Bridge the Travel Gap

Brooklyn, New York

Why?

Brooklyn, New York is a great place to visit. I was pleasantly surprised when I awoke after my very late arrival. Where I stayed is really easy to get around and find local places to eat.


My fuzzy friend Wally

Now I know Brooklyn isn’t the place that most people think of going to in New York, but I’m glad I landed here.

I’m a house sitter and I got to look after Wally, the gorgeous chihuahua. Having 2 of my own at home, it meant that I got to have a fuzzy companion while on holiday – always brilliant!

I ended up in a very jew orthodox area, but that, also meant a very safe part of the city – great for a single female traveler.

My stay was for about 1 week and this is what I got up to….

Food


Great place for original cookies!

1 thing you must do is eat in Brooklyn. A lot of what we think of as New York types of food originate in this suburb of New York.

1st thing I would suggest you do it book yourself on the Neighborhood Eats Tour: Brownstone Brooklyn. It is a great way to introduce you to the neighborhood and some of it’s rich history. This tour is definitely well worth the money and I suggest you book before you go, as it can sell out in peak season.

While on the tour, I felt like I was really introduced to the reason so many people love New York. For that multi-cultural friendly neighborhood vibe. Brooklyn just seems to ooze that sort of charm. It doesn’t feel like a big city, it feels like a big neighborhood. Where people know each other and stop in the street to ‘shoot the breeze.’ Plus, there are foods on this tour which, well you can’t find anywhere else in the world or you can find the whole worlds ethnic foods, probably run by 3rd generation immigrates from that country or religious slant.

Hotels

1st Hotel


Great black and white photo on the wall of the old subway line

I stayed in 3 different hotels while in New York, due to my travel plans. So, my 1st hotel I stayed in, before my house sit, was the RL Brooklyn Hotel.

It’s a hotel with a boutique feel, very modern and friendly staff. I would say, do not get a room on the 1st floor, as the walls/floors allow a lot of bled of sound. The cafe/restaurant area and stairwell can be very noisy to be near. Make sure you book yourself higher up in the rooms with the quietest at the back of the hotel.

There is a subway which runs in front of the hotel. Personally, the subway and street noise don’t tend to bother me, but noise from other guests or the bar area does.

It’s an excellent location, less than a block to the subway and some great eateries very close by – esp. fresh bagels for breakfast – Little Skips and BK bagels all walking distance from the hotel!

Excellent fresh bagels with some great twists on the fillings.


Great place for lunch or dinner

For a great neighborhood lunch, also walking distance from the hotel, try Mary’s Coffee Shop and Restaurant. Wonderful staff and food for very reasonable prices. Loved it there, it’s a great place to watch the local life walking in and out.

2nd Hotel

On my way out, I had to stay near Newark for my flight and I managed to get a good price for the Newark Liberty International Airport Hotel. Check in is easy, room is very quiet and clean. Perfect for my 1 night and my early flight.

I didn’t take a taxi and saved myself a lot of money and tolls. To do this from Brooklyn, you need to take the subway, train (from Penn Station) and the Airtrain Newark at the airport. If you are downtown already, you can skip the subway.

Make sure you have the time to take this suggestion, as public transport in New York isn’t the most reliable. I would recommend this way to get there, just for the experience to ride on an American train. The hotel has a shuttle to pick you up from the Airtrain, just make sure you get off at the right stop. Ask 1 of the staff who are usually walking around. Plus your train ticket includes the cost of the Airtrain.

The hotel has a free shuttle and they run early, so you can get there at any time you need.

3rd Hotel

The 3rd hotel was for my flight back to London, UK which left from JFK Airport. The hotel I found was the Five Towns Inn JFK. It’s not all that close to the airport, but they do have a free shuttle and the staff were friendly.

The 1 thing I will warn you, as I had a late flight, so had all day to stay at the hotel, which was OK in the lobby – the wifi is good and there is free tea/coffee and snacks. It’s not the nicest of areas to walk around, but I did manage to find a nice pub/bar which is a good place to eat and has a nice view of the water.

Be warned, taxi drivers struggle to find the hotel, as it’s not in a normal place for JFK hotels.

It is very clean, quiet and no problems with leaving my luggage behind the desk, so I could go and eat some lunch before my late night flight.

Do book your shuttle time, as it can get busy and you don’t want to miss your flight because you didn’t book the shuttle at the time that works for you. You can only book the shuttle when you get to the hotel.

It is the least glamorous of the 3 hotels I stayed in, but it was great for 1 night.

Home of Cheesecake

I love cheesecake, so I was so pleasantly surprised to have stumbled upon the birthplace of this incredible dessert!

Right here in Brooklyn at Junior’s where you can also have a huge, huge lunch and a luscious piece of cheesecake.

There are Junior’s across the city, but the 1 in Brooklyn is the original!

Plus there is great shopping. Which is way more reasonable than in Manhattan, so if you want to be in a high street area, but with more reasonable prices, this is the area to go.

