2 January 2020

NYC: Brooklyn's Calling...

Brooklyn had been part of my New York City days out during my 2012 year whilst I lived in New Jersey, but if truth be told I had so much more to discover within that borough of the city. Taking things slow, I knew that such a task needed two days to tackle the four segments that I wanted to achieve during my jammed schedule. From DUMBO to Bushwick, I was mad for it B! 

Going back to Brooklyn was something that I had wanted to do, during those pre-trip planning days I made sure that four parts of the borough would be explored and then some. Taking the train from my hostel a little later during that morning compared to the previous day, I headed for DUMBO. My GPS went crazy with my path but the views over the waters facing Manhattan were amazing, not being bitter but I had limited time so I wanted to get on with things! Going down the hill that crossed with Doughty Street had me facing the Brooklyn Bridge from a very different angle, the first time around I only walked across the bridge back in December 2012. Wanting to spend some time under the bridge, I mooched around the swish area that oozed something special with its restored vibe. I wasn't allowed to walk up-to the water because one of the sidings were being used for filming. Sure, the views were just ace B!

DUMBO looked so swish as I mentioned above, with the Brooklyn Bridge sweeping down in one direction and the class New York City style buildings sitting on ground level, it was such a darling NYC sight to see. DUMBO wasn't one of the places that I had originally planned to visit during that first part of the day but the Brooklyn Bridge Park had me using my time to reach, it was to be that DUMBO found me first. The morning was a chilly one indeed, finding a cute Italian looking restaurant along the parade of shops and restaurants below the bridge had to be done! The atmosphere of the place oozed Christmas in NYC, they had specials on winter spiced drinks so I enjoyed two mulled wines for good measure. Being only my second full day on the East Coast of America, the feeling to have seen so much already felt like such a blessing. I got talking to some ladies who were from England but their vibe wasn't what I wanted to be around. Finishing my wine, I moved onto to find Bushwick! Cider!

Taking what felt like three different trains I reached the artsy neighbourhood of Bushwick, known as the 'Bushwick Collective' for the warehouses and spray paint and graffiti street art that has caused quite a stir with people looking for a slice of an alternative New York City within Brooklyn. After remembered seeing Kiesza's music video to her song 'Hideaway', I had to see the colourful graffiti street within Brooklyn's Bushwick Collective. Getting off the L Train at Jefferson Street had me fronted by a hazy splash of colours, I loved it! Needing the toilet I found the Cobra Club and not being rude I stayed for two pints of craft cider. The alternative vibe of Bushwick made me feel as if I had transported myself to another world! Yes, it was trendy and I saw those preppy 'hot yoga' studios, getting it together I knew that I was just in Bushwick for the street art because it looked off the scale! Yes, Bushwick was superb!

Impressed by the nature of Bushwick as I walked within its collective state of art, I lived for the harsh contrast that the warehouses gave the immediate area. I sure thought that my Chinese artist friends would love to visit this part of the city for the photo taking and gallery visits. Art isn't my cup of tea but I appreciated the views and enjoyed witnessing the difference. Feeling thirsty once again, I found 'The Rookery' for another pint or two of delicious craft cider, it was holiday time and nobody was going to judge me for those choices! Taking my seat at the bar, the clientele weren't on my level for many reasons but I wasn't there to make friends. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with a side serving of tomato soup, no word of a lie it was the best decision made of the day! The Bushwick Collective part of my day was filled with colours and off the wall graffiti and delicious food and drinks. On the way to a friends for the night, Brooklyn would be continued the next day! Done!

So, call me crazy but I didn't know why I found myself awake at 3am in the morning, but nonetheless I got myself back onto the streets to continue my Brooklyn odyssey. Leaving my friends apartment in Jackson Heights I went for the biggest American breakfast at a nearby Denny's. With it still being like nighttime I finished my breakfast, got back out onto the street with the nearest NYC Subway station in mind that would take me directly to Coney Island. I already knew that the boardwalk at Coney Island wouldn't be lively, I was fine with that because I had never seen it during my time in 2012, it was somewhere that I just needed to step foot in, that was all! Arriving into Coney Island signified to me that the weather would be horrendous for the whole day, that wasn't going to stop me because I wanted to see everything! Grabbing a much needed boost, I went into Dunkin Donuts to refuel for the morning ahead of me.

Braving the crosswalk construction site as I walked across the road, I was fronted with a place that instantly reminded me of Point Pleasant Beach with a hint of Blackpool for good measure. During the rain I could imagine how this Brooklyn Pleasure Beach hideaway would be a getaway for the city people to have some fun on the rides and eat some seriously delicious yet unhealthy snacks. I walked slowly towards the promenade with an air of caution, I loathe seagulls and Coney Island's were the same size as dogs! The rain and wind did nothing to impress me during that promenade moment but it was the weather I was meant to experience in that moment. Even though the whole of the promenade was shut it did nothing to dampen my spirits even if I was getting soaked by the incoming showers, how had the weather been so settled the day before? I had sealed the deal with my third Brooklyn sight and with time on my side I wanted to revisit the Hasidic Jewish enclave along Lee Av next.

My timings were on-point that morning that I still had two hours before Gottilieb's Restaurant would be opening. Fearing not I took a walk down memory lane once again, finding Lee Avenue so easily it was such a treat to see the children take the Hebrew marked school buses as I walked towards my chosen avenue. The Kosher delicatessen's and bakers looked just the same, some had certain renovations that made them look more modern. Being Hanukkah lots of shops and establishments within that closely guarded neighbourhood stood closed. I caught glimpses of the children's clothes shops, how cute those Kosher clothes looked! Stumbling past 'Tiv Tov' reminded me of my August 2012 day of exploration, that was the first time I had ever walked into an ultra Jewish neighbourhood. Stopping for a hot chocolate and some marble cake, I wondered about the time that I still had until Gottilieb's would be opening! Oh, the rain!

I had a moment of madness, leaving Brooklyn for Hudson Yards 34st because I thought that the rain would subside, then I would be able to save some time by seeing the High Line. Coming to my senses I jumped back on the train to Marcy Av, thankfully by some miracle my Kosher feast could begin! I ordered a bowl of chicken soup that contained Matzoh balls and noodles. Going for a slice of the potato kugel had to be done, the pastrami looked divine so I had to have some within a rye bread sandwich. Needing a drink I chose carefully, wanting to keep it all Kosher I chose a can of Coke because that soft drink has always been known for being certified Kosher. I took my time, I honestly enjoyed every single bite of my sandwich and slurp of my Jewish penicillin. I had never tried potato kugel before that day, I had only just seen it on documentaries about Jewish life. The kugel tasted mad good! Thankfully I made the journey back to my hostel, to fall into a lovely disco nap! Yes!

Blinding Brooklyn!

Joseph Harrison 

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