Getting a full night's rest made waking up on Sunday a lot easier than the previous day. We woke up, took showers, got dressed and headed to Aroma for coffee. Aroma is unfortunately a chain (I swore off chain coffee shops, read about it here) but chain or not it was the closest coffee shop to the apartment and the coffee and customer service was great. After coffee we headed for the R train to Columbus Circle to switch to the L train to head to Brooklyn. Now before I get to Brooklyn let me talk a bit about the MTA.
As a Bostonian I have a love/hate relationship with our undependable and slow MBTA, but with my exposure to the NY Subway system as a parent, I now hold a much greater appreciation for the T. If you are a parent of a small child or a person with a disability - FORGET ABOUT IT. We made the mistake of bringing her stroller with us, little did we know the MTA hasn't been updated in about a million years and has no elevator service at most stations and the turnstiles are too small to fit a stroller through. So using the subway involves carrying your stroller down multiple flights of piss stained, slippery, narrow and over crowded stairwells and then having to set off an alarm off to go through the 'service entry'. The alarm is loud, draws attention and annoying. The MTA and it's lack of help for parents and people with disabilities is the main reason I would never move to New York. Ok now that the rant is out of the way:
This is our friend Blaine's apartment / dog we were watching after!
So the first day as you read we did some stuff uptown and outdoorsy but todays weather was a bit more gray and gloomy so we decided to do some indoorsy things. We started off the day by heading down to Brooklyn for the Brooklyn Flea and the Bedford Ave shops. Here we are on the dreaded MTA! Once we got into Brooklyn it was already noon and we were STARVING so we went to "Bliss" per one of our vegan friend's suggestions. (p.s. said friend works at an awesome bakery called Champ's so check it out if you're in the area! She also writes an awesome blog about vegan pastries here!). So I have mixed feelings about Bliss. As a young vegan guy, it's AWESOME. As a young vegan parent, it is horrible. The food was pretty great, fairly priced and they played great music. The atmosphere was cute, quaint and full of interesting people. I would avoids this place however if you have children. They do not have any high chairs, or even the room to accommodate one. The service was very poor and I felt like we were annoying the waitress by being there. So needless to say we ate with Sierra in our laps and although the food was really tasty the experience was unenjoyable.
The vegan nachos/chili was AMAZING.
Lauren went the safe route with another tofu scramble breakfast burrito, which I shared and loved.
I went with the "Tofu Club" which wasn't that great but gets an A for effort.
After lunch we headed out in search of The Brooklyn Flea: Artists and Fleas which wasn't hard to find considering the same middle aged chain smoking hipster gave us a flyer for it three times. The market was in this really old mill building with high ceilings and exposed brick everywhere, I'd live there if I could. This wasn't the 'normal' Brooklyn Flea, this one as the title "Artists and Fleas" says is more around artists and independent makers, which was awesome! It was geared more towards the ladies with it's wide assortment of jewelry and clothing but we all had a good time and saw lots of really interesting people and objects. My favorite part was as busy and full of stuff and vendors as it was they somehow mad the aisles wide enough for our rather big stroller, which was key since this was when Sierra decided to take her nap.
Lauren is checking out the Reliquarium - http://www.reliquariumart.com/ - Which was my favorite vendor at the market. The artist Jackie Mock puts found objects into hand made frames and boxed (made from the object itself in some instances) and created beautiful pieces of art with deep meaning and careful craft. I loved almost every piece she had for sale but buying original art work wasn't in the budget for the weekend, although next time we head in that direction I won't leave without one as I already regret it.
Here is some more of the interesting things we saw including antlers, hand blown glass with little mini-eco systems in them and lamps made from found wood and piping.
After the flea we decided to explore Bedford Ave which is a long strip full of independent shops, restaurants and cafes -think Thayer St (Providence) but 10x bigger and better. The people who liter the streets are young, hip, fashion conscious, chain smoking, bike riding, pbr drinking, guitar playing new yorkers at their best. It was a very interesting area that makes Allston look like the 'burbs. I found countless record shops, thrift and consignment stores and coffee shops, a.k.a. I was in heaven. On top of all the daddy-likes there were tons of baby shops which surprised me, our favorite of which was 'the flying squirrel' which is a half new / half consignment baby store carrying things from toys and strollers to rain boots and mini skinny jeans. The shop keeper was friendly and couldn't compliment us enough on our sleeping toddler or her Janie & Jack strawberry raincoat (which Sierra got as a 1st birthday present from the lovely Just By Living a.k.a. Michael's wife). After seeing just about every shop we wanted to it was nearing 4PM and we wanted to see the MET as Lauren and Sierra had never been. When we arrived at the MET Sierra was obsessed with the fountain out front and by the time we actually got inside the line was SO LONG we would have got to walk around the museum for about 20 minutes before closing time, that paired with the thought of being in a long line with a cranky toddler caused us to skip the MET and go to the nearby "Ancient Playground" instead.
By the time we got there both Lauren and I's iPhones had died of exhaustion so excuse the stolen photograph. Although I was sort of bummed about not being able to visit the MET it was fun to watch Sierra go down the slide and as soon as she hit the ground say "GAIN? GAIN? GAIN?", she really loves the park and playground and I love taking her there.
By the time we left the playground we were getting very hungry for dinner so we went back to the apartment for a bit, recharged our phones, bodies and Milo's food bowl and then headed into the Village to try Quantum Leap which we found through a google search for "soho vegan". Interestingly enough this restaurant was the only one that did not come to us as a suggestion from a New Yorker, and it happened to be our absolute favorite of the weekend. The service was great, the food was fast, tasted like heaven and the price was right.
We started off with our norm the chips + guacamole (Sierra's favorite). It was probably the best guacamole I've ever tasted.
Lauren got the Mediterranean Platter which she loved.
I went with a classic (sort of), Spaghetti and "Meat" Balls. My mouth is watering just looking at the photograph. Yum.
After dinner we went and got Milo for his night time walk and we left the house stroller-less to explore the Village and Soho areas as our last goodbye before heading back to the city. After the whole weekend of hustle and bustle this hour or two was probably the most memorable and favorite of mine. Sierra was in the best mood and very playful with the dog. Walking hand in hand with Lauren watching our daughter and (borrowed) dog chase one another up and down the sidewalk in front of us was just a perfect moment for me and for a a moment I wanted to live there and recreate that moment as much as possible.
All and all it was an amazing weekend and I couldn't be happier to have shared it with my beautiful partner and our perfect daughter. Without getting too mushy gushy on the internet, it's the moments like this that make all the working, bills and hardships worth it.