a bike to get around the island. Hilton Head has over 100 miles of public bike paths. Harbour Town is iconic with the candy cane inspired lighthouse, and worth it to park the bike and walk around. Many of the compact sand beaches are great for morning bike rides, but can become crowded and should be avoided (on two wheels) in the afternoon. Similar to the other lowcountry locations there are a few wildlife locations: Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge and Sea Pines Forest Preserve

Delicious dinner can be had all over the island, but some highlights include Charlie’s L’Etoile Verte (8 New Orleans Rd), known for their lunchtime fried oysters (normally runs out!). Sage Room (75 Pope Ave), ELA’s On the Water (1 Shelter Cove), Bistro 17 (17 Harbourside Ln D) and lowkey Fishcamp on Broad Creek (11 Simmons Rd).

  1. Georgetown, SC and Pawley Beach

Known as “Little Charleston”, Georgetown is the third oldest city in South Carolina. This is a known quaint gem of the newly named “Hammock Coast”, which refers to the South Carolina Coastal region between Myrtle Beach and Charleston. Situated on the Winyah Bay, similar to other Low Country towns, this has much nature to offer with estuaries, salt marshes, and miles of beaches. I highly recommend renting a kayak in Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center (1 Yawkey Way S) and relaxing at Huntington State Beach. For those interested in history, the area has both Hopsewee Plantation (494 Hopsewee Rd) or Hampton Plantations (1950 Rutledge Rd, McClellanville, SC) in nearby fisherman’s village of McClellanville. Hopsewee Plantation also has a restaurant that offers lunch options. If you want to offset your price of admissions to these Plantations consider a donation to the NAACP. 

Another quaint seaside town, with small and local businesses along the waterfront. Paley Beach is still untouched by the crowd and tourism of nearby beach destinations. 

Georgetown’s waterfront walk is a beautiful activity. The town center offers a few good restaurants, mostly all are casual and locally owned. 

  1. Bluffton, SC and Daufuskie Island

Start your day at the quaint and peaceful town of Bluffton, which is located on serene May River. For those who need a morning cup of joe, like myself, I recommend Corner Perk (1297 May River Rd). There is a water taxi from Bluffton to Daufuskie Island, which is worth the extra cash to get a private tour through the intricate river ways. 

Daufuskie Island is distinctively underdeveloped as compared to the other locations. This island gets you back in touch with the natural beauty of the region. The serene setting has drawn many artists to the island, and as a remote has a couple galleries.  a school house turned coffeehouse aptly named School Grounds Coffee (201 School Rd) which is run by two former social workers from North Carolina who relocated to the island a few years ago. You can get some great food at Lucy Bell’s (111 Benjies Point) run by partners in business and life, James and Brad. During the summer months it can get some tourists, and the Daufuskie Crab Co (256 Cooper River Landing) always stands to have a laid back beach bar vibe. Go for a drink, the food still leaves room for improvement. 

All of the ~400 residents seem to know each other. The cooperative farm was purchased on a ten year loan for $1, and the Daufuskie Island Helicopter landing was also loaned for $1 for 100 years. I happened to forget to order a Golf Cart, and ended up getting a tour by the local Fire Chief, quite a treat! 

When you return to Bluffton, I recommend dinner at upscale, FARM Bluffton (1301 May River Rd), which uses all locally focused seasonal food.

Ways to celebrate Black History Month without leaving NYC

African-Americans have been living and contributing to the development of New York City since 1626. While early inhabitants were forced here through the Dutch West Indies trade. A large number of African-Americans moved up north during the great migration of the 19th century for economic opportunity and better treatment. A large number of Black New Yorkers are of Carribean descent bringing great food and culture. Without further adieu here is a brief article about weekend excursions to learn more about the history of Black communities which contribute so meaningfully to our diverse culture in New York City.

Brooklyn based sculpture, Simone Leigh’s “Brick House” on the High Line.

When growing up the only BIPOC depicted in the history books was either when talking about slavery or segregation. As an adult and educator, I like to remind my students that the first known human was from Africa. So ALL history started in Africa. I also try to emphasize positive contributions that are often not celebrated or known.

A few of these neighborhoods I have listed churches. I was able to listen to a guest speaker for the World Monuments Fund after the inauguration of the Alabama Civil Rights Fund. The speaker explained that there were a lot of churches listed as sites because when the government was not giving adequate funding to black communities as white communities, the church communities filled in the gaps and served many social welfare functions. They served as centers of the community. Most of the churches I list have historical significance, the majority just have dope music 🎵 and would be worth a visit if that is something you are interested in.

