New York City
When people hear New York, there is no doubt that the first thing that comes to mind is the captivating chaos of Times Square or the flashy glamour of Broadway, or maybe even the heartrending impression of Ground Zero or the iconic landmark that is the Statue of Liberty. And while Brooklyn can be found somewhere down the line, it’s mostly to mention its most well-known landmark, the Brooklyn Bridge.
But while these trademark tourist spots give New York City its stimulating and unique vibe, the city isn’t just that, the same way that there’s more to Brooklyn than its famous bridge.
Made up of an assortment of neighborhoods each with its own flavour and culture, New York’s bustling borough is paradise for anyone who wishes to see the city without the flashing lights and looming skyscrapers. There’s definitely something about exploring the NYC the locals always see – and tourists mostly don’t – the ones hidden within the concrete jungle, that makes the whole New York experience one-of-a-kind.
And what better way to do that than to be guided by a proper New Yorker? I found out about Jessie on a Journey through various travel blogs and sign up for her photo walk tour. Jessie owns the NYC Tours and Photo Safaris, which prioritizes offbeat tourism, and runs the tours as well. The photo walk tour is a fantastic way to tour the city because it basically has everything a good travel requires – having excellent photos taken by professionals and getting to discover less offbeat, less touristy places.
We started at Dylan’s Candy Bar in Manhattan, one of the most popular candy shops in the United States. It’s said to be inspired by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and when you get to take a look inside the store, you’ll definitely feel like you’re in candy heaven.
From Manhattan, we crossed the Williamsburg Bridge which crosses the East River and onto the Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. The suspension bridge itself is quite a sight, connecting the hustle and bustle of the Lower East Side to the hipster culture of Williamsburg.
An already well-established hip and artistic community, Williamsburg is an excellent place for any young adult to chill and relax. It’s also the place where trends begin. Take The Bagel Store’s rainbow bagel for example. A Williamsburg trademark, this colorful concoction sees tons of people standing in line for however long it takes daily just so they could have a taste of it.
Our next stop was the Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory, a popular brand of artisanal chocolate in the country. These hand-crafted melt-in-your-mouth chocolate bars are every chocolate lover’s delight.
After exploring some of the local stores in the neighborhood that offered everything from local art pieces to local craft beer, we made our way to the East Hudson River before taking a train to Bushwick, located in the northern part of Brooklyn
While having the same hipster vibe of Williamsburg, Bushwick is definitely a more offbeat, albeit upcoming, neighborhood that used to have a negative reputation for being an unsafe place with high crime rate. In past years, however, the neighborhood was able to re-establish and transform itself to an entirely new and eclectic place.
Because there are just so many hidden gems and obscure treasures scattered around the area, Bushwick is most certainly better appreciated when you take your time strolling through the neighborhood.
What’s not hidden and obscure is the Bushwick Collective, a street covered in graffiti art that made the photographer in me become absolutely giddy with excitement. It’s not grand and majestic like the Empire State, but it is genuine and authentic New York, and it was awesome.
Jessie was extremely invaluable as she’s lived in the area for five years, and her knowledge of the area is astounding. Aside from giving us tips on where to go and do free art and yoga class, I especially liked the fact that she was all about socially responsible tourism and was determined to showcase the lesser known side of New York. Of course, the fact that she takes really good photos is a massive bonus.
Guess what? This December, NYC Tours and Photosafaris is offering there tours 50% off—- This is a good deal so take it while you can.