Some Berliners like to climb the Brooklyn bridge and replace the American flags with white ones when they are in New York. When we went to the Big Apple recently, we were maybe not quite as progressive.
I have to admit that I avoided going to the states after my last visit 12 years ago. But despite my general disinterest in this country I always knew that I had to give New York City another try, especially since my last visit is almost 20 years in the past. And boy am I glad that I finally did it. I was amazed by this city, much more than I expected to be. Everything seems to be bigger, better, faster, stronger – and I’m not even exaggerating. It almost felt a bit odd when I returned to Berlin afterwards and everything almost seemed small and ordinary to me.
New York is an extreme city, but much like Berlin it’s totally up to you what you make of it. And thanks to our local guide and good friend Archer we managed to make something really great out of it and had a phantastic time there. To share some of our excitement with you we compiled a list of 10 amazing things to do in New York that will hopefully inspire your next trip.
photos: Yaniv Schulman, Robin Roemer
1. Sleep No More
Ok, this one is on the top of the list for a reason. Sleep No More is a theatrical experience of a different kind. Forget Broadway! This is the real deal. I have never been more impressed with a theater production in my life and I’ve seen a fair bit and also some really good stuff. But this will blow your mind, even if you never go to the theater normally. It’s actually not at all like a normal theater visit, in fact it’s more like walking through a huge, elaborate and impressive film set and the performers dance around you and walk right by you. If you are lucky you will even get a little private performance in a secret room, like I did. It’s unbelievable and I was in a trance for days afterwards. I really urge you to see this when you are in New York. It’s not cheap when you are used to Berlin theater prices, but once you enter you realize it’s worth every dollar.
2. Street Art in Bushwick
Berlin is already pretty good on street art, but New York is really crazy in terms of the artform in public spaces. You will encounter big murals all over the city, but especially in Bushwick/Brooklyn in the neighborhoods of Morgan Street and Jefferson Street you will find whole blocks where every wall and warehouse is covered in artwork. What I thought was nice that people dont spray over it, so even the pieces that are already a couple of years old are totally intact. Respect the art!
3. New Museum
Of course nothing beats the classics such as MET and MOMA, but we didn’t want to feature the obvious things about New York in the list. So we want to tell you about the third option in terms of contemporary art: The New Museum. It’s focussed on the more conceptual type of art with a lot of installations and sculptures. The artist they show there are upcoming names that are already established in the art scene, but not quite at MOMA status just yet. They usually host different solo exhibition in parallel on different floors. The small museum shop in the ground floor has really some amazing objects that are going to be hard to resist.
photo: Harry Hains
4. Shopping in Soho
As much as you can stay focussed on spending time in Brooklyn, if you want to do some serious shopping you just have to go to Manhatten. The Lower East Side and Nolita have some great places, but in general Soho is one of the best neighborhoods for interesting fashion. Our favorite was the NYC-based label Skin Graft which brings on an amazing twist on avant-garde sportswear. But you should also check out the NY classics Opening Ceremony and OAK.
The Highline is one of those rare things that’s probably specific to New York and won’t exist anywhere else. What it is is a park that was constructed on an abandoned elevated traintrack. The gardens there are beautiful and have a very modern almost Spa-like look. You can wander along the train track, chill out at some of the lounge chairs, enjoy the view over the street, get a drink or a snack at one of the bars and if you are lucky you might catch one of the markets they do there every now and than.
6. East River Ferry Boat Ride
One of the most impressive things about new New York are the skylines from the riverside both from Manhatten and Brooklyn. And there is one cool way to see them even more up close which is by taking one of the East River Ferry boats. They make a few stops along the shore of Brooklyn, go underneath the Brooklyn Bridge and than head over to Manhatten’s financial district. It’s actually a good and quick way of travelling inside New York, but the best part of it is the spectacular view.
photos: Cyle Suesz
7. Shade Party
When it comes to nightlife and partying nothing really compares to Berlin. At least that’s what everybody keeps telling you. Well, let’s say it like this: New York is a different kind of ball game, not better or worse, but different. In our time there we didn’t check out all that many places, but one really blew us away which was the Shade Party. It’s a nomadic party that happens every now and than in a warehouse somewhere in Brooklyn. They have huge light setups and the audience they attract is quite eclectic. If you want to compare it to something in Berlin you could say Blitz Party, but bigger and instead of the 80s synth music they play regular electronic club music.
8. Cafe Gitane
One of the more complicated things to do in New York is going out to eat. Before we went we consulted several people who have spent some time there to give us recommendations. What we got were mostly places that kind of everyone recommends to you but that turn out to be too overcrowded and not even that good in terms of taste and quality. What we noticed is that the best way to have a lovely dinner experience is to go a bit out of the restaurant rush hour, otherwise you will end up waiting for hours. During our time there our favorite restaurant was Cafe Gitane which is a French style bistro that offers delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner menues.
9. Smorgesbord Street Food Market
Williamsburg in Brooklyn is sort of like the Friedrichshain of New York, and I mean that in a good way. You can tell it was once a total hipster area and has been gentrifacated to mainstream, but it still has plenty of nice cool things going on such as the Smorgesburg Street Food Market that happens there every weekend on Saturday and Sunday (in two different locations) and is bit like a bigger version of our Bite Club, but instead of river view over to Friedrichshain you have a riverview over to Manhatten which is obviously more impressive.
10. Vintage Shopping at Beacon’s Closet
You think New York is expensive? Well, not everything. Beacon’s Closet is one of the biggest and most diverse vintage shops I’ve been too and they have some really cool unexpected stuff. And the best thing: It wasn’t at all as expensive as everyone says New York is. This place is a treasure chest.
Special Extra: Reside in a Warehouse Loft
So this last one is not really an itenerary but it’s still and experience that you shouldn’t miss and that is so specific to the New York lifestyle: Living in a warehouse loft. Don’t get me wrong, we do have these kinds of places in Berlin, too. But not with a view over the Manhatten Skyline. It’s just yet again another level and it will make your visit to New York just so much more amazing. If you don’t happen to have friends who live in a place like that the best and easiest way to find them is of course Airbnb. They have awesome warehouse lofts in their listings, especially in Brooklyn. Watch out for the neighborhoods Bushwick, Green Point, Williamsburg, Caroll Garden, Cobble Hill and Dumbo as these are the most interesting ones we’ve been to.