Bellas, fellas – been having a tremendous time on this road trip. Apologies for being a tardy blogger, I’ve been too busy having fun and catching up with friends both old and new. After leaving my friend Jenny’s place — mentioned in last week’s installment of The Journey, I’m currently in Harlem staying with my good friend AJ and his beautiful girlfriend Lauren, who works at the Ethan Allen flagship store as an interior designer. If you need an interior designer with a real sense of style, ask for her! She rules!


Yesterday my husband and I enjoyed a great day in Harlem. Not THE great day in Harlem, but a brilliant one nonetheless. Let me tell you all about it!

The standard oh-you’re-going-to-Harlem? advice is, start on 125th Street, and just kinda stroll around and check it out. Apparently NYC hasn’t gotten the memo that everyone’s ready for Spring already… it was cold yesterday! 125th Street didn’t care — it was just as bustling and fun as I’ve ever seen it, and I love the vibe. I gotta admit, 125th Street reminds me of my home country just a little bit — Fredrick Street in downtown Trinidad is just as busy and vibrant, with salesmen of all kinds hawking products you may not need but will probably buy anyway. Harlem’s specialties are tubs of shea butter and African black soap, incense and scented oils and CDs galore.

Best believe as soon as I heard rockers blaring from a rastaman’s speakers, I had to stop and add to my music collection! The wonderful thing about Harlem is, you can haggle a bit, and get your item for an even more reasonable price. Two CDs for $10? Thank you! And best of all, I asked for a semi-obscure artist — that’d be Johnny Osbourne — and the guy had what I needed right there. I happily spent my money with him.

I wanted to spend money happily at Ashley Stewart — some of their new Spring dresses really are so cute! But I experienced some really NOT cute customer service issues. Note to Ashley Stewart employees — if you see a customer with an armload of dresses trying to get your attention, stop. Listen. And just unlock the fitting room doors, if you’re not going to be waiting near that area to help people. Because if you don’t, you could be missing out on some big sales. I am sad to report that I left the store frustrated and empty handed.

That was NOT the case at the Carol’s Daughter flagship store, which is just gorgeous and transportative in the best possible way. The salespeople were friendly and attentive without being pushy, and I loved it. I bought the new Wash Away the Oil face wash, a bottle of Hair Balm, some Tui Hair Oil, and a tub of Coconut Wet Shine for Lips. Love you, Carol’s Daughter! Expect some reviews of these products soon — but I can already tell you the coconut lip stuff is awesome, moisturizing, and shiny. Two thumbs up!

Exploring areas away from 125th Street is also totally worth it and doable in an afternoon. After getting a little main street shopping, we headed out to Lenox Avenue to the adorable Settepani Bakery for hot chocolate and a plate of teeny gourmet-style cookies. A delicious and fun pick me up before we hit 116th and the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market — another great spot for super cheap African garb, wood carvings, and jewelry. Again, a great place for haggling. I got a super cute, super warm Trinidadian flag-emblazoned wool hat big enough to contain my mane, and a pair of gold circle earrings for less than $15. It’s all about the deals!

Honey smothered fried chicken, greens n mac n cheese at Amy R... on TwitPic

Last night I met two of my favorite Twitter friends — Tha Connoisseur, AKA Ann Marie of SoulAfrodisiac and the one and only Huny Young. We met at this cute little bar, Perks, that has a good happy hour and killer cocktails (order The Nutcracker! OMG it is SOOOOO good).

After cocktails, it was time for dinner and where better to be than Harlem? Soul food and ethnic cuisine galore is in store almost anywhere you look, but I was advised to head to Amy Ruth’s, and I suggest you do yourself a favor and do the same sometime. It’s THAT serious. I got the Honorable Keith Wright — a plate of the most delicious Southern honey-dipped fried chicken, served with collard greens and mac & cheese. I know, I know. I’m gonna burn it all off today with a lengthy stroll through Central Park!

I’m trying to be a better road trip blogger, so keep your eyes peeled for more posts this week. I’m on the move, but still thinking about my bellas!

Thanks to everyone on Twitter who gave me advice on where to go in Harlem, and special thanks to the folks behind Harlem One Stop and Around — you know what’s up! Love you, Harlem – hope to come back again soon!