Please note: most of these restaurants are doing takeout because of COVID restrictions. New York City is set to open up dining (at 25% capacity) starting February 14th. Support these black-owned businesses.

Without further adieu please find the three neighborhoods to check out in order to celebrate Black History Month. These sites and restaurants are lumped by neighborhoods, so that you can “make a day of it”.

Harlem:

Known for its richly celebrated musical history. Many African-American’s moved to the neighborhood during the great migration of the 20th Century. While I have listed this once, it could easily be done as multiple packed day excursions. Home to the New York Amsterdam News, the oldest Black newspaper in the country. Take a walk by Langston Hughes House (20 East 127th Street) it used to be part of the National Park Service but recently closed. Make sure to walk by, while the poet travelled extensively he always had this place to come back to.

Harlem Sites of cultural/historical significance:

Abyssinian Baptist Church (132 W 138th St) known for their great music. This was the place of James Baldwin’s step father’s funeral, which led to his writing of Notes of a Native Son. 

The infamous neoclassic, Apollo Theater (253 W 125th St), in which you can get a tour or in times of non-COVID, go for a concert. 

Schomburg Center for Black Culture and History (515 Malcolm X Blvd) closed due to COVID, but worth a trip in times of non-COVID. It is a research branch of the New York Public Library and encompasses research and historical objects of people of African Descent.

Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market (52 W 116th St) bazaar named after Malcolm X’s grandson who was murdered in Mexico City. The market offers various African crafts, clothes and accessories. Most items are hand made from the vendors, mostly recently immigrants from all over Africa. 

Harlem Restaurants:

Red Rooster (310 Malcolm X Blvd), Sylvias’s (328 Malcolm X Blvd,) soul food cuisine, Lolo’s Seafood Shack (303 W 116th St) co-owned by a Guyanese immigrant and East Harlem raised, 

Jazz Clubs

Harlem is known for its world famous jazz clubs. You could not stop in the area without at least tipping your hat to Cotton Club (656 West 125th Street) or Minton’s Playhouse (206 W 118th St). 

Crown Heights:

The neighborhood that made national news during the three-day racially charged Crown Heights Riot in 1991 is undergoing gentrification.  Historically, Crown Heights has been the home to a large population of Jewish residents, and the headquarters of the Lubavitch movement is located on Eastern Parkway.  Crown Heights also has a large population of African Americans and people from the West Indies, and it hosts the annual Labor Day Carnival celebrating Caribbean culture. 

Crown Heights hosts the annual Labor Day Carnival celebrating Caribbean culture. I would recommend going during the day, because the evening can often get rowdy. Above: a fiery female dressed in the traditional Carribean Day clothing.

The area is forever evolving and is becoming one of the hippest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. With gentrification, Crown Heights has seen much change over the last decade, however, Crown Heights still has great spots that showcase its roots as a community of African- and Carribean-American cultures.

Crown Heights Sites of cultural/historical significance:

Berean Baptist Church (1635 Bergen St), a former station on the “underground railroad” was incorporated on August 11, 1850, when the influence of the Abolitionists movement prompted frequent meetings of mixed racial groups who were committed to social change. Later as a station on the “underground railroad,” In 1894 the church splintered into two separate congregations. The black congregation erected the building now known as The Old Berean Church, which was the first church built from the foundation up by an African American congregation in New York City. 

Slavery was abolished in NY in 1827 but not nationally until 1865. Weeksville, named after James Weeks, an early landowner, became a free black community with its own school, newspaper, and a doctor. At the time the literacy rate in Weeksville was higher than the national average.

Check out the Hunterfly Road Historic District in Weeksville Heritage Center (158 Buffalo Ave). Weeksville was one of the largest free black communities. Slavery was abolished in NYC in 1827 but not nationally until 1865, so this enclave became a safe haven for freed men and runaway slaves. It is one of the few historically preserved areas for the African-American community from that time period. 

Bronx-born artist, Fred Wilson, shades the infamous effigies of Nefertiti at the Brooklyn Museum. This brings to queston the racial identy of ancient Egyptains. Brooklyn Museum has a large collection of Egyptian, African and African-American Art.

Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Pkwy) is known for having one of the largest collections of African Art in America. 

Restaurants:

Crown Heights has much to offer on the food scene. 

Check out the no-frills, The Island’s (671 Washington Ave), for some delicious Jerk Chicken (and a nod to the Caribbean community that gentrification is displacing).

