Travel Journal: Two Tourists in Brooklyn

Travel Journal: Two Tourists in Brooklyn

Last May, I took a trip to NYC to meet up with my good friend Pade and later, her good friend, Petar, in DC. This was going to be my first ever trip to the big apple. At first, being from a gigantic and messy hornets’ nest that is Jakarta, a trip to another big city, even something as iconic as New York City, did not appeal to me. Until I moved to Omaha, Nebraska.

After living here for 1 year, probably the best way to describe this place is the very sentence we always blurt out every time we’re asked how do we think of living in it: “It’s alright. Not the worst.” with a shrug that almost always follows like an uncontrollable reflex. But this post is not about Omaha. That asks for another time and place. Bottom line, I could not wait to get out of Omaha escape the cold that would not end for my NYC trip, and of course, to meet up with my best friend.

So, I flew to New Jersey from Omaha because that’s where Pade is flying in from Jakarta. This way, we can actually do our favorite past time, speak complete nonsense, during the 1 hour Uber/Lyft that it takes to get us to our AirBnB in Brooklyn. Because time is money, especially in a place like NY even when you’re broke and unemployed and when somehow you still can’t stay ‘you’ve got all the time in the world’.

Just like most of my post-airplane hangover, I had a throbbing headache as soon as I get on our Uber because yours truly is such a slacker when it comes to hydrating herself. I just can’t. No matter how many apps or reminders I put in every device, I always forget to drink. So my first impression of NYC, other than our curt but not unfriendly Russian Uber driver, was Wall Street, nice weather (everything is nice compared to last year’s Nebraska blizzard), and the traffic. LOL. Never though I’d say “Oh, I miss a good traffic jam”. All with a sprinkle of headache which lasted for three days straight and made the first item I bought in the city a pack of Walgreens aspirin. (Because I’m too much of a hippie for anything stronger than that. No, that’s a lie. I wanted fast acting BC powder that looks like coke, but couldn’t find any.)

At first, our AirBnB looked just how I imagine a Brooklyn apartment would be. Bare brick walls, hodgepodge furniture, and just a tad messy that would not bother too much someone with a low level OCD. After a few hours, though, it started to smell like teenage boys and damp towels. (At night, it smells like pot.) We did not interact with our host but I will conclude that he is a trust fund French teenager that studies art and now also works somewhere ‘art-related’.

We then decided to explore Brooklyn’s hipster side, Williamsburg. I mean, Brooklyn is basically a hipster ground zero, but we’d really like to pierce deep into where it all starts. (I don’t even know what starts.). But first, bagels. I already forgive the damp towel smell for how close our place to Knickerbocker Bagel. So far, the best bagel I’ve had in my life.

From Bushwick, where our AirBnB is, we walked to Williamsburg, a good 5 mile (8 km) away through the Jewish neighborhood with their insanely cute children and suspicious stares from the mothers, and Pade praying hard we didn’t get the measles. (We didn’t). I had to look at their Apple store, and a plethora of both stylish and cringy (not both) shops, boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and people. Pade does not like to watch people because she’s very politically correct, but I do. And there’s no place better to people watch than Brooklyn.

We also stopped by at the Momofuku bar where I got their notorious crack pie (that I think got renamed because internet people that had nothing better to do thought the name is too inflammatory. Gawd) and their awesome compost cookie that I will talk about on my other blog.

I truly forgot what we had for dinner that day. Most likely one of the many Indonesian life-line that Pade brought for me including my beloved deep-fried shallots, my mom’s teri kacang (deep fried peanuts, baby anchovies with sambal), and of course, Indomie, topped with this ridiculously addictive hot and sweet sauce called Sambal Jawara. ?

But that was it. Brooklyn felt like home quicker than I had expected and made me giddy for more. It became a comforting cradle during my short stay to explore the bright, loud, and undulating city that is New York. Never thought I’d step into this place, even this briefly.

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