New York gets under your skin - that feeling can be quite literal as you examine your grimey, black fingernails at the end of a frantic day. But its so much more than that. When I am in New York, I know I change more than a little - living in Brooklyn Heights a few years ago, I had a confident stride in my step that I haven’t felt elsewhere. i felt positive and enthusiastic. I keep my eyes open in New York - you need to look up at the menacing skyscrapers, to look down at the sidewalk graffiti (and the dog poo) and of course there is all the people-watching to do.
I have written a little mini guide to one of my favourite parts of Brooklyn - Williamsburg. Do let me know in the comment where I have missed.
Our old stomping ground - Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO
I should tell you that before we went to Williamsburg, we walked around the gorgeous streets of Brooklyn Heights that we know so well, and made essential stops in DUMBO. We convinced ourselves that we needed two breakfasts that day, and waddled to Almondine Bakery in Water Street to stuff our faces with their phenomenal almond croissants. We also spotted a handsome actor but none of our group could remember his name!
Licking our lips we then popped to the fabulous Shibui, a Japanese wonder-store tucked away in Washington Street. Vintage Kimonos, affordable ceramics, antique Japanese clothing chests are all here. My dear friend Julie is a florist and treated herself to a wonderful pair of traditional Japanese garden scissors which will last twice as long as she will (the salesman’s words, not mine!).
Off to the Burg
My lovely friend Ben chauffeured us directly to my favourite-shop-on-Instagram-that-I-had-never-seen-in-real-life: LEIF. Grand Street is full of interesting shops and Leif stands out with its gentle, calming interior. Julia who works in the shop graciously allowed me to take ten thousand photos of the woven baskets, the beaded jewellery, the hand-thrown ceramics and the slubby cushions. I bought some sweet beaded earrings as a gift and they were wrapped so beautifully. Most definitely an inspiring shop.
Once my heart rate had lowered, we wandered down Grand Street to Sprout Home, a soothing plant and flower shop which had a wonderful collection of air plants and dried blooms. Julie spotted delicate pink ornamental oregano petals which I have never seen before.
I wasn’t feeling quite hipster enough, so we popped in to Devoción Cafe to ogle at the gorgeous coffee-slurping crowd and to take pictures of the vertical garden. The industrial building is lovely and being able to see into the roasting room adds to the urban experience. It will never cease to amaze me how long New Yorkers will queue up for a good cup of coffee; at Devoción Cafe, it is worth the wait and the line was winding out onto the sidewalk. (Told you I change when I am in New York!).
Radegast Hall + Biergarten was our lunch spot. (top tip - remember that in nyc you will need to show your id at many places where alcohol is served. your library card does not count, as I found out…!) We haven’t been here for a few years but the menu was reassuringly unaltered and you can usually find a seat at the long wooden tables. I enjoyed a portobello mushroom burger and a RADEBERGER PILSNER ZWICKL beer; some of our gang went for the scrumptious German sausage dishes and slurped up the mustard. a handsome Brass band started up just as we were leaving but we couldn’t stay, there were shops to visit.
In london, i have never been brave enough to enter into aesop shops but there was something so clean and attractive and glowy about the aesop on N 3rd street that we were enticed in. I am glad we did; the sales assistant kindly sent us home with plenty of testers and let us use every cream on display, which must have messed up the expertly arranged shelves…look how straight they are! We also scrounged some tasters in Mast chocolate. the packaging is especially lovely.
with plumped skin and clothes smelling of mandarin fragrance , we meandered to mociun, where I spent most of my time praying that Ben wouldn’t break anything…its a very pretty shop but i was afraid to touch anything with my newly-moisturized and slippery hands! but seriously, who doesn’t need a hot dog charm? MUJI on Wythe street was more my kind of place (i always think its form + function designs are perfect for small apartment living in nyc) and I loved eavesdropping on conversations: “honey I know you said you want a diffuser but aren’t you allergic to steam?”. Another highlight was an angry lady on the street who we overheard shouting, “I CANNOT GOOGLE AND WALK AT THE SAME TIME, OH MY GOSH!”
Williamsburg now has some gorgeous hotels, many with rooftop bars. The Wythe hotel (pictured above) was on our list (I wanted to see the King kong skyline views) but once again there was a long line to get in. our hungry bellies decided for us that the well-known sea thai restaurant on N 6th street was going to be a perfect dinner place. the glitzy decorations and dance music added a bit of fun to what was a delicious and affordable meal.
so there you have it….where have we missed? thanks new york for making me miss you even more than i already did.