Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brooklyn

While I've been to New York several times, I have not spent too much time Brooklyn.  In fact before this trip the only time I'd ever spent in BK was several years ago, while staying with a friend in Williamsburg. We spent one night in Bk which ended with happy roof top dancing and star gazing. The other night I was there was a big Halloween night spent in The City.

Pic of Williamsburg Bridge from Becca's apt.
All I really took away from that weekend about BK was there are a load of artists, 'hipsters', and abandoned warehouses. Also that Becca's place provided great views of the city and we were steps from a plethora of dive bars. Probably the most interesting thing I took away from my quick stay in Williamsburg was the amount of Hasidic Jews. There are tens of thousands of them living in the Williamsburg area. They settled there prior to WW II and are today, still a major part of the neighborhood's culture.

My friend Caitlin recently moved from the Upper West Side to BK, so I was excited that with this visit I would be more in depth experience. Caitlin lives in the Prospect Park area. After a 30 min ride and $40 I arrived outside the concrete gated patio that protected the two story apartment building. Moments later Caitlin and Georgia come running down the side walk to greet me! It's amazing the space you get when you cross the East River. Her place was much bigger than mine in Raleigh. Spacious but cozy their 3 bed, 2 full bath, kitchen and Living room was perfect for them.


We walked several blocks over to Blueprint, a cozy bar serving up delicious spirits. From here we wander down Flatbush and look for a place to grab a bite, we stumbled upon a very rustic urban decorated hole in the wall spot with mouth watering burgers and garlic truffle fries. After good eats it's time to head across the river into the City for the night's activity.



Friday night at 11 pm we were set to experience Sleep No More. Sleep No More is an interactive play or performance art very loosely taken from Macbeth. The night is housed in an Hitchcock favorite- an old hotel from the 1930s. The McKittrick Hotel was opened as one of the more expensive and lavish hotels, surpassing The Waldorf and The Plaza. It didn't last a year, because days before WW II broke out, it was not only closed, but condemned. McKittrick was not the only one to go under; other hotels that also couldn't attract patrons (even with lowered rates) and pay off debts also had to close their doors. The hotel is a combination of 3 warehouses in the Chelsea district. While there were several attempts to sell the hotel over the years, nothing ever worked out.





We walked up to the unmarked building. Stood in line for 2 min, then we were guided through the doors. From here we enter a lobby, where we were were given a playing card and required to check coats and personal items. Taking it all in we follow the stairs up to a bar with live music, cocktails and staff dressed to the nine's. We bought $12 champagne cocktails and took a seat. Moments later a very stern man approached the stage, greeted us and announced if we have a particular card we needed to head to the entrance. This is when Caitlin and I got separated. The point is to have an individual experience, if you happen upon your partner once you enter, so be it.

The awesomely strange thing was that no direction was given. We were hauled onto an elevator, given a mask and instructed not to take it off. When the elevator door opened we were set free. The air was cool and the rooms were dark, lit by low light only.  People explored rooms together or alone, but never speaking. We walked in on a ball, an orgy (not real one of course, but a very dramatic intense one portrayed by the performers), fights, love affairs, people on the run, and so much more. Beds were laid on, chairs were sat in, papers were picked up, taxidermist animals were touched. Art, pictures and frames were picked up and studied, bottles of what smelled like liquor were smelled. Overall were taken back and impressed and thrilled how we could touch and interact with every aspect. The space - I'm still not sure if staged or not- was as if people just walked out of this hotel in the 1930s and never looked back. The details were superb.

I'd never seen or experienced anything like it. The entire place had an uncanny macabre feel about it. Sleep No More was so strange, chilling, interesting, incising, creepy, well done and dramatic all at the same time. We walked out 2.5 hours later looking at one another like "what the hell did we just do?" The Times wrote a great article on it.

From here we took a cab back to Brooklyn and had a night cap while discussing what just happened.

Saturday morning we greet the day with coffee from one of many adorable coffee shops and a walk to Prospect Park. PP is the Central Park of Brooklyn. He's large, family and pet friendly and hosts a slew of activities, complete with a farmer's market




Brooklyn is the good life of NYC without as much of the hustle and bustle.  It hosts beautiful brownstones, green parks, fountains, trees, old churches and provides all you could ever want to eat & drink. Want views of NYC? Not problem, you can get breathtaking views of NYC and a lot less people, traffic, noise. At one point we were walking down a street and there was no one in sight and the quietness was surreal. On the way to our next stop, we come across a warehouse full of great finds. Caitlin and I each bought a bracelet.




Old School House
Smorgasburg is a local flea market. A flea market of food!!  Since it was Saturday we hit up the Williamsburg location (one of two). It is located right on the water and it's a foodie's wonderland. Pizza, mac in cheese, bbq, maple bacon sticks, ice cream, pimento cheese (Yay! for NC ), wings, hash browns, ribs, sammies, pigs in perfectly toasted blankets, bites of cake, and much more. All in one space, so come hungry and empty bellied.




