I spent New Year’s Eve in New York City! Sure, I avoided Times Square, but I get the travel event points, right?
I still watched the bar drop, just with a bunch of other people at a bar in Brooklyn.
Let’s back up though. This wasn’t the first time I’d technically been in NYC. I’d been to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes many years ago with my mom and grandmother, and in the not too distant past Manbeast and I visited the aquarium on Coney Island. Both fun, memorable trips, but very pointed in-out ordeals.
This trip, to visit a friend who had just moved to Brooklyn, was about catching up with people, visiting, and relaxing away from the stuff I’m usually around. It was also a solo vacation, I love those, but haven’t had any in awhile. So this trip was much needed and especially wonderful when I found out my current city has an Amtrak station and I don’t have to first find my way to Boston! The Amtrak takes you right into Penn Station, and from there it was just a matter of finding myself a G train. Despite assurances that I would be murdered and have all my earthly possessions looted from my corpse, the MTA was pretty basic and not terrifying. I made it to all my inter-NYC destinations with minimal hassle and zero injury or property loss. Huzzah!
To prepare for my trip I watched a lot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Broad City.
My dear friend The Folklorist is sublet-hopping and job hunting in the city who’s descriptors I have forgotten. We met out in Oregon and hadn’t seen each other in about a year so it was really great to meet up and catch up. She actually finished her Master’s at UO, in case you care.
Mostly we ate. That’s not a complaint, I love eating, and NYC has some amazing restaurants. We started our New Year’s Eve celebration at Northern Territory, an Australian (?) restaurant that was blessing all patrons who made reservations with complimentary bottles of champagne. We tried the mushroom bruschetta and I had the chicken schnitzel. Both were very tasty. The night was young so we headed out to another bar my friend was familiar with. We passed by the terrifying “Greenpoint Community Garden” (I question the accuracy of that sign, unless they really are growing old cars and stuffed animals) and I got hit with an Amtrak hangover. See, dinner was delicious, and I was still sober, but I hadn’t factored in something very important. My last piece of food was a snack cake I’d thrown in my backpack at 1pm. At 8pm I was cramming food into my face like there was no tomorrow. Ten minutes in second bar and I thought I was going to pass out, vomit, and die (in that order) and I was furious because couldn’t I at least being embarrassingly drunk before I started feeling like that?
It took some fresh air, some walking, and a lot of water at the next place to get me in tip-top shape to start drinking Staten Islands at No. 7 North, which was a delightful little place with a taxidermy peacock, more elbow room, and free champagne at midnight. Maybe I’m just biased because I’d stopped feeling like barf and they didn’t give me crap for spending our first half-hour there ordering water. Also the peacock has really fierce side-eye.
Brunch the next day was made up of the best possible hangover cure: Spicy Bloody Mary’s and Korean food. We hit up Mrs. Kim’s for some awesome dulset bibimbap and a Bloody Mary with kimchi. It was divine (and so were the pork buns).
And then we relaxed, because a lot of things were closed (even in NYC!) and we had big plans for happy hour.
Oyster Happy Hour. Maison Premiere provided us with $1 oysters and some great drinks (though we avoided the absinthe cocktails). The place was incredibly packed though. I’m tempted to recommend arriving early if you want the happy hour specials, but I suspect that it’s just going to be packed no matter what.
After we ate our fill of oysters (read: couldn’t have bought any more without being embarrassed about the number of oysters we were eating) we set off with a very specific destination in mind… and instead ended up in Videology/El Gato Nacho. One room was showing the Lord of the Rings triology, another room was watching the Rosebowl, so we were able to get some popcorn and drinks and root for the ducks while watching something a lot more interesting than actual football.
It was a great place, but we had a higher calling. The Meatball Shop has several locations throughout NYC. It’s kind of like a meatball buffet, but it’s also a sit-down restaurant. I had pork belly meatballs in the red-eye gravy over risotto. It was amazing. As were their Manhattan jello shots (changes daily) and their Buzzed Lebowski.
Then we hopped over to her new place in East Williamsburg. This picture is an accurate description of my impression of East Williamsburg:
SPOILER ALERT: IT’S A PICTURE OF A DEAD PIGEON
See, New York City is like a pigeon. A beautiful pigeon and not the one that tripped into the fountain outside the Met. It toddles along and doesn’t give a fuck if it has no business being on the subway because it’s a pigeon and it does what it wants. Williamsburg and Greenpoint are like pigeons that I have captured and forced into top hats and scarves: charming and whimsical, even if they still have bird lice. East Williamsburg is definitely a pigeon, but it’s a pigeon that raises a lot of questions. Like, where’s the head? Or the feet? Why is only part of the spine there? Are all these businesses closed or is boarded up windows an aesthetic? That building is up to code to house people? Why is there a spriny horse in that backyard? Why is there porch lattice inside? Are there things out there that really only eat the middle of the pigeon? Is that like, the pigeon muffin top? Should I stop now? I should stop now.
I was also able to pay homage to their Magritte and their Miro (at least, what they had on display), and even though the museum was stuffed to the gills it was still great to actually see it in person… and to see the mourning clothes.
Dinner brought us by Radio City Music Hall and down into Times Square (so I can say I’ve seen it). Times Square is mostly just bright? We snagged some happy hour drinks at Tonic (chosen because we could get bar seats right away… the Met took a lot out of us!) while we waited for a spot at our chosen dinner venue. Dinner was a fabulous (and really crowded) izakaya place called Sake Bar Hagi, right off of Times Square. We sampled several different menu items: quail eggs, takoyaki with amazing octopus pieces, gyoza, plum and beer cocktails… it was all worth the wait.
My final day I met up with a friend from my undergrad days. I once again navigated the subway solo and ended up in Fort Greene* at Alice’s Arbor, where I was served the fluffiest omelette. Yay fluffy omlettes! I ended up spending the rest of the day with my friend and his girlfriend in their Park Slope apartment. It had started snowing and raining, which didn’t endear any of us to walking around outside, even though I would have loved to see more of the area.
I navigated my way back to Penn Station painlessly, but once I was in Penn Station I found myself confused and bewildered. Eventually I realized that “Amtrak NJ” was not just Amtraks to New Jersey and found the waiting area and the track just fine. Driving home in a baby ice storm… easily the worst and most dangerous part of my entire trip. My car was just an ice bullet by the time I made it home.
I had so much fun in Brooklyn and I can’t wait to go back and explore more, see more friends, check out more museums, and eat more food.
*I’m listing all these Brooklyn neighborhoods but honestly I know nothing about them.