Saturday, June 30, 2012

New York - part 4

Every morning in New York I wake up before M and I go out to get coffee for the two of us. Every morning I return to our room only to bang my head hard in the ceiling. The reason I do that has to do with the history of Brooklyn. How can my newfound desire, to consume an increasing amount of painkillers have anything to do with that you might ask? Well, our hostess Susana explained that before the gentrifaction of Brooklyn, different parts where populated mainly by certain etnicities. The area around Bedford ave was populated by mostly polacks and the area around Consolyea street where we are staying was poulated by the Italians. So back to the reason I keep knocking myself half unconcious every morning. Susanas house was built by Italians that probably didn't take in account that a 5'9 Swede would be staying in it's basement one day resulting in that I cant stand upright in any part of our room.

We got up surprisingly early considering the night before. Another day of shopping lay ahead of us. Some of you might wonder about the lack of sightseing. Well that's because this is our third time in New York together and we've pretty much seen what we want to. A real good one is coming up though. But not in this post. We went back into union square, a ride that takes about five minutes. Again we did the whole Broadway with surroundings. Enough shopping to last us a lifetime. I'll spare you the details of that since it's not that interesting and also because i'm right now writing this sitting in the bath tub of a motel room, the only place the wifi works.

We had plans to meet up with old friends for dinner so we headed home to regroup. After a powernap we took to Union pool for a beer and an appetizer. M and Mikael had grilled corn with cheese from the taco wagon. After awhile we got the call from Kalle & Brandon who wanted us to meet up with them in Prospect Heights,yet another area in Brooklyn. We caught a train to get there and now i started to realize how great Brooklyn is in size. A long walk later we arrived on a rather busy street with loads of bars and restaurants. I noticed on the way over here that some parts where not really shady looking but a bit more worn down. Kalle and Brandon explained this with that Prospect Heights was not long ago a poor area, predominantly inhabited by groups of african-americans and chassidic jews. There used to be huge riots between the two groups but as gentrification set in even here, the middleclass with its money made the area safer and cleaner with the downside that a lot of the people who lived there could not afford to stay there.
On a less serious note, we had dinner at a Mexican Restaurant called something like Chevale. I might come back and revise that. Food was absolutely amazing and I curse that Sweden has still not one single mexican restaurant that is not a horrible take on tex-mex. I ate grilled peppers stuffed with mexican cheese that reminded me of mozzarella. It was covered by a spicy tomato sauce and served with a side of rice and black beans. As the kids say OMG! Dinner went down with plenty of conversation and a few pitchers of Margarita. It was just one of those perfect nights where everyone is enjoying themselves. We continued with drinks on a bar until we finally had to say our good byes, and took a cab back home intoxicated with these new experiences.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

NewYork - part 3

When i was younger I had a history book, that had an old black and white picture of a parade in New York. Our teacher would always read the text out loud and me getting bored with how slow the reading was, would flip through the pages and day dream. Growing up in a small town in Sweden, that picture had a huge impact on me and I remember thinking how marvelous such a place must be where there are so many people and everyone is happy. I've seen many pictures of parades in New York since then and I've always had the feeling that New Yorkers love their parades. For the second year in a row we managed to time our visit to New York with the pride parade. A lucky coincidence that ment we were in for great party as the whole of Manhattan gathers to celebrate the simple idea, that love no matter what form it takes is something we all should be free to explore, express and enjoy.

Our day started early since we took an early night the night before. Again we picked up some coffee at the Bagel smith and started walking towards Bedford ave. Our goal was to visit the Brooklyn Flea Market. It was such a great, besutiful day to casually walk through Williamsburg. Bedford ave is the heart of Williamsburg and cram packed with trendy, cosy coffeeshops and restaurants. We arrived at the market to realize it was hand craft only. Something that mostly gives me shivers down my spine. Didn't really matter though cause the main reason to go down there was to view the Manhattan skyline from across the river. We threw a lazy eye on some of the various hand crafted items at sale, but decided we were more interested in getting some breakfast. We chose a quiet little polish cafe on Bedford ave, which seemed fitting since the area around there is an old polish area.

