So after a morning spent pottering around, I met up with JoHa at lunch time and we headed out to Brooklyn - her first visit there. Earlier in the week Stokesy had told us about the big Bastille Day celebrations in Brooklyn, and we wanted to be part of it. This article explains really well how the party has come to be so big out there - but even I wasn't prepared for the crowds and the heat and the craziness.
First of all we wandered up and down Smith Street, pausing to especially enjoy some of the petanque games going on in little makeshift sandpits. This video was taken a couple of years ago, but shows you how well the Petanque championship is incorporated into the street party:
As we got closer to the really cute Bar Tabac (on the list for a return visit in less-crazy times) we could hear some music playing and so we grabbed a sandwich, found a spot to sit (in the gutter, no less!) and enjoyed the show. We didn't enjoy it as much as our acid wash jean-clad friend here, but we were grooving on the spot, trust me.
Some of the local vendors were out keeping people hydrated with what looked to be JUGS of sangria, but neither me nor JoHa partook. Instead, we enjoyed a couple of delicious sandwiches prepared by Bien Cuit - the Smith Street Bakery. You have to visit their website - just LOOK at the breads and cakes on offer...yummo!
For a change in culture, we then took the train to Coney Island. The sun had stopped shining, but the heat and humidity continued unabated. It was altogether rather unpleasant, but I was buoyed by the hope that maybe - just maybe - by the time we reached the boardwalk, the ocean breezes might improve conditions a bit. On the way up to the boardwalk, we saw the famous Nathan's hotdog stand and THIS fantastic billboard:
I was quite dismayed that we'd only just missed the last hotdog-eating competition, but I'm so glad that Coney Island is already counting down the days until next year's. Can you believe that in the 2012 competition, the winning male scoffed 68 hotdogs (and buns) in 10 minutes - for a grand prize of $10,000?! Crazy. The winning female is also American, but she could only stuff in 45, but it was enough to clinch her the prize money AND a new record. Her parents must be very proud.
I was fully expecting to see lots of stretchy pants and hotdog consumption once we hit the boardwalk, but nothing could adequately prepare me for the assault on my senses that ensued. LOTS of wobbly flesh, and not nearly enough lyrcra (or other material) to cover it. Shudder. Families galore - the area was TOTALLY different to the last time I came here (which was, admittedly, out of season and at the start of winter). But still it was astonishing to see the sand dotted with families; kids playing soccer; people flying kites; impromptu dance parties on the boardwalk - the place was just crawling with people. And don't even ask me about the state of the public toilets; I just...I can't.
After a bit of a walk up and back, we grabbed a couple of lime sno-cones and took the subway back to Manhattan and the hustle-bustle of Herald Square (sensibly avoiding Macy's though). The heat and humidity have not really gone anywhere though so if anyone needs me, I'll be hanging my head over the air-conditioner vent, or else laying in front of the open fridge, with my feet in the vegetable crisper.