Saturday, 3 March 2012

Hello Brooklyn - Day Seven, Part 2 - Friday 10 February

We only visited Brooklyn twice on our last trip, once for the Brooklyn Brewery's Happy Hour and once to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. We'd really liked what we'd seen and looked forward to exploring more neighbourhoods outside Manhattan this time. For a while we were torn between two choices: Long Island City in Queens or somewhere in Brooklyn? There seemed to be more to do in Brooklyn, so Brooklyn it was.

We had chosen the Nu Hotel, which describes itself as being at the intersection of four different Brooklyn neighborhoods, namely Downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. It was a pretty new hotel (or, indeed, "nu") and we liked the look of the modern d├ęcor. Plus we got another suite for a good price and it had, of all things, a hammock in it! Score!

By the time we had wrestled our overloaded bags (and my crutch) on and off the subway and down the road from the subway stop to our hotel, we were grumpy and tired. Judging from all the car horns and people impatiently walking and driving through stoplights, we weren't the only ones.

Thankfully check-in was trouble free and we were in our funky little room within minutes of arriving. We abandoned our bags in the corner, removed our coats and shoes and took the requisite before-we-mess-it-up photos of the room. There are too few to make a pretty collage like I did with the last couple of hotels, but here are some highlights:

Nu Suite at Nu Hotel Brooklyn New York

Squishy Bed Cave at Nu Hotel Brooklyn New York

Orchid atop a wooden block at Nu Hotel Brooklyn New York

Then we settled into the bed cave for a quick rest and some rubbish TV for a while. Our itinerary had said we were to explore the area around the hotel but when the Yorkshireman's weary voice came from beside me to ask whether "this counts as exploring Brooklyn, right?", I could only answer in the affirmative.

We relaxed for a while and then decided to get planning our journey to our evening's activity. There didn't look to be a straight-forward subway route, so we delved into the Brooklyn bus map. There did seem to be a direct bus route so, emboldened by our bus success in Manhattan, we figured we'd give it a go.

Shoes and coats back on, we walked back up towards the MetroTech Center and found the bus stop for the 62 bus. After a short wait, one arrived and we joined the mob of people trying to get on simultaneously. As a fan of orderly queues at the best of times, not to mention when I have limited mobility, I started feeling a bit panicky by the swarm. However the lovely nature of New Yorkers once again came to the surface as lots of people moved aside and told me to go ahead of them. Thank you, lovely Brooklynites.

I found a couple of seats at the back of the bus and hobbled my way there. Unfortunately the Yorkshireman (ever courteous) did not have the same luck and let everyone else on ahead of him. As the bus quickly filled up I worried he might not make it on at all but eventually he appeared (one of the last) and we were off! I followed our route as best I could on Google Maps and somehow we ended up in the right place on Bedford Avenue. Success!

Given our evening's plans we decided it would be a good idea to line our stomachs and after entering and quickly exiting a shop that smelt like dog pee (ick), we found a much fresher smelling shop where I bought a vegan falafel wrap and the Yorshireman went for a cookie. We ate as we walked and soon enough we were in familiar territory, as there, across the road, was the Brooklyn Brewery.

Brooklyn Brewery New York

We'd had an absolute ball there on our last trip and so had determined that we must return this time. We walked in through the doors and went straight to the nice lady selling the beer tokens: we knew the drill. We went for 5 tokens each, which was $40 in total. This works out at $4 per beer, or $8 for one of the really strong ones. In New York City? A bargain!

The options available had changed somewhat since our last visit and my favourite (Detonation Ale) was not on the board, but I was intrigued to try the new Mary's Maple Porter. It soon became my replacement favourite, whereas the Yorkshireman still preferred Blast, but at 2 tokens a go Blast had better be good really! I thought the Weisse was pretty yum too - I love a good wheat beer.

Happy hour at the Brewery was as much fun as last time. For one thing, Bjork's Icelandic choir, Graduale Nobili, made a surprise appearance and treated us all to a few impromptu numbers on the brewery floor, including their national anthem, which sounded just like this. Only in New York!

We were also pleased to see an old friend again: the Brooklyn Brewery's resident cat. The Yorkshireman goes gaga broody over cats at the best of times, but combine this attraction with some beer and he's fascinated. Sadly he didn't get close enough for a stroke this time, but I did enquire on the way out as to said kitty's name. Turns out his name is Monster and a bit of Googling later revealed that he has his own Facebook page and his own blog!

Space at the Brewery was at a premium and a few tokens in we still hadn't found a seat. Eventually a group left, abandoning the barrel they'd been using as a table. I hobble-swooped in and claimed it as my own. I allowed the Yorkshireman to share. Another couple of girls co-claimed it for a while but eventually they left and I decided that I should sit on it instead of our beers: well, my hip and feet were sore! Plus we only had a few tokens left anyway. Now, Weisse or Mary Maple? Choices, choices...

Beer tokens all gone (I went for Mary in the end and had my "good choice" endorsed by a fellow fan at the bar), we waved goodbye to Monster and made our way giddily out of the Brewery and back to the bus stop on Bedford Avenue. After a while a 62 arrived and we hopped on. We were a bit more confident about our journey back to the hotel (through beer or experience, who knows?) and made it back easily enough.

When we got back we were pretty hungry and decided to use our free WiFi to order in from Seamless again. We went Cuban (not really a cuisine offered in Belfast) from the Cubana Cafe and it was pretty good actually! I had steak with peppers and onions served with rice and beans with a side of roasted corn on the cob on a stick, followed by some tres leches, which I've always wanted to try (sweetest thing ever by the way!).

Stuffed and still a bit merry from all the beer, we decided it was time for bed and climbed into the white, squishy cave. I'll be honest, it was a bit tricky to manoeuvre into since I couldn't move my leg out to the side without wincing, but at least the crash landing was comfortable.

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