ACROSS THE BRIDGE

ImageAwhile ago I ventured to a new borough in the city. It’s the home to a list of many talented people including: Jay-Z, Woody Allen, Adam Sandler, Anne Hathaway, and the notorious Al Capone. It’s name…Brooklyn, and you should definitely visit if given the chance. 

The two main areas I explored were DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and Crown Heights. Apparently DUMBO used to be more of an industrial area but has since developed into a place where artists and for-profit businesses thrive (according to Wikipedia). 

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Doane alum Andrew Pray, agency lead of Praytell Strategy, a brand-new communications agency with some big things lined up. He gave me a tour around DUMBO which is absolutely gorgeous. There’s a park between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges with one of the best views of the city that I’ve seen thus far. One of these days I’m going back during the evening to see the skyscrapers lit up in all their steel/concrete glory. 

I planned on walking the Brooklyn Bridge, but it just so happened the weather was unbearably hot that weekend and I decided to save that for another day. However, during his tour, Andrew told me about the historic pizza place Grimaldi’s under the Brooklyn Bridge. Apparently the original owner Patsy Grimaldi lost the rights to use his first name for his business and sold Grimaldi’s in 1998 according to an article from gothamist.com. Therefore he opened Juliana’s right next to Grimaldi’s and is still running the business and cooking in his 80′s. Today Grimaldi’s is more of a tourist trap, so naturally I decided to try Juliana’s instead (the summer in NYC is horribly touristy). It was probably the freshest  tasting pizza I’ve ever had in my life, no joke. I’m definitely going back.

Crown Heights also had its own neat places, and it’s very close to Prospect Park, which I’ve heard is beautiful. I’m adding that to my list of places I need to go back and visit in Brooklyn. 

Who knows, maybe i’ll end up back in Brooklyn for good?

 

Getting acquainted with public transportation

ImageWell, I’ve been here a little over a month now and there are still times when the metro wins.  Yes, sometimes I still take the wrong train and find myself having to backtrack.

Being from Nebraska means just about the only form of transportation I’ve ever used is my car. Also, living in a small town, or village as most would call it, doesn’t make it easy to go shopping for clothes or other needs. We drive an hour to find a shopping mall and three hours to the nearest airport. Be aware though, that this is all done in the comfort of our own car. That is hardly ever the case in New York where parking for a month can be $600 in Manhattan and you have to fight for a seat on the subway. The plus side is, everything is closer and more accessible.

Taking the train is how almost everyone gets around here. It just makes the most sense. Picture yourself in a real-life game of Mario Kart…I’m sure that can’t be much different than driving in New York City.

I knew once I got here I’d have to take the subway into the city for work everyday, and I was actually excited about it. It was something different, and I could space off on the trip instead of having to always be alert and watch the road. However, I was terrified at getting lost and ending up in a scary section of the city. Its true, I did get lost a few times…just the other day I was trying to get to 23rd street in Manhattan and ended up on 23rd street on the other side of the river. Needless to say, I found my way back after I internally yelled at myself for still getting lost.

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There are a couple apps though, that really help me out when I’m taking a new train to a new destination. The New York Subway Map and HopStop can tell you any route to take. They also give the estimated time it will take to get where you’re headed. These have actually saved me a lot of time and stress in the city. I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of this public transportation thing…I usually just put my headphones in and enjoy not having to take control of the wheel. Once I get back though, I’ll make sure to take a nice long drive somewhere and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Sky High View

Top of the Rock                 Empire State Building

With its bustling streets and unbelievably tall skyscrapers, New York City can seem very hectic and overwhelming. However, on the top of one of those mountains of steel and glass, life is quieter.

This weekend I had the chance to trek up both the Top of The Rock and The Empire State Building. The view at both was definitely breath-taking. Despite the other tourists chattering and taking pictures, the world seemed a little less busy. I was able to take a deep breath and stare out at the amazing architecture that this city is so famous for.

Both buildings have a neat history and were built during the 1930′s. The Empire State Building was actually finished early and under budget due to the decline in material costs during the Depression.

Difference between the viewing decks:

Empire State Building: The lower viewing deck has a concrete barrier up to the chest or shoulders depending how tall you are. It also has steel bars on top of the barrier. My parents and I went at about 8pm and it was still extremely crowded on the deck. The night view was fantastic, but I would suggest going around 10 or 11pm because the deck is open until 12 or 1am.

