10, 9, 8, 7, 6...
Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
85Trip End Dec 24, 2011
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2 weeks till home time and we celebrate with Toby and Bronwyn over a fancy brunch in Williamsburg. It would have been less fancy but the queue for the cheaper place is massive. Luckily Bronwyn and Toby have connections and the bar tender gives us our bellinis for free.
We spend the afternoon trawling the vintage/junk shops of Williamsburg looking for nothing in particular, before heading to Ionas for a drink; we congratulate ourselves on a very adult conversation about adoption and then immediately begin another about dildos, panic pooing and other like subject matter.
Bronwyn heads off for her last night of work in the bar near Prospect Park and Toby is left with us while we get ready to meet her there later
Finally we make it to the bar and once again Bronwyn's connections pull through with food and drink discounted all night for us - CHEERS!
Toward the end of the day the rain begins to thunder down and doesn't let off for hours. When our taxi home drops us 2 blocks from our door we get instantly soaked upon leaving it, give up trying to run in order to keep dry, and walk the rest of the way in the rain having a little dance as we go.
14th, Sunday: Wet, wet, wet.
It rains all day so really we do very little but get bits done, wander Williamsburg and eat. The end of our time here is starting to appear on the horizon.
15th, Monday: Culture and Booze.
In the early afternoon we go to the Tenement Museum for a dose of culture and learning. The tour we take is called 'Getting by' and explains the story of 2 families surviving America's hardest economic periods to date (about to be joined by the present perhaps?). It's really good despite our guide's attempts to envolve her group in an alarmingly un-English manner; when at the opening of the tour she gets everyone to introduce themselves and state where their ancestry lies, we are unsurprised to discover that all the Americans in the group can trace their family far back to an exotic array of different European cultures, whereas we mumble something about Bromley, Essex and Eastbourne..
After all this education we are thirsty so we head into the East Village to meet Victoria for infused vodka martini's at a little Russian cafe, noticing that when we step outside for a cigarette, a tiny Frida head pops up from Victoria's bag. After one toxic Martini each (except for Frida) we trundle off to Peggy's daughter, Shara's, birthday celebration at Theatre 80, a few streets away; a theatre Shara manages.
Shara shows us the theatre's main house and its beautiful; built in an old speakeasy, the seating rake was constructed on the old dance floor and its brick work is still exposed at either side of the stage.
The evening is really lovely with Lois, Peggy and Lori all in attendance and we are even introduced to Peggy's 16 year old grand son - the tallest boyman we have ever met, he is very sweet and seemingly very shy.
Pizza, cake and singing - good birthday times!
Lori has bought Squid and we are disappointed that neither him or Frida are particularly interested in one another - the love children we imagined for them begin to fade from possibility. Sad times.
After some lovely chats with some lovely people, Claire, Jo and Victoria head onto another bar
16th, Tuesday: No booze thanks. Anywhere near me please.
What a hangover.
We have brunch at a nearby restaurant; in fact its the nearest so that we can practically crawl there and back.
In the afternoon Jo heads into Manhattan, leaving Claire and Victoria to eat cake on the sofa whilst watching genital mutilation in Lars Von Trier's Antichrist (bizarre hangover viewing). Jo goes to a LGBT, feminist and alternative political bookshop that was recommended to her at Shara's party by the lovely writer, Marty Correia (who she first met working the literary night at Dixon Place) - read some of her work here: http://martycorreia.com/
Jo buys nothing but enjoys wandering around for some time reading snippets of lots of things and collecting free zines as she goes. After a walk back to the flat across the Williamsburg bridge, dinner at home and some TV, Jo falls asleep and has to be put to bed by Claire
17th, Wednesday: Life is Beachy.
We are refreshed from our hangover day so head, during the morning, over to the Chelsea food market to grab some food, and then onto the Kitchen Gallery's free Soho Years exhibition which chronicles in video and photographs the gallery's first decade and a half of existence during the 70 and 80's, when it was located further south in Soho. The best bit is a video of a (very) young Beastie Boys when they were still a straight up punk band, playing a Christmas gig at the gallery in 1983.
Late afternoon Lori has promised to take us to a lovely beach in Brooklyn, so we head over to her place where we also meet Victoria (and Frida) who are to fill the spare seat in the car.
After a 45min drive we arrive at a beautiful beach that is the antithesis of New York City. Despite a fruitless search for Toby and Bronwyn who we were meant to meet somewhere on the beach (what did people DO before working mobile phones!?) and a minor falling out between Frida and Squid (which ends in Frida's massive eyes being covered in sand), its a lovely evening with the sun setting and a swim in the Atlantic.
18th, Thursday: The day of queues and ferries.
We rise early to meet Toby and Bronwyn down by the east river in order to catch the ferry down to South ferry terminal for our ferry out to Liberty and Ellis Islands. By ferry.
Once at the ferry port we realise Jo's purchase of tickets online in order to skip the queues was pointless and we stand in line for 40 mins in order to enter the mental security tent and finally board the boat out to the big green lady. Claire is infuriated by families who think photographing their children is more important than her standing upright on the boats deck, and she quietly elbows small children to maintain her position on the first short boat journey of the day.
Liberty Island is much as it seems. There is very little there other than a tourist-trap shop, a restaurant and of course the massive green lady; a bunch of tourists are clustered around her front and we enjoy how tall Toby is, inevitably ruining dozen of photographs with his immense height
We queue, again, to get to Ellis Island and once there enjoy the huge museum. With so many people photographing... everything... its hard to imagine this as a place where people's names were changed in order to make them more pronounceable to an American tongue, were married in order to gain access to the US, where families were separated so that they could be processed and where a lot of people, desperate to start a new life but sick from the 2 week boat journey from ports in Europe, died.
All museumed out, we are desperate to return to Manhattan's mainland come late afternoon and are exhausted when we finally make it back to Brooklyn.
Nevertheless, after dinner we meet up once again with Toby and Bronwyn for some bowling at Brooklyn Bowl, a bit of an institution in Williamsburg: http://www.brooklynbowl.com/bowl
Toby dominates the game and the rest of us flail but its good crack nonetheless. The rain appears briefly before we head out for bowling, but keeps its distance for the rest of the night, with beautiful lightning storms on the horizon of all sides instead.
19th, Friday: Lions and tigers and Bears. Oh my
With Bronwyn and Toby we head over to the Bronx for the first time in order to visit its zoo. They give Jo a map with pictures and she is ecstatic. Beyond that the zoo is bloody brilliant! We are lucky enough to see the bears being fed which initially scares Claire due to the openness of their enclosure and the agile movements of these ma-hoosive animals. They stand on their hind legs just meteres away from us, waiting for the food to be thrown into them.
The feeding of the sea lions is also brilliant as their trainers teach them tricks to keep their minds active, and they too jump on the edges of their enclosure while they wait for food to arrive.
Another day of walking around non-stop leaves us exhausted by the time we make it back to Brooklyn.
Claire has gone mental and has started to say 'Beautiful' like an Australian. Jo is alarmed to notice this new trend and offers a reward to anyone in London who can get her out of it in the 3 day stint at home we have coming up. Good luck. Its fucking weird.