Walking is definitely my preferred way of discovering cities. New York City with its easy layout therefore is perfect to explore on foot. My friend and I never considered using the famed NYC subway since travelling underground isn’t a very good way of seeing a city. We also didn’t take advantage of one of the iconic yellow cabs with the build-in screens in the backseat. Instead, every morning, we set out on foot starting from our hotel on 45th Street. One of our longest walks took us down to SoHo and a wonderful little neighborhood restaurant, where we enjoyed a light lunch (especially compared to our other meals). Another one led us through the central park past the steps of the Met to the Guggenheim museum between the 89th and 90th street before we returned on Madison Ave strolling by the numerous designer shops.
My personal highlight of all this walking was my first successful crossing of the Brooklyn Bridge on my third visit to the famous landmark connecting the two boroughs. The beautiful bridge was undergoing massive construction in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, so the number of tourists attempting to cross over was surprisingly low. On the other hand, the number of fitness conscious joggers battling the heat by showing off their (lack of) abs was definitely higher than anticipated. Joining the joggers on the bridge were the speedy cyclists adept at startling the unsuspecting tourists trying to take pictures at the most inopportune sections of the bridge. We took our time on the bridge, stopping often to enjoy the views of Manhattan and Brooklyn or to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.
The perspective from the bridge is unique as you can see the glory of downtown Manhattan on one side with the almost completed World Trade One looking over the skyline. On the other side the midtown scenery is dominated by the Empire State Building in all its glory, with other famous older landmarks like Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler building also vying for attention.
After spending about half an hour on the bridge, we finally reached Brooklyn. Coming from the financial district and the famous golden bull, the vibe encountered is noticeably different and more creative. We took a walk around a block in Dumbo finding interesting design studios, tiny fashion ateliers and organic neighborhood shops. A special place was a café set under the archway of the nearby Manhattan bridge, an image that has stayed with me since returning.
I had never paid much attention to Brooklyn before, but this first glimpse of the borough has made me curious. We wrapped up our little excursion over the river with artisanal ice cream at the Brooklyn Bridge park, where we waited for our boat to take us to Liberty Island. For my next visit to NYC, Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg have been added to my itinerary.
Walking around a city or countryside is the best way to discover new places that tours don’t necessarily always cover. The main advantage is the ability to set your own pace, allowing you to pause and linger around interesting corners and people of the city you’re visiting. If you don’t like the direction you’re heading down, you can always turn around or take another route at the next crossing.
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See you on Friday!