This being my 15th trip since I was a child visiting New York, but my first time travelling with friends. I’m usually a lone traveller, likening the experience to the first day of school; the fact that you can be anyone you want to be has always excited me. However, on this trip, I made a consummate effort to share my travelling experiences with friends from back home and to go off Manhattan Island for a trip to the outer boroughs of NYC.
On our second day in The Big Apple, my companions wanted to head to Brooklyn after hearing it was similar to Surry Hills in Sydney, so we hopped on the L to a suburb of Brooklyn called Dumbo.
This place is amazing. Dumbo is what Chippendale is trying to duplicate: old warehouses and churches turned into galleries, cafes and bars.
Not even five minutes off the subway, we had found a cool stationary / furniture store called Modern Anthology, where I picked up the small journal in which I wrote this article. The store sells furniture, old animal bones and unique stationary, pretty much everything a guy may want to fill his bachelor pad or man cave with. For a fee, they will even help you design your newly bought brownstone or apartment. At this point, we were all in desperate need of some coffee after the previous night’s adventures during Vogue’s fashion night out during NYFW, so we asked the store owner where we could get a good coffee and he pointed us across the road.
Baco Café was one of my favourite places that day; the vibe of this place is very chilled out, from the bar with the hole in the wall Italian café feel, to the comfy couches in the back. But it was their toilet that took the cake, resembling something from a five-star hotel bathroom with black mosaics, branded hand towels and designer hand wash.
Another place to check out in Dumbo is the Powerhouse Bookstore, which caters for cravings for those unusual books that you can never find at Borders. You should also visit the studio of Australian artist Anthony Lister, who has made quite an impact across Brooklyn, with his Graffiti art, anti or twisted superhero paintings.
Our next stop was a ten minute cab ride from Dumbo and home to the neo-hipster crowd of New York – the main strip of Bedford Avenue. By now, we were in need of morning tea and stopped at the infamous Bagel Store, which has an amazing cartoon mural on the outside and serves as a sort of beacon/welcome mat to Williamsburg. This store, however, is best known for its variety of bagels and it didn’t disappoint. There was every type you may think of, from blueberry right through to Bircher muesli.
Heading down the main street in Williamsburg is like walking down Sydney’s Crown Street, except everyone has an American accent. From the vintage shops like Beacon’s closet where I bought a wicked horse hair belt and two vintage tees for $35.00, to the bookshop we stopped at Spoonbill & Sugartown, where you get a free beer with every book purchase that day. The store itself is a smorgasbord of vintage books, magazines, and dictionaries where you can spend a good hour or two, thumbing through their collection.
After some shopping on Bedford, we moved down the street to McCarren Park, where we enjoyed a hotdog, and a soda, while watching a corporate softball game for an hour or so.
It was nearing that time in the afternoon where we were ready for refreshments. Making our way back up Bedford, we had a huge amount of bars to choose from, but asking the bookstore owner earlier in the day where would be good to eat as well, we took his suggestion to visit Juliette’s. We arrived taking the side staircase up to their rooftop bar, which was deserted except of course for the bartender, perfect. We ordered jugs of Sangria, which put any other I ever had previously to shame. We also ordered their shrimp basket, salad, and grilled salmon.
The day was perfect, except for one out-of-towner, who spoke just loud enough so everyone could hear her complain of how bad the service was, it was more entertainment than nuisance. So if you are ever in New York during their warmer seasons, make that effort to go across the bridge, off the island, to visit Brooklyn, it may be hipster central, and if some of them were any cooler they would freeze. Generally speaking, everyone is extremely friendly and willing to let you in on their secret bars and cafes frequented only by the locals.