I’m always trying to sell people on the merits of Brooklyn, which is where I lived, briefly, before becoming a tour leader. A few our trips such as Best of the East and the Grand Trek start and end in New York. People usually plan a few days in the city, concentrating almost entirely on Manhattan. After a recent trip, I convinced some Trekkers to spend the afternoon in Brooklyn with me. Here’s what we did.
To start the afternoon, we took a walk over Brooklyn Bridge, this used to be one of my favourite things to do when friends from out of town would come visit me in New York. The views are great, the bridge is beautiful, and it’s a real New York landmark. Built in 1883 to connect the cities of New York and Brooklyn, the bridge was an engineering marvel–the first steel suspension bridge, and the longest in the world. It wasn’t an easy feat. Over 24 people died during construction, including the original designer, John Augustus Roebling. His son Washington Roebling took over, but fell victim to “the bends” (while building the bridge’s foundation, workers would go down to the riverbed in airtight boxes, then ascend. The de-pressurization causes gas bubbles to be released into the blood and can cause pain and in some cases paralysis). Paralyzed, Washington relied on his wife Emily, who became a self-taught engineer and oversaw the project.
Once across the Brooklyn Bridge we strolled right into DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), home to Brooklyn’s highest rent prices, a vibrant arts community, and Grimaldi’s pizza, arguably some of the best pizza in New York City. Sure, Grimaldi’s coal-fired pizzas are no secret. The lines can be very long, they don’t take reservations, and you can only order a whole pizza, no slices. But the pizza is pretty damn close to perfect. We each shamelessly ordered our own personal pizza, tricking ourselves with the “two meals in one” mindset. There were no leftovers.
To work off the pizza, we headed to Brooklyn Bridge Park, one of the prettiest spots in the city. It provides amazing views of the Manhattan skyline and the East River, and is a nice place to relax and get your nature fix. It also plays host to a tonne of cool art exhibitions and performances, plus it’s right near the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. Located in a converted fire-boat house at the end of Fulton Ferry Landing Pier, the Ice Cream Factory has great views, but, more than that, it has amazing ice cream (butter pecan is my personal favourite).
So there you have it, a delicious Brooklyn afternoon. From there some went back to Manhattan to navigate the urban jungle, and some of us went to Williamsburg to hang out with the hipsters and drink some absurdly overpriced slow-drip coffees.