I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to go to New York for the weekend. Actually, that’s not true – my partner Dex was in New York for a couple months and was returning to Jamaica in early September. We don’t live together and we both enjoy exploring, so any opportunity we get to do both we almost always take it. That’s how New York happened.
It wasn’t my first time in NYC and my aim wasn’t so much to enjoy the city as to spend time with Dex. I couldn’t take vacation from work at that point so it was either the weekend or nothing. I chose the weekend. I overdo life, almost always. The minute I get a whiff of a possible vacation, the research starts and so after buying the cheapest tickets possible, I began doing some research to put together an itinerary for the three days. And trust me there are SO many ‘New York in 3 days’ lists out there I had enough to keep me occupied for quite some time.
I eventually came up with a list of things we absolutely had to do while there; from artichoke pizza, to Brooklyn Bridge Park, brunch at Cafe Rue Dix, sourcing the best blue cheese burger in the city, seeing at least one museum, doing some shopping and going to Afropunk. Afropunk Brooklyn was another major pull factor in my decision to go because it was something both Dex and I had wanted to do together for a long time. An afrocentric, liberal, music, food and style festival which almost demands individuality? Yea, I was on it.
So I made my itinerary, taking into consideration that everything would not go as planned but really hopeful that we’d get most things done and boarded an evening flight to JFK.
The first night was a breeze, my good friend who was living in Brooklyn at the time took me to Chilo’s. The fish.taco.was.life and the watermelon margaritas – really yummy. The next day we headed to Penn Station to meet Dex who was coming into the city from Upstate New York. Problem number 1.
I had no working phone, my friend’s service cut while in Penn Station and the station is ridiculously huge. Dex wasn’t really sure where she was – when she finally gave us a landmark nobody around us could point us in the direction of the landmark leading us to believe that we were probably in the wrong station. After an hour of looking – no exaggerations here- we found her. Now in the grand scheme of things an hour isn’t too bad but we were moving on limited time – this was day 1 of 3 and all we had done so far was walk up and down Penn Station hopelessly.
After finding her we were all a bit peeved but still happy and ready to explore. We decided it would make sense to check into the AirBnb we were going to be staying in before heading to The Spotted Pig for lunch so we took the train back to Brooklyn hungry but still optimistic.
This was my first time using AirBnb but I had done quite a bit of research and I trusted it so we figured it would take us all of five minutes to ‘check in’ and then head back to the city. Problem number 2.
My host had locked our key in a MasterLock and messaged me the combination. All we had to do was open the MasterLock, open the door and we’d be inside the apartment. Sounds easy right? Turns out the MasterLock was jammed.
At first we thought maybe we didn’t know what we were doing, but according to Google we had it right. Then we thought maybe he changed the combination so I Whatsapped him – turns out he’s in Italy at a conference but he was pretty sure of the combination. We began knocking on the door, calling, hoping someone was inside as he has roommates. No answer. At this point about two hours have passed – again, no exaggeration and we’re on the side of the road looking SO suspicious – Dex with all her luggage, the sun is blazing, we’re hungry, pulling on a lock in vain and looking possibly homeless and hopeless. We began asking strangers who were passing for help with the lock – no one could help. We had already paid for the place and at this point half of the day was gone so we called a locksmith.
The locksmith took another hour but he eventually came and after a lot of pounding and the use of an electric saw looking thing he broke open the MasterLock and we got the key. I have to say after all that I’ll recommend MasterLocks for their durability – it took the locksmith a good half hour to get it open.
At this point nobody could even. We went inside and collapsed and then decided to just go find food. The good thing is good food has a way of cheering me up almost instantly and Dallas BBQ was just what we needed. After some sweet, crunchy, yummy cornbread, succulent ribs and some good drinks we decided to pass on the City and just stay in Brooklyn. It wasn’t a bad idea – we did some shopping at Atlantic Center Mall as we had to get outfits for Afropunk and we did something almost unforgivable when on vacation – and a super short vacation at that – we went to bed early.
The next day was Sunday and after having such a hot mess of a Saturday, we were up early ready to seize every minute of the day. We started the day with brunch at Cafe Rue Dix – a French Senegalese spot in Crown Heights, Brooklyn which my best friend had been raving about for years. It was well worth the rave. The traditional Senegalese coffee tastes like a whole meal. Seriously some of the best coffee I’ve had though I’m no coffee expert. We tried different things from their brunch menu but the best was their Crepe Madame.