The black and female-owned restaurant, Cheryl’s Global Soul Food (236 Underhill Ave), will not disappoint for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They often have live music in the evenings. 

The trendy dominican restaurant, Puerto Viejo (838 Dean St), is worth a try!

Flatbush:

Still a stronghold for black Caribbean culture. Flatbush has a large number of  Haitian and Jamaica immigrants. Known for the ornate Victorian houses, busy commercial district and the 18th century Dutch Reformed Church. 

Flatbush Sites of cultural/historical significance:

Kings Theater, The 1929 lavish Loew’s movie theater went defunct from 1977-2010, and reopened after a $93 million dollar “face lift” in 2015 to its old grandeur. I have attended a book talk by Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

Restaurants:

Both trendy and upscale, Carribean Social (847 Flatbush Ave), and vegan, Aunts et Uncle (1407 Nostrand Ave) are worth a try in this neighborhood. Those open to venture the 40 minute walk into East Flatbush should definitely taste the food at black female-owner, Suede (5610 Clarendon Rd).

A few other suggestions:

Brooklyn Tabernacle (17 Smith St), a megachurch with a Grammy Award winning Choir. The 250-voice choir even sang at Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration! The 1918 edifice started as a vaudeville Metropolitan Theater. Converted in 1978 into Loew’s movie theater which was defunct from 1996- 2000, and reopened in its current use (after extensive renovations) in 2002 as the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church. The euphonious Sunday services are at 9:00 AM, 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. Expect the service to go at least an hour and a half.


Plymouth Church (57 Orange St, Brooklyn, NY 11201) known as the “Underground Railroad Depot” in the 1800’s. While many African-Americans sought their freedom in the north, this church became a rest stop before moving on to Canada. The church also held fundraisers in which congregants would contribute to buy an enslaved person’s freedom, and in some cases extra money to help them get started. Abraham Lincoln worshiped here when in town!

Two days in Alberobello, Italy

Alberobello (direct translation is “pretty tree”), the UNESCO world heritage site is known for their signature Trulli houses. A Trulli looks like a hobbit or troll house, but is a small hut-like building with conical ceiling in the Puglia region of Italy. Originally used as a storage house, the rural Puglia roads are dappled with trullis. Alberobello has the largest conglomeration of trullis. The city’s filled with Camera ladden tourists taking photos of trulli’s, majority of which have been converted to the tourism industry: gift shops, museums, and accomodations.

Personally I have a love/hate relationship with Alberobello, you need to go see it because it is so iconic, yet it is so touristy that you will be exhausted. All authenticity of this town has completely given over to tourism in order for the local economy to survive. This is the largest concentration of Trulli’s and it is truly unique to stay in one and walk around and see them. So my recommendation would be a two day one night stay and to manage your expectations. Expect camera clad tour buses rolling in mid-day. If you have the flexibility, I would recommend coming early in the morning or later in the evening. We chose to stay in Alberobello, and this allowed us to leave the town when it got crowded, but appreciate the unique architecture in the morning and evenings. 

The regions abundance of limestone, karst and calcareous sedimentary were used to create the mortarless houses. Why mortarless? As the 18th century population increased people created the commune of Alberobello, the local count didn’t want to pay taxes for a new development to the Spanish Viceroyal of Bourbon and therefore requested his citizens to create housing that was easy to dismantle. 

The two areas of Alberobello to explore in this half day are the Rione Monti quarter (“Mountain” district), which is the most condensed trullis in the touristy and commercial district and the more local neighborhood, Rione Aia Piccola (roughly translated to “Small yard district), where some of the trullis are still residences.

Accommodations: I definitely recommend staying in a trulli for the experience, either staying in the “new” part of the city or outside in the countryside. While we really enjoyed walking around and seeing the trulli’s you could probably spend a full day here and be done. 

Getting there: we elected to rent a car. But you are able to get a train from Bari, Lecce or Matina Franca using Ferrovie Sud Est (FSE). The Omio website has all the times listed. 

Making your way into the Rione Monti quarter, the true highlight for me was walking the stone hilly streets of the trulli neighborhood. Do not miss the Belvedere Santa Lucia (Via Contessa, 70011 Alberobello BA, Italy), which provides the best panoramic views of the trullis. There is a fountain and a bench nearby, if you need a rest from weaving the streets. The Church of Saint Anthony of Padua (Piazza Antonio Lippolis Canonico, numero 16, 70011 Alberobello BA, Italy) and the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian (Piazza Antonio Curri, 1848-1916, 70011 Alberobello BA, Italy) are both work a peek inside while exploring. 

