New York. Concrete jungle where dreams are made, the city that never sleeps, the big apple. Traversing New York City is like finding over 100 different countries fit into one small island, 13 miles long and two miles wide. Including all five boroughs, this city of 8.2 million people has such a wealth of diversity and opportunity that whatever you’re in the mood for you can find it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The neon lights and the billboards were everywhere and with people milling around and talking it was quite simply a sensory overload. Central park is another item on the ‘TO DO LIST’ and the size and scale of it all has to be seen to be believed. A park of that scale in a huge crowded city is a great way to get some relief and take a time out from all the hustle and bustle of the big city.
But New York still green space for your healthy I would like to suggest
36 Hours in Brooklyn
THE Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on the Buttermilk Channel has picturesque views even when the Queen Mary 2, which docks there regularly, is at sea. There is verdant Governor’s Island across the water and, behind it , the heaving, jagged rise of Manhattan. To the north are the great bridges of the East River. To the west, the Statue of Liberty. And to the east, beyond chain link and forbidding streets, there is Brooklyn itself, New York City’s most populous borough, a destination in its own right.
1) A WATERFRONT STROLL
The cobblestone streets under the Manhattan Bridge are home to small shops and shiny new condominium buildings, and to Saint Ann’s Warehouse, a theater that has been a mainstay of the Brooklyn arts scene for more than three decades. Located across from Fulton Ferry State Park, it is an excellent destination after a walk along the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights (parallel to Columbia Heights, a grand old street of towering brownstones, running from Remsen to Orange Streets). Check ahead to see what’s playing and then wander down to the box office to pick up your tickets.
2) A WALK IN THE PARK
Alternatively, head inland, toward the leafy precincts of Fort Greene, for a show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music or the Mark Morris Dance Group . Atlantic Avenue, which runs deep into the borough, will lead you most of the way, through a stretch of antiques shops and restaurants.
3) PRETHEATER DINNER
Once you get strolling, it is difficult not to drift into other pretty residential neighborhoods: Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens nearby and, slightly farther afield, Park Slope and Prospect Heights. There is excellent eating along the way. At the bottom of Court Street in Carroll Gardens: Prime Meats (465 Court Street at Luquer Street;), a chic Germanish steak and salad restaurant. A block or so farther south, on the corner of Huntington Street: Buttermilk Channel (524 Court Street;), where you can get local cheeses and pastas and a superlative duck meatloaf. Ten minutes before the end of your meal, have the host call for a car.
4) DRINK AFTER THE CURTAIN
Fort Greene abounds in bars suitable for a late-evening drink. A cocktail at the minimalist and homey No. 7, is no risk (7 Greene Avenue at Fulton Street). Those seeking rougher charms can venture to the Alibi (242 DeKalb Avenue between Clermont Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue), where there are cheap drinks, a pool table and a crowd that runs equal parts artist and laborer.
5) BREAKFAST PARADISE
Tom’s Restaurant in Prospect Heights (782 Washington Avenue at Sterling Place; ) has been a crowded, friendly mainstay of this neighborhood for decades, and is a winning place to begin a day in Kings County. Eat pancakes and waffles in a room filled with tchotchkes and good cheer, and watch the marvelous parade.
6) PARKS AND ARTS
A Tom’s breakfast provides a strong foundation for a visit to the exhibitions of the nearby Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway at Washington Avenue). It is also useful in advance of a walk through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (900 Washington Avenue), a 19th-century ash dump that is now home to some of the best horticultural displays in the world. And of course there is Prospect Park ), Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s triumphant 1867 follow-up to Central Park in Manhattan. Those with children may wish to visit the zoo (450 Flatbush Avenue near Empire Boulevard), where the daily feedings of the sea lions are a popular attraction.
7) A VISIT TO HIPCHESTER
Boutiques, coffee bars and restaurants continue to flourish in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, north Brooklyn’s youth-culture Marrakesh. Amid these, Brook Farm, a general store in south Williamsburg, offers an esthetic of farmhouse cosmopolitanism (75 South Sixth Street, between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue; ). Artists and Fleas is a weekend market where artists, designers, collectors and craftspeople showcase their work (70 North Seventh Street between Wythe Avenue and Kent Avenue; ). And Spoonbill and Sugartown, Booksellers offers an eclectic mix of art and design books and academic tracts (218 Bedford Avenue at North Fifth Street;). And for a pick-me-up or a new coffee machine for home, try Blue Bottle Coffee, an impossibly nerdy outpost of the original Oakland coffee bar. Siphon? French press? Cold drip? All available, along with all the crazy coffee talk you like. Get your geek on (160 Berry Street between North Fourth and North Fifth Streets;).
