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Brooklyn Bridge

5 Reasons Brooklyn ‘Trumps’ Manhattan

Ok excuse the topical pun but we need to let you know that New York isn’t just all about Manhattan.

Sure, you have the famous landmarks, Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Wall Street to name just a selection.  But you also have a very tourist oriented version of the wonderful, diverse, sprawling urbanisation of New York.

Sticking to Manhattan means you won’t get to see the beautiful oasis that is Prospect Park – in our view a much more pleasant green space than Central Park.  You’ll miss out on walking the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset and enjoying the delights of Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights, maybe taking in a pizza at the famous Juliana’s (you might need to queue up!).

So here’s our 5 top reasons for taking in Brooklyn over Manhattan.

1) Brooklyn Bridge

Ok, so it is possible to venture onto Brooklyn Bridge without actually going to Brooklyn, but it’s hard to beat a stroll across the wooden pedestrianised walkway as the sun sets behind the Manhattan skyline and then end up in Brooklyn Heights or Dumbo (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) for a quick look round the shops before pizza at Juliana’s (he used to own Grimaldi’s and is the original Grimaldi, so don’t be fooled into going to the wrong place as they are almost next door to each other!).

Word of caution while crossing the bridge – there is a section for pedestrians and one for cyclists, don’t get run over trying to take a perfect picture because you’ve wandered onto the cycle path!

And once you’ve made it across, the views back to Manhattan from either Dumbo or Brooklyn Heights across the water are truly spectacular.

View from Dumbo at night

View from Dumbo at night

 2) Prospect Park

Manhattan’s Central Park is ranked as the top thing to do in New York by TripAdvisor – but we believe that Prospect Park is superior for those looking for a retreat to nature in the midst of dense urbanisation.  With over 240 bird species sighted in Prospect Park, alongside turtles, bullfrogs, bats and the impossibly cute chipmunks, it’s an urban nature lover’s paradise.

Prospect Park

Prospect Park


Cute little chipmunk in Prospect Park

The design and flow of the Brooklyn park is perfectly designed with a wonderful mix of open grassland, water, and forest. Lose yourself among the twisty windy undulating forest trails surrounded by birdsong and the chirping of the chipmunks.  Laze out in the sun on the mile long field and get some grounding on the lush grass, feeling the earth beneath your toes.

Prospect Park is smaller than Central Park, but more manageable to navigate.  And the neighbourhoods to the north and east are some of the best in the city.

3) Local Neighbourhoods

Away from the tourist trails are the Brooklyn neighbourhoods that make up some of the best parts of New York.

Brooklyn Stoop Sale

Brooklyn Stoop Sale

You’ll feel more at home here than in any part of New York and the more relaxed atmosphere is the perfect antidote to a hectic day of sightseeing in Manhattan.  Parts of Brooklyn are among the most desirable in the whole of New York (Park Slope being ranked as New York’s most desired neighbourhood) but it’s still not recommended to just go anywhere.  Stick to the following locations and you’ll be doing fine:

  • Park Slope
  • Prospect Heights
  • Carroll Gardens
  • Brooklyn Heights
  • Williamsburg
  • Greenpoint

Although many other areas are delightful and bring their own flavour to this lovely part of New York.

 4) Shopping/Dining

A day perusing the independent outlets dotted around Park Slope mixed in with a beer and a bite to eat in one of a number of fantastic bars and restaurants is a day well spent.

Brooklyn Industries Store

Brooklyn Industries Store

From Park Slope’s main 5th and 7th streets, you are only a few blocks east from Prospect park and the weekly farmers market at Grand Army Plaza, outside the Brooklyn Library.

North of Prospect Park is Prospect Heights, another expensive brownstone neighbourhood with less going on but still some great bars and shops.  A trip to Cheryl’s Global Soul is an absolute must – try the pancakes with chantilly cream and berries, with lashings of maple syrup.

Further north and only a couple of stops from Manhattan on the L train, Williamsburg is a key location for the trendy artist and hipster.  Lots of independent bars, stores and home to one of the biggest flea markets in the city, it is also home to the UK’s very own world-famous doodler Jon Burgerman.

If mixing with hipsters isn’t your thing then head down to Carroll Gardens – not completely dissimilar to Park Slope – but a little more affordable and with a distinctly Italian influence and plenty of leafy streets, cafes, and boutiques to enjoy.

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

5) Accommodation

It’s generally cheaper to stay in Brooklyn than in Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn is under an extensive redevelopment with new hotels popping up all over the place. It’s perfectly situated for walking distance to Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and all the important and trendy areas.

You’re also not far from the Barclays Centre for major sporting events including basketball and ice hockey (depending on the time of year) check before you travel for listings and tickets.

One of the new hotel developments Even Hotels has health and fitness at its soul, with free gym and fitness equipment in every room, weird fitness videos on the TV every time you turn it on, and a lovely range of healthy eating options in the bar/cafe on the ground floor.

The hotel is just steps from easy access into Manhattan on the subway and you can be at Times Square in 30 minutes, Wall Street in just 12 minutes (3 stops).

Even better, you are a few minutes from the main shops including an H&M, Banana Republic, Macy’s, and a massive Century 21 (think TK Maxx for UK readers).

