When I wrote my new year’s resolutions for 2018 the first thing I mentioned was that it was time for me to visit New York, see Brooklyn, visit the Rock, have beer with my friend Matthew who lives there and talk endlessly about music….
and now HERE WE ARE! I do not even believe it yet to be honest. I have been building up this trip to New York in my mind for so long and I never went through with it before today so being here feels unreal.
But first let me tell you, all airports suck…
We survived the endless flight from Brussels to Geneva then to New York and almost nine hours later we finally landed to JFK. It is a known fact that airports and long flights are not fun. There is no leg space, not even for people my size, elbows and knees are touching ….. all of the sudden everyone smells and do not get me started on babies 👿 This flight was no exception to the rule. I watched some bad films on board and the first season of ‘Sheldon’ in a hopeless effort to fall asleep but unfortunately that did not happen. I was sitting next to a tall, obnoxious and smelly french speaking guy who complained about everything and everyone through out the entire flight. Not to me, to anyone who would listen! He was trying to appear cool to his friends by telling them how many times he went to New York and about all the stuff he already did before them there, yikes. I could not wait to get away from him. Why was I separated from Tanguy? There should definitely be a rule for couples to stay together on board.
When we landed things started to get smooth. There was a sea of people everywhere but it was all well organised so we knew what to do and where to go or in real terms in which line to stand and wait and wait and wait…. We passed through customs after being in what seemed to be the slowest queue on earth. The interview part went faster and a lot easier than I imagined. I rehearsed over and over in my head what I would reply to a difficult question such as “What do you think of our president, Donald Trump?” in the event they asked but this is not an American movie so there were no questions like that just a strict by the book procedure. Fun!
Big yellow taxi
Right after the interview we got our luggages and we were excited to hop on a yellow taxi!!!! Our cab driver was a chatty Italian guy with this typical New York accent, telling us all sorts of stories about his life, his clients and giving us tourism tips in order to better enjoy New York. He talked about Brooklyn and the Bronx, the Times Square and about how things “used to be”. I was quietly sitting in the back seat of this cab trying not to piss myself with excitement for finally being here and looking out the window absorbing every inch of the view in front of me. I was in no mood to talk as I was still not realising where exactly I was.
When we reached Williamsburg Brooklyn, our neighbourhood for the next ten days, I was relieved to see how lively the area of our Airbnb was. Everything looked and felt just as it should; like a movie. Our adventure / honeymoon was about to begin!
On to the city
Naturally the first thing we did was to leave our stuff at the apartment and emerge to THE CITY. The weather was warm and so were the people of New York. The extremely friendly welcome was very refreshing and different from the North European attitude which is distant and brutally honest. This new attitude was the best cure for the long flight.
In order to make our way into Manhattan we walked through the Williamsburg bridge. It was hard not to be impressed by what I was seeing in front of me…. the river, the tall buildings of Manhattan right there in front of us! Everything felt so different, even the air around us! It is right then and there that I realised, I am no longer home. I remember having this feeling once before when I was in Hong Kong. Being in a place so different than the one you are used to that you start to feel that everything else you know has completely disappeared from the face of the earth! All the familiar places, work, stress, obligations and routine are all so far away that I can instantly let go. I no longer need these first few days to actually decompose and let go as I normally do when I am on holidays somewhere in Europe. This feeling takes me over in a matter of seconds. I welcomed it once again and it feels great!
Once we crossed the bridge, we walked to the lower east side of Manhattan and visited what used to be the legendary CBGB’s club, the home of New York underground rock scene which is now a John Varvatos shop. Ok, still in the rock family but more mainstream I guess. We had a very New York welcome there, the store manager noticed Tanguy’s curiosity for the place and was not strict or weird about this at all as you would expect from someone who would work at an equivalent place somewhere in Brugge for example. He was super friendly and even offered us a very much needed cold beer – Thank you Belgian Gods of beer for this Stella- ! We went on to visit the tattoo parlour where we would soon get our (wedding-NYC) tattoos, visited a kind of legendary rock record shop and had amazing dinner at Cafetal Social Club. This restaurant was an insider’s tip that really paid off. I had an amazing légère lemon pasta dish surrounded by a very family film like NYC Italian ambience.
Sweet jet lag
However, even though I wanted to be able to stay awake the entire night, the flight caught up to me right then and there while I was sitting in that restaurant. I felt like my head would fall off to my feet so our night in town was coming to an end as we Ubered* our way back to Brooklyn…..