Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Big Apple

Our first taste of Manhattan crossing the bridge on the subway.
Our first full day in the big city dawned bright and (reasonably clear). After breakfast I was very much torn by what to do first with so much choice around me. Should I explore Brooklyn first, or Manhattan? Given that it was so close, the temptation was there, but as we're based in Brooklyn for the first few days we decided to start here. Somewhat ironically, we had to take the subway to Union St 14 station in Manhattan before changing to the L line to cross back into Brooklyn for our first stop.

All aboard for the Brooklyn Brewery tour.
This was to be the Brooklyn Brewery, which I had tried to book on a tour for a few weeks before my arrival into the city, but unfortunately they had sold out for the week I was here. Happily, they also offer free tours at weekends for which no reservations are allowed, but you just turn up and take your chances - luckily, we had no problems doing so. As we arrived just after the last tour had left we had plenty of time so we had a beer from the bar in the brewery itself: $5 for a delicious Greenmarket wheat beer in my case.
The famous Wythe Hotel. Drinks planned here later in the week on the rooftop bar!
As the tour itself had been free instead of $14 I also treated myself to one of the breweries big bottles, Local number 2 with European malt and hops, Belgian dark sugar and raw wildflower honey from a New York family farm. At 9% ABV it is definitely a thing to be savoured. After leaving the brewery we headed to Rough Trade Records, a cool CD and vinyl shop with some vintage Otis Redding on vinyl as well as a cool release by a band called Eagulls - released by a Brooklyn based record label I thought I was onto a winner after hearing it on the listening post...until I discovered the band were from Leeds in Yorkshire - d'oh!

The amazing Grand Central rail terminal.
Next up we took a brief stroll down to Bushwick Inlet Park on the riverside for a view across into Manhattan. Sadly it was somewhat windy and cold at this point and overcast conditions meant the photos weren't the best. We headed back to the subway station to cross back over into Manhattan, where we changed trains to explore Grand Central railway terminus. As the starting point for many commuter trains headed north of the city it remains a fantastically beautiful building and with a range of shops and historic features inside.

The historic clock over the information booth in Grand Central.
We had a quick coffee and a snack from Café Grumpy (made me laugh) in the station then headed outside to just roam the streets for a while. We headed north along Fifth Avenue and came out at Bryant Park, a pleasantly green leafy spot with a random collection of chairs and books outside where you could just sit and read. We headed over the road and came across a Japanese bookstore selling all manner of books on Japanese culture, fiction etc in a range of languages. Somehow I wasn't at all surprised to see this in New York!

The attractive Bryant Park just off Fifth Avenue.
After leafing through the shelves for a while we left the shop and meandered over to Times Square, which came up on us before we knew it. I was pleased to walk the streets a little, as you see and do more than is possible below ground. Given we're currently based in Brooklyn, we've no choice but to rely on the subway, although this is an experience in itself and doesn't take too long to get to places if you plan your route. Still, New York is very much a walking city and if you group sights together there's no reason you can't spend an entire day without ever getting a train if you put your mind to it.

The famous Times Square approaching dusk.
Veering off track there, anyway Times Square isn't quite what I thought. It's certainly very impressive, and full of  tourists, but somehow felt different to how I expected. I can't put it any other way, but suffice it to say it's cooler in the evening as it starts to get dark and the light show comes into it's own. I bought a nice canvassy print in a cardboard frame from a Russian guy for $2 (hopefully with no links to the Mafia) - there were loads of them making it hard to choose but I settled on a print showing all the shows on display in the square. It's my hope to see something off (or on) Broadway later in the week, possibly Arthur Miller's The Crucible (hello Sheffield!) at the Walter Kerr theatre.

Museum and gift shop dedicated to Hershey's in Times Square.
Time was marching on so we headed back into Brooklyn for dinner. We had planned to eat at Łomżynianka, a Polish restaurant in Williamsburg. Sadly it had closed down when we got there, so we had clearly been misled by Google. Nonetheless we chose a cosy, candlelit bar called All's well where I had delicious gnocchi in a cheese sauce with asparagus and a lager from another local outfit Six point brewing. Following on this we went to the hotel to retire. It's now 8 minutes to midnight so time for some sleep ready for another hectic day of exploring tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. Alls well that ends well ;) xxx Great post as usual!