Where to eat: All of the food in this area is phenomenal. Most restaurants serve farm to table courses, featuring local and seasonal foods. Ristorante Trullo Garden (Via Piave, 35)had great wine selection and local produce. Trattoria Terra Madre (Piazza Sacramento, 17) stuck out as our favorite, they serve produce from home grown from the organic garden in the back.

Alberobello is an easy homebase for day excursions to Martina Franca and Locorotondo. I also recommend attaching this trip with a longer trip including breathtakingly beautiful Matera or relaxed beachside Polignano e Mar

A female-owned day in Barrio Logan, San Diego!

I was first drawn to Barrio Logan by photos (and I will admit they were instagram photos) of beautiful murals depicting indigenous deities, famous Chicanos, and local activists. I spent an afternoon in Barrio Logan and was surprised to see how many Female Owned businesses made up the business portion of the community. Known for grassroots activism and good food, this makes for a great three hours excursion.

While the area is geographically expansive, a large part of the area is either family homes or industrial warehouses. The business district featuring shops, restaurants and galleries are roughly one mile from start to end. The resilient community of Chicano Americans, has been empowered through grassroots organizing for years. Barrio Logan is home to over 30 women owned businesses and I want to celebrate them. Please note: there are a few businesses that are female owned but not Chicana owned, and this article is only featuring the Chicana ladies!

When to go: Since COVID has hit the small business, local businesses started “Walk the Block” every Saturday from 12-6:00PM. Festival includes cute dimpled kids selling horchata similar to I, a gringa from suburbia, used to sell lemonade. Expect to see low rider cards, fun music and artistically designed jean jackets. Mask wearing and social distancing are mandatory. 

Por Vida Collective

Start your afternoon off at Por Vida Collective coffee shop (2146 Logan Ave), which opened in 2015 by owners Carolina Santana and Milo Lorenzana. On Thursday’s they host a food drive for those in need in the community. Their cups feature local artists with imagery of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Roses, tattoo style artwork. While the main space is a coffee shop they host book talks, readings and other creative events. 

Chicano Park

With your cup of coffee head to Chicano Park and take in all the murals. There are over 70 murals in this park. The area has been home to Mexican-Americans since the 1910’s and many Mexicans fled during the Revolution of 1910. In the 1950’s the city rezoned the area to be industrial. You can see the remnants of that with warehouses, supply stores, and some by the dockside warehouse even feature barbed wire fences. The city again took land to create a highway and the on ramp to the Coronado Bridge, in reparations for the 5,000 lost homes, the city had promised to create a park for the locals. When locals saw they were planning to bulldoze the area to make way for a parking lot for the Highway Patrol, they occupied the park for 12 days until it was approved as a park! One of the early occupiers was third generation Barrio Logan resident Josephine Talamantez. She was 18 at the time, and went on to found (along with others) the Chicano Park Steering Committee, along with pushing it to National Registry in 2013 and National Historical Landmark in 2016. She is featured in some of the newer murals.

Female Owned Specialty Shops: Sew Loka, Copal y Tierra, Hola Swim

After Chicano Park, enjoy a santer down Logan Avenue. The Walk the Block runs between Chicano park and 26th, which is roughly half a mile. Shop some of the female owned stores such as Sew Loka (2113 Logan Ave), Copal y Tierra (2076 Logan Ave), Hola Swim (2159 Logan Ave) which features “day to night” bathing suits and was started by two lifelong local female friends. Sew Loka was started in 2013 by a Chicana “mompreneur” and fashion designer, Claudia Biezunski-Rordiguez, who creates one of a kind pieces of work. I love being able to see her workspace in the back of the brightly colored shop. Copal y Tierra, has cute art and jewelry along with candles and sage, and recently hosted a poetry night!

Las Cuatro Milpas

Grab tacos from Las Cuatro Milpas (1857 Logan Ave). There is a reason this restaurant has been around for 75 years. Owned by three sisters: Sofia, Dora and Margarita; who’s grandparents, Petra and Natividad Estudillo started the restaurant in 1933. Expect well worth it line at this well established joint. 

Mujeres Brew House

Walk the couple of blocks to Mujeres Brew House (1986 Julian Ave,), it shares its block with a bubblegum pink Baptist Church, and a converted bread factory that now serves as the Bread and Salt art gallery. Mujeres Brew House was started by two Chicana women who expressed their desire to break down barriers in the craft beers industry to support women and specifically BIPOC women into the beer scene! 