Best cheesecake in New York

Worth a visit, even if it’s only for a chance to sit in that very booth like restaurant, which doesn’t look like it’s changed it’s decor since it opened.

Loved it! Feels a bit like going back in time.

Service is great, too!

Brooklyn Bridge Park

There is, also, a very active night life in Brooklyn. In fact, I only went into Manhattan to meet people or travel through to where I needed to go or buy souvenirs.

Actually, I just didn’t need to leave Brooklyn, there is so much to see and do just there.

Brooklyn Bridge Park was suggested to me. This is an excellent part of the waterfront and a brilliant new theatre space called – St. Anne’s Warehouse Theatre – is located here. I managed to get a ticket for a sold out performance of a new edition of Oklahoma – it was excellent – they even served chilli in the interval!

Oklahoma

If you want to go to see what they are doing at this rebuilt black box type theatre, then book before you go. I got lucky, as I was a solo traveler and someone did a return and I got that 1 ticket.

So, there is a great theatre, but there is also the recently renovated waterfront. It alone is just great to walk along, get great photos of the Manhattan sky line and ride on an old carousel – very cheap, too!

Awesome and very affordable ride

There are excellent restaurants and some boutique type shops all along this waterfront promenade, so take some time to walk through the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

You walk above the traffic

If the weather is good and the winds aren’t too strong – walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or vice versa – walk from Manhattan to the park. I did the walk to Manhattan, as the views are stellar, especially at sunset!

Taxis

Other than Newark, you have to take a taxi to or from the airports. New York hasn’t quite got it’s act together for public transport, even the Newark transport is well known for not being reliable by New Yorkers.

I want to give you a heads up. It’s expensive.

At the time of writing this, my trip from Newark to JFK was $100 because of the tolls. It’s ridiculous and definitely a monopoly situation, but it’s what it is, so you are now warned!

You can use Uber which will be slightly cheaper fare, but I wasn’t able to pre-book and I felt better with a taxi I knew was going to show up.

Plus, they expect a decent tip. On my trip from JFK to my 1st hotel on arrival, I had an argument with the taxi driver as he said I should give him more.  My nose got out of joint, as I see a tip as my choice to give, not be told to give it. I didn’t give him more. I wouldn’t advise doing what I did, but I was tired and didn’t know how the taxis worked in New York. Luckily, nothing worse happened and I got safely to my hotel. As I spoke with some New Yorkers about this later and this is standard practice to pay a 15-20% tip on your fare.

Horse Back Riding in Brooklyn

When I heard I could go horse back riding in Prospect Park, another beautiful, huge park in Brooklyn. I jumped at the chance. Apparently, there are 3 city parks you can do this in, but Prospect Park’s is the most affordable and to be honest, is a bit of a Mom and Pop’s operation. Meaning it’s run by just normal people, not touristy, possibly like the ones in the other parks.

I was really lucky when I went which was a weekday in October – it was like late summer weather. I was on my own with a private tour and the park was empty, so it was like it was all just for me.

It’s great fun and they are very generous with their timing! I was told it’s not normally that quiet, but I got lucky on such a beautiful late fall/autumnal day.

Give yourself plenty of time to find the stables, as it’s not the easiest place to find because it’s not so commercial.

It really is a stable, so when you get there, don’t wear pretty shoes or clothes, they will just get ruined. Unless you like horse pooh on your shoes!

Plus, it’s a stable, so there is only a porta potty for a toilet, perfectly fine, but I am just stating, this isn’t for the glamorous. It’s riding as it should be.

The Kensington Stables is open year round, yes, that’s right. You can ride a horse in snow in the city – that alone would be worth it! You have to call them to book, so you may have to wait till you arrive and call from your hotel. They don’t take online bookings.

Subway

I got a week pass for the subway which meant it was easy to get around the entire city. I felt safe. There was 1 time when I was by myself on train heading in from Brooklyn to Manhattan and someone else in my carriage was shooting up. I just got off at the next stop and went to the next carriage which had more people on it.

I even went out to the Bronx with the subway….

Crowning Triumph

Why did I go there? Well, I had been looking for a crown for my Shirley the Middle Aged Siren cabaret costume and found someone on Etsy who made the perfect crown. She is based in Queens, so I thought I would ask her if I might pick up a crown from her.

Good thing I did, as she can’t ship overseas, but we had to meet the day before my flight and make the exchange… I made a joke about it looking like a drug deal and she laughed nervously, that the area is known for that. I’m used to walking all over London feeling safe. I can forget how not all big cities are as safe. She suggested we not hang around the area. We arranged a precise time to meet and make the exchange.

I’m pleased to report, that nothing untoward happened and she is incredibly nice and this was a crowning moment for me (bad pun, I know!)

Crowning glory

Here’s a photo of Shirley in her gorgeous crown and jewels – what an amazing trip and I encourage you to explore Brooklyn, it’s safe, friendly and I feel I barely scratched the surface of what is possible to do there.

Have you stayed in Brooklyn? Tell me what I missed, so I can go back and check that out as well.

Comments welcome below!

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