Exploring: Brooklyn, Staten Island and Manhattan

 If there was one area in New York outside of Manhattan that I was desperate to see, it was Brooklyn. So many people I had spoken to prior to the trip raved about getting “out of Manhattan” and experiencing the art, culture and outdoors that Brooklyn is known for. And it didn’t disappoint…when I got there!!
My navigation skills hadn’t improved, and instead of ending up on a train to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park (near 8th Ave and 1st street) I got off the Subway to discover I was at 60th street! Back-tracking a fair way, I eventually discovered a green, quiet oasis – with autumn colour just starting to descend. It was such a lovely contrast to where I had left off at the start of my day – only a couple of cyclists, runners, new mums pushing strollers and dog-walkers were my company on a clear warm sunny day.

The aptly named Long Meadow at Prospect Park

Picnic house

 From the serene surrounds of the park, I wandered along the streets of Park Slope, the most desirable section of Brooklyn recognizable by the sheer number of handsome brownstones.

Dressed up with a little touch of Halloween…

More exclusive brownstones along leafy 8th Ave
I had a lovely stroll in the sunshine down the commercial heart of Park Slope: Seventh avenue – past the grocery stores, florists, cafes and dry cleaners. Then past some boutique stores, bookshops and coffee spots, a hospital and even a school! Talk about diverse!!! Of course, by this time my stomach was searching for the next stop for some sustenance, and so I stumbled into BareBurger. The best bit? You create your own burger with the type of meat (or vegie!) you want, bun or no bun – even the choice of thick chunky chips (mmmm!) and/or onion rings.
I could barely decide, but my stomach drew me to Moroccan chicken served with a salad of goat’s cheese, walnut, spinach, beetroot and chutney. Of course, couldn’t enjoy this meal without a drink….delicious dark ale (organic of course!!).

Lunch

From Seventh Ave I set off to journey back to Brooklyn Heights, near the Brooklyn Bridge.
Via Grand Army Plaza and the Triumphal Arch. Then past the Brooklyn Public Library.

The Triumphal Arch is built to recognise and commemorate efforts in the Civil War (1850’s)
Library entrance – elaborate!

 I then landed at DUMBO – the foreshore of Brooklyn Heights, littered with urban renewal and art. It would have been great to have a full day here to explore all the galleries, markets and happenings – not to mention food! River Cafe for the upscale, Bubby’s for pie, or for a sweet hit Jacques Torres Chocolate. And I haven’t even had time to mention taking a short walk up to Atlantic Avenue – the heart of Lebanese and Middle Eastern Cuisine in New York.

Now restored and exclusive DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass)
Parkland under Brooklyn Bridge, near River Cafe

 Of course, I could leave Brooklyn any other way except by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge! The walk itself is not strenuous – except to dodge all the people stopped for picture-snapping. I felt sorry for the cyclists commuting home from work and having to miss us tourists, completely unpredictable and incapable of obeying the “stick right” rule.

Upper Manhattan from afar

Downtown
Brooklyn Bridge is the oldest cable-stayed bridge

1875: New York Tower is completed

Woolworth Building from Brooklyn Bridge

 Once back on the soil of Manhattan I had the chance to wander around Downtown and explore.

Some interesting art in City Hall Park
Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan
View of Brooklyn Heights from Manhattan

I walked back from the Bridge via South Street Seaport to Downtown Financial District. Since the “occupy wall street” folk had moved on a couple of days before, I got to [sort of] look around the famous commerce centre. I say sort of, because the security was still very tight – you only came close to getting into any of the buildings with a security pass, let along even walk down Wall street itself. Police were on every corner searching cars and even delivery guys backpacks.

A bull for Black Monday (1987)

Beautiful old architecture near Battery Park juxtaposing with skyscrapers
You could barely see the sky at times…

 So, with the sun low in the sky and weary feet I set off in the opposite direction of home…desperate to fit just a little more into my day before nightfall.
As I had not been organised enough to get myself a prized ticket to tour Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty (booked out months in advance) I took the freebie option: a ride to Staten Island upon the ferry.

Manhattan from a distance

I may not have seen the Lady herself up close or got to tour the island, but I did get a very nice ferry ride and beautiful sunset 🙂
It left me feeling pretty chuffed at how much I had fit into one single day exploring New York…A little tired maybe, but I figured the night was young – plenty to see and do!! There was enough time left to go home from some yummy dinner (courtesy of Wholefoods – wish there was one just around the corner at home home!).

The guidebooks said the lines would be more than an hour….not a person in sight!

Times Square from above!

Completed in May 1931 – taller than the Chrylser Building and Eiffel Tower – The Empire State Building has dominated the skyline of New York since – not to mention starred in many movies that we all think of as “iconic” New York.
Getting to the top at 11pm at night, the views were spectacular…New York is certainly transformed by lights at night – you can really get perspective for what more than 8 million people look like!!

Chrysler building and east mid-town, with Madison Ave on the left. My place is just down there!!
Downtown….
The Empire State Building spire – built to make it the tallest building at the time, also to prevent lightning strike damage
I got chatting to one of the attendants at the top – who couldn’t believe I had a full six weeks holiday, paid – hats off to those guys who stand there all day and night (even when it’s snowing in winter!!) making sure people don’t jump off the building!! And just like every other American I met on the trip, he was keen to visit Australia – must be our fantastic tourism ads 🙂
So, that’s the end of my epic adventure for one day. Quite a day really!

Thank goodness for a comfy bed.

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