Top of The Rock: The viewing deck has two levels and the barriers are made of thick glass. It is much easier to view the city from this deck. I’d also say its better to take pictures on because it was less crowded when we went in the middle of the day.

In a city where you can feel like, as my dad would put it “you’re walking in a hole” because everything is stacked up above you, its easy to walk by these buildings without realizing what they are. I’ve done it plenty of times!

Best Deal in the City

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I’d have to coin the 99 cent pizza joints in New York City as the best bang for your buck. There’s no way I can afford to eat out everyday, but if I’m in the mood for a quick, cheap, yet delicious meal I head down to 55th and Broadway to 99 Cent Fresh Pizza

At first I was a little ‘sketched out’ about the quality of pizza the people chomp on at these shops, but I decided to take my chances and buy a piece for myself. It’s not a joke when your total comes to a mere $2 for a decent slice of pizza and a drink (if you say ‘pop’ in NY people look at you weird, they know right away you aren’t from the East Coast FYI).

There aren’t any actual tables or chairs at most of these joints, so expect to stand and eat your pizza at what is basically a shelf attached to the wall. It’s definitely not the place to go if you’re looking for a nice sit-down meal, but if you want to make your tummy and wallet happy you should definitely stop in and buy a slice.

These little pizza shops are located all over Manhattan, and chances are you’ll come across one before you even need to take your phone out and Google its location. The slices are also easy to fold in half, so you won’t look like you’re trying too hard to be a New Yorker.

A Night at the Ballet

Metropolitan Opera House

The other day at work I was offered one free ticket to see the ballet Romeo and Juliet at the Metropolitan Opera House, and I didn’t hesitate to take it. Having never been to a real ballet before, I was excited for an opportunity to find my seat in the balcony and settle in. If you’ve never visited this very large and impressive opera house, please put it on your bucket list, it’s fantastic. Lincoln Center (area it is located) is also quite the eye catcher with it’s wonderfully lit fountain smack dab in the middle.

As I entered, grand staircases welcomed me, the kind I dreamed about climbing as a kid. I made my way up to the balcony, for one of the best views of the opera house. The first thing I noticed were the chandeliers that hung from the gold ceiling. And the best part was watching them physically rise to the top before the performance.

The curtain opened and there stood the dancers in the marketplace scene. When Romeo appeared on stage the audience applauded his arrival. The performance was great and it helped that I actually knew the story line (thanks 8th grade English). I’d have to say though, that the most impressive aspect of the ballet was the sword fighting. It was even on beat with the music. Be impressed. The last scene when Romeo and Juliet are dying in the Capulet family crypt was also beautiful, because not only do the performers have to be phenomenal dancers, they have to be experienced actors as well.

When the curtain closed and I walked out I couldn’t help looking back at the opera house and thinking how fortunate I was to receive the chance to be in a place with such beauty and a rich history of the arts.

 

You Need an Umbrella

Rain on Broadway

It’s true. You can’t stand under the marquee of a theatre and expect the rain to stop within the next 10 minutes, because it won’t. These last few days have been pretty wet and gloomy in the city, but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone. I’ve come to notice that New Yorkers really never stop. They’re just trying to get somewhere fast, whether it be work or home. I can absolutely sympathize with them. After work I’m just looking for a fast route home, even if it means riding on a packed subway full of freshly rained on city-dwellers. Everyone gets used to the pushing and shoving eventually, even if you’re from small town Nebraska where your “next door neighbor” is actually 5 miles away in some cases. But back to the rain…umbrellas are truly amazing. You know those touristy stores that sell everything you can imagine plastered in NYC logos? Well, they also sell cheap umbrellas, and you’ll need one. Just remember to close it before you head down to the subway, because honestly, who wants to be poked in the eye and dripped on while waiting for your ride home?

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Good Sign

  Fortune

I was still at school, anxiously awaiting the end to my finals week. My last few days in Nebraska were dwindling, but they couldn’t be gone soon enough. My roommates had gone out to grab Chinese and one of the girls threw me her extra fortune cookie. When I opened it, I had to smile, it said “You will take a pleasant journey to a place far away.” Now, as cheesy as fortune cookies are (they aren’t even Chinese, they’re an American invention, go figure) this one seemed to only ensure that my summer in New York City was actually going to happen. I was ready.