36 hours in Brooklyn

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Are you sick of the same old Manhattan neighbourhoods? Have you already tried the dumpling shops of St Mark’s place, pretended to be a prospective buyer in Ralph Lauren Couture and seen enough of the “up and coming” neighbourhoods for a lifetime? You might have missed snagging a loft in Brooklyn before the hipsters flooded in, but you are definitely not too late to enjoy the atmosphere. Tie up your man bun, grab your yoga mat and get ready to enjoy 36 hours in the hippest borough in New York.

Saturday morning

Start your day right with Blue Bottle Coffee. With an extensive and cool menu, your welcome to the other side of New York will be delicious and memorable. Even if your morning routine does not include an espresso, anyone can appreciate the time and effort that goes into each drink. The proof is in the flavour, which varies far more than in most other Brooklyn coffee shops. The coffee shop’s elaborate concoctions never fail to please.

Head to the Brooklyn Flea Market next, one of the most elaborate and unique of its kind in America. It is no surprise that Brooklyn boasts a haven of vintage clothing, retro furniture and valuable antiques that will appeal to any traveller. If you are willing to fight the locals, skim through some original records and try on a show-stopping getup that would make Bowie do a double take (God rest his soul). This flea market is open every weekend and occupies a large (sometimes outdoor ) space, so make sure to dress according to the weather. Thankfully, Teva and Birkenstock sandals are widely accepted in hipster circles, so comfortable footwear will share their space. Also, bring cash.

Saturday afternoon

Hours of braving the indie crowd and at times windy New York City weather may have left you in need of some organic, gluten-free nourishment. Every Wednesday and Saturday, Brooklyn is home to Smorgasburg, an extension of the Brooklyn Flea Market with over a hundred options. The pickiest eater will find something among the cruelty-free, macrobiotic, raw vegan crowd. Stalls sport artsy names like “Rock the Kasbah” (with new dishes every hour) and the appropriately named “Bite Me Cheese Cake,” but you will want to walk around and see where people congregate to see which vendor will provide your lunch that day.

After the excitement, see something quiet and majestic in the Brooklyn Museum, a collection that usually stands in the shadow of its better-known neighbours on Museum Mile. Thanks to Instagram publicity and exceptional temporary exhibits, the Brooklyn Museum has marked its place as a mecca for art enthusiasts and anyone who wants to soak up the local culture and assorted artefacts. Most people flock to the mummies, but check out some of the rotating collections and historical mementos of Brooklyn to really get the full experience.

Right next to the Brooklyn Museum are two of Brooklyn’s most popular attractions. The Botanical Garden hosts beautiful shows and the famous cherry festival. Most visitors tend to enjoy the gardens in summertime when the roses bloom, but the gardens are maintained admirably throughout the year. Prospect Park is home to concerts and Smorgasburg on certain days of the week, but the large park is green and occupied on all days. Saunter through or find a nice place to lay down your blanket and maybe have a picnic, preferably on a sunny day.

Saturday night

If you are willing to wait and ready to see what the big deal really is about New York pizza, then head to Juliana’s. Don’t settle for margherita. Instead, experiment with their legendary prosciutto or ask your server what he would suggest. If you do not want to wait, try calling ahead to see what the queue looks like or arrive before or after the typical meal times. For the real New York experience, just grab a pizza to go, find a bench and people-watch to your heart’s content.

At night, treat yourself to an event at the legendary Barclay’s Center. The venue hosts everything from sell-out shows by chart-topping artists to high-octane sport matches (especially basketball games). Due to the venue’s size, most events are the kind that sell out ahead, but if you want to try your luck you may find some of New York’s detested scalpers outside the event offering the tickets for often times outrageous prices. If possible, try not to bring a bag (or if you must, bring a smaller one) because security frowns upon large purses. Also, carry some cash for a souvenir as t-shirt sales from concerts tend to be conducted in cash and using a credit card will only delay other customers.

Sunday morning

Ready to see how hipsters get fit? Bring your yoga mat (or borrow one) to YO BK, a premier studio featuring hot yoga classes with showers on site. Sip tea and watch the most sculpted yogis prep for an hour of sweating out their toxins. The staff is friendly and warm, including teachers who accommodate all skill levels. The décor is natural, and the studio sells delicious tea and useful equipment that may have you planning a trip to Nepal.

For a sampling of New York City’s devoted, reliable brunch scene, head to Café Mogador, a small eatery in Williamsburg. Try the eggs in whatever style most appeals to you and look around at what other people are ordering. Waiters are definitely Brooklyn natives (or convincing transplants) with their intricate tattoos and hipster style. Brunch is not a good time to make small talk as the place tends to swarm, but if you are willing to sit at the bar then the wait is rarely longer than ten minutes. Pay attention to the fun décor and stick around, even if the volume is sometimes off putting. No matter the hour, order a cocktail. Skip the classic mimosa to try some of the house specialties. The restaurant offers some of the best, so no choice is a bad choice. The bartenders and waiters are knowledgeable, so ask away to make sure you select something stellar.

Sunday afternoon

Walk off your drunken brunch with a tour of one of the nicest areas in New York: Park Slope. Explore the neighbourhood, observe the lucky Brooklynites in their natural habitat and see what life is like outside of Manhattan in a highly sought after neighbourhood filled with gorgeous and luxurious brownstones that everyone regrets not having bought before each one featured an unimaginable price tag. Watch for famous residents, as the neighbourhood is a hotspot for the creative sort with families. Mosey over to Brooklyn Bridge and Park. History lovers can gawk at the impressive structure, which is prized as an architectural gem and historical marvel, even as many simply commute across it daily. Their less interested travelling partners may wish to enjoy the greenery and variety of people in the Brooklyn Bridge Park nearby or see the vista of Manhattan across the water. The park is no side attraction, though. With 85 acres to traverse, visitors may wish to bring a bike, roller blades or a good pair of sneakers to see the natural beauty within the city.

Sunday evening

You have tried the cheese pizza and honeyed sweets, so now see how the environmentally-conscious denizens of Brooklyn pig out while staying vegan. Champs Diner is not your typical zen vegan establishment, however. Typical diner décor – think metallic walls, a display case of baked goods and classic booths – meets stitched wall decorations with Joy Division song lyrics, graffiti and action figures. The food is also your usual diner fare, but no meat, dairy or animal byproduct can be found in the dishes. Savour the vegan smoothies, red velvet pancakes, or scrumptious burgers. You will leave feeling morally and gastronomically fulfilled.

If you do not leave Brooklyn with a solid idea of what people mean when they tease hipsters, then you probably ended up in the wrong borough. Rather than Manhattan’s quiet younger sibling, Brooklyn is Manhattan’s cooler older cousin. Brooklyn lacks Manhattan’s crowds and kitsch and abounds in one of a kind shopping, food and people-watching opportunities. Catch it while it is still hot.


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