Jessica’s Beach Vacation 2019 | Day 1 | Brighton Beach and Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY | 15 July 2019

Hi readers,

Over the next few days, I’ll post about my vacation. I had such a wonderful vacation and all I can say is this: I Y BROOKLYN AND ASBURY PARK! New York City in general and Asbury Park seem to be among my happy places. I have never felt so alive and relaxed. A weeklong vacation mixed with making the most out of two locations and relaxation is what the doctor ordered. I also met new people along the way, people I hope to keep in touch with for many years to come.


After an early start, I arrived in New York City at 10:15 on Monday morning. I wanted to charge my phone before heading to Brighton Beach and I ordered a unicorn frappucino. It was gluten-free, but I wouldn’t order it again. It was a slushy with coconut milk and it gave me brain freeze. However, it was fun to watch people walk around the city and the advertisements for different museums. I also decided to call my host, Alex, to make sure that it was okay to drop my things off at his flat before I went to the beach. Alex sounded like a nice young guy and I was looking forward to meeting him; I was okay to drop my things off.

An hour later, I decided to join the crowd just wandering aimlessly and I took photos. I love pigeons and I brought some food for them, I had to capture the flock of pigeons that gathered around me. I like how they close off portions of the New York City streets and people can just sit at tables. In hindsight, I wish I stopped to sit and have someone take a photo of me, but I wanted to get to the beach by 1:30. It was already 11:45 and I got a little lost getting to Herald Square. I found my way eventually, after tons of photos. I was being such a tourist, but the truth is, I enjoy taking photos of NYC.


I hopped onto the B to Brighton Beach and riding the subway is fun too. Someone put an alien sticker on the one window and I couldn’t help but capture it. I love capturing photos of subway life too; young boys going home from summer school came to life once we crossed the Manhattan Bridge. They threw their school supplies down, gathered together and played around with the Tik Tok app. They didn’t notice me capturing their photos, but something tells me they wouldn’t have cared. I also chatted with a guy that lived close to the Kings Highway stop and he was telling me about the different neighbourhoods of Brooklyn. He recommended not visiting Prospect Park because it could get rough. He was also telling me a bit more about Brighton Beach and Coney Island—he said that Brighton Beach is nice, very Russian, but a generally good neighbourhood. He recommended, which I knew, not to visit Coney Island at night and go to the amusement park during the day.  He also told me that NYC has the best water and pizza shops all over the world order water from NYC to make their pizzas. Who knows how true it is, but Brooklyn’s water was very clean and the gluten-free pizza I had was delicious.


After an hour, I was finally at Brighton Beach. I thought this was my last stop, and when I checked the Google app, it told me to go to Coney Island. I did and when I did, it told me I had to go back to Brighton Beach. Oh Google! I guess since I didn’t have WiFi and was using data, the map was slow to update. I ended up taking a Lyft to Alex’s flat because I didn’t want to wait for another Q. It turns out Alex only lived two minutes away from the B stop. It was convenient! I dropped my things off and as I was applying sunscreen to Wraith and the rest of my body, I heard the floors creak. I thought it was Alex, but it was someone else: Alex’s brother, Archie. Alex forgot to mention to his brother that I was coming and I surprised him a little bit. Alex and Archie are Russian, friendly, but not the best with communication. Oh, Alex had a cat named Simba! These aren’t the best photos of Simba, but he was a love bug.

Brighton Beach! Brighton Beach is gorgeous and it was full of life, unlike when I visited on the last day of winter. I decided to capture a photo of me “sunbathing,” similar to what I did on the last day of winter and when I said, “I want to come back in the summer!” I wanted to post a side by side of the differences. Anyway, Brighton Beach had minimal waves and clear water, I was swimming with the fish. I met Olga and a Caribbean woman who called herself Sophie. They were a riot to swim with and even chat with. Olga asked me if I knew how to float, I showed her that I could, and then a Jewish lady joined us. She swam with us for a little bit. After Olga and Sophie left the ocean, I swam a bit until I ran into a young boy who was learning how to swim. I asked him how it was going; he and his mother said it was going well. The boy had to be about six and he was excited to show me all that he knew. I showed him how to do a breast stroke and the side stroke. His mother let him try and he was so happy that I was teaching him other things. That made me feel good.


I arrived at 1:30, at around 2:30, I wanted to apply more sunscreen. Although I was wearing a shirt to protect Wraith and my skin, I took the shirt off and attempted to spray Wraith. A father saw me struggling, asked me if I needed help, I said I did and he had his four sons lotion me up. Juan Carlos was the dad; they were Brazilian; but, I forgot the son’s names. I swam for a little bit longer, but wanted to check the time since I left my phone at the Air BNB and wanted to be back by 4 to wait for Doug’s (my cousin) text about when he was done work. We were meeting for dinner.  As I was looking at my watch, Juan Carlos approached me and asked me if I wanted water. I did and I saw him take an unsealed water bottle out of his cooler. He also asked me if I wanted to eat; I hadn’t had food since 5:30 AM and although I was meeting Doug, I had a feeling we wouldn’t be meeting until 7. I forgot my wallet, but Juan Carlos treated me and said not to worry. They also invited me to play dominoes. I was verklempt and very grateful.


Doug texted me at around 6 that he was done work. I hopped onto the B to 7th Avenue – Park Slope since we agreed upon Bareburger. They had gluten-free options and it had a menu we could both agree on. Park Slope was beautiful and again, I wandered around taking photos. I passed the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and daydreamed about taking organ lessons again, maybe piano! Doug was running a little late, so I called my dad. We had a brief conversation before I sat down and had a burger with Doug. The bison burger with the GF bun was delish! I was so happy that I could see Doug before he moves to London in a few weeks. He’s super excited and can’t wait to embark on a new journey. After about an hour, we headed back, and watching the sun set over Brighton Beach was gorgeous.


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Creator of the Happiness Box Project Initiative, a project where you write your happiness or gratitude each day, then open the box in the New Year. The Initiative is to teach joy and gratitude, to pass it on to others.

One thought on “Jessica’s Beach Vacation 2019 | Day 1 | Brighton Beach and Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY | 15 July 2019”

  1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

    I am elated to read the following words right off the bat: “I have never felt so alive and relaxed.” That’s what a vacation should be, and I am very happy for you. Mrs. Shady and I enjoyed feeding the pigeons on our recent stay in Mexico. We got ice cream cones nearly every afternoon, sat on a bench in the park, broke off little bits of cone and tossed them to the ground. Pigeons flocked to us from all over. Like New York, portions of the city we visited were barricaded off two blocks in every direction so that pedestrians and vendors could fill the streets in the area around the plaza. It is also very relaxing to simply wander aimlessly in the crowd, go with the flow. We did that, too. Looks like you had a wonderful time sunbathing and swimming with the fishies at beautiful Brighton Beach. I’m glad you remembered to protect The Wraith with sunblock. I enjoyed learning about Alex, Simba, Archie, Olga, Sophie and Juan Carlos. I too am verklempt reading about how kind and generous Juan Carlos was to you, a perfect stranger. You bring that out in people. I’m glad you enjoyed that bison burger with gf bun at Bareburger with cousin Doug. It certainly is exciting that Doug will soon be starting a new chapter of his life in London. Nothing beats seeing that big smile of yours. I’m thrilled that you had the chance to visit some of your favorite spots again.

    Enjoy the week ahead, dear friend JM!


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