Chikita Cafe

End your day with a sweet and coffee from Chikita Cafe (1875 Newton Ave) for those who like a little sweet to accompany their artisan coffee drinks!

I gave up trying to give my tamagotchi alive…never mind my own small business. Cheers to all these Bad A$$ Babes!

A Day in Annapolis, Maryland

View of the Capital Building from some of the quaint stores.

Annapolis, America’s Sailing Capital, is known for its rich Maritime history. Its name is almost synonymous with the famous Naval Academy on site. The Capital of Maryland, is laid between the Chesapeake Bay and Severn River. While the city still remains the State Capital of Maryland, you feel like you are going back to Colonial times especially when compared to hubs such as Baltimore and the District of Columbia, both of which are under an hour drive. The historic district, which includes the State Capital, Naval Academy and St. John’s College is less than a square mile and offers many quaint shops, restaurants and pubs. This makes for an easy day trip or a leisurely weekend destination. A friend and I did a PAWsitive weekend getaway with Buddy in Anna-pup-lis.

When to go: They have boat shows, both power and sail, in the Fall and Spring. Normally the second week in October and the first week in May. Based on your interests, either attend to see the mecca of preppy or avoid this weekend for the crowds. Similar to Washington DC at the end of March the Cherry Blossoms begin to bloom and offer a beautiful backdrop to the city.

Getting there: for those coming from Baltimore, there is a beautiful bike trail, the Baltimore-Annapolis which is part of the larger Greenway Bike path. From Washington DC you can take the metro and switch at New Carrollton Metro station.

Buddy, wearing his preppiest attire for Sailing season in Annapolis!

Style: While you are welcome to wear anything in any location. If anywhere was a place to bust out your favorite nantucket reds, seafoam blues, and Lily Pulitzer pinks. Please check out my friend’s pup, Buddy, all ready for his weekend away!

Buddy even had his own bed!

Accommodation: We stayed at The Graduate (126 West St), a hotel chain in most college towns. They have a charming nautical themed decor, and are even dog friendly!

Start your morning off with a coffee from Bitty and Beau’s coffee (124 Dock St, Annapolis, MD 21401), a delightful coffee shop run by employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

For those who are driving in the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market (2472 Solomons Island Rd, Annapolis, MD 21401) is an Amish market with grreat fresh baked goods. 

Spend a few hours walking around the shops in Downtown Annapolis. Those interested should try to get a look at the State Capital. It is the oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use, and where the continental congress met from November 1783 to August 1784, during which George Washington resigned as commander-in-chief of the continental army.  If interested, take a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy. 

Outdoor seating and love music in the Market Space!

Due to COVID, tons of space downtown has been converted into pedestrian only walkways with lots of tents for outdoor seating (which means all the more places you can bring a dog!) There is live music playing all afternoon in the Market Space and many sailors in their bright whites to remind you that you are at home to the Naval Academy.

For those who enjoy some beach time, either head out to Sandy Point State Park or rent a kayak to enjoy the Chesapeake Bay. For those with a dog, Quiet Waters Park (600 Quiet Waters Park Rd), has a fenced dog park. It’s $5 to park but worth it to let your pup run free for a bit!

Great Frogs Winery (3218 Harness Creek Rd) which does first friday date night they have pizza, wine and music! They allow dogs but just ask that you call ahead so they can get to you appropriate seating.

Cheers to a leisurely, dog friendly weekend in Annapolis!

A weekend getaway in San Antonio, Texas

Once a year (not in 2020) my girlfriends and I try to get together and meet somewhere for a long weekend in the United States. Between California (where they live) and New York we have done Chicago and we were looking for another “middle group”. We were debating between Austin and San Antonio, Texas. We ended up choosing San Antonio because we thought life would bring us to Austin in the future (bachelorette parties, friends moving there, etc). I won’t sugar coat it, while San Antonio was interesting to see, for an out of state visitor I think it would be better suited to be tacked on as an excursion from another trip, rather than a stand alone trip itself. 

The stand out part of San Antonio was how warm and inviting the people are. In other border cities there is often segregation between those of Mexican-American descent and those of European-American descent, this was one of the most congenial diversity that I have seen. All the locals were welcoming out of towners and quick to share their love for the history of their Texas Mexican Spanish ancestry.  

Accomodations: We stayed at an Airbnb in the Monte Vista section of San Antonio. It is always nice to stay in an area that locals live in. It is less touristy than the main downtown. We had the opportunity to explore Hotel Emma in Pearl Brewery, which looks fabulous if your budget can afford it. 