8) DINNER FOR KINGS
Those enamored of the Williamsburg scene may stay in the neighborhood for a smoky dinner at Fatty ’Cue, Zak Pelaccio’s antic and awesome Southeast Asian barbecue joint (91 South Sixth Street between Berry Street and Bedford Avenue;). In Greenpoint, there is the excellent and slightly more adult-themed Anella, where the chef Joseph Ogrodnek works marvels with vegetables and duc (222 Franklin Street at Green Street). Parents with children might try the pizzas at Motorino (319 Graham Avenue at Devoe Street;) or scoot back to Park Slope, where the brothers Bromberg offer a welcoming family atmosphere with food to match at their Blue Ribbon Brooklyn (280 Fifth Avenue, between First Street and Garfield Street; )
9) PAZZ AND JOP
Brooklyn’s music scene continues to expand. Three places to hear bands are Union Pool in Williamsburg (484 Union Avenue at Meeker Avenue;); Brooklyn Bowl, also there (61 Wythe Avenue between North 11th and North 12th Streets;); and Southpaw, in Park Slope, (125 Fifth Avenue, between Sterling Place and St. Johns Place;). Jazz heads should make their way to Barbès in Park Slope (376 Ninth Street at Sixth Avenue;), where a rich calendar of readings and concerts can take a visitor from early Saturday evening well into Sunday morning.
10) DIM SUM à GO-GO
Brooklyn’s Chinatown, along Eighth Avenue in the Sunset Park neighborhood, is not as large as Manhattan’s. But it offers great pleasures. Arrive early for a dim sum meal at Pacificana (813 55th Street at Eighth Avenue;), and watch as the dining room fills into an approximation of a rush-hour subway car. Then stop in at Ba Xuyen (4222 Eighth Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd Streets) for a banh mi brunch sandwich and a Vietnamese coffee, or at the tiny Yun Nan Flavour Snack (775A 49th Street at Eighth Avenue) for a fiery sweet and sour soup with dumplings.
11) HISTORY IN THE GROUND
Walk off all the food with a tour of Green-Wood Cemetery (500 25th Street at Fifth Avenue;), the hilly and beautiful parkland where generations of New Yorkers have moved after death. Admission is free, as are the maps available at the entrance. Look for Boss Tweed, for Jean-Michel Basquiat, for Leonard Bernstein and other once-boldfaced names, as parrots (really!) fly about and the wind ruffles the trees and that view of Manhattan opens up in the distance once more. It appears smaller from this vantage, as if placed in perspective.
IF YOU GO
Brooklyn is served by the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and three area airports: Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark Liberty. From Kennedy to Brooklyn, the taxi fare is in the neighborhood of $50, plus tip. You can also take the AirTrain to Jamaica ($5 one way) and connect to the Long Island Rail Road or the New York City subway. From La Guardia, a taxi to Brooklyn costs roughly $30. From Newark, fuggedaboudit; take a bus to Manhattan and connect to the subway.
Once in the borough, use the subway, buses and car services to get around — the latter are more reliably found than yellow cabs.
There hasn’t been a grand hotel in Brooklyn since the St. George in Brooklyn Heights. But the Marriott New York at the Brooklyn Bridge (333 Adams Street; ) offers comfortable rooms and easy access to bus and subway. A deluxe room is $199.
In Williamsburg, Hotel Le Jolie (235 Meeker Avenue; ) is a 54-room boutique hotel within easy walking distance of many shops and restaurants. A standard room with queen-sized bed is $149.
Hotel Le Bleu (370 Fourth Avenue; ), near Park Slope, is down the street from a Pep Boys auto-supply shop. But the views of the harbor are sublime, and there are two subway stations within blocks. A deluxe room with king bed and continental breakfast is $229.