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An unexpected change in plans landed me in Brooklyn for a long weekend a couple months ago. I had two sets of gracious hosts who showed me, yet again, another amazing time.

I flew in and was picked up from JFK by the one and only Gregorio Solis. I stayed with him and his better half Thursday and Sunday nights. From JFK we drove into Lefferts Gardens right by Prospect Park. Greg and MA have an awesome, very spacious, rent controlled apartment. I said hello, met the pups and dropped my things in the "princess room" and out for a night cap Greg and I went.

We drove to Red Hook. Red Hook has been around since the 1600s. It's a little peninsula between Buttermilk Channel and Gowanus Bay and Gowanus Canal, at the southern end of Brooklyn. Red Hook looked pretty barren, there wasn't much over there that I could see. Greg told me there was a brewery, a couple bars, couple new condos but they are still rebuilding and revamping. This area got hit pretty hard during Sandy. Water levels were some of highest ever.

Photo: Google Images

Photo: Google Imags
One place that did survive is Sunny's. Sunny's is a dive bar of dive bars and they are busting out some of the best local tunes. That night we had a four person jazz/ blues group. I was told the music never sucks here. It's a cash only joint and the front stoop is blocked by an old green pickup truck. The walls and shelves are decked with anything and everything. There isn't a rhyme or reason to anything going on in there, but it works. It all just works. The back room had stunning photography of Red Hook and serves as an art exhibition area, with local artist adorning the walls in rotation. This little place as been around in one form or another since the 1890s!

Photo: Google Images
Photo: Google Images
Sonny the Owner
Photo: Google Images

From here we walk to the above picture (where the benches are under water) and walk out a long dock to get a glance at Lady Liberty!

After a couple frigid pictures we make our way back to our hood, park the car and walk up to Erv's. It's a tiny bar, holding maybe 20-30 people and serving up great cocktails. There are people outside cooking chicken on a grill and selling it by the plate. There was a man talking to a group of us about the color of our eyes and the meaning behind the color of eyes. Then he turned to me and said "have you ever wondered what color eyes your children would have if you had a baby with a black man?" I laughed and told him I'd honestly never really thought about it. He quickly told me he'd be willing to go practice and see what happens because he really believes that our babies would have beautiful eyes. I thanked him, but told him I was not in the market to make any babies right now. I looked down and somehow it was 3:30 am. How did that happen?! I told G we must go.

I snuggled up in the most perfect guest bedroom. A beautiful antique bedroom set, that has been in Mary Ann's family for years, fills the room. The bed felt as if I was sleeping on clouds, a window covered in just enough ivy to let the perfect amount of morning sun in and a window unit to provide a most excellent sound machine!

Smoothies were made, dogs were walked and then we began our journey for Sunflowers. Mary Ann needed a photo of herself and flowers to submit for a flower grant application she was seeking. Two florist and a bodega, corner store or deli (whatever you wish to call it) later, we have a big bunch of all sized Sunflowers. Their building provided the perfect brick back drop for the urban flower lover Mary Ann is.

Rosco's Pizza a lovely corner spot on Bedford not far from PP was our lunch of choice. They served us up several slices of pie, a beer and large glass of red wine sangria! All very, very delicious. We almost went here but our tummies were calling for za. Berg'n is something I would like to see in Raleigh. We have all the pieces to make this come together: local beers, lovers of cocktails, food trucks, warehouse space, desire for more community based spaces. In fact, we went several places, and I thought " this could work in Raleigh."

Bellies full we head toward the Manhattan Bridge. Maybe it's like this for everyone, but for me, I just didn't realize how large of a structure the bridges are (not just in NY) until you are right up under them, looking up. I couldn't help but have a ton of questions running through my mind, as I approached both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges....Thanks to google I have my answers!

Brooklyn Bridge:

* Brooklyn Bridge was longest steel suspension bridge in the world, until, the Williamsburg Bridge was built, beating it by 4.5 feet. 9 other things you may not know about the BB!

How long did it take to construct this?
13 years of construction, 18 years if you include drawing of plans, ideas, etc.

How many people pass it each day?
120,000 vehicles
 4,000 pedestrians
 3,100 cyclist

Who designed it?
John Augustus Roebling, was the creator. At the time he was known for designing steel suspension bridges. Fun fact: on May 17, 1884, P.T. Barnum led 21 adult elephants across the BB to prove it's stability!

Total height of bridge towers above water:

Was anyone hurt during construction?
20 people

Manhattan Bridge:

How long did it take to construct this bridge:
18 years of construction. The bridge opened to the public on New Years Eve, December 31st 1909.

How many people pass it each day?
80,000 vehicles
320,00 people on foot, bike, etc.

Who designed this bridge?
Leon Moisseiff 

Total height of bridge towers above water:
322 feet

Was anyone hurt during construction?

Williamsburg Bridge:

How long did it take to construct:
Construction started on October 28, 1896 and the bridge opened on December 19, 1903. 7 years, much shorter time than the others.

How many people pass it each day?
140,000 motorist
92,000 transit riders
600 cyclist
500 pedestrians

Who designed it?
Leffert Buck was the Chief Engineer. He also worked with the designer of the Eiffel Tower.

