Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ramblings: Summer in the city

It's summer, my favourite season of the year (closely followed by early autumn, spring and then, last of all, winter). We didn't really have a winter this year, and spring was a strange one too, but this summer has already been a scorcher, and we are only half way through July. I've already had my holiday this year, so I will be spending the rest of the summer in NYC, working and hoping to make it to the beach as often as possible. I love the heat. Granted, I prefer dry heat, desert heat, but I would much rather be sitting around the humid heat in the city than having to climb over piles of snow that a blizzard left behind in the winter. I'm not working as much as I was before I went to California, so I am planning on making the most of my time off and going outside.

I hear people complaining about being "stuck in the city" over the summer months. I don't know how you can be stuck here. If you want to get out of the heat the nearest beaches are only a subway ride away. There are Coney Island and Brighton Beach for those who don't mind tons of people and not-so-clean beaches, as well as a really cool boardwalk and amusement park (everyone needs to ride the Cyclone at least once in their lives, although once is probably enough). My preference has always been the Rockaways and in more recent years, Fort Tilden. If you need shops and bars and restaurants and public restrooms nearby you should probably stick to the Rockaways (Rockaway Park, the last stop on the A shuttle train being my favourite), but if you prefer wilder beaches where nobody is going to bother you (i.e. where you can drink, smoke, bring dogs, go topless etc), then Fort Tilden is just a short 10 minute bus ride from Rockaway Park. Just remember to bring food and water, because there is nowhere to buy it there. Fort Tilden starts just after Jacob Riis, and you can walk all the way down to Breezy Point if you want to. It seems to have become more and more popular over the past few years, but I tend to go during the week where it's more bearable than the weekends. I even slept on the beach overnight last year - not really allowed and to be honest, a little scary - and I probably wouldn't do it again, but it was definitely an experience worth its while - see my blog post about that night HERE. Outside of the city beaches there are many, many others that are only an hour or so away on the LIRR, my favourites being Smithpoint and Montauk.

I'd rather go to the beach than to a pool in the summer, seeing as there is nothing better than jumping in the waves and running in the sand, so I've never really checked out any of the public pools in the city. Now that the McCarren Park Pool is open again (and it's free), I suppose that would be a place to go if you want to swim (although it's probably going to be packed and full of screaming kids on summer holidays so I am going to give it a miss). I wish public pools were open at night - I love swimming in the dark, even if I tend to freak myself out with irrational thoughts of great white sharks hanging out in the pool, just waiting to bite my legs off. The shark thoughts are a recurring theme in my life - every time I am in water I think about sharks following me. I should probably avoid going to any location where sharks really tend to hang out... Although I still dream of going to Hawaii one day, and living in a garden full of hibiscus flowers by the beach...

Summer is always going to be the time when you can walk around in as little clothing you want without feeling self-conscious, dive into cool bars to get out of the heat, stay up until the sun rises and watch it from your rooftop, have BBQs on rooftops and in tiny back yards, sunbathe in the parks, jump through open fire hydrants with the neighbourhood kids (yes I do do that), make summer playlists and listen to them on the way to the beach, eat loads of fruit and vegetables because it's too hot to face any heavier foods, eat tons of ice cream and gelato and walk around the city during a summer storm, jumping in puddles and hoping that the rain will bring a slight relief from the oppressing humidity (it never really does). It really is my favourite time in the city which is why I will always continue to go on holiday before or after the season starts.

I'm going kayaking down the Delaware River later this week, and we will probably camp by the river too. I will hopefully not fall in and be unable to pull myself back into the kayak again, and will also hopefully not be eaten by a bear (although I would love to see one). I'm more likely to be eaten alive by mosquitoes though! I think I have already decided to leave my phone in the car on this trip - it will be quite nice to not be reached for a day...