I spent a very interesting afternoon as the guest of Matt Levy of The Levys’ Unique New York! tours, as he led a group of Australian art students around the backblocks of Brooklyn and Queens, admiring the street art.
There is no shortage of graffiti of course, scrawled on every available bit of wall, but there are also many places where artists have been given permission to create large-scale public works. Continue reading
The writing's on the wall in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
After booking affordable New York accommodation online, we find ourselves staying in a lovely brown-stone apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, on the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard.
Across the street garbage is piled high by Toni’s Pizzeria and the New Hope Healing Series (‘Space available for Worship’).
Toni dispenses his pizzas from behind bullet-proof glass. In the Liquor Store by Kosciusko St Station we order a bottle of Chilean wine, feed the money in through a slot and the Korean proprietor reaches around his defence shield to slip us a screw-top bottle. We sense that all is not well in Bedstuy. Continue reading
Yesterday’s meeting in Utrecht was postponed by an hour. Good. That gave me time to ride there on the bike from Amsterdam. It’s 54km according to my cycling guidebook, but the guidebook didn’t count on roadworks forcing detours around Abcoude and Breukelen. Nor did it warn that the wind would be blowing straight into my face when I headed south along the Amsterdam Rhine Canal.
Gein River by Abcoude
It was sometimes hard work, but the ride has a lot going for it. The path along the winding Gein River between the villages of Abcoude and Weesp is one of the prettiest in Holland.
By the Amsterdam Rhine Canal
The Amsterdam Rhine Canal carries enough interesting heavy barges to keep a rider’s mind off his legs, some of the time at least. But during an hour of riding into the wind on a dead straight track, broken only by the cycle path corrugations caused by poplar tree roots, the novelty wears off towards the end.
It was nice to see Breukelen. It’s fairly well known that New York was once called “New Amsterdam”, Harlem was once “Haarlem”, but perhaps less well known that the Bowery comes from the Dutch for farm – “boerderij” – and Brooklyn was “Breukelen”, named after this unpretentious little village a few kilometres north west of Utrecht. There’s not much there now – a couple of churches and a pleasant canal, but it does have a “Breukelen Bridge”.
Ride time to the centre of Utrecht 3hours 30 minutes, including leg stretching, backside massaging, photo taking stops.
You can take a bike on a Dutch train outside peak hours – all day ticket for anywhere in the country costs 6 euros. Honour had been satisfied, so that’s what I did to get home.