As we crossed under the East River on the L Line you could feel the pressure change in your ears. It was at this point that I turned to my good friend and said
Are you OK, do you want to hold my hand?
For this was only the second visit in eight years for my friend across into the great tattooed abyss known only to him as “Billysburg”.
My buddy certainly puts the Man in Manhattan but I had somehow managed to convince him to join me in a visit across the East River. I had furthermore promised to fight off any pesky Hipsters than may try to abduct him & force him to grow a top knot. For the purposes of this post let’s call him… er, ‘Matt’.
Williamsburg. “How’s the serenity!”
Darryl Kerrigan’s immortal line in the classic Australian movie The Castle rings so true for Williamsburg. As soon as you emerge at ground level from the subway you are enveloped in a serenity far from the pastiche of noise & movement that you left only minutes earlier across the river.
It’s low rise, laid back & bohemian and it’s quiet. Wow is it quiet compared to its high rise neighbour. Oh and facial hair is very de rigueur here too. In short I loved it and after coaxing ‘Matt’ out of the subway and onto Bedford Avenue with a copy of The Economist he seemed to be warming too!
Checking the Markets.
I had also enticed ‘Matt’ under the East River by mentioning that we would most certainly be checking the markets whilst across in Brooklyn. What he didn’t know was I was meaning the Flea & not the Financial variety. I was touched by pangs of guilt as he checked his iPad battery & ensured that the Bloomberg app was working correctly before we embarked.
If you visit on a Saturday there is a seducing array of markets appealing to all tastes. Food & wine, vintage, book swap, art & craft, fashion it’s all here and all with that laissez-faire vibe & retro feel.
Most of the markets are within a 15 minute walk of the Bedford Avenue subway stop. You can check out two of my favourites in the ‘More Information’ section below.
Time for a coffee
It is a pretty well established fact that that until recently New York was to good coffee what Osama bin Laden was to Gillette. Pleasingly though the cavalry has arrived and one of the key players amongst the new emerging coffee houses is an Aussie bloke called Toby. Not surprising I guess given the extreme coffee snobbery of Melbourne & Sydney.
Oh and get ready to queue. Like anything good in NYC you will line up. Whilst I generally find lining up an anathema it’s pretty much the norm here. I actually wonder what folks did before smartphones and tablets. Talk to each other in line? Surely not!
Start spreading the news.
This is my second visit to New York and I think you can probably leave your L Line Williamsburg quest until after you have done the first visit icons such as Rockefeller, Staten Island Ferry, Central Park, Greenwich Village & Times Square et al. That said if you love the likes of Fitzroy/ Brunswick in Melbourne, Newtown in Sydney or Camden/ Chalk Farm in London then pencil it in for your first trip.
My name is Matt & I’m an Manhattan-aholic.
I think ‘Matt’ actually had a pretty good time across the ‘East. Certainly the convulsing subsided markedly as the hours passed. I even made him confront his fear head on in the most forthright manner I could think of. Much like someone with arachnophobia handling a spider I got Matt to Check-In from the Williamsburg Flea Market.
Pleasingly he tells me that he has only been de-friended by 27 people to date.
Markets to visit in Williamsburg.
Artists and Fleas Arts and crafts, fashion and more uber funky wares.
Brooklyn Flea & Food Great view across to Manhattan and awesome food stalls.