Mikael texted us and said he was on the way so we hooked up before leaving for the pride parade. Our strategy was to take the train to 8th ave to avoid being caught on the wrong side of the parade. Since we were so close to Chelsea market, Mikael and M ran in to grab a coffee at Ninth street espresso reknowned for their great tasting coffee. Myself I was stoked to get my hands on my first Starbucks coffee. Not because it's the best coffee in the world cause it most definetly is not. But because it makes me so nostalgic. After filling up on caffeine we walked down towards The Village to find us a spot to see the parade from. By pure luck we found an empty spot by the fence in a perfect corner. Some guys across the street had a party on the second floor and as soon as the dykes-on-bikes, who mark the beginning of the parade arrived, started firing of these confetti fire crackers that sprayed the street below with glittering confetti. When the parade passed by people cheered in a way that made it clear that New York is proud of all it's citizens. One of the highlights for me was that my childhood idol Cyndi Lauper was in the parade. Pretty cool.

Every parade needs an after parade drink. We hooked up with a friend of Mikael and headed to the first pub available for some pints in the sun. Mikaels frien tipped us about a great restaurant down the street called The Meatball Shop. We were pretty hungry by now so we decided to try it out. We said goodbye to Mikaels friend and grabbed a table inside. Their menu system is kinda fun and smart where you mark with a magic marker on the menu what type of meatballs, type of sauce and sideorders you want. Me and M had the veggie balls on a garden salad. I went for the parmesan cream sauce and M had the marinara sauce. It was excellent. We shared a pitcher of their specialty Bitches Brew which is fruit punch mixed with pale lager. It was surprisingly good.

After eating we took off to a The Sky Room. A roof top bar also recommended by Mikaels friend. It was quite a walk which was nice after stuffing ourselves with meatballs. The view was pretty fabolous but we needed to get back to Brooklyn to get ready for a night on town. A few cold ones later we found ourselves on the subway back home. This time we only took a short nap and met up with Mikael again at a place down the street from us called Union Pool. My favorite bar so far located in an old swimming pool supply store made into a bar. It has a really spacy outdoor patio with a taco truck. From there we went back to the city for some serious pride partying. I'm not gonna share the details of our night on town, only that it lasted til bout six in the morning. But thats what you gotta expect on a night out in New York.


Now I gotta get ready for our last night in New York. Hopefully I will post something else when we've landed in Tampa. Still a few days in New York that havent manage to get up here yet. See ya all soon!


New York - part 2

What a difference a day makes! Or in this case a night and a handful of nonprescription drugs. True to my habit i woke up early and decided to get out for some coffee while M was sleeping. It is an extraordinary event to wake up for the first time in a new place and explore your surroundings for the first time. We had deliberatily chosen to stay in Brooklyn over Manhattan this time since we wanted to explore what's beyond Bedford avenue. This day, the neighbourhood presented itself in it's finest outfit - a radiant sun. I started walkin at random in a kind of search pattern, expanding the area from Conselyea street and in an outwards going circle, looking for that so important first cup of joe. My first thought was to find a Starbucks. I know there are issues with multicorporations as such but they serve a decent cup of coffee, which according to my high scandinavian coffe standards is hard to find in the U.S. Stabucks also provides free wifi and they also have clean, free-to-use toilets which make them lifesavers in areas like Manhattan.

My first impressions of Brooklyn this early saturday morning were that it is definetly nothing like Manhattan. In manhattan every thing is at your fingertips while in Brooklyn you have to look a little further. Not necessarily a bad thing. After awhile i gave up on finding a Starbucks in the nearby area and chose a place on Metropolitan ave called Bagel smith. I got myself a black iced coffe due to the heat and M's standard skim milk latte and headed back home to get ready for some serious shopping. First stop was Manhattan. The L train drops us off right at union square which seemed perfect for starting the day. There's a huge Forever 21 right there which is like a cheap alternative to H&M. We shopped away for awhile and decided to have breakfast. Convenient for us Whole Foods is located just next door so we made quite a bargain in a city where cheap healthy meals are not easily found. They have an amazing variety of packed ready-to-eat items and a sallad buffet to die for, although a bit more pricy. We enjoyed our breakfast in the sun on the stairs of union square.

From this location we headed towards Broadway for the well planned shopping. A horrible place on earth but every major chain has a store on it. Before joining the consumer driven crowd we took a short stop at Strands book store. Located on Broadway on 12th this is by far the best used book store I've been to. I stop here everytime in New York and I always find something good for my growing collection on Americana. Shopping was a timeful task but thanks to M's exact planning and shopping skills it wasn't to bad.

