To the untrained, exploring New York City at night generally entails walking along the famous Streets and Avenues to spot famous landmarks and then ending up at Times Square, stopping on your track and being dazzled by the blinding billboards.
In short, you get swarmed by tourists from all directions.
Luckily, I had my friend @mrkim85 to show me around NYC, and I got to see the city at night through a different perspective. He had the most brilliant plan for the evening: after a round of drinks at a bar in Manhattan, he would take me to dinner at an excellent restaurant in Brooklyn and we could walk back to Manhattan crossing one of the bridges and cycle 30 streets up on one of those Citibikes.
Nothing too touristy and it involved cycling and great food- there was nothing not to love about the plan.
The drinks in Manhattan was great – we went to a trendy rooftop bar on the 6th floor of The Pod 39 Hotel, sandwiched in between the skyscrapers. By the time we got there, it was already busy, full of well-dressed New Yorkers who had just finished their work. I felt embarrassingly out of place with my bright orange top and equally bright pink backpack plus my brown shoes that were close to falling apart.
My dinner at Brooklyn was excellent (I need to look up the exact name of the restaurant). I ordered a pork dish, and the meat was juicy and cooked to perfection (this is how talented I am if I were to become a food blogger. I did not even take a picture of the food). All I can say is this – I came out of the restaurant extremely happy.
Then there was the walk across the East River to get back to Manhattan. My friend suggested that we walked through Williamsburg Bridge, which was the less famous sister of the Brooklyn Bridge. It connects the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn with the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Again, less famous means fewer (or no) tourists at all, so it was perfect.
Walking through it was like opening a box of surprises: with every step I took, I discovered some hidden parts of Brooklyn…
Until eventually the famous Manhattan skyline loomed into view.
This was probably one of my favourite views of the Manhattan skyline – city lights twinkling and cars zooming past.
And things just got better from there. When we reached the end of the bridge, it was time for the Citibike ride.
If there is one thing that I know for sure by now: most cities look better on two wheels.
I’m a strong advocate for cycling. It is a great way to commute in some cities – it’s fast, green and healthy, and an awesome way to sightsee when you travel.
Cycling was my main means of transport when I was living in Copenhagen, Aarhus and Berkeley, and I have done my fair share of sightseeing by bike: Singapore, Kaoshiung, Hualien, Stockholm, Salzburg and Paris. There was nothing quite like whooshing past the buildings and being able to stop wherever you like to take pictures. You might not be able to spot every single vine sprouting out of the hundred-year-old brick walls, but you could cover so much more compared to walking and it almost always put you in great spirit (even when it rained on you).
Except that of course it wasn’t raining at all. The sky was clear, the temperature mild and I could feel the occasional breeze – it was the perfect evening to cycle.
I have to say it was a little scarier than I thought. For one, people drive so much faster in Manhattan than in Denmark. Also, the dedicated bike lanes were nothing like the ones you find in Copenhagen – it was a lot smaller and there were no dividers between the lane and the street for cars. Good thing that the traffic wasn’t too busy when we cycled. I tend to get slightly awkward navigating in between cars, and having the mental image of me knocking down someone else’s side view mirror constantly playing in my head certainly wasn’t helping.
But then there were occasionally park connectors and I could breathe easily again.
I couldn’t take many pictures during the cycle ride since we also had a mission to actually get closer to my Airbnb which was at the Upper West Side. After a while, the journey became a bit of a blur through the never-ending stretch by the East River.
But even so, it was still one of my favourite ways to see New York City.