This time I’m bringing you to sleepy Ditmas Park, as it’s often referred to as. I read “Modern Lovers” by Emma Straub, which got me ready to go to this great neighborhood. If you didn’t already, read my book review and sneak peek into my tour here.
Before going on this tour, I must admit, I was aggravated. If you read my Breakfast at Tiffany’s tour, you already know that I sometimes have trouble shaking off my aggravation. I usually do my tour on Saturday’s but since my weather app told me there would be thunderstorms, I postponed it. Sunday would have showers, but it didn’t sound as bad. Part of me thought I should cancel it altogether to wait for better weather, but a bigger part of me thought that the point of my tours is to get out of my comfort zone and see what happens. I had pretty perfect weather for my other tours, but things can’t be perfect all the time. That’s not reality. I know how gorgeous Ditmas Park looks on a lovely Spring day, so it wasn’t an easy pill for me to swallow, but I choked it down.
I’ve been to Ditmas Park before. I was amazed the first time I came here. I’m used to massive skyscrapers, hordes of people rushing by, honking cars…even living in Brooklyn, Ditmas Park was this heavenly little oasis of chirping birds, scampering squirrels, and cute, fluffy scaredy cats. I loved it! And oh yeah, BEAUTIFUL Victorian homes with romantic trees and perfect lawns. It’s unbelievable that this place exists in NYC.
In the book, the character Andrew gets involved with a place called EVOLVEment. It has yoga, meditation, essential oils, and illegal Kombucha. It was a coop so everyone worked there. Andrew came from family money and didn’t have a job, so it seemed like he was in some midlife crisis when he stumbled upon this place. He was ripe for the plucking by the sketchy owner, Dave.
Since that place is fictional, I decided that instead of getting involved in something sketchy, I would use the book to inspire me to move my body around in some sort of exercise-type way. Yoga!
I went to the Family of Light Holistic Center. It’s been a million years since I’ve done any physical activity besides walking around the city. However, I thought since it’s an open level yoga I should have no problem.
The class started off strangely since there was a weird smell coming from the facilities. The instructor opened the door and gave us essential oils to put on our wrists to help mask the odor.
She starts the class, “Now inhale deeply…”
Um…I’m gonna pass on that.
In her defense, the smell didn’t last long. The essential oils smelled great & relaxing and soon I could inhale deeply without concern. It was nice because it was a small class so we got a lot of individualized attention. Although, I feel like I got the most attention because she had to keep correcting my form. Yoga isn’t easy! I was sore for a couple days afterward, but my neck which is usually sore felt good for a couple of days. I need to go back!
After that class, I was hopeful that my aggravation about the rain would easily float away. We’ll see.
Since I’m a Brooklyner, I don’t live too, too far from this spot, so I went home to freshen up.
Please enjoy this brief intermission with a snack and/or beverage of your choice.
Okay, we’re back!
Cortelyou Road is the main drag of Ditmas Park. It’s often mentioned in the book and lots of restaurants, bars, & stores run along this road. I headed to a popular place along this street for a quick brunch.
This place is soooo busy! It’s crowded at the counter and a bit nerve-racking for an introvert like myself. I ordered at the counter, waited for my coffee at the end of the counter…and waited…and waited. Finally, I get my coffee that was filled to the top of my mug and make my precarious walk among the throngs of people to search for a table without spilling it. I had to wait some more until, hallelujah, praise baby Elvis! I hear my name and they bring me my meal.
It was cold. Ugh. I ate it anyway because I don’t want to dare fight through the massive amount of people at the counter. It’s a bummer because I can tell how good the ingredients are and how well made it is. It was still decent despite the chill.
When I leave, it’s still raining and I’m not in the best mood. The hectic vibe of Cafe Madeline is not really my scene and it’s Mother’s Day, I forgot to mention. I didn’t really think about that when I had to delay my tour. It was a bit awkward sitting alone in a cafe on a rainy day on Mother’s Day. I did call my mom though who lives out of state and I bought her something nice. Enough about my mom…
Time to get moving!
I’m walking up Argyle Road which is the street Elizabeth and Andrew live on and it’s also the street Ruby and Harry walk up to get to Prospect Park. I follow the directions straight out of the book.
