One thing I really wanted to do in NYC was have "brunch" in one of the trendy little neighborhoods, like Greenwich Village or SoHo (South Of HOuston St). We did so, at a place called Bubby's in Tribeca (TRIangle BElow CAnal St) which has a pretty big following for their brunch and their pies (didn't get to have a pie...bummer!). Their pancakes were light and fluffy, and dusted with powdered sugar. Pretty as a picture! See?
The stuff on the left was listed as "crusty cheese grits" which brought to mind the amazing Southern-style grits my Mom makes every New Years. (*ahem* MOM! New Years is coming! Don't forget! *hehe*) Alas, these were more like the runny, soupy grits I've seen at breakfast buffets like Shoney's, except a touch better because of the gooey cheesy topping. Luckily I was having a better day stomach-wise, so everything tasted better than the previous (or following) days.
From there we took the subway into the heart of the Financial District...which isn't an exceptionally exciting place on a Saturday morning. My bad. But it was walking distance to the pier and Battery Park where we froze our tootsies off to see Lady Liberty....WAAAAY off in the distance.
It was so cold (and windy) on this day that Jeremy, Mr. "It's not cold out here! I'll wear shorts & a tshirt all year long!" bought a scarf from one of the street vendors. It was COLD.
We took shelter inside the South Street Seaport shopping complex for a while...but eventually it was time to face our major goal of the day: to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Though as we were making our way to the base of this massive structure we were questioning this mission, every stinkin' guidebook had told us it was something we must experience. So we forged ahead. I'm glad we did...we got some really spectacular views. Plus, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the few things that lived up to its perceived scale when seeing it in person. It's just MASSIVE!!!
After we got across, we headed to Grimaldi's for their famous brick-oven New York style pizza. Um, apparently this place is a little TOO famous! As we approached we got a glimpse of the line outside. But dang it, we'd come this far for the stuff, we weren't going to let this line deter us from our quest. Well, had I known that we would be waiting in that line for over an hour & a half, I might have been a little less willing. By the time we got inside I was absolutely FROZEN to my core! BRRRRR!
One thing about New York that is so different from any other place I've been is the lack of personal space. I guess it comes from constantly being crammed in the subway with a crowd or pushing your way through the masses on the streets, but New Yorkers do not seem to be bothered at all by close proximity to complete strangers. At Grimaldi's, for example, the tables were set up in rows like at a cafeteria or a family reunion, and people were just crammed together with NO wiggle room to speak of! I could have whispered in the ear of the lady sitting next to me! It's so bizarre! Oh, but you're probably wondering if the pizza was worth the wait? See for yourself. Pretty mouthwatering!
Grimaldi's is right off the Brooklyn shore, offering some amazing views of both the bridge and the Manhattan skyline. We were there at just the right time, too. Dusk was settling so lights were beginning to glisten, but it was still bright enough to see the outlines of everything. Had it not been so cold I'm sure we would have lingered longer.
It's also right across from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, which we had to sample. I shivered the whole time I ate that ice cream but it truly was delicious! *haha* The funny thing was that the place was packed with other bundled up, freezing tourists, all enjoying this Summery treat!
This is the evening that Jeremy really saved our lives with his map-reading skills and ability to keep his cool under stress. Brooklyn is a whole different world, the streets aren't as easy to decipher as Manhattan is. Plus everything is much more spread out. We went to the IKEA there in Brooklyn, which was particularly difficult to find since we (oops, I!) didn't have the right subway stop written down. That adventure involved eventually hailing a cab and both of us getting nauseous because of the driver's...um...creative driving. (Also probably had something to do with the pizza and ice cream, don't ya think? *haha*)
From there the plan was to visit this little neighborhood called Dyker Heights that I saw on a Christmas lights special on HGTV last year. It's several blocks of Griswald houses, if you know what I mean. Well when I'd researched it online, I couldn't find any decisive directions beyond just the general area. I ended up just writing down the subway stop closest to Dyker Heights. Not nearly enough information to get us there, but in my mind I guess I'd pictured us stepping off the subway right into the middle of the North Pole. Ridiculous. Instead we stepped off into this completely normal Brooklyn retail district with Dunkin Donuts & dry cleaners. Not a sketchy neighborhood really, but far from what we were expecting. And did I mention it had begun to snow? Yeah, quite heavily actually.
So at this point I was mildly panicky, realizing we didn't have any idea where we needed to go. I was ready to load back onto the subway and head back to Manhattan because frankly, Brooklyn was freakin' me out a little. Well Jeremy doesn't give up that easily and while he was annoyed with the very little information we had (because of me) he spotted "Dyker Heights Park" on his map and decided that would be a good direction to head in. So we trudged along for a few minutes, silently praying that we would just stumble upon some kind of miracle.
Our miracle appeared in the form of a young couple wearing penguin and polar bear snow caps. Jeremy asked as they were passing us from the opposite direction, "Hey, are you guys from around here?" "No sorry," they answered, and continued to walk. Then the guy (wearing the penguin hat) stopped and said, "But what are you guys looking for?" "The Dyker Heights lights," we responded and they both smiled real big and said, "Oh! We just came from there!!!" Hallelujah!! They were SOO nice...they gave us excellent directions and even gave us a tip on a coffee place they'd stopped at on their way back. Secretly I wanted to follow them around because they seemed like the nicest little couple and anyone wearing hats that looked like polar creatures are my kinda people! ;)
We finally found the neighborhood and even though some of the houses had already turned their lights off by the time we got there (Scrooges, it was only 9:30!) it was still a very Christmassy experience, what with the snow and all. :)