I love different neighborhoods of New York City for their distinctive personalities. The Upper West Side (UWS) was one area I hadn't been acquainted with until two Saturdays ago, on St. Patrick's Day, when I ventured up with my two favorites Jessies: my best friend Jess who was visiting from Arizona for her Spring Break and my favorite film photog and philosopher Jessie Roth.
Jessie had mapped out some must-see spots and we made our way further up Manhattan with each new destination. We hit all of the vintage shops in the neighborhood and as we were walking towards the cafe of my dreams we stumbled upon an incredible bookstore where we spent time thumbing through books and records. West Side Books embodied everything you'd ever want in a bookstore, from its twenty-foot high bookcases to its chatty shop owners.
We found a collection of Walt Whitman's poetry and opened right to "To a Stranger" which truly encapsulates living in New York, where brief encounters with strangers are frequent.
Afterwards, we hurried over to our most anticipated destination of the day: Cafe Lalo. I am in no way sugar-coating this experience when I say that Cafe Lalo is one of my most favorite places in the world. I may have been swayed by the crisp weather and airy light flowing from the open windows, but Cafe Lalo is truly a site I believe would warrant a trip to NYC.
If you're a romantic comedy fan, like myself, you may remember Cafe Lalo from You've Got Mail in the scene where Meg Ryan's character is stood up by her cyber soul mate, Tom Hanks. This movie has a special place in my heart, it was the only VHS I ever remember owning as a kid at my mom's house. We watched it over and over, back to back. The soundtrack, too, was the one of the very few CDs my mom kept in the car and we spent countless hours driving to it. I now realize that You've Got Mail was likely the first perspective of New York City that I came across, which makes sense why I'm slightly obsessed with the idea of NYC in the 90s, sad to have arrived here a decade too late. I still listen to the album often as a way of mustering up feelings of nostalgia, so having this real-life You've Got Mail experience was especially exciting.
We enjoyed a delicious brunch, wonderful food and conversation mixed with the pleasant atmosphere of the cafe.
Jess and me, taken by Jessie!
We finished off our Cafe Lalo experience with one of Lalo's famed desserts, Tiramisu.
I only hope my photographs do the cafe justice, if you do have the chance: check the cafe out for yourself (I'd be happy to join, wink wink).
The day did not conclude after brunch, though. We strolled a few blocks over to Central Park where golden hour was at its peak. We stopped by some flowering trees and snapped away, naturally.
As we walked through the park, we made our way from the West side of town to the East, eventually ending our day with a visit the Guggenheim to see the Francesca Woodman exhibition. The exhibition was far more extensive than I had expected, it's incredible how much prime work she was able to create in such a short life.
Dark Dark Dark- Daydreaming
(a beautiful song that makes me wish I could play the piano)