We took a last-minute trip to NYC this past weekend. With not much time to plan (and with that time cut in half due to procrastination) we discovered that our usual ‘secret’ hotel was all booked. Our remaining options were to either sleep in separate bunk beds in a hostel (negative) or blow serious cash for a nice place in mid-town (not worth it). Which is how we ended up renting an apartment via airbnb in Prospect Heights Brooklyn.
Surprisingly (?) all our last-minute “planning” worked out. After being dropped off in Midtown, we took the subway to the L.E.S., stuffed ourselves with Japadogs (okonomi with kurobuta pork is my fave), picked up our keys to the apartment, then headed into Brooklyn. We spent the rest of the afternoon settling in/goofing off/playing multiple rounds of Candy Crush and then decided to go search for food (again). We walked a couple blocks to the neighborhood ramen place only to find out it was closed due to “technical difficulties.”
A million miles and a billion subway stops later, we found ourselves at Roberta’s which, on a Friday night at 8:30pm, had a two hour wait. So we ordered an original and the beastmaster to go (only 25 min. wait time), walked around the corner to a hippie store, ordered a couple juices from the juice bar, and sat outside waiting for our pizza. When our order was finally ready we took it outside, sat on a bench in 40 degree (windy) weather and ravaged several pieces of hot delicious pizza before heading back home. We finished the rest of the pizza at the apartment, watching Netflix. Not a single crumb was left.
The next day we met up with friends and family (the best part of our trip besides eating) at Smorgasburg. It turned out to be a beautiful clear blue sunny day — perfect for lounging under the shade of a puny tree, catching up, and stuffing our faces with a variety of food cart delectibles. When we had eaten more than enough, we walked around Williamsburg, picking up some retro orange sunnies at Artists and Fleas, shopping for cute dresses at Pema, and having long, in-depth nerdy conversations with a street vendor/puppet artist about Buffy and Joss Whedon. After resting/playing more Candy Crush/changing into warmer clothes (why was it so cold in May?) at the apartment, we headed back into the city where we met up with Sly’s high school buddy and ate (even more) late night eats at our favorite Japanese izakaya. Our wild and crazy evening continued as we searched for the only juice bar in the area open at midnight, staffed by the most unlikely person to ever run a juice bar. We ordered huge ginger shots which for some reason I thought would be tasty (they weren’t).
We got a late start the next morning, revisited the neighborhood ramen place to see if they had resolved their “technical difficulties,” ordered two bowls of $13 ramen, and were served by a very odd waiter. Also odd: every single couple in the restaurant except two (one of them being us) consisted of an Asian girl and Caucasian guy. At least the ramen was delicious?
Our final stop before leaving the city was Prospect Park. It was another beautiful park day (and a beautiful old park) — lots of families with kids, lots of picnicking and laying out on the grassy fields, lots of bbqing and tossing around frisbees, and of course lots of picture taking of a glittery-haired Asian couple in wedding attire. I think I imagined us hanging out there the entire weekend since our apartment was so close, but as it turned out we only had a short time to walk off our ramen before catching the subway back into the city to catch our bus home.
A FEW TIPS:
- Look outside of Manhattan for lodging and be open-minded to non-hotel options: It was our first time using airbnb and we were a little skeptical. Some of the places we found were listed as an entire home for rent although when we read the fine print we found out that the person renting the place would also be sleeping there “only at night.” We are pretty hippie, but we like our privacy. Finally we found a reasonably priced (reasonable for airbnb but way cheaper than any hotel, even junky motels), boho looking apartment, close to the subway, the park, and what seemed like a lot of shops and restaurants.
- Find a bus that picks up or drops off close to where you want to be: since we live outside of DC, it doesn’t make sense to us to take the train (also really expensive) from Union Station. Driving is also expensive with gas and tolls (the Lincoln tunnel is something like $14 for toll?). Our best, fastest and easiest option is taking a DC to NY bus. For the longest time we took the metro to Arlington where we were picked up by Tripper bus. Tripper bus was ok, but in all the times we rode them (many many times) not once was there a movie, working electrical outlets or wifi as advertised. After doing a little more research we found a different bus company (DC2NY) that picks up right next to our house! We also discovered buses that went from DC to Brooklyn, although the pick up locations were not convenient. I don’t know why we didn’t think of this sooner!
- Organize your trip using an app or program that allows multiple authoring: When it comes to planning trips I’m definitely more of the trip planner (I’m OCD) and Sly is more of the executor (he makes all the reservations). We are fine with this arrangement although we recently discovered an app called Springpad that allowed us to create a shared ‘notebook’ and add or ‘spring’ places to try/visit/eat/shop at the same time. It’s sort of like a more collaborative, private Pinterest. Before this app, we shared Excel spreadsheets to organize trip details. This was much better.
- Pack light, wear comfortable shoes, and pack layers aka good luck finding a subway elevator that works: these are lessons I never seem to learn (although thank God for Tom’s shoes and a scarf).
- Explore local neighborhoods: We have visited Brooklyn on several occasions but have never stayed there. For this trip we thought it would be fun to find a place in a neighborhood we had never visited and then just explore the local neighborhood. Traveling this way was super low key and made us feel like we were locals instead of tourists. Of course we still crammed in some of our favorite eats on the Lower East Side.