Monday, June 30, 2014

Let's Walk - The Downtown Edition

Let's go downtown, way way way downtown.

It's funny to be a near life-long resident of New York and never get to do some of the fun things tourists get to do in droves.  On a bright and hot Sunday, we went for a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
 This is one of the plaques on the bridge which states that the cities of New York and Brooklyn erected it.  Brooklyn was its own independent city.  New York City grew over time to be the giant metropolis it is today eating up Brooklyn, eating up Flushing (now a part of the Borough of Queens) and Staten Island.  Staten Island rebels talk darkly of a separatist movement.  Not sure the Brooklyn hipsters can organize themselves to make such a movement when they are so busy spinning their own wool fibers, and growing organic indigo to dye their Japanese denim... tending to the bees.  Drinking from mason jars.  Maybe Staten Island might make it.
The view from Brooklyn Bridge of the surrounding water and lands is pretty spectacular on a bright clear day.  I imagine the nighttime views of Manhattan would be pretty amazing as well.
Little little little Statue of Liberty in the distance
I found this to be an incredibly moving reminder of the Lower Manhattan skyline prior to the terrorist attacks of 9-11.  This plaque on the bridge still has the World Trade Center towers on it.
Of course now, the skyline is so very different.  The Freedom Tower is now erected, with its spire piercing the blue sky.  The tower rises 1776 feet, a symbolic celebration of American freedom.  I was rambling off this numeric fact to my children and found myself becoming overwhelmed with emotion and found it hard to keep on talking.  It was nice being here, right before the July 4th Independence day holiday.

 The immediate area by the bridge is full of various governmental buildings (criminal court houses, NY Supreme Court, DMV, etc).  The ornate facades on the buildings are always a treat to look at.  Look, New Amsterdam!

 This small kiosk is the recording operations of StoryCorps of NPR (National Public Radio).  Thousands of personal narratives are shared in small clips on the public radio.  Some of the most touching, funniest, saddest, and real stories to be heard and enjoyed.
 The non-Grid layout of Manhattan's downtown endlessly confuses me.  Thank goodness Mr. Belly has a memory built for convoluted street layouts and we eventually made it over to Chinatown for lunch.
I saw this cool looking fire truck (Engine 9 I think) in Chinatown.  There is a golden dragon in the front and the truck (or maybe the fighters) are called "Chinatown Dragonfighters."
 There is something steaming hot and crazy crowded about summer time in Chinatown.
 These pictures are horrible with reflections on the window.  But Cantonese roast meats!

 After lunch of meats and noodles, we waddled over and took a good long whiff of durian hanging at a local market... which we quickly bypassed to head on over to the real dessert location.

 Chinatown Ice Cream Factory sells all manner of delicious unusual and usual flavors.  The kids had chocolate and I had lychee with mochi topping.  Next time, I think I will have the black sesame.

What are some of your favorite local (or non-local) tourist destinations?


  1. What a fabulous post, Belly! I've actually walked on the Brooklyn Bridge three times now - and I dislike it just the same every time. There's something about the crowds and having to walk in line that creeps me out, but I enjoy the view when you're walking towards Manhattan. And I haven't been to Chinatown yet! All the noms! Ice cream!!!

    1. THREE TIMES? That's two times too many! My kids were having a big case of the grumbles because I kept on herding them to the right (we almost got run over by fast bikers on the left). So many fun things to see in Chinatown! And then everything is so close and walking friendly, you can easily take a leisurely walk to Soho and the Village. But really food in Chinatown is heaven!

  2. Belly, take me with you, PLEASE!!!!! I thought I live in a touristy place but nothing compares to NYC. Anywho.. thank you so much for taking me a long in this virtual walk. More of this, please.
    I love NYC. I've only been there twice, want to go there more. It is like a country of its own (apart from Texas, but Texas is a whole other country..) :-) My fave place in NYC if it still exist is the small cookie shop that bakes fresh cookie & have some milk on the side to drink. DH took me there on my first trip, fab! And of course the many places you can eat.
    My fave local tourist attraction here in Seattle is Pike's Place Market. I do go to the market myself every now and then. It is so lively and I for one can get lost in it and feel I'm in a vacation myself. Then we'd go down by the Pier & eat fish & chips.
    Speaking of Chinese Ice Cream, is it the kind that tasted like shaved ice but made with milk? aka a bit coarse, not as creamy? Love those kind of ice cream, tastes so home-made.

    1. I love these walking trips. Normally I am in a car (say on the Brooklyn Bridge) and barely see a whizzing glance at all the interesting things to oogle. What is this delicious cookie shop you speak of??!!! I'm slightly lactose intolerant, but with a warm fresh cookie, I would totally down a glass of frosty milk, digestive issues be damned. My regular office is by Central Park, so I think I will do a little walk of the sights there next time, provided it's not too burning hot and I actually get some time for lunch.

      I've always wanted to visit Pike's Market (AND SEATTLE!) to see the fish being thrown! Fish & chips sound like a perfect meal and appropriate for the locale!

      Chinese Ice Cream Factory makes regular ice cream (and also sorbets). It's just the flavors are more unique and Asian influenced. They have things like taro, black sesame, green tea, red bean, and others. :) Yum!

