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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Taking a slow stroll though the big city

Travel, especially these days, can be an exhausting exercise.

This applies particularly to flying. Just getting through security can take all the patience you can muster, and that’s even after negotiating the often long lines to check a bag (which can cost extra). Let’s not even bring up the boarding procedure, which can resemble fish attempting to ford a dam while carrying as many possessions as they can stuff into their two allowed carry-on bags, stopping to carefully pack them away in the overheads while dozens of their fellow travelers wait impatiently for their chance to hold up the process.

Yeah, traveling can be a real pain.

 Which is why, after flying somewhere, I like to stay put. No more city-a-day explorer quests for me. Get me to a city and let me find a nest so that I can do my daily walkabout at my leisure.

That’s what I’ve been doing since arriving Saturday at the Fort Green/Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, New York. Just this morning, after dropping my granddaughter off at her elementary school, I took a long walk around Fort Green Park.

First I dropped by Red Lantern Bicycles, which is a combination coffee shop-eatery/bicycle-repair shop and ordered my special drink: a 16-ounce (double-shot) Americano, which turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to a cranberry-rhubarb muffin.

Then, because it’s what I always do, I did a Google search for Brooklyn bookstores. The closest one, Greenlight Bookstore, was barely a five-block walk away, which even strolling through a slightly cool, overcast NYC morning, took me only a matter of minutes. I did make sure to stroll, though, enjoying both the classic city brownstone apartments with their high stoops, shaded by the massive trees whose roots buckled the sidewalks as if they were made of peanut brittle instead of concrete.

And the store, nothing like the warehouse atmosphere of a Barnes & Noble or even Auntie’s, was worth the walk. It’s one of those chic, specialty kinds of stores that features the latest in hardback and paperback releases and a studiedly eclectic collection of offbeat and classic offerings in all genres.

I looked for, again as I always do, and found books by two of my favorite Washington authors, Jess Walter and Sherman Alexie. But as I have most of their works at home (including a couple of copies in Italian of Jess’ novels, such as “Il fiume deI cadaveri” and “Senza passato”), I passed on the opportunity to buy more.

Instead, after an hour-long search, I finally purchased a novel by the American novelist James Salter. “The Hunters” was his first book, published originally in 1956.

Then I walked home, again leisurely, enjoying more diversity in a few blocks than I tend to experience in Spokane over a full year.

Not a bad way to spend the day. And certainly the way I prefer to travel.