I've been to New York before. I've seen Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building. I've walked through Central Park, payed my respects at Ground Zero, and I've seen the "secret back rooms" in Chinatown where they keep "the good purses." I've done the New York thing. I was ready to do the Brooklyn thing.
This whole idea arose because my close friends from high school had thought maybe we could all get back together after the four of us had spread ourselves across the country. So let's all go visit Liz in New York, we figured - why not? Sure, some of us hadn't really talked for months or even years, but it seemed like we all agreed it would probably just be like the last day of senior year when we finally saw each other again.
So we did it. We split the cost of an Airbnb in Clinton Hill so we could stay close to Liz's apartment in Williamsburg. Aside from seeing my dearest friends, I was also pretty stoked to get the true "New Yorker" experience. I used to say I hated New York - it was too crowded, the noise never stopped at night and in the summer it smelled like hot garbage. And I still think all of that may be true for Times Square and the other "touristy" spots. But then I realized - I wouldn't want someone to judge LA based off of Venice Beach and Hollywood Boulevard - so maybe I just needed to see the more off-the-grid parts of New York in order to understand what everyone loves about this city so much.
Brooklyn sucked me in. I quite admittedly loved it right from the moment I came up from the subway that I took from the Airport. Brooklyn has trees, and a pleasant amount of foot traffic, and hippie coffee shops tucked into old, historic brick buildings. Brooklyn made me feel like a dummy for not realizing there's so much more to one of the biggest cities in the world than just the small area of Manhattan that I'd seen before. I was going to love Brooklyn.
I was truly just happy to be with my friends, so I didn't really care what we did - but I did have one activity request. I just wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. So we did just that with our Friday afternoon. We couldn't have asked for a better day to walk across the bridge. We took far too many photos and probably annoyed countless locals with our touristy antics. But I didn't care - I've had to deal with plenty of tourists mozying down the Venice Boardwalk or taking all the parking spots at Griffith Observatory, so this was my redemption.
I also don't think I had a bad meal (or drink) while in New York. We had an amber ale on a Manhattan rooftop where you could see the Freedom tower to the left, and the Empire State building to the right. We had Italian food at a restaurant in Little Italy where they were hand-making pasta in the open kitchen. We had diner pancakes and milkshakes at 4 am after partying at a Brooklyn gay bar. We had Roberta's Pizza, which I learned very quickly is a local favorite after a 2 hour wait for a table - but it was some pretty good pizza.
The food and drinks are always better when you're sharing them with your day ones.
I wasn't ready to leave that Sunday; I felt like I was finally back with my people and together we were exploring New York Freakin' City. I was super, duper bummed to have to fly back to LA, but happy that I'd at least seen the allure of the city that never sleeps. I felt like I was part of a club that knows New York beyond what the tourists see, and that's the best feeling you can leave a trip with, in my opinion.
To see more photos from my trip to New York, click here!