For my first trip to New York I really wanted to live like a genuine New Yorker or at least how I realistically believe my lifestyle would be if I ever moved there. I didn’t have a craving to stay in a beautiful and well appointed but ultimately soulless hotel right in the centre of Manhatten. For the sake of feeling like I was immersed in the lifestyle that seems to correlate with my interests and budget, I didn’t mind if the place or area I stayed in came under the tags, rustic, gritty, rough around the edges etc. Don’t get me wrong, the tourist sights and activities filled up most of my schedule, but in terms of the place I wanted to rest my head each night, I wanted to keep it real.
Having had a very positive experience of Air b n b when visiting Marseille with the girls last summer I was happy when our holiday crew decided to scout for apartments on there.
We are all currently on a bit of a budget, with little money to burn on unessential items. In fact I shouldn’t have really even been thinking about booking trips with the current state of my finances, but as Simon had already been out there for six weeks recording it seemed a logical time…to a degree. With getting on the property ladder such an unreachable thing, saving almost feels like a pointless activity. I’d rather spend the little amount I have left living in the present and ticking off my bucket list. Perhaps foolish, but that’s my thought process right now. That said, I don’t do credit cards, I’m not sure I could handle the stress of being in debt. I digress….
So as Zoe and Fraser had decided to do the same as us in booking a trip at the end of the studio session, we thought it made sense to share an apartment to save some more pennies. We all agreed we cared more about having money to spend on eating out than having a cool and instagrammable apartment. We did struggle to find apartments that had two proper bedrooms. Many of the options in the Brooklyn area were superb for one couple, or for groups willing to sleep on sofas, blow up beds and singles beds, but the options for two double rooms was slightly limited. We had a few shortlisted, in the end we actually opted for the least attractive, but most cost effective one. It didn’t look bad at all, just compact and basic and lacking the cool factor, but we were won over by its location, which was just a few metres from Montrose Avenue subway. This would mean we were in a cool part of Williamsburg but within extremely easy access of the city.
How you approach the first day of a holiday depends on the destination and the type of holiday you are seeking to accomplish. There’s been plenty of holidays where I’ve dumped the bags in the room and headed straight to the beach, or to the closest bar for cocktails. You know the type of holidays that are ALL about getting bronzed skin, partying…and absolutely no culture. Fraser and Zoe have visited NY on numerous occasions, so they didn’t have many touristy activities on the agenda, they were there to mooch, shop and retrun to favourite haunts in the hope to discover new ones on route. I had a very lengthy list of tourist sight and activites and with Si being my unoffical city guide, he was going to have to tick them all off with me (even though he is also a NY regular). Poor boy.
Despite our differing plans for the week ahead we wanted to begin the same way…exploring our new surroundings. I love that first walk around the location you’ve picked, working out how all the different landmarks intersect and to getting a feel for the area and the type of people that decorate it. It was a startingly mild day so we decided we’d walk for as long as our post flight legs would allow.
After our breakfast at Egg, Zoe left us temporarily as she had booked in to get her nails done. As we were all in the mood to get in to photography geek zone we decided to use this time to get snap happy. We headed towards to dock area which was predictably full of industrial and building sites. I would never thinking of taking photos like this in the UK, but NY seems to make everything infinitely cooler and more cinematic.
I loved this little window that revealed a rhombus of the bridge and a hint of the NY cityscape. I love the pops of rust and orange against the greys and dark forest greens too.
This spot delivered my first proper views of Manhatten. You should of seen the smile on my face…dream come true moment. It was a lovely little spot where many people had settled in for working meetings with laptops and coffees.
After a little sit down to enjoy the views we carried on mooching. We came across this awesome artwok (above) so all three of us got in our photography stances and got to creating the best compositions. Embarrassingly we got caught whilst in full on tourist mode and started getting heckled by a loud male voice. Luckily the voice was coming from a guy called Byron who actually worked in the club the graffiti was part of. He very kindly invited us inside TBA to have a look at the artwork inside. He informed us that TBA is the best deep house club in NY, reeling off some of the music played inside. We nodded along confidently, pretending we were well versed on the Deep House community and influencers.
Byron wasn’t the owner of the club but he was responsible for making the space eco friendly. He was telling us his plans to take the space off the grid, and how he’s worked with various companies and spaces over the years.
I ended up seeing this tag sprayed throughout the city. Love the statement…perfect tattoo idea me thinks.
So, here we are in Williamsburg thinking it’s the coolest place since..well, thelocation version of sliced bread, and Byron tells us that Williamsburg is over. Williamsburg is now apparently the new Manhatten, and now it’s all about Bushwick. We know what he’s saying. I mean how many times do we get told in London that Shoreditch or Hackney are ‘over’. As soon as a place is singled out as cool people and business want to move there, it gets gentrified…it’s the way of the world. To us New York aliens however, it still felt pretty rad. Before we bid our goodbye to Byron he gave us some tips on where to hunt out some more great street art…
this giant piece. We weren’t sure who the lady was but someone on
Instagram commented that they thought she looked like Courtney Barnett,
so maybe they’re right. Either way it’s a awesome mural, look at the
detail on the sleeves and hair!
After that it was time to reconnect with Zoe and her newly ghosted nails. After a little confusion about location, despite help from both google maps and city mapper, we were reunited and decided to embark on a trek to an area called Dumbo. I’d never heard of it, but Zoe said it would deliver great views of the city and Brooklyn Bridge, that there was a cute gated garden and nice restaurants.
On route to Dumbo we passed an area that was clearly inhabited by the Jewish community. All the women we passed were in modest dress, with scarves on their heads, with the males in black or navy suits with waistcoast, large hats, curled tendrals framing their bearded faces.
It wasn’t a short walk and I was starting to flag by this point, so was actually quite relieved when it started to rain and an Uber was suggested. I’ll show you my shots from Dumbo in the next post.
By the way, I’ll be posting oodles of NY posts (sorry if this isn’t of interest). Keep checking back for more insights into my week….Missing your already Williamsburg.
You’ll see the moving images of all this in Saturday’s Video on my channel.