Total height of bridge towers above water:

Was anyone hurt during construction:
 No deaths reported

After bridge stalking, walking around and window shopping, we gathered my things from G's apartment and headed to Libby's. Libby and her French lover man were my host for Friday and Saturday nights. We take a bottle and head to the roof. My gawd, the views from her roof (see above)!

Libby picked our spot for supper... Salt + Charcoal . Greg and my friend Caitlin joined us. You can literally smell the goodness coming out of this place as you approach it. It's perfectly lit, perfectly noisy and perfectly cozy. The menu had "strange" things listed on it, but then once you read past the title and got to the details of the dish, you were pleased! We ordered half a dozen things or so and all shared.

Feeling a little tipsy and fresh we walked to Baby's All Right for club style dancing and a band, a heavy metal band. Then hopped across the street for snacks needed when you have a buzz and night caps at OTB

I wake up and look out the window... someone could get used to this view!

Dylan has spot in mind to fuel us up.. however the name escapes me!
This place was unlike anywhere I'd been. It had a boat in the yard, rocks, instead of grass, lawn and lounge furniture out front, corn hole boards, excellent music, huge garage doors, lots of plants, tables, booths, community tables and delicious brunch.

From here we walk to the waterfront to take in more skylines and scenery and do a little shopping.
We wandered the vendors of Artist and Flea and popped in another adorable store where I purchased simple salt and pepper shakers. After all the walking and shopping, we needed a snack. Libby had been raving about the nachos at Donna. Sadly, upon arriving, they didn't have those on the menu for our time of day. Tacos were ordered instead. And cocktails. Donna was cool. Dark wood floors, white walls and ceiling and just 2 minute walk from their apartment.

Dylan has to prep for work and Libby and I have to prep for supper. First step, wine. We walked to the local wine shop.  On the way back we pop into Marlowe & Daughters  (they also have Marlowe & Sons). M&D is a butcher shop, with local snacks. Right there you can order a sammy, pick the perfect fruit, browse the meat case, while 10 steps away someone is butchering a large piece of meat.
Oh! They also have a darling knot door knob!

Le Baratin  is our dinner spot. It's also where Dylan works. It's nestled in the West Village and seats 40 people at most. Here is an article on it. It's warm and inviting, you feel like the people working there have known you forever, the Christmas lights hang in random places (maybe year around?), it's loud, and people are drinking, like really drinking. It was Saturday night so the place was packed, but lover boy set us up in the two corner seats at the bar. I literally couldn't have asked for a better dining experience. We drank, we ate, we sang, we danced, we laughed and we drank some more. At one point I noticed there was a tall trash can, just full of wine and bubbles bottles! There was a 15 person birthday party. When it was time for the cake to come out, it was lit with sparklers and this song came on. Everyone went nuts! People walking by were looking, pointing, laughing, smiling, bc the entire place was up dancing and singing!

Not wanting my New York Saturday night to end at midnight, I go and meet one of my favorite people . I knew he would want to go dance the night away. We cabbed it to Hell's Kitchen  and our destination is The Ritz. 4 am rolls around and I hug and kiss Martin goodnight. Hop in an Uber and make the trek back to Williamsburg!

The sun awakes me earlier than I'd prefer, but I'm told coffee and dank breaky awaited me at Gourmet Guild. This is just what my hungry and hungover self needed! From here Libby and Dylan leave for a baseball game so we say our goodbyes and I wander the area. I pop into Brooklyn Industries and order the leather coat (if you are Medium, it's on sale now!) of Libby's that I'd worn all weekend! From here I just walk the streets popping in whatever store drawes me in.

Once G is done with work, I cab it over to his place.  We have a full day of exploring ahead of us.

He takes me to Royal Palms. Holy moly this place is awesome! Life size Shuffleboard and adults playing games while drinking in a reinvented 17,000 sq foot warehouse space. There are two large bars, cabana style booths, checkers playing boards lining the middle of the main aisle. You feel like you have just been thrown back to 1970s Palm Beach, and let's face it... Who doesn't want that!?!

One of G's friends was working at a Brewery in Gowanus, we went to say hi and check it out. The interior is beautiful. Clean with an industrial feel which fit the bill well with the brick building. There was a 3-piece band playing downstairs and the place was packed. New York really knows how to do Sunday Funday. They def do not let Monday ruin the last day of their weekend! We drank here a couple hours then it was time for supper! Burger Mexicano had recently opened and G and MA had yet to try it, so that was an easy decision, plus it's walking distance from their casa.

Monday is see you next time NY day. My flight wasnt until later in the afternoon, so we slept in, made breakfast and made our way into the City for one more slice of education and culture. Cooper-Hewitt appealed to us bc of G's background in design. What a cool place this is. It's a museum, but interactive and not sleepy like some can be. It's hands on and makes sure you feel like you are in a hip place. The interactions and thought with textiles, mediums, materials and style are present through every floor and exhibit.

Thank you, once again, New York. Each time is full of new discoveries, education and inspiration.


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