Who are Buddy & Pal? Well, I’m Pal and my best friend Aaron is Buddy. Strange I know, I’m not sure how it all started. But recently we spent a few nights in New York and this is our adventure.
This short holiday was more than a getaway for both of us, it was to be a milestone that signified a change. Our changes were different; for me it was putting my past relationship behind me and starting fresh. At least that was what I’d planned the trip to be but before I left I’d met someone new, someone special. For Aaron it was simply the start of a new adventure.
New York, New York
Issues arose before we had even boarded the plane, I was pulled aside for an extra security screening whilst Aaron got pulled aside at the gate. I’m still not sure what happened but all of the other passengers saw me get pulled aside, patted down and then have my passport taken off me (to assist with Aaron being stopped) before, finally, being let on the plane. Needless to say we got a few funny looks whilst we boarded!
Upon arrival in The Big Apple, we were pooped! We had planned to spend as little money as possible on transfers but instantly gave in to the temptation of one of New York’s finest yellow cabs. I don’t regret it, the next thing I knew I was walking around Manhattan looking for the NBA Store and being roped into street performances.
I’m not going to lie, that was pretty cool. Kristaps Porzingis is also pretty tall.
The next morning we awoke to a stream flowing down the street as the heavens opened. We were meant to be touring New York in a helicopter in a mere two hours – it didn’t look likely.
We were wrong, after a quick (and awkward) Uber we arrived at the hangar for the ride of a life time. I’m not going to go into great detail on here as I am going to write a blog post all about this, but all I will say is it was fantastic and they had VR.
We decided to spend the afternoon in Brooklyn as we had to visit The Barclay Centre to collect our BIG3 tickets. After awkwardly collecting the tickets we went to the mall and headed for the Brooklyn Heights Promenade whilst visiting every sports shop en-route looking for the Kyrie 3’s. The Brooklyn Heights Promenade offers photographers great views of the Financial District and the Brooklyn Bridge, it was one of my favourite photography locations in New York.
The Brooklyn trip was like an extended photography walk, Dumbo is only a short walk from the promenade and their lies one of the most famous images associated with New York City. We later walked back across the Brooklyn Bridge enjoying a very processed strawberry smoothie.
Need I say more…
Times Square was by far the busiest tourist spot in New York both day and night. If you’re staying local try to visit first thing in the morning as it’s not as busy and allows for much better photographs (and selfie on the Red Steps).
BIG3 Basketball Tournament
Whilst in New York I ticked off two of my bucket list experiences; the FlyNyon helicopter ride and watching Allen Iverson (my all-time favourite athlete) play basketball. Growing up A.I. was my idol, I followed him both on and off the court (figuratively, not in a scary stalker way!) but living in the UK I never got to see him play. Until BIG3 Basketball.
We arrived at The Barclay Centre early in the hope we would be able to get in and watch the warm ups. Instead we had to stand around for an hour or so waiting to enter, however, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Whilst we stood, leaning on the barrier, longing to be let in, a sports reporter from The New York Post started to talk to us. We spoke about why we were there, what we expected and how we had become to love Allen Iverson. Were we going to be in The New York Post?! Yes we were.
The first two games were nail biters including a game winning three-pointer by DeShawn Stevenson as Power over-powered (sorry!) Tri-State in their BIG3 debuts. After a short break it was time for A.I. as Iverson entered the arena the whole place went crazy. I’d managed to walk down to the tunnel to get a better view; I was only a few feet away from the man I idolised growing up. The man who is still on my bedroom wall. I was happy I finally got to see him play and so was the crowd, cheering every time he touched the ball. Chants of “We want AI” broke when he sat. Chants that were just as loud as his ovation upon entering the arena.