Every successful shopping day requires after shopping cocktails. We headed to another favorite from last year on Spring street, Sweet and Vicious. Mikael met up with us there and we worked ourself through a few rounds of their signature drink, a frozen margarita served in a glass jar. As a bartender I shold probably frown upon such drinks made by chemical induced mixers but it goes down so smooth. Next phase of the day will be referred to as slightly-drunk-shopping-spree. For some reason a few coktails really help with my shopping decisions. Only drawback is that I ended up buying two left foot flip flops from Converse.

After this some bar hopping accured with the goal to get us back to Brooklyn. For some reason there always seemed to be another bar in the way that needed our attention. As pure professionals in the industry we took it upon ourselves to sample them all. The day finally ended at Kelloggs diner back in Brooklyn. It was an early night since we were still struggling with jet lag. No worries though. We've made up for it by now. More on that next time!


Monday, June 25, 2012

New York - Part 1

The Manhattan skyline, sharp as if carved out by razor by the hand of some divine architect. It stuns us as always as we hold on for our lives in a yellow cab hurling like a bullet between the lanes as it's driver casually flips through the contacts in his cell phone while randomly giving the finger to drivers who does'nt meet his standards of driving. We're in for an adventure for sure.

Inshallah - if god is willing, is one of the few arabic expressions i recognize from our drivers constant chattering with people unknown to us. And apparently god favored him this day since we pulled up safely in Brooklyn on the corner of union and metropolitan. Euphoric from part still being alive and part from finally arriving in the great city of New York we started walking towards our home for the next few days. A friend of ours had recommended us to try out a website called airbnb where people can rent out their rooms for a much lower rate than any hotels or hostels. We had decided on a room in the italian area of Williamsburg and we were greeted there by our friendly hostess Susana. Susana served us homemade lemonade while giving us a quick rundown of the area before she blasted of in a hurry.

We are staying in a room in the cellar which is nice and cool considering the heatwave in the city right now. We also have access to a beautiful backyard garden/patio and share a bathroom with Susana. Anyways, after unloading our stuff we rendezvoued with my co-worker from back home who had been staying here a few weeks on a quest for some kinda self fullfillment I guess. I have no idea what he had been up to but it must have worked since he was beaming with happiness. We took of together aiming for an old favorite, the Surf bar. They serve a majestic towering frozen mojito, and since we were all melting away it seemed the perfect remedy!

After a few drinks we needed to freshen up a bit before headin out for the night. Mikael my co-worker joined while we changed in to something that at least made us look a little less like jetlagged zombies. As soon as we came indoors the sky just opened up and poured down it's wrath on Brooklyn. Showers like these are normal during heatwaves and they carry some mighty fearful thunder and lightning. We decided to sit tight for a short while since these storms how awesome they ever are usually just last about twenty minutes. We curled up on the porch with Susanas dog Bonzo who decided despite his obvious fear of thunder found it safer in the arms of strangers.

After pour comes shine and sbout twenty minutes or so later we found ourselves strolling down familiar roads and alleys. Mikael now having stayed in Brooklyn three weeks already led us with newfound confidence towards our common goal, a noodle house. I went for a noodle ramen with golden fried tofu. I might have underestimated the impact of inflight meals on the human stomach but for some reason I thought it was a great idea to quite generously add hot chili sauce to my soup. Food was excellent but after awhile i felt kinda funny and had trouble finishing my beer. Nevertheless as a true trooper I pushed on with my gang to the island of fun, Manhattan.

We started of with a sports gaybar somewhere mid-Manhattan. Rum and ginger ale seemed a perfect antidote to my increasing pain. Place was packed and a little intense for someone who just got off an eight hour flight. We decided to push on down to a more quiet bar in the village area. However by now i was feeling much like a Cony island freak being force fed a fiery blade. I decided to call it quits and M being a perfect gentlewoman assisted me back to our room. I assure you it was a great first night though and since I'm posting this I am very much alive and in good health. We're a few days ahead of this story right now but you who have followed this before know that I update when there is time, and right now I'm getting ready for another adventure. As the famous saying goes, to be continued....



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Road trip 2012 via iPad 3

OK. Leaving in two days time for our next road trip. Testing out the blogsy app for iPad which I'm hoping to use for the blog during the trip. Super stoked that we are finally going and I hope you will follow us along the way! The map shows a rough idea of how we will be driving, but first a short stop in New York.