The Century 21 is located within a major new development that incorporates a cinema, shops and an incredible food hall named Dekalb Market Hall that contains all and every cuisine you can imagine and seems to be the go-to place to eat for locals.

Dekalb Food Hall

Dekalb Food Hall

So, in case you missed them, the five reasons are:

  1. Brooklyn Bridge
  2. Prospect Park
  3. Local Neighbourhoods
  4. Shopping/dining
  5. Accommodation

Stay in Brooklyn and you’ll be feeling like a local in no time.

Some helpful links below:

Even Hotel Downtown Brooklyn

Dekalb Market Hall

Carroll Gardens

Park Slope Guide

New York Subway Map


The Search for Happiness

‘Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are. It solely relies on what you think’- Buddha

Mental health is something I think some of us take for granted. Some of us don’t look after our bodies as well as we should, therefore putting our mental health at risk. Sometimes we can’t figure out why we are feeling so glum and run down, but usually it boils down to how well you look after yourself and how much time you take out for yourself just to relax. Although some of us are not necessarily suffering from depression, it is important to lead a healthy and happy lifestyle in order to prevent this. Unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, stressful jobs, lack of decent weather and many other things you wouldn’t even consider- contribute to having an effect on our moods, sometimes resulting in long term depression or periods of feeling down in the dumps.

It’s too easy to let day to day life cause anxieties and stress which results in unnecessary long term problems for us all. Although it may seem difficult, it is possible to get in to a mindset where you can control these unwanted thoughts.  Although, when you are not in the best frame of mind, it may seem like these thoughts are like quick sand and you are sinking further and further beneath. It’s important to realise that these thoughts can be controlled and believe that you have the ability to control them yourself.

I, myself have struggled with anxiety for the past few years- I regularly worried about what people thought of me, I often thought I wasn’t good enough for certain jobs or people, I obsessed over what I didn’t have instead of what I did have. The list was endless and I was a very unconfident person for a very long time. There came a point where I realised I couldn’t continue to live my life with this way of thinking anymore and knew it was about time I took control of my thought process, as this was the element that controlled my happiness.

I first took control by cutting out all negative attributes in my life. Anything at all that made me unhappy, I let go of. And although the thought of letting go of something you are used to may seem hard – it is difficult in the short term – it benefits you in the long term. Cutting out negativity can be as little as not eating as much junk food, not having as many cigarettes, or even skipping a night out on the booze to get your liver and your head a rest. Basically, it’s just cutting out or cutting down on things that you know are bad for you. The changes you can make can even be as big as cutting ties with an annoying friend, changing your job or taking up a new hobby.

Once cutting out the negativity, you automatically begin to feel better. You suddenly stop actively seeking happiness and realise that it is right there in front of you.

Another great way to improve your mental health or to keep away anxieties is to do yoga and/or meditation. Yoga involves breathing techniques and a wide range of bodily postures- one main reason why yoga is practiced is for relaxation and for the improvement of health. Yoga influences relaxation which helps lower the stress hormone ‘cortisol’. Yoga is a brilliant exercise that helps mind and body, as the breathing techniques used in yoga help slow down the heart rate and pulse, resulting in de-tensing muscles. Yoga can also help to improve sleep, help blood pressure, improve digestion, reduce fatigue, improve asthma, reduce insomnia, improve physical health/posture and beat depression. Yoga helps us focus on the current moment, helping people have a more positive outlook on life. Yoga isn’t time consuming- you can feel the difference just after a twenty minute workout.

The best way to start practising yoga is to become familiar with the poses from yoga books or videos (many clips can be found on YouTube). If practiced on a regular basis, you will remember the poses off the top of your head resulting in easier practise as you’re not trying to look at a book or a screen at the same time. I find now that I can practise yoga without having to watch or read anything which helps the practice to be a lot more peaceful and I can go at my own pace and work to my own abilities. The best way to practice yoga is to set the right environment by having dimly lit lights, incense/candles and calming music. Yoga mats, straps and foam pads will help certain poses also and help ease your body into adjusting to these poses.

Meditation is also a brilliant way to aid relaxation and help gain a better way of thinking- meditation trains the mind to clear and creates a better sense of well being. The result from gaining relaxation from meditating helps clear anxieties and stress. It is important to keep up a regular routine of meditation in order to keep a clear and healthy mind.

Meditating just five minutes every other day would help clear the mind and improve mental health, it can be done even just sitting at your desk in work or on the bus but of course you want to make sure you don’t get disturbed.

People are too quick to go to the doctors when they can feel life dragging them down, and personally I think doctors are too quick to prescribe anti-depressants. Of course in serious situations then this would the best thing to do. But I think it’s important, especially in younger people to see if you can overcome the shadows just by taking control of your own thoughts and your own happiness.

I’ve witnessed close friends and family overcome tough times just by putting their life in order and finding peace without having to go on any type of medication. The main thing is about having the belief that you can do it all by yourself- it is surprising just how powerful the mind can be. If you have the belief, patience, and the determination- you can achieve almost anything.



Everybody is different and while it is possible for some people to regain control with the good practices detailed in this article, others are more seriously suffering with mental health issues and need medical support. If you feel that you need help for depression, feeling low or unwell then you can get help and advice at Mind


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