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18 Apr AA Roadwatch’s Doireann Garrihy Visits Manhattan and Brooklyn

Doireann Garrihy checks out what Manhattan and Brooklyn have to offer

Whether it was for a summer of J1 madness or an outlet shopping spree, many of us have ventured across the pond for a bite out of The Big Apple.

We’ve seen the Empire State building, strolled through Central Park and nipped into Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s (if for no other reason than to SAY we did). Having visited Manhattan and Brooklyn this spring, I decided I would venture out of the tourist-y madness for a few days.

Having heard about it in dozens of songs and watched some of the most epic scenes in film taking place there, I thought it would be rude not to venture into the infamous Brooklyn. I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Manhattan and another couple of days with friends in Brooklyn. Below are some of the places I visited in each and would highly recommend!

Getting to NYC

There are direct flights to/from New York from both Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport that take off a few times daily so no matter what part of the country you’re from, you’ve no excuse not to head across the pond. As well as booking your flights, remember to secure your travel insurance too to give yourself peace of mind.

Getting Around the City

New York is very much doable by foot, but if you want to catch all the major tourist spots (or make your way out to Brooklyn), your best option would be to avail of New York’s expansive public transport network.

By Subway

A trip to New York City isn’t complete without a Subway trip. It’s the fastest and most economical way to travel around the city and how millions of New Yorkers get around. The services run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year so you’ll never be stuck!  If you’re staying in the city for a couple of days it might be a good idea to get yourself a MetroCard. You can buy a MetroCard at designated vending machines across the city as well as at Subway station booths and participating shops and newsagents. If you’re planning a longer visit to the Big Apple, it might be worth getting a 7-Day pass, which offers unlimited rides for seven days from the first day of use and costs $31. It’d be no harm to grab a subway map also and confirm your route with your concierge!

By Bus

Using a MetroCard is the way to go since bus drivers won’t make change and don’t accept dollar bills. The bus costs a flat $2.75 per ride and is perfect if you prefer an above-ground view of New York City. What’s great about using the MetroCard aboard the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) buses is if you need to transfer to another bus or the Subway, you can ride for free (as long as your transfer is within a two-hour period). Remember though that New York City traffic is not pretty and the buses are prone to long traffic jams.

Where I Stayed

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It’s a known fact: nobody visits NYC to lounge in their hotel room all day. The cliché is as true as ever; New York is the city that never sleeps, so forget about catching up on your Zs while you’re there – plenty of time for that at home! Furthermore, breakfast is rarely included in accommodation packages, so you’ll be spending even less time in your hotel if this is the case. Having a room that is clean and a bed that is somewhat comfortable is all you really need to worry about.

While in Manhattan, I stayed in Executive Hotel Le Soleil and it ticked all the boxes; a clean bedroom, bathroom and working wifi. Sorted!

Luckily, I had friends doing their J1 Graduate Visa that are living in Bushwick for the year and they were kind enough to put up with me during my four nights in Brooklyn.

 What I Did in Manhattan

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Wall Street

I will openly admit that pre The Wolf of Wall Street, I would never have had any interest in visiting the Financial District. However, I’m delighted the movie inspired a trip to the area because I got more than I bargained for. Some of the architecture in the area is incredible and much to my delight, it’s a short walk to where the Statue of Liberty cruises depart from.


Soho refers to the area “South of Houston Street” and is also a reference to Soho in London’s West End. It’s worth strolling around and taking in the many gorgeous buildings but in terms of things to do, the NYC Fire Museum is worth a visit. It features lavishly decorated hand pumpers and a horse-drawn ladder wagon. If you have children with you, this museum is particularly entertaining.

Where I Dined and Drank – Manhattan

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Keen’s Steakhouse

A restaurant’s ceiling probably isn’t the first thing that draws your attention, but at Keen’s, it’ll be all you can look at – until they bring you your meal of course. Established in 1885 – it is one of New York’s oldest and most revered eateries. It also happens to have the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world hanging from its rafters! The tradition comes from the days when travelers left their pipes at their favorite inns until they returned. Today, Keen’s is well known for its delicious steaks, but the pipe laiden interiors aren’t bad either!

Pete Dillon’s Pub

Many would tell you that venturing to an Irish pub while on holidays is the number one thing you shouldn’t do, but this rule can certainly be broken with Peter Dillon’s pub. It’s small enough to not have to shout at the people you’re talking to but big enough to house a bit of a ceili if needs be. Furthermore, the bartenders couldn’t be friendlier.

What I Did – Brooklyn

Shops at the Loom

If you’re looking to pick up a few hipster items or just fancy some window shopping, then make your way to this old textile factory. It’s the home to Indie boutique ‘Better Than Jam’ and stocks quirky finds from local designers. If you’re looking to pick up some cheap designer vintage bits, Closet Envi is the place to go! You’ll be sure to find really gorgeous stuff at rock bottom prices.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

While searching for a little peace and quiet amid the hustle and bustle of NYC, I stumbled upon this little slice of paradise! The garden was founded in 1910 and features thousands of types of flora, laid out over 52 acres. Within it, there are serene spots such as the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, the first Japanese-inspired

Where I Dined and Drank – Brooklyn

Fritzl’s Lunchbox

I am a major burger enthusiast and Fritzl’s did not disappoint. I had the Cheek-and-Chuck patty, cloaked in cheese and topped with onions. It was nothing short of divine! A friend of mine had the fried chicken sandwich which also looked delicious. She is a regular at this joint and promises me that the seasonal salads are always well-crafted, too. Pull up a seat on the back patio and pair your meal with something from the beer list. Bliss!

The Evergreen

Who doesn’t love great drinks set at great prices? My friends and I stumbled upon this place while strolling around Bushwick. The bartenders were polite, the vibe was laidback cool and we didn’t want to leave. What’s more, we didn’t until we absolutely had to! It opens daily from 4pm-4am. You can visit for their Happy Hour details too!

Sharron Lynskey

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