After meandering around and eating as much as we could, it was time for an adult beverage. With a short pit stop into Brooklyn Fox  the rooftop at The Wythe Hotel was our home base for the next couple hours. Sitting in the shade, six or so stories high I took in my surrounds. Observing all I could see for as far as I could see.




You know, in case you meet someone. 


From here we go to one of Caitlin's favorite bars, No Name Bar. The bar with a perfect outdoor back patio, it what I like to call it. It was a nice late afternoon and liquor was required. With only a few patrons inside we decided to check out the back. Other people had the same idea as us on that Saturday afternoon. The only two open options were up on a little deck / terrace. Once there we find a man napping on the lounge chair. He wakes up a little confused, stretches, rubs his hands through this stylish & thick Mohawk while saying hello. Drew is our new friend. We chatted with him for the next couple before he departed to head into the city for work. Being the gracious gentleman he was, he planned our night for us: dinner, drinks dancing. We thanked him and said our see you laters.



Caitlin and I were craving Italian and Supper had a reservation! Located on small side street in the East Village, we were able to walk right up. The two large tables just inside the door are community tables. We shared our table with a father enjoying a meal with his two sons. Opposite of us, was a large group of gals celebrating! Man oh man did it hit the spot. I got the Spaghetti Al Lemon.  It was simple, light, refreshing and so delicious. Of course a bottle of red was ordered. By Saturday I was feeling a little sick, but I popped a zyrtec and pushed on through. Bourbon coats the throat, right? 

From dinner we walk to have a drink with our new favorite barkeep, Dewtah (Drew from Utah) at Boulton & Watt, to our surprise it was only a couple blocks away from Supper. Arriving at 10:30, we somehow managed to not leave until 3am. From here Drew and his friends take us to a late night at a Hookah Bar. Around 4:30 we call it quits and hail a cab. We dropped Drew at B&W for him to retrieve his bike and peddle home while we head back to Brooklyn. We arrived home around 5:00 and without words went to bed. With bars staying open until 3-4 am, it really does a number on ya. 

Drewtah is tall.

Sunday was go see the 911 Memorial day. As if the experience would not be somber enough we woke up to grey skies waiting to drop moisture. We grabbed a coffee and headed to the train. Sprinkles began once we arrived.  When passing the NY Exchange building, a church sits at the end of the street. Trinity Church is powerful. With the bells ringing, it was as if we were being asked to step in and who can argue with the 27 bells ringing in a church from the 1800s? Not us. We walked in and took a deep breath. It smelled old and looked as if hundreds of hands built it. The doors you walk through to enter are some of the most intricate and detailed doors I've ever seen. They were a gift from William Waldorf Astor.. yep as in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. They were given in memory of another family member, John Jacob Astor

The church is one of the largest landowners in NYC, even with selling much of it off over the years. This beauty sits on 14 acres of real estate, $5.5 million of it being commercial space. It is said to be one of the richest individual parishes in the world.





Feeling better about our Sunday we continue on to the 9/11 Memorial. Luckily we get to pass the line waiters and head straight to security, since Caitlin printed off our tickets ($4 each). To avoid standing in line for hours, we strongly suggest making a reservation and printing your ticket off!

An indescribable feeling came across me when we turned the corner and I realized we were there. Standing where two buildings once stood. Where thousands lost lives. From all parts of the city you can see Freedom Tower because it fills the skyline and elates it's onlookers, but to be standing on this hallowed ground, was something I will never forget. It was powerful to touch the names, listen to the water in rotation and observe the people taking in with you. The design is so well thought-out and touching. One of the more inspiring things I witnessed was the growth of the Survival Tree 









Since sleeping in caused us to have to skip breakfast, we were starving when we left the memorial. My brother's girlfriend came to meet us for a lunch. While we were Facebook friends, I had never actually met her. She gets major bonus points for reaching out and actually coming to join us for lunch. She lives in Hoboken, so it was a haul to come meet us on a rainy Sunday afternoon, especially since she had been out at the shore for the weekend. I'm so glad she did. What a delight Alexis is. The stories of her Jersey family were laugh out loud funny and as cliche as it sounds, they are what Caitlin and I would imagine them to be like. Sharing stories of her loud, close, loving, huge Sunday Supper eating, controlling family made me feel like I needed to meet them! 

A little decompressing and rest was needed before the flight home. I was set to get home at 9:15 but due to weather and "air traffic control" 26 Delta flights were cancelled and another 12 delayed, so I got to RDu at 11:45. I was on the delayed boat. Of course, I was not aware of this until arriving of LGA. I grabbed some supper found one of the last outlets open in the terminal and read my book. This was me trying to make best of situation I could not change. I opted not to be one of 25 people standing in line at Delta Customer Service yelling at that the rep who could also not change the situation. People all over the country were affected by this so with some hot peppermint tea I took a deep breathe and tried not to stare at my watch.

Written by Emily Ballard