Day 11: A bridge (almost) too far

Brooklyn was in our sights today. A simple bus trip along 42nd to the UN building. A walk down the esplanade on the East river and up and onto the Brooklyn Bridge. Simple right? Well no, not really. 

The bus ride, yes simple. 

The East River Esplanade clearly visible on Google maps appeared to be a simple walk along the edge of Manhattan down to the bridge. Not so. 

Things started smoothly, passing a playground with a fence depicting all of the bridges and tunnels of Manhattan. This looks like a good way to go, but quite soon a barrier. A quick reference to the maps and a workaround was found. Ten minutes later we found ourselves in need of hard hats. We’d walked behind major construction sites and were wedged between the FDR Freeway and a construction site. A little further along and things got worse. We had nowhere to go. So we turned back, a few tense moments trying to work out what to do and ultimately Mardi’s cool head prevailed and we gave up on the Esplanade and took the subway to the start of the Brooklyn Bridge walk. 

We started the walk, with what felt like the entire Manhattan population. Coming the other way felt like the entire population of Brooklyn.

Did the populations swap over each Saturday. Damn it was busy. It’s customary to keep to the right, which most people did, but as always there were those that flouted the rules. Plus the two wedding parties trying to take photos, really! The selfie stick brigade randomly stopping to purse their lips with a view in the background. We remained polite and stuck to the rules and managed a few nice photos. 

Once we reached Brooklyn, we walked around DUMBO and explored and took in the view. Another two wedding parties, families, dogs, kids playing with footballs and photographers were everywhere. It was time for lunch, so Mardi sat and researched as I wandered and took some more photos. When I returned Mardi had found a pizza place nearby. So we walked up to it. Grimaldi’s. An institution in these parts. We walked to the door and noticed a queue, so thought we’d better join it. Five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35…38 people. Hmmm, we joined thinking let’s see how it goes, while Mardi searched other options.

We noticed Mr Grimaldi walking the queue taking numbers from people, then he’d disappear inside, returning yelling out numbers, 2, 3, 6. He was seating groups based on availability inside. This won’t take long. Two was a popular number so we shouldn’t have too long to wait. Ten minutes turned to 20 then 30 and we’d made it to the front of the queue. Grimaldi walks out and starts speaking Italian to a large group behind us, eight. Then disappears. He reappears and walks halfway down the line and yells two, a couple ten behind us yell and he walks them in. WTF. He does it again. This time I mention to him on the way past, we are a group of two. He dumps the other couple and takes us in. Bizarre, but we are seated and really, really hungry, so pleased to be in and ready to order. The pizzeria is in a cast iron building, the first bank erected in Brooklyn and is buzzing inside. The queue outside grows as more people join for an afternoon pizza. 

We order, two small pizzas, thinking smell would be small, but they are the size of a large and are delicious. 

Despite our hunger we can only eat half each so get the rest to go for lunch another day at home. 

We pay the bill and walk down to the waterline to look at Manhattan as the sun starts to set, just as the clouds roll in and the cold change moves in. 

Throughout the day we’ve been in touch with a Bob and Cathy and have planned dinner with them. So we think about leaving Brooklyn. The sunset is lost to clouds and the cold get us so we head off to the subway to travel to Fulton Place in their neighbourhood. 

We arrive at Fulton and check in with Bob and meet up and visit him and Cathy for a while. Their apartment is in South Street Seaport area. It’s in the shadow of the WTC district and is a beautiful area to walk around. We sit and chat for a while before heading out to dinner. 

We go to a local sushi restaurant for some traditional Japanese and enjoy sushi. 

After dinner we walk around the neighbourhood and see the Christmas tree and a memorial lighthouse erected to honour the tragedy of the Titanic. A Taylor Swift exhibition is opening soon, you had to hold us all back from rushing to get tickets to that one!! We walked some more and parted ways as we got to Fulton Street and our subway entrance back to 42nd street. 

As we arrived home just as the rain started. Another big walking day, 16kms, 20 000 the Fitbit says. No wonder our feet are sore. Tomorrow is s rest day. Rain, wind and some ice cold air coming in, so a good day to take it easy.


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