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Shana says:
March 24, 2009, 12:41 pm
I was trying so hard not to look at that picture on twitter yesterday but it found me anyway! LOL OMG that looks so good. I hate when salespeople dont address your needs, sorry you had a bad experience. Stopping through DC during your trip?
Eb says:
March 24, 2009, 1:29 pm
You were in my hood! Perks is great.... I love it there... but there are so many better places to eat than Amy Ruth's. Either way... glad you had fun in my neck of the woods. Someone should have taken you to Nectar.
Melanie Nelson says:
March 24, 2009, 2:28 pm
Everything sounds like so much fun! I've always wanted to visit NY, but I've not had the chance yet. Someday... Thank you for walking me through Harlem! OMG that chicken looked good.
huny says:
March 24, 2009, 3:50 pm
it was fantastic to meet you. funtimes! when I get out to miami I will definitely look to hang out. I'm glad you enjoyed your day in harlem and your time in NYC in general. have a blast in DC, too.
nickiw says:
March 24, 2009, 6:30 pm
I'm not envious of much but being able to visit the Carol's Daughter store is something to envy. Can't wait for your reviews.
MoniMoni says:
March 24, 2009, 8:25 pm
Bella! You were here in NY?!!! Oh man, so sorry to have missed you! Well, I hope you enjoyed yourself. I miss the Harlem of yesteryear (actually 1+ years ago) when the streets were REALLY bustling with just about every vendor selling everything; but it's still the main point of NY you must visit. Glad you loved Amy Ruth's. Honey the Al Sharpton is on point too! LOL! Take care! Happy traveling!
MoniMoni says:
March 24, 2009, 8:26 pm
that should read (10+years ago)..
Tha Connoisseur says:
March 24, 2009, 11:26 pm
It was SOOO great to see you and your fam last night. The drinks were killah and the food topped it off, no doubt! You know that I will most definitely be visiting in Chicago! Be safe on the rest of your travels and have FUN! :D xx
Janelle says:
March 24, 2009, 11:27 pm
Oh Bella you were in my hood!!!! (reassessing my Twitter I'm so happy you had a great time. And I'm pleasantly shocked at the warm customer service you received at Carol's Daughter. Enjoy the rest of your trip here!!!
pets says:
March 25, 2009, 9:18 am
Hope to visit there,Central Park and other NY landmarks one day. Thanks for letting us "travel" with you.
afrobello says:
March 25, 2009, 3:29 pm
Why didn't you tell me you were coming? I would have organized a welcoming party, LOL. I'm glad you had a mostly positive experience in our city , despite the Ashley Stewart ordeal. They must not know 'bout you. Anyone who helped me the way you did by spotlighting Soft Sheen Carson's Optimum Care line deserves a fun trip. That shampoo and conditioner changed my life, no doubt! I can't believe all the years I bought products that did nothing to help me, even at the suggestion of dermatologists. The way things are going here, a train or bus ride is going to be a luxury purchase. But the next time you visit - I'll treat you!
theHotness Grrrl says:
March 25, 2009, 5:02 pm
Oh wow I can't believe you were in my hood and I missed you! Next time you get back to Harlem USA give me a shout. Would have been nice to finally connect and build. Peace and safe travels! N~
Indigofera Beauty Expert says:
April 2, 2009, 8:38 pm
So glad you had a great time. Harlem rocks! We visited Amy Ruth's after the Harriet's Alter Ego Shop N' Mingle Event. I love NY energy. I'm a Philly girl but Brooklyn and Harlem are my second home. All entrepreneurs show visit NYC at least once. "Be Radiantly Beautiful"
Lia says:
April 13, 2009, 4:51 am
Hi Afrobella, As a fellow naturally curly, I have been on a quest for value for money products which allow my curls to be vibrant. On my visit to Carol's Daughter, Harlem some months back - I had the misfortune of being served by a churlish egotistical male who seemed lacking in product knowledge but good with gossip. This was far different to my previous experiences when the staff were so well informed and great ambassadors - I assume it was an off day. I continue to love healthy hair butter and in the past loved hair milk however for me there is a difference in the quality of the product, which you seemed to think before your recent visit to CD. Although, I love the product range they need to come out of the ark as regards online purchases to London UK. In this modern age it is ridiculous that CD cannot ship to the UK! But we can get Curls and Miss Jessies.