Trying to shake off my aggravation about the rain when I see…
Only the coolest teen girl ever! I’m over here annoyed at the rain from underneath my umbrella when this girl goes skating past me without a care in the world. The character Ruby is kind of a badass teen girl so it was so appropriate that this girl showed up as I’m literally walking Ruby’s path to the park.
I was never a badass kid. I was awkward, shy, and so self-conscious. I look at a girl like this skateboarder and think, “She’s gonna turn out alright.” Not that I didn’t, but I’m still searching for my inner badass.
“They walked three blocks straight up Argyle, until they hit the soccer fields and the back of the tennis center…Ruby nudged Harry toward the bridle path, a soft dirt road…they were completely alone, staring out at the lake…There were ducks in the lake…”
Ducks!? I need to see these ducks!!!
I found the lake! I was told there would be ducks here.
That guy is fishing!
AND SWANS!!! How did I not know about this? I vaguely recall hearing something about this, but I guess I was too busy sitting on my comfy couch to learn how to find this in real life. Thank you, Emma Straub, for leading me to the ducks and swans of Brooklyn!
So cool! I enjoyed them for a little bit. I was alone in this spot minus some rowdy men I heard nearby. I think that the only park goers on a rainy day are the ones running the loop. Runners are a dedicated bunch, rain or shine. The loop was close but not close enough that I felt that protective feeling you have when you’re around others. So when one of the rowdy men started walking in my direction, call me paranoid or call me street smart, I said a quick goodbye to the ducks & swans and briskly walked toward the more populated loop. That guy kept walking in my direction but since I made that decision quickly, there was no way he could catch up to me. He was probably harmless but on this Mother’s Day, I had my mom’s voice in my ear, “Better safe than sorry.”
But MOM…maybe I ran away from my soulmate?
Mom: “Mmmn…I don’t think so. Did you hear about that girl who went to the park to look at the swans and…”
Did she get murdered?
Mom: “Yes…brutally. I think I might know your future soulmate. He lives in Georgia. You can talk to him on the computer!”
Now that I escaped near death thanks to my mom…time to get back on track!
Did you enjoy these lovely homes? The next home I’m going to take you is the well-publicized mansion of actress Michelle Williams.
Whoa! I was not expecting that. Trying to enjoy a peaceful walk here!
The next homes I learned about from reading an article on Bklyner.com called “Brooklyn Staycation: A Day In Ditmas Park.”
Street Art in Ditmas Park
Artist: Juan Carlos Pinto
This is the last house on my tour. Did you have a favorite?
For dinner, I picked a restaurant that I think could be the inspiration for Jane and Zoe’s fictional restaurant Hyacinth, which is located on Cortelyou Road.
I sat at the bar with a glass of wine & a good meal.
Looks a little weird but it was quite tasty.
I was thinking about my last tour, how I was hoping I’d meet a nice guy. A guy was near me for a bit but when I got back from the bathroom, he was gone. Two guys took his place. Hmm? I’ll have my choice…actually I think they might be gay.
I’m not really feeling the drive to meet a guy like I was during my last tour. I wasn’t jealous of any of the characters this time. Instead, I look at those guys and think, “Good for them!” What’s wrong with me? I’m almost 39 & still single. I need to keep my eyes peeled. Change locations if there are no viable single guys around.
Bartender: “Would you like dessert?”
No! What is this? The bartender recommended this. I feel conned. They were out of one dessert and I bet they were low on the chocolate one, so she steered me toward this one.
Um, bartender, I’m the single female here, I think you should have pointed me in the direction of chocolate instead of this swamp! I don’t even know what I’m eating. Are those onions? In her defense, she did say it was weird, but she used weird as a selling point and I fell for it! No, I don’t want croutons in my dessert, thank you though.
That left me wanting actual dessert so I stopped at the store on my way home and picked up chocolate peanut butter gelato. Yum!
I saved the best for last. 😊
You know I love dogs, but I have a special place in my heart for three-legged dogs. The owner lets me take a picture and told me that Pogo inspires him every day. I love that three-legged dogs go about their life the same as if they had all four. They run around & play and enjoy their life.
I’ll keep Pogo and the cool skateboarder girl on my mind whenever I need to remind myself to just let go and enjoy.
Thank you so much for coming along with me on my tour! I hope you enjoyed it.
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