    2. Belly:

      There's also another one in West Village, if you find it let me know. We came across them by joining a walking foodie tour one day. It was the best, we went there each night we stayed at NY. Lucky YOU!! Let me know if you come over this side of the pond and I'll let you know where to go (Monika will probably, too. She used to live in Seattle area apparently!)

      P.S. Did you have durian-flavored ice cream at the Chinese ice cream shop?

  3. I was in Chinatown just a week and a half ago! It was very hot and crowded and I had my Doughnut Plant blinders on, so if I walked past that ice cream shop, I didn't notice it. I've put it on my must-do list for when I return! I did see (and smell) lots of durians, however. They made me homesick for my neighborhood in San Francisco, where there's a Chinese produce store on every block.

    Did you notice the little ice cream shop just off the Brooklyn Bridge, on the Brooklyn side? It has some boring name like "Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory" and sells only four flavors of ice cream, but they're all extremely delicious.

    1. :) did you eat some fabulous doughnut? SF Chinatown is very fun, too. Ours in NY keeps on growing and growing and I think ate up Little Italy. Next time you are back, you can eat some ice cream and stop by the little carts that sell Hong Kong Cakes, which are little teeny egg batter cakes they sell by the bag.

      I did see the ice cream shop in Brooklyn. That one is famous, too. I just couldn't justify two ice cream outings in a 4 hour span... although, I guess I COULD. :)

    2. A few years ago, I ate an ice cream cone at that shop, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, then bought a Mister Softee cone on the Manhattan side, because I was a grown-ass woman (i.e. 22 years old.) and there was no one to tell me no. If I'd had small children to set a good example for, I might have restrained myself...or not. :D

      And yes, I had a coconut cream doughnut! So good.

    3. This conversation is making me laugh because my kids had frozen yogurt to start off the walk, tons of food for lunch, then wrapped up with ice cream. :) My kids are living the life.

      Love coconut! Funny story, when I first immigrated to the US, I really detested coconut for this very insane reason, the world coconut sounded awfully similar to the Korean word for nostril (콧 구멍) and I had a weird mental connection coconut to boogers. I'm not sure how I overcame this aversion, but coconut cream pie is one of my favorite sweets!

  4. 'Sup Belly, deer whisperer/Disney princess in disguise

    I love StoryCorps. Perhaps the only byproduct of listening to these stories on public transit is that fellow passengers might mistakenly believe I am moved to tears by a Dr.Zizmor ad. *SOBS FOR TIGHTER SKIN*

    Have you tried the Black Sesame and Taro combination at the Chinese Ice Cream Factory? The fragrant nuttiness will justify anyone's bottomless gluttony for all things delicious, especially in a place as tempting as Chinatown. If the little bellies don't mind grown-up flavors, seek out the Red Egg, an outwardly demure restaurant with a flamboyant core on the border of Little Italy and Chinatown. Amidst the Peruvian/Chinese dishes and authentic dim sum quivers a house-made young coconut pudding worth the incessant chanting about dvds along Canal St.

    Eating adventures aside, another summertime exclusive is to sit atop the steps of the Natural History Museum at dusk. The stationary perspective uncovers details usually dismissed by movement. Shake Shack custard is optional but adds a sugar induced chattiness necessary to the art of people/dog watching :D Other spots worthy of a humid crawl are the High Line and the Cloisters.

    By the you know about the Gilt City discount for Space NK's online store? It is glorious and just in time for your post blogsale empty nest. Muhahaha...


    1. Josie! I wrote a reply and then stupid blogger eated it! DAHHHHH!

      Listen, doesn't Dr. Zizmor look strangely ageless? I think sometimes he may have sold his soul to the devil, or maybe he has a wrecked looking portrait hanging somewhere in his Park Avenue penthouse. It's something to cry about for real.

      I totally need to try out that ice cream combination! Next time I need to eat a little less for lunch to make room for a second scoop of ice cream. :) Much better use of stomach space and calories.

      Pff! Dude, I already placed my spacenk order and stuff is en route. Trying out a powder foundation from Chantecaille and also their foaming cleanse. Did you also similarly indulge?

      The funny thing is that I saw the $100 come off the order and the total was $20-something. I was like, YAY! SAVE SO MUCH THE MONEY, completely forgetting I spent money to get the $100 credit. My memory is suuuuuper convenient.

  5. I must visit NYC one day! So much yummy food and history...and access to pretties.

    1. Pretties are all accessible through on line shopping. But all the neat things to eat & see!! It's a great city and definitely worth a visit. Too bad the trip here from Australia is so freaking long.

    2. I'd lose 2 or 3 days in transit and it will cost 3k flying there and back and SO dislikes USA for some reason :(

  6. Oh what a fun post! Thank you for this! I remember walking through Chinatown years ago and loving it! Compared to Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal it's similar but yet different, like older in a way and also smaller (although Mtl is much smaller) and at the same time with more to see. Not sure I would want to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge... I kinda don't like bridges much.

  7. Thank you for taking us on this NYC tour!! I've only been there once, many moons ago so I don't remember much. One of these days I'd love to see it in person again :-) The meat window makes me kinda hungry. Wait. That doesn't sound quite right...

    1. We were waiting outside the restaurant waiting for a table and believe me, the meat window made ME hungry, too. :)
      And yep, it still doesn't sound right.


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