Being a tourist in a new city is something I’ve become accustom to. I love researching places to go, stumbling on hidden gems, and coming away feeling like I’ve learned something. But, doing that in your own city is quite different.
April was the first month I spent in my new apartment on the Upper West Side and even though I’m just 4.6 miles from my old place, it’s been a whole new world. I found myself doing the same things I do when I’m in a new destination: looking up restaurants, walking around to find hidden spots, and asking strangers what’s good in the neighborhood.
I was a tourist in my own city.
I’m not going to lie, it was stressful at times figuring out how long it would take to get places, getting used to the new sounds, and trying to nail down where I could get a decent Sunday brunch. You know, the important things in life. Even my bedroom felt like a hotel room for a while: comfortable, but not really mine.
At the same time, it was fun exploring a different area of the city. “Ooo, we should try that place; it looks good,” I said to my husband probably a hundred times as we just walked the streets. Or, “I never realized how beautiful Riverside Park was!”
As I started to explore my new neighborhood, I found myself more enchanted with the city in general. I showed up to an event early and decided to just sit on the balcony in Grand Central station to just take it in. I booked a meeting specifically at the Mandarin Oriental to enjoy views of Central Park. Heck, I even went to a Yankee game on a Monday night!
So, when I was asked if I wanted to take a photography lesson with Nikon as part of their #NikonLoveNY, it seemed almost serendipitous. With just four days left in my month of exploration, I spent an entire afternoon being a legitimate tourist. I was handed a camera and encouraged to take pictures as we meandered around Union Square, eventually making our way up to Madison Square Park. Usually, I’m bustling through those places with my head down checking emails on my phone. But, this time I was taking my time and stopping to look at all of the facets that make up New York City. I was even almost tempted to take a picture of a squirrel (don’t worry I didn’t).
It only helped that a professional street photographer came with us saying, “Make sure to move around and see whatever you’re photographing from different angles.” I barely take the time to look at the Flatiron building or farmers’ market from one point of view, let alone five. And even though everything was bustling around me like it always does in NYC, time slowed down, gardens seemed more special, and people seemed more fascinating than irritating.
While I know it’s difficult to get out of a daily routine, I encourage you, no matter where you live, to take one day every couple of months and become a tourist in your city. I guarantee you’ll be amazed with what you find.