Friday:

Arrive and get settled into your accommodations. Grab some dinner at La Fonda on Main (2415 N Main Ave, San Antonio, TX 78212), a Tex-Mex restaurant with a quaint old school Mexican ambience. The Paramour (102 9th St #400, San Antonio, TX 78215) also offers great rooftop drinks for those who will make it into town before sunset.

Saturday:

Start your morning off at Commonwealth Coffee in Hemisfair Park. Hemisfair Park is the location of the 1968 World’s Fair. Talk a stroll through Yanaguana Gardens (which reminds me of a subdued version of Parc Guell in Barcelona, Spain).

“Yanaguana” means “refreshing water” by the indigenous Payaya people who inhabited the land before the Spanish came in 1718.

I recommend working your way to Mi Tierra Cafe in San Antonio Market Square, there is roughly one mile between Commonwealth Coffee and Mi Tierra Cafe. During this walk make your way through La Villita HIstoric Arts Village and the Riverwalk, passing by the Cathedral, City Hall, and Governor’s House.  

First stop after Yanaguana Gardens is to window shop the artesenary in La Villita Historic Arts Village. The area originally served as a Barracks for the Alamo, but now mostly supplements as a quaint shopping area, offering stores with local art, handmade jewelry, and souvenirs.

Continue on to the RiverWalk, sometimes referred to as “the American Venice”. 

The Riverwalk referred to as “American’s Venice”, reminds me a bit of Disney meets river, and it should because of the engineer, C.V. Wood who was contracted by the City of San Antonio to help with the riverwalk designs was also the engineer for Disney! Since then the riverwalk has seen much expansion, and some of my personal favorites of the walk are getting out of the retail area and a little more natural waterways in the neighboring communities. 

Make your way through the Riverwalk to San Fernando Cathedral also called the Cathedral of Our Lady of Candelaria and Guadalupe. The exterior is beautiful and often has multicolored lights displayed on it for different holidays and festivities. Behind the Cathedral is San Antonio City Hall followed by the Spanish Governor’s Palace.

Finally arrive at the San Antonio Market Square. In 1780 the King of Spain gave it to the settlers, now it offers festivals and numerous Mexican crafts and clothing stores. Get some breakfast at Mi Tierra Cafe y Panaderia (218 Produce Row, San Antonio, TX 78207), a Tex-Mex Bakery. 

After the Tex-Mex Bakery, head over to the Alamo (300 Alamo Plaza; San Antonio,Texas). The 1744 Alamo Mission, which later was the site of a devastating battle loss of the Texans fighting for independence from Mexico. Davy Crockett famously died here and became the name of the eponymous 1950’s miniseries. 

After the Alamo, head back to the riverwalk for a stop at Schilo’s (424 E Commerce St, San Antonio, TX 78205), a famous German deli with hearty sandwiches. 

You can choose to go home and refresh or continue exploring the city at this point. 

Evening: 

The Tower of the Americas in HemisFair Park is great for sunset, normally it costs $11 to go up, but is free if you get a drink or dessert at Chart House (739 E César E. Chávez Blvd, San Antonio, TX 78205). 

Alternative option: The Botanical Gardens often offer $60 Wine Down Saturday events, from 6:00PM-10:00PM.

We enjoyed live music and grub from the casual, Sam’s Burger Joint (330 E Grayson St, San Antonio, TX 78215). 

Sunday:

Start your morning with some breakfast tacos from La Gloria’s (100 E Grayson St, San Antonio, TX 78215). The outdoor patio offers great views of the river and quaint ambiance. Walk along the river to San Antonio Museum of Art which is free on Sunday from 10:00am-12:00pm and they provide Docent Led Gallery Talks from 11:00 -12:00 pm. 

After the museum, head over to Pearl Brewery, a converted 19th century brewery compound which now has shopping, food halls, and dining. On weekend mornings there is a farmers market.  On premise is the Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery which is located in the Hotel Emma (136 E Grayson St, San Antonio, TX 78215), which offers upscale refurbished architecture and good food and drink.

Burn off your lunch with a long bike ride through King Williams Historic District and the San Antonio Missions. Start your bike ride at Blue Star Bikeshop (1414 S Alamo St). It is an 8 miles bike ride down to the last Mission Espada.  and then rent B-Bike (Bike rental) all the way up the Mission Reach Trail. Blue Star Brewery is on the trail and a great place to stop and get refreshments. It is worth the extra ten minutes to add a loop of the King Williams Historic District.The neighborhood was formerly an enclave for affluent german immigrants. Take your time to gawk at the grandior of the homes and mansions!

