Neighborhood Tours: Brooklyn

Monday, April 29, 2013

So here's the thing about Brooklyn.  It always seems like a good idea until you go there.  

For an Upper West Sider who rarely ventures outside of the only borough that really counts, Brooklyn is this romantic, dreamy idea of a place that sounds like a lovely way to spend a Saturday.  Great time to wander cool, vintage hipster neighborhoods and discover so many unknown places of the city I know so well.  It's especially good if you have someone romantic and dreamy to wander with...or if you are avoiding final papers for doctoral classes.  So when I woke up Saturday morning to a 70-degree sunny day, there was really only one thing to do.

Now, just a disclaimer...Brooklyn is roughly the size of Houston (seriously).  There is no possible way that one Neighborhood Tour post could possibly cover it all.  So much left unseen and unsaid.  Perhaps you will see more of Brooklyn on {the ivy project}. Today's post is just a little piece of the puzzle.  

I started out in the Bedford-Stuyvesant (or "Bed-Stuy") neighborhood of Brooklyn.  Let's be honest.  I only went out of curiousity for Brooklyn Kolache Co.  I read about it online recently and, being the good Texan that I am, had to check it out.  It took three trains and over an hour to get there.  It was when I was waiting for the G train deep in the heart of Brooklyn that I started to second guess this plan.

Manhattan-dwellers do not get on the G train for anything.  And we judge the people who do.

Here's the neighborhood I found at the end of the G train.  See the difference already?  Now, parts of Brooklyn are gorgeous enough to make me want to live there.  This was not one of them.


Finally found Brooklyn Kolache Company.  People in front of me in line were talking about Kolache Factory and Shipleys.  {insert Texas giddiness here}  Turns out, they were from Austin.  We're best friends now.



New Yorkers do not know what kolaches are...never heard of them.  Now, if you don't know, this is a kolache.  It's a Czech pastry found across Texas and not many places beyond the Lone Star State.  In my world, kolaches originate from the tiny Czech town of West, Texas (which is not the same as the region of West Texas), about 15 mile north of Waco.  It kind of tastes like a Hawaiian sweet roll stuffed with fruit and cream cheese or meat and cheese.  Here are a strawberry cream cheese and a bacon, egg and cheese kolaches...


Sufficiently full and happy from my Texas treats, I wandered about a mile to Clinton Hill, another Brooklyn neighborhood.  Definitely starting to get a little prettier, but not quite there yet.  Definitely less sketchy though...





It was in Clinton Hill that I found Brooklyn Flea, supposedly one of the nation's best flea markets.  I was hoping to find a cute guy waiting for me there and orchestrating the perfect soundtrack, sort of like in the movie Elizabethtown.  All I found was this elephant...


And this lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound, which will go on the list of best things I've ever eaten. Try the Maine style, of course.  


Three miles of walking later, I finally arrived at my actual preferred Brooklyn neighborhood, DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).  I was finally starting to feel like I was back in civilization (but, let's be honest, we're still in Brooklyn). This tiny little neighborhood sits in the triangle between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and is home to a super artsy eclectic crowd.


DUMBO is full of great indy shops to explore.  Check out Stewart/Stand, Dabney Lee, Dewey's Candy, Journey Home, West Elm, and Powerhouse Arena Books.  





Now, by this point you've practically walked a marathon and you are still in Brooklyn.  You need snacks.  And a good bathroom.  One Girl Cookies has both.  They specialize in teeny tiny half-dollar size cookies (which don't even really count), but everything is just gorgeous.



You could also check out Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and Grimaldi's Pizza.  Both super famous, with super famous long lines to match.  So delicious. 



Now, if you need a show-stopping, pull out all the stops, kind of spectacular New York evening.  River Cafe is your place.  Sitting right below the Brooklyn Bridge, it is probably the best meal of my entire life.  And yes, it looks a little better when it's nighttime and sparkly and the water isn't so brown.  Maybe I'll get married there one day.  Or just throw a really amazing party.  Please read my previous post on the River Cafe for the full rundown.  


And finally, you find yourself in Brooklyn Bridge Park along the East River.  Here is the full 180 degree, one in a million view...






And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the best part of Brooklyn.  The part where you can see Manhattan.  But seriously, it's a great day trip.  The food is fantastic and the views are unbelievable.  At this point, the fastest way back into Manhattan is to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, which is its own special experience...definitely my favorite tourist attraction in the city.  At just over a mile long, it offers the best views in the city and ends right at Manhattan's City Hall.

Of course, when you're still in Brooklyn home just feels so far away.

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