This is a story about how I fell in love with New York City.
Let me start by explaining my relationship with NYC before this past weekend.
I’m from New Jersey and support Philadelphia sports, which would explain the love/hate analogy to most people in the area. To clarify, New Jersey is the butt of a lot of New York jokes, which many may have noticed on shows like How I met your mother. As far as sports go-the feud between our teams runs deep and comes up often as Philadelphia and New York are less than a two hours drive from one another.
It’s all in good fun. Still I hesitated loving what New Yorkers and North Jerseyans refer to as “the city”.
I visited friends there a lot in college, went up a few times for school and work related things over the years, but I had really never spent more than a day exploring Manhattan. And I completely neglected a part of the city that I always thought I would like, Brooklyn.
But it’s a bit hard to ignore the big apple when you’re visiting the USA with a foreigner. Like most people, Ric has always wanted to visit New York City and our day trip last year wasn’t nearly enough for the Englander.
So on this trip home, we decided we would spend a few days in the city, touring a bit, but really just wandering. He wanted New York City and I wanted Brooklyn. We decided on spending three days and two nights, a long weekend, in NYC, staying at an apartment in Brooklyn, touring that borough, but also visiting Manhattan again.
It was the kind of weekend that people dream of in the city.
We arrived at our apartment at about 1:30 p.m., parked the car, unpacked our stuff and headed straight to Bedford Avenue, a Williamsburg street we read has a lot of great bars and restaurants. There are a lot of ways to get to NYC, if you are looking for flights to New York, visit dialaflight.com.
Ric and I are pretty much always on a budget. It’s kind of hard not to be when you’re taking off five months from work every now and then. But we never found that stopped us from having fun and in Brooklyn it was no different.
To be completely honest. It’s amazing how cheap things are in the USA. Arriving here straight from Thailand I’m still in the habit of comparing things to there and a lot of meals and drinks costs the same in Bangkok as they would in NYC. Taxis are another story though.
The biggest bargain of the day came at the very first place we visited, The Charleston. The dive bar runs a deal where you get a free personal size pizza with every drink order until about 8 p.m. Basically, I spent $US4 for a pint of pumpkin beer and a pizza.
Feeling merry, Ric and I went on a bit of a pub crawl down Bedford Ave. Some stops included, Luckydog, Morgane and Maison Premiere. All have their own character, most have happy hour and oysters. The last place I mentioned is a huge part of the reason I started to fall for NYC.
Walk through two doors and it’s almost as if you’ve completely escaped not only this city, but also this century. Faded-paint on the walls, dim lighting and a big curved bar in the middle, Maison Premieredoes throw back in the classiest of ways. Even our waiter, who had perfectly parted hair, a crisp shirt and tie, full white apron and serious mustache, addressed us as sir and madame.
I’m torn between whether to describe it as the type of place Don Draper would go to late at night for whiskey and oysters in Mad Men or the type of place the Fitzgeralds would take Owen Wilson’s character to for Absinthe in Midnight in Paris. It had both those menu items by the way, so naturally Ric and I went for the drink that they say makes you see green fairies.
But we did feel like we were transported to another world at Maison Premiere. People take so many risks in hospitality in New York City and with this restaurant, it paid off.
After a drink we continued the night with a bit of live music, then pizza and schwarma. I’ve been wanted to try the last thing since I first saw The Avengers. Good recommendation Tony Stark.
The next day, we woke up early to visit Smorgasburg, the ultimate foodie market, not far from where we spent the prior night. This new Saturday tradition in Brooklyn is located in on the river at N. 6th Street, giving it one of the best back drops of any market I’ve ever been to, the NYC skyline. You can find a range of freshly prepared food here from adobo chicken to Mexican sandwiches to lobster rolls, all delicious.
Next door to Smorgasburg was the Renegade Craft Fair. This market is actually located in several locations around the world and features work by independent craft artists. Inside we found a lot of handmade jewelry, stationary and clothing. We even got to paint our own glasses and use a funky photo booth for free.
From there we headed into Manhattan to wander around. We’ve both seen the major sights before, so now we just wanted to see where the day would take us. We visited Times Square and watched a film shoot. We gazed at the ceiling at Grand Central. We played around in the elevators at Waldorf Astoria. Then we searched for happy hour, which isn’t the easiest task on a Saturday, but we found it at Lucy’s Cantina Royale right next to Madison Square Garden
Prior to that we were feeling a bit tired from being out late the night before, but after a couple drinks we were kind of on the edge of going home or going out again. I’m glad we chose the latter.
From Lucy’s we visited Macy’s and the Flat Iron Building in East Village. We grabbed a shish kebab from a street vendor and decided that we wanted to stay out in the city as long as possible, so going home was not an option.
We started chatting to a New Yorker, I’ll call him Dean, as I’m not in contact with him now and unsure whether he would want his name on here. We talked about traveling, cider and the best places to go out in the city. Ric drank a boot of beer, I was tempted to drink a boot of wine and after a few, Dean invited us out to his friends bar in Tribeca.
On the way over we joked about “The wrong Williamsburg”, basically what would happen if locals from Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Colonial Williamsburg in Virgina got the two mixed up. We caused havoc at a classy joint and partied all night. Dean wanted us to carry on, but we just aren’t used to partying in a city that never sleeps. I think we paid for four drinks the entire night.
Nights like this are what I love most about traveling, spontaneity. Ric and I could have never planned a night like that in New York City and I think nights like that only happen in places like New York City. It was so much fun and filled with so many good stories. Dean, wherever you are, you are one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with New York City this weekend.
This post is brought to you by Dialaflight.com.