H. de Vries Bookstore in Haarlem, Holland

While in Amsterdam, I decided to take a 20-minute train to explore Haarlem, a town that I had heard wonderful things about. Plus, it was the namesake town for New York City's Harlem neighborhood. It was a completely charming day trip from Amsterdam, and I especially loved discovering H. de Vries bookstore, open since 1905. Today, it has the largest selection of books in the Netherlands and is a joy to peruse, even though most of the books aren't in English. There are tucked away corners, a small but cute cafe, brick walls, chandeliers, and a gorgeous original fireplace - one of the loveliest independent bookstores I've ever visited.

We also had lunch at the casual La Place at the V&D department store - if you go, don't eat at the first level La Place - take the escalators all the way up to the top location, where there is a wonderful view of Haarlem. The Frans Hals museum was another highlight, especially seeing the collection of his Civic Guard paintings.

The exterior of H. de Vries

Idlewild Travel Bookstore in Chelsea

Before I left for India a few weeks ago, I wanted to find an India map. I trudged around to two Barnes & Nobles before remembering that, DUH, I should just go to Idlewild.  Idlewild is a 100% travel bookstore in Chelsea. Like that travel bookshop from Notting Hill, which just closed sadly. 
If you love travel at all, you can easily kill an hour or more here, browsing both the fiction and non-fiction guides.  Sections are devoted to each continent and country, and are stocked with the well-known (Rick Steves) to harder-to-find book series.  They also do fun events, like language classes and readings.  
Sadly, Idlewild didn’t carry an India map that would work for me.  They all folded out to the length of a truck, not exactly the look I wanted while finding my way around in India.  But I did get inspired to download Shantaram on my iPad after browsing.

Connecticut Fall Getaway: Madison & Guilford

Happy Halloween!  I hope you have a fun day planned whether you're dressing up or just passing out candy. I'm flying back to the city from Santa Fe today and think we'll be able to make a friend's housewarming party.

I go and see my awesome aunt in Fairfield, Connecticut pretty regularly. She was instrumental in helping me move to New York City.  I love going out there-we've done many days of Connecticut exploration, including the Mark Twain museum in Hartford, Westport, and Pepe's Pizza in New Haven. 

Last weekend, we planned a perfect fall getaway exploring the tiny towns of Madison & Guilford.  The weather gods were on our side, and we had amazing sunny but cold air. 

I always get off the train in Fairfield and our first stop is normally Las Vetas Lounge for coffee. Before I moved to the city and stayed with my aunt, I spent many hours here studying and writing. I always get a small cappuccino to go. 

Las Vetas Lounge, Fairfield, CT Next up, we headed out to Madison, CT because I wanted to see the famous R.J. Julia bookstore. I had heard about it before but then I read this article, where Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) says it is really special. Even more reason to go! 

R.J. Julia Bookstore, Madison, CT

The bookstore is phenomenal, like a slice of Americana that you don't think can exist anymore.  It's on an adorable Connecticut main street, with great shops and restaurants. I could spend hours there browsing, and ended up buying The Silver Palate Cookbook. So many of the books had detailed explanations from staff members of why they recommend it, and I wanted to read all of them.  We ended up eating lunch in the great R.J. Julia cafe before moving on.

Just finished this book & loved seeing another person's thoughtsR.J. Julia Bookstore Cafe

After Madison, we drove to Guilford.  I am a huge Gilmore Girls fan and have been to Washington Depot, CT a few years ago, which is the town the creators say inspired the show's setting.  Guilford is a thousand times better and literally could have been a movie set. The perfect town square, restaurants, a candy shop, library, post office, churches...I fell in love.  Which reminds me I need to research a good B&B to stay at if we need a quiet weekend away. 

In the next post, we head to Lyman Orchards for apple picking, pumpkin patches and kettle corn! 

Three Lives Bookstore


Three Lives BookstoreI read more books on my iPad these days.  I NEVER thought I would EVER say that, but there it is. It’s just easier for my traveling life. But I still love all the little bookstores of the world (and Barnes & Noble never fails to cheer me up).  I especially love this one in the West Village, Three Lives.  I go in and browse, am never bothered unless I want to chat about new releases, and usually end up picking up a book or two. And doesn’t it look like a movie set?