Jewels:As many of you know, I lived in Brooklyn for 5 years. I originally moved there for love because my husband is American. I met him in Bushwick, Brooklyn, when Bushwick was still an ugly but somewhat charming place to live. It was rough around the edges but full of creative potential. My husband only lived there because the rent was cheap. We fell in love, so I decided to leave my hometown Münster, Germany and move to New York and work as a photographer there.
May your trip begin. First stop: Brooklyn.
Let me start by describing this very special one of the the five boroughs of New York. The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Brooklyn is versatility. First of all, Brooklyn is huge, so it’s hard to describe it as one place. It has so many very different neighbourhoods that are unique in their own way. Some neighbourhoods got gentrified quickly because they are so charming. Our hood Bushwick was like that for a long time. We left it when we got priced out, like many others. It was magical though when it was mostly inhabited by artists, creatives, students, people from all over the world.
The time of the day that I most enjoy is the blue hour around sunset. I know it’s cliche, but it’s so true. The colours are the best around that time, plus I love how the sun beams through the streets between buildings. Also, this is when the New Yorkers eat dinner – which in New York means, go to a restaurant. New York apartments are small and the sometimes kitchens are even used as storage rooms. New Yorkers love going out to be social and enjoy a really good meal at one of the many many great restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Longing for some green?
Brooklyn is not necessarily known for it’s great nature. But, Prospect Park is absolutely beautiful, and I used to take my dog Lola there because it’s huge, has a lake, and lots and lots of other dogs. Also the waterfronts in Dumbo, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint are really pretty because you get to see the Manhattan skyline so beautifully. I recommend this at sunset!
Escape the tourists without spending a dime:
My favorite outdoor space in Brooklyn are the streets of Bushwick with their ever changing wall murals. They are so pretty, poetic, colorful, and ephemeral because they are constantly being renewed. The best thing about this is it’s free and because they cover almost every wall of the street – it’s basically impossible not to see them.
The good old weather:
The good thing about the city is that it has pretty reliable hot summer with little rain. There is lots of sun most of the year. Since I left Brooklyn, it’s one of the things I really miss. Hamburg is very rainy. In Brooklyn we also had really tough winters while I was there. All the streets are snowed in, the cars buried under feet of snow, way below freezing temperatures.
Where to gather with friends?
Gathering with friends is the best at restaurants with outdoor service, like Arrogant Swine in Bushwick, or the Nowadays in Ridgewood. Both are great places for kids too because they can run around freely in a „fenced in“ environment. Also the Bushwick Open Studios is a nice way to gather with friends. It’s a huge event with hundreds of galleries, large and small, open their doors to the public. The best part about it – it’s free!
I like that in Brooklyn you can eat bold, brave, delicious food without the chic restaurant environment. You can sit at a wooden table in a down to earth place and have high end cuisine. Often the food is organic, sustainable, sourced locally, and made by hand with love. My favorite restaurants in Brooklyn are Faro, Five Leaves, and of course Roberta’s Pizza. After I left Bushwick, Faro even went on to earn a well deserved Michelin star.
How should get around?
Subway! Always subway… And walking of course.
Some people take the bike, but I find it quite dangerous because there are almost no bike paths. When I moved to Brooklyn, I tried taking the bike to places, but too often I would get into to tricky situations with cars, so I gave up. During your trip, you are probably staying somewhere in Manhattan, so at least once you should use one of the bridges to get over the Brooklyn.
Shopping in the city can be a huge endeavor in New York. You can basically spend days on end and lose your entire vacation budget and barely notice. Brooklyn is known for its second hand shops in Williamsburg and Bushwick. Dumbo has some more chic boutiques with small high end brands. If you are male and like to shop sustainable and vegan, you should check out Brave Gentleman in East Williamsburg. For female sustainable shoppers I recommend Vaute which is located in the Lower East Side (Manhattan).
Escaping from the city:
Brooklyn is pretty close to some beautiful beachy spots, like Rockaway Beach (reachable by subway!), Coney Island (also by subway), and of course the famous Hamptons. My personal favorite is in a different direction – north. I like going to small towns upstate New York, like Hastings on Hudson. No beaches there, but the cutest little town with small shops and cafés. The perfect escape from the big city!
Cocktail bar with best view:
I just recently discovered a great rooftop bar that gives you an amazing view over Brooklyn, Manhattan, and even Queens. It’s called The Westlight and it’s on the 22nd floor of the William Vale Hotel… Go for one night, enjoy a cocktail during sunset, and you’ll be in love with the city – no way around it.
How to keep your money together during your trip:
Everybody knows the city is pricey, but you don’t realize how money literally runs through your fingers when you’re there. My tip for tourists would be: pack a bottle of tap water, some fruit, and a sandwich for the day – and then enjoy one of the amazing restaurants for dinner.
Where to stay:
I recommend staying in a rental room or apartment (Airbnb). My favorite neighborhoods are Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint. Greenpoint doesn’t have amazing subway connections, but it’s right be the East River Ferry, so you can get to Manhattan within minutes on a boat.
Walk over the Williamsburg Bridge to get to Brooklyn. The view is breathtaking, plus you can see all the commuters on their bikes racing to get to their destinations.
At Marlow & Sons right be the Williamsburg Bridge. They have to die for biscuits and scones. Adress: 81 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Favorite shop for gifts
Pink Olive in Park Slope to buy some small cute gifts for my friends with kids. Adress: 167 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217
I will not be able to skip a scoop of ice cream at Van Leeuwen (delicious vegan options too!). They have several locations in Brooklyn.
Favorite Way to take a break
All this walking will call for a break so I’ll hop on Jane’s Carousel for a couple of rounds with the local kids – of course while enjoying the view over the East River and Manhattan. Address: Old Dock St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
The streets of Bushwick: The murals and the wall art there is breathtaking. Also you’ll stumble across galleries in buildings you would never expect them to be, for example Gallery Petite on 114 Wilson Avenue.
My day ends at the best restaurant in town – according to me and agreed to by the Michelin Guide when they gave it one star – Faro, on 436 Jefferson Street.
I will end the night with a craft cocktail at Yours Sincerely on 41 Wilson Avenue, also in Bushwick. Nighty night in Brooklyn.
What I miss about New York City, now that I’m gone:
I sometimes miss the availability of almost anything at any day of the week on any time of the day. In Germany we had to get used to all stores being closed on Sunday, and having to finish our grocery shopping by 9pm. In New York we were able to get our favorite ice cream on a Sunday at midnight if we wanted to.
Can’t get enough of New York? Well then check out our new book: NEW YORK – CAPITAL OF FOOD. Little warning: The 50 recipes are written in German, but besides that the book is full of New York photos as well. Liz took all the beautiful food photos in the book.