After that it was time for Afropunk! I’m not gonna lie – my expectations were HIGH for Afropunk. And I think that’s what made it not the most amazing experience for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was great, but people watching and the vibe were probably the most interesting things – more than the performances, food and even the craft market which was pretty epic. I love inclusive, liberal, safe spaces…love… and I think that’s what I enjoyed the most. People of different shapes, sizes, genders, races, ethnicities just vibing and enjoying the space together. You could physically feel the happiness in the atmosphere and I really enjoyed that. From the tiny girl who was literally almost flying around the park topless, to the glorious African men who were walking around looking so damn fierce it was my first time being in such a space.
I can’t tell you who performed but I did cop some great jewellery and clothes from the craft market. We couldn’t even begin to find food because it was SO crowded – and that’s what I enjoyed the least. Way too many people at all the different stages – it was just too much. Because of this we did another unforgivable thing – we left early. For shame. But it wasn’t too much of a bad thing because we got some really great Indian food and unlimited mango lassi at Bombay Grill and then Dex and I headed to a LGBT friendly bar in Brooklyn. At this point we had only done one thing off my itinerary which was Afropunk and we had not yet entered Manhattan, save picking up Dex from Penn Station. We really had not seen much but it was still an enjoyable day.
Day 3…my last day in New York. My friend who was familiar with the city had work that day so Dex and I set out to explore on our own.
Thankfully we had a phone with data and at this point we had become somewhat fairly accustomed to the bus system in the area – the subway was a whole other scene but we planned to stay in Brooklyn, so the bus would suffice. We had a busy morning and I had to catch my flight back home later that day so we didn’t think it was too wise to head to the city alone in the afternoon and get lost. We spent the afternoon wandering around Brooklyn, did some shopping and even ended up taking the train at one point. This newfound independence went straight to my head and I then decided I was going to save some money and take the train to the airport.
I was pretty optimistic. I Googled it and all I had to do was take a train to the AirTrain which would take me to my terminal. It was beginner level easy and I would save money and feed my ego and I was ready. Of course I didn’t think about the fact that I would be doing this between the 5-6pm rush hour when the trains are literally jam packed. I didn’t think about subway stairs with my luggage. I didn’t think about having a phone with no data and not being able to contact anyone if anything happened. Don’t ask me why I didn’t use Uber – there was no method to my madness.Problem number 3.
I left the Airbnb with Dex to take the train – asked no questions because I was sure that I was on the right train and I could tell by the stops anyway (remember at this point I’m basically a New Yorker). Sat in the train for a good half hour feeling pretty smug, only to realise that we were on the wrong train. Of course we had taken the train we were supposed to but instead of taking the one heading to Queens where the airport is we were heading into Manhattan. We asked someone for help and she told us we would have to come off at the next stop, head up the stairs and go to another station. We ran off the train only to see the literal stairway to heaven.
After lugging my suitcase up the stairs and back down into the station and waiting for the train, it passed packed to the brim with people heading home from work in the City. We couldn’t even begin to think about trying to squeeze, I had not checked in online because I’m a mook and it was getting late.
At this point I had no choice but to literally run up the stairs and flag down a taxi. And that’s what I did. I was super fortunate to flag down a very friendly Haitian guy who didn’t overcharge me. We got stuck in so much traffic and he took a number of illegal turns to get me there but I arrived and made check in with all of ten minutes to spare. I slept from the time I sat in my plane seat to when the plane landed in Trinidad.
Would I recommend New York in 3 days to anyone else? Probably yes. We actually could have done quite a bit if things turned out differently.
Would I go to New York for 3 days again? Maybe not…it was an eventful and extremely memorable weekend despite all the hiccups but the kind of tired that I was after that weekend was unbelievable. I was grateful for the time with Dex but if I did it over I would probably get an AirBnb in Manhattan, not overestimate my ability to take the subway and be WAY more realistic with my itinerary.
While you’re here though check out this list of things to do, eat and see in NY.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Brooklyn? I recommend Will – despite the lock situation…it was a central, affordable, fun, secure location and he was a great host!