Today my childhood dream came true, I got to see @theofficialai3 play basketball. I grew up watching his highlights on dial-up and when he retired I thought I'd missed my chance. Although, at 42 he is clearly a different player I can still say I saw him play 😊 Thank you @thebig3 #BucketList #Big3 #NYC #Basketball #Iverson #AI
At 42 years of age, Allen Iverson is not the basketball wizard he once was, he is now the answer to a different question but I was not disappointed by his performance (two points on 1-5 shooting). Although Iverson lacked the explosiveness and athletic ability his performance was nostalgic, a reminder of what once was.
Arrogant Swine, Brooklyn
Before I went to New York I did quite a lot of research into where to eat, I search through blogs, read reviews on TripAdvisor and even contacted my favourite barbecue King DJ BBQ. DJ recommended Arrogant Swine, a barbecue joint out in Brooklyn. Be warned, it is very secluded but definitely worth travelling to. Aaron and I decided to tie in our visit after the basketball, en-route we saw plenty of Brooklyn too…
I’m not going to lie, from the outside it doesn’t look much; it’s in an old warehouse/industrial building with a roller shutter door but this place has character! As cool as the ambience is the food is the highlight, serving traditional barbecue with tasty modern sides Arrogant Swine know what they’re doing.
Aaron and I shared a tray of Western North Carolina Outside Brown Shoulder, an off-menu item of smoked pork shoulder steaks with the ultimate side; a mac n cheese waffle with Queso (a cheese and chilli dip). My God, it was good. So good in fact, I now want to buy a waffle machine just to make it.
The Halal Guys
The Halal Guys appear to be on every block in Manhattan and I now understand why. After standing in line for a few minutes, we soon had a dish full of tasty rice and meat for about $7.
Now that’s a bargain, especially in New York, and it was delicious. More importantly I felt like a true New Yorker; we were Peralta and Boyle enjoying food for the street during our steak-out! Okay, maybe not but the gyro from The Halal Guys fueled us for an afternoon of walking from the Barclays Centre, Brooklyn back to our hotel near Bryant Park, Manhattan.
Red Rooster, Harlem
I don’t know where to begin with Red Rooster in Harlem, before going to New York it was on my hit list. Mainly for the fried chicken. I like fried chicken. But American soul food is fantastic, you can really taste the love they cook with.
On the third day of our trip we decided to walk through Central Park and up to Harlem to visit Red Rooster. Now it’s quite a walk, a walk that feels even longer when you injure your ankle (Anterior Ankle Impingement). En-route we even witnessed (what I imagine to be) a drug deal. It was straight out of The Wire – only based in New York – a car pulled up, a kid ran from some steps, money was exchanged and placed into a duffle bag on the back seat. It was insane. I didn’t know where to look.
So anyway, Red Rooster was incredible. I had the Yard Bird (fried chicken!) and it was the best damn chicken I have ever had. So good that I bought the book. Not only was the chicken super crispy but they tossed it in spices once it had been fried to add even more flavour. The juicy meat inside was extremely tender and fell off of the bone. It was an umami taste experience.
Katz Deli, East Village
Katz’s Delicatessen is the oldest deli in New York and oh boy, it does not disappoint. Aaron and I arrived around 2pm for a late lunch and the place was packed. Businessmen, street workers, families and tourists filled both the counter and seating area. I ordered a pastrami sandwich (below), a pound of pastrami and mustard filled the rye bread. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
Whilst the server made me the sandwich we spoke about Nottingham and he got a little confused between Robin Hood and King Arthur. But when he makes a sandwich that good, I can’t hold it against him. Aaron ordered a corned beef and we split them 50/50, it was by far our favourite meal in New York.
Let’s hear it for New York
My time in New York was incredible, I can see why Jay-Z likes it so much. I ticked off two bucket-list experiences, took plenty of amazing photographs and ate some mouthwatering food – that still makes me hungry now as I write this months later. More importantly, I enjoyed myself and hit the refresh button. Maybe the big lights really do inspire…
The only thing I missed out on during my time in New York was Chick’nCone – a fried chicken and waffle joint that looks incredible! I’ll save it for next time.