Sunday, 17 July 2011

“I went to Brooklyn to find something badass and I found a vintage haven” June, 2011

As it turns out, most people wouldn’t leave it until 2 days before their flight to NYC to book accommodation in one of the busiest cities in the world, famous for not having enough backpacker accommodation in a city crammed with tourists. Although I had a backup plan (for most of my trip I was staying with Katie Greaves, a lovely camera assistant who I met when I worked on thisAMERCIAStvshowthatfilmedinNzthatisTOPsecretaboutMODELS)  that plan was back up the state 2 hours away and I thought I should spend my first night in the Big Apple. Frantically ringing around hostels and being shouted at by irate hostel owners who were outraged I would try and book accommodation for MAY at such short notice (turns out it’s the busiest month) I found myself suddenly very worried I might be sleeping on central park bench. At the last minute....I think 1am the night before my next morning flight suffices...... Katie pulled through with a friend she knew in Brooklyn with a bed they keep for couch surfers. Cool, not only do I tick off ‘couch surfing’ as an experience, I’m gonna be in BROOKLYN!! Oh hooooow yes please, all the badass, cool people are from Brooklyn.
The street I stayed on Knickerbocker Ave
First thing I saw when I popped out of the subway
I had Alex’s name, his street address and a tube stop. And a phone that was snubbing the networks and refusing to work. I had a basic idea of how to navigate the subway system and I figured I could use my sneaky trick of reading maps on bus shelters (something I frequently have to do in London) and figure my way there. So off I trotted, dragging thenosiestsuitcaseintheworld across Jamaica station, where I appeared to the only lone traveller and very obviously foreign for not taking a taxi from the airport. After transiting through that station I became rather uneasy because the subway line was eerily quiet. On a Saturday afternoon you’d never find virtually empty carriages on the tube in London and I’m left wondering what memo I had missed. At my subway stop, I had a bit of a nightmare getting my suitcase through the barrier, actually I ended up throwing it over the top, much to the disapproval of the attendant who unhelpfully stood in his little glass cage and frowned at me. I popped out of the station and my first impression of Brooklyn is exactly what I thought it would be - graffitied walls, some beat up cars, a couple of interesting characters roaming about but once again hardly anyone around. I lost my intrepid nerve to wander the streets in search of the apartment and retreated down to use the payphone and get Alex to come and get me.

Their place was a brick, open plan style apartment with rooms off the main living space. High ceilings and crammed with lots of crazy stuff. Alex was in the middle of brewing his own beer, all made organically, so the apartment had a
sweet yeasty smell as if he’d just finished baking some cakes. No cakes unfortunately, but the first place he and his flatmate took me to was a pie shop near the Graham subway stop. Amazing pie and I instantly became infatuated with the vintage decor and managed to window shop through a couple of vintage clothes stores before heading off to Time Square (more on that another time). During my few days staying in Brooklyn I discovered an amazing Bagel Smith, where I would get my breakfast each morning, a great coffee bar and so many crammed vintage stores. One of the mornings I decided to go exploring and headed off in the direction of some stores the housemates had told me about, but they were all closed until 10am so I decided to keep wondering. I wasn’t very aware of my surroundings and then I heard someone say ‘well well well look at that’ and turned to see what they were looking at. A line up of guys were all looking at me. I didn’t want to overreact but thought that possibly I might have walked a little too far into places I shouldn’t have. Because now that I was looking around I was noticing that actually no one was on the streets and I had a feeling of being out of my depth of geographical knowledge. So I decided to retreat back to my happy place of bagels and chipped china. I only saw a small piece of Brooklyn but I loved it. It has character, diversity and still a little bit of badassness to it.

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