Head back to your accommodations and get ready to fly home. Cheers to a leisurely weekend in San Antonio.

A (half) day in…Prospect Heights

Sandwiched between the trendy Park Slope and hip Crown Heights, Prospect Heights is often overlooked. It offers access to many events and fun activities such as Saturday morning farmers market, numerous great restaurants, and a lot of cultural institutes that will keep you occupied for days.

Morning:

Olde Brooklyn Bagel Shop (645 Vanderbilt Ave) my personal favorite is the lox sandwich.

Start your morning off with a coffee from Hungry Ghost (253 Flatbush Ave) before making your way to get a bagel from Olde Brooklyn Bagel Shop (645 Vanderbilt Ave) my personal favorite is the lox sandwich. If you want a true brunch there is an old-school diner called Tom’s (782 Washington Ave), swanky Olmstead (659 Vanderbilt Ave) or affordable and quaint Cheryl’s Global Soul Food (236 Underhill Ave).

If you chose a bagel and coffee, walk with your breakfast to Grand Army Plaza (colloquially called “GAP” to locals) and Prospect Park. Prospect Park was created by Fredrick Law Olmstead and Calvin Vaux (who designed Central Park). Find a sun drenched spot to enjoy people watching and eating your bagel in nature. Walk through the Farmers Market for snacks from local (mostly upstate New York) farmers. 

One block from GAP houses the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, and the Brooklyn Museum, respectively. Based on your interests I would recommend spending a few hours in either the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens or Brooklyn Museum. To get to either of these sights you must walk past the Brooklyn Public Library, the austere building is more functional than beautiful on the inside, don’t bother entering unless you intend to borrow a book. 

Some of the Vintage Home Goods at 1 of a Find Vintage (633 Vanderbilt Ave).

After spending some time in the cultural institutes, santer down the main drag of Vanderbilt Avenue. Browse some Vintage Home Goods at 1 of a Find Vintage (633 Vanderbilt Ave), scope out vinyl records with beer at BierWax (556 Vanderbilt Ave), or indulge in a scoop of homemade ice cream from Ample Hills (623 Vanderbilt Ave).

Spend an evening of culture or learning: The Barclay Center (620 Atlantic Ave) calendar of events can be found here for a basketball game or concert. Brooklyn Brainery (190 Underhill Ave), offers adult classes in anything from whisky tasting, history, to painting. Murmrr Theatre (17 Eastern Parkway) located on the third floor of a synagogue (not too sure on the fire codes in this old venue) is a great music venue.  

Prospect Heights has received more of a name for the recently budding restaurant scene. I would recommend ramen from Chuko (565 Vanderbilt Ave), falafel from Zaytoons (594 Vanderbilt Ave), Mexican from Alta Calida (552 Vanderbilt Ave), a local staple for no-frills Jamaican food at The Islands (671 Washington Ave), or slightly more elevated American from James (605 Carlton Ave) or Olmstead (659 Vanderbilt Ave). 

For those looking for a nightcap, the speakeasy, Weather Up (589 Vanderbilt Ave) offers superb cocktails. 

While this is a stand alone article, you can easily combine Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights, and I would recommend in that order if you are doing one day (starting your morning in Park Slope and ending your evening in the vibrant Crown Heights.)

If you enjoy learning more about Brooklyn, consider checking out some of my A Day In itineraries in Crown Heights, Red Hook and Downtown Brooklyn.

A day in…Downtown Brooklyn

Brooklyn Borough Hall, formerly Brooklyn City Hall was built between 1834-1848, and did not include the ornate cupola until 1898. The architect, Gamaliel King was listed as a grocer until 1830 when he became a carpenter and architect. Quite the career change! 

Small businesses sandwiched amid older landmarked buildings, as new luxury developments outpace each other in this once gritty and tired neighborhood. Downtown Brooklyn is now a thriving neighborhood while still holding true to its original bustling community. 

Timing: I love downtown Brooklyn during the annual Atlantic Antic festival which is a street fair run by the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation the first Sunday of October. Unfortunately it was cancelled this year because of COVID.

I would recommend reading or watching the movie, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, which is set in Brooklyn in general and not specifically Downtown Brooklyn and centers on a female Irish Immigrant in the 1950’s. 

