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Walk #3 – Vinegar Hill to Fort Greene

After several days of drizzle, the sun came out today. Here are a few photos of walk number three.


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The Gowanus Canal

pronunciation key: “go WAN us”. Think of Mrs Doyle offering Father Ted another sandwich. That’s the emphasis you’re after.

small hurricane mapLast night’s date began with a swift glass of sherry at Palo Cortado. (The sherry part is necessarily swift because the wine list is so extensive that it takes ages to make up one’s mind). A glass and some devilled eggs later, we made our way to the Brooklyn Brainery for a lecture on the history of the Gowanus Canal. Jealous much?

Joseph Alexiou, wearing a fetching pair of blue framed glasses, was incredibly passionate about his topic. What follows is what I can remember and in no way does justice to all the fascinating things he had to say.

The canal is, apparently 1.8 miles long (i.e. essentially pointless) and runs part way into Brooklyn. We live at the red dot, so it’s pretty close. The canal’s reputation is unsavory and it’s reek is the stuff of legend. (Head here and scroll down a little to read what Thomas Wolfe called “the huge symphonic stink” of the place).

gowanus-canal-featGowanus was (and to some extent, still is) a heavily industrial area and the canal was used to transport raw materials and goods. The canal also happens to be connected up to the sewage overflow system. As a result, every time it rains, a phenomenal amount of human excrement gets pumped into the canal and gets to mix with all the toxic sludge already in there from years of industry. Then, of course, with Hurricane Sandy, the storm surge desposited all manner of gifts to nearby residents. Yuk.

The canal is now a ‘superfund’ site. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been carrying out tests on the canal and their preliminary report, for people who like that kind of stuff, is here. The clever thing about a superfund is that the EPA can take the companies responsible to court to raise the money for clean up of toxic sites like this one.


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Pauline and Sharon’s

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Pauline and Sharon’s: Purveyors of Delicious Pizza. This place does, hands down, THE best pizza I’ve ever had. At $3 a slice, I am told that this is ‘expensive’. Those people have clearly never tried it. A single slice is huge and they cut and place your slice in the oven when you order it so it’s always piping hot. The toppings are generous (I can speak highly of the pepperoni and the vegetable version with spicy salsa) and the base is perfectly thin and crispy.

My current favourite thing to do is grab a slice before taking the R uptown – they’re right by the subway entrance. They get me a slice ‘to go’ and I scurry into the warmth of the subway station, sit down and start my dinner. On two separate occasions I have in fact chosen not to board the R train that arrives in order to better savour my pizza pie. Now that’s a recommendation.

What I am not clear about, however, is why I have only ever seen the two guys above in there. Are they perhaps Pauline and Sharon at the weekend? Or are Pauline and Sharon purely fictitious, like the Green Giant? No clues in the previous owner – then it was called Pepe’s. The plot thickens.


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Walk 2: Greenwood Cemetery and Sunset Park

The second walk took place on a crisp autumn afternoon. Pictures below:


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Walk 1: 5th Av – Brooklyn Heights Promenade

Woke to see that the sun was shining and decided to go for a walk (inspired by this blog) and took my camera. Enjoy!


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The Quest to the East Village

I got off pretty lightly with Hurricane Katrina (as David Stern, NBA Commissioner dubbed it prior to the Boston Celtics vs Miami Heat game on Tuesday). So when I heard that MTA was running a partial subway service today, I decided to embark upon the Quest to the East Village. Fired off a quick text to let MJ know I was heading to work, put my lukewarm coffee in a thermos and set off.

Subways weren’t running between Manhattan and Brooklyn, but a free shuttle bus service was being provided. Got to Atlantic Av fine, stood in a round-the-block queue for the shuttle. About 20 people away from the front, my phone rings. Al, my boss’s housemate, is outside my apartment in his van. This is the second time Al has made the journey in the last 24 hours. I explain that I’m at Atlantic. A flaming row ensues on the other end of the phone. Eventually I am told to sit tight and they’ll come and get me.

30 minutes later, I get a call. Can I walk up Flatbush against the traffic in the direction of the bridge? All well and good, but the road is two-way and I have no clue which direction is the bridge in. Explain. Told to wait.

15 minutes later Al shouts my name. I get to the van, MJ gives me a grin and offers me a choice of muffin. He saw Young Victoria last night and is full of questions about the British Monarchy. I do my best.

Good thing there are three of us in the van because the NYPD are only allowing vehicles with 3+ people onto the island. We arrive at the apartment and walk up two flights of stairs in complete darkness. Lights are on in the apartment, but the generator is also powering three other flats. We lose power twice; the first time the guys downstairs plug in their heater. The second time Eileen tried making toast.

Needless to say, took the walking option on the way back.

The round trip totalled 3 hours and 25 minutes. Still, this is nowhere near as bad as the odyssey Mme O-E sent me when I moved.