A trip to Ikea in Brooklyn

My mom was in town this weekend and one of the fun things we did during her visit was take the Ikea ferry. We’d spent several hours in Manhattan and were sitting in Bryant Park deciding what to do next when she reminded me not only that I’d said that I wanted to go to Ikea but that there was a ferry that would get us there.

She was right on both counts. In a rare moment of wishing I had a smartphone (NB: my mom doesn’t have one either, but 99% of my visitors in New York do, so this usually isn’t a problem), I called information and got connected to Ikea so I could ask what pier they left from. The Ikea automated message was really unhelpful: Unless you knew your party’s extension, they assumed you wanted to talk to Customer Service and rattled off an 800 number.

So I texted a friend, who looked it up and texted me right back. (Carly, you’re the best.)

The ferry costs $5, but you can apply that cost toward your purchase (and there’s something about getting a free ride back if you purchased something, but it was confusing, so look it up yourself). Even if you don’t feel like buying any furniture at Ikea, you can get yourself a hot dog and a soda or some pizza, or, better yet, FIVE CINNAMON BUNS with that $5. I wouldn’t recommend eating five cinnamon buns by yourself, but what I’m saying is, you can’t go wrong with taking the ferry to Ikea.

Why did I want to go to Ikea? I needed a rug for my living room. I’ve been in my apartment for nearly a year and I’ve wanted to buy a rug for that long. This weekend I did it. It’s a round 51 inch rug, with mixed brown and grey and white fibers. When we got it home and looked at it, my mom and I both agreed it wasn’t perfect – slightly bigger, and less grey, would’ve been better – but it’s decent, and the grey is helped by some grey-and-beige patterned pillows I picked up at Ikea, too.

During my first month in New York my roommate and I went to Ikea to buy shelf brackets to put up a shelf in our long hallway. We had to call our other roommate and have her talk us out of buying cheap bar stools to put beneath the shelf. In retrospect, bar stools would have been a really terrible idea. We were drunk on the exhaustion that comes from wandering the Ikea showroom.

Pro tip: If you more or less know what you’re looking for, skip the showroom. Get yourself to the second floor (my mom and I turned left at the bathrooms and snuck past the registers) and you’ll be able to go straight to the items you’re looking for. Who needs to see the rugs laid out with furniture you’re not buying?

So who has made the Ikea pilgrimage, and what have you taken home with you?


Staten Island Ferry and a foggy New York Harbor

Sometime this summer I want to go to Ellis Island, and eventually I’d like to go to the Statue of Liberty. I’ve done both before, on family vacations, but I think it’s been at least fifteen years and I think both would be worth revisiting as an adult. Part of the fun of those visits was the ferry ride, and there’s an easy way to enjoy a similar outing, for free: riding the Staten Island Ferry.

For Staten Island dwellers, I imagine the ferry is just a regular part of the commute, something they sometimes take a minute to enjoy but often experience on auto-pilot, much like my ride over the Manhattan Bridge. But when I rode the ferry with a friend last fall, it was a fun and novel experience. We made our way to the ferry terminal near Battery Park, waited for the next ferry, and boarded. We found seats on the outside, to better enjoy the views. When the ferry landed in Staten Island, we dashed into the terminal and back out again to catch a departing ferry back to Manhattan. We weren’t the only ones to be taking a roundtrip.

It was early in September, and still warm outside, but the sky was clouded over. The light drizzle combined with the wind over the water made the air damp, and the harbor was blanketed in fog. The skyline blended into the clouds, its boxy shapes looking like a faded Stonehenge against the gray. The Statue of Liberty was first hazy, then sharp against the sky as we got closer.

I’d love to take the ferry on a lazy, sunny day, and see the sun sparkle on the water, but this melancholy trip had its own beauty. It’s a great, free, outing to take with friends or family who are visiting the city, or on your own. Next time, I’ll even spend some time checking out Staten Island! Any suggestions on things to do there?

Along the Hudson on the Greenway

Sometimes I forget that Manhattan is an island. This is because I rarely see the water. I live less than a mile from water, and I have not yet walked down to see what it looks like by me, because I’m pretty sure it’s not pretty.

But that’s just near me! Plenty of New York is surrounded by beautiful water, and the closest I usually get to it is a few moments look as my train goes over the bridge on my commute. This is a shame.

Last summer I discovered the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, and while I haven’t taken advantage of it nearly often enough, I’m glad to know it’s there. According to Wikipedia the Greenway is 32 miles long. The part I’m most familiar with runs along the Hudson, and all along this cyclist/pedestrian path you can find green spaces that face the Hudson River.
There are parks, there are piers—there’s even the Frying Pan (pictured at left), an outdoor bar made up of a couple of old boats. Because the Hudson is on the west side of the city, it’s the perfect place to watch a sunset. I once walked from Battery Park, at the tip of Manhattan, all the way up to the Frying Pan at W. 26th Street with a friend, and every bit of the walk was beautiful. I biked all the way up to Riverside Park last summer, and the view from up there was just as gorgeous.
I already expressed my love of the Hudson when talking about the view from the train, but along the Greenway you are right beside the water. Visiting can include a long walk from the subway, but hopping on a bus is always an option. If you have free time while you’re on the west side some day, or you’re wandering the city with no destination in mind, consider walking west till you hit the water. You won’t be disappointed.

Has anyone checked out other parts of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway? What are your favorite bits? I think I’m going to have to start posting about indoor things soon—if anyone has suggestions of places off the beaten path to check out, let me know!