Morning: 

Start your morning with a coffee or specialty tea from Devoción (276 Livingston St), the high ceiling and lush plant life creates the perfect oasis from bustling Livingston St and surrounding Downtown Brooklyn. 

Saunter the 4.5 blocks to Brooklyn Tabernacle (17 Smith St), a megachurch with a Grammy Award winning Choir. The 250-voice choir even sang at Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration! The 1918 edifice started as a vaudeville Metropolitan Theater. Converted in 1978 into Loew’s movie theater which was defunct from 1996- 2000, and reopened in its current use (after extensive renovations) in 2002 as the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church. The euphonious Sunday services are at 9:00 AM, 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. Expect the service to go at least an hour and a half. 

After church (or those that forgo the service) head to the Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket or farmer’s market. Brooklyn Borough Hall was originally called “Brooklyn City Hall” before Brooklyn was annexed into the greater New York City. The land for Borough Hall and encompassing Cadman Plaza was donated by the prominent Pierrepont and Remsen families. Sample and buy some of the fresh cheese, produce and artisan breads. 

New York Transit Museum (99 Schermerhorn St), which tells the history of public transit in New York City. Nearby you will find Junior’s Cheesecake. The orange seats and tiled floors will take you back to the 1950’s when the restaurant was founded by Harry Rosen. For those not familiar with Junior’s, it’s praised as the best cheesecake in New York. 

Take a walk down the thriving Fulton Mall, a transit mall that was built in 1985. The area transitioned from stores selling fur coats to such stores as Footlocker, Macy’s and Nordstrom’s Rack. A couple architecture gems to look at on this stroll:

  • The Dime Savings Bank of New York (9 DeKalb Ave). The Greco-Roman architecture reminds me of our own Parthenon in Rome, tucked away at an angle on Dekalb Avenue. Built in 1908 by Mowbray and Uffinger,  the interior is even more awe inspiring than the exterior with Greek quarried marble. The site is currently in redevelopment for a 73-story residential tower. 
  • Abraham and Straus, started by Abraham Abraham (yes real name!) and Isidor Straus, who owned Macy’s with his brother. In 1885 Abraham and business partner at the time, Joseph Wechsler chose this site for their store. The store eventually merged with Straus Brothers owned R.H. Macy’s in 1895, although the name did not change until 1995. Straus and his wife also went down with the Titanic (along with another rich New Yorker, John Astor IV.) Eight buildings create this one block, while externally it shows the development of Downtown Brooklyn, internally the buildings connect with fluidity. In 2016 the top floors were sold to be used as co-working spaces.

Enjoy a stroll through the Brooklyn Civic Center, Cadman Plaza Park and Walt Whitman Park. Don’t miss the statue of Henry Ward Beecher, a famous abolitionist preacher and brother to Harriet Beecher Stowe. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Abraham Lincoln were among those who heard this preacher speak at nearby Plymouth Church. 

Take a brief walk to the right to MetroTech Center, a business and technology section in Downtown Brooklyn. The late 20th century/early 21 century renewal project combined public-private partnership that resulted in a great deal of privately owned public space including the nation’s largest urban academic-industrial research park. 

NYU’s Wunsch Building (9 MetroTech Center), formerly the Bridge Street Methodist Church, dates back to 1847. Bridge Street Methodist Church was the first independent black church in Brooklyn, and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Now it’s an office of undergraduate admissions for NYU Tandon School of Engineering. The building has been a historic landmark since 1981. Famous historical figures who orated at the Bridge Street Methodist Church include Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass!

For those who like to contrast old with new, take a quick look at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James (250 Cathedral Pl).

Head to DeKalb Market for dinner. The food reflects the diversity of the borough. There are fan favorites from Manhattan and some famous outposts of Brooklyn’s diverse culinary scene. Brooklyn staples such as Ample Hills Creamery (Prospect Heights ice cream establishment known for rich ice cream with unique flavors), Bunsmith (Crown Heights Korean style steamed bun restaurant), and BK Jani (Bushwick Pakistani kebab restaurant). You truly cannot go wrong with any of the vendors.

A fun alternative would be to get dinner and a movie at Alamo Drafthouse. They also have an adjacent speakeasy, The House of Wax (445 Albee Square W #4410). 

For those who want a nightcap, you will find The Circa Brewing Company (141 Lawrence St) and those looking for views will enjoy Kimoto Rooftop Restaurant and Garden Lounge (228 Duffield St), which offers some city views.

If you enjoy learning more about Brooklyn, consider checking out some of my A Day